Brown Sugar Smoked Salmon (Easy Rub and Recipe)  

Looking for a simple yet tasty brown sugar rubbed smoked salmon?

This smoked salmon is delicious and incredibly healthy to boot. Add in that tasty brown sugar rub and you get an EPIC caramelization on your salmon!

However, salmon can easily end up dry, so make sure you follow my steps below!

What Your Need for Smoked Salmon with Brown Sugar Rub

  • Salmon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Dill

What Type of Salmon Should I Use?

You should try to use wild-caught salmon. How they are more expensive to buy, so the alternative is farm-raised salmon.

I have used sockeye salmon, king salmon or chinook and they all have worked perfectly. The three main characteristics of salmon are color, size, and oil content. King or Chinook salmon are larger, pinker, and have the highest oil content.

What To Look For in a Salmon Filet?

Good quality salmon fillets should bounce back when touched. There should be no strong fishy smell. Fillets should be thick, plump, and firm. Check for bruising or spots and avoid them.

The whole salmon should have clear, shiny eyes. The skin’s appearance should be shiny and moist.

How Do I Prepare the Salmon?

It is much easier to use salmon fillets for this recipe. If you buy a whole piece of salmon, start by slicing it into the filets.

You will want to leave the skin and just remove any bones you can. Then we move into dry brining.

Dry Brine the Salmon

To prepare the salmon, use a straightforward 2-to-1 ratio of brown sugar to kosher salt for brining, along with the black pepper and dill, see the instruction below for making the brine/ rub. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Afterward, gently blot away any excess liquid using paper towels.

How to Make Brown Sugar Rub

In a contatiner, blend together all the brown sugar, salt, pepper and dill (I put the measurements below) Use a fork or whisk to thoroughly mix all the spices until they are well incorporated. Use dill leaves, not seeds as the seeds have too strong a flavor.

  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • .5 tsp papika

Other Seasoning Ideas

This is a recipe for a brown sugar rub. However, if you want something a little bit lighter try some of our other favorite way to season salmon!

Some ideas for flavorings include:

  • simple salt and black pepper
  • fresh lemon slices
  • pepper flakes
  • crushed walnut
  • sour cream and parmesan

How Long To Smoke Salmon?

Smoke the salmon until the internal temperature reached 145°F. In most smokers, this will be about an hour.

Check with a reliable temperature probe to ensure you have the correct temperature. Fish can cook at a hotter temperature, for a shorter time and still absorb great smoky flavor.

For this salmon recipe we will smoking at a temperature of 250°F – 275°. This temperature is higher than our usual low and slow. Cuts like brisket and pork need the low and slow temperatures to help break down the connective tissue.

Thicker fillets will take more cooking time through. Always check with a temperature probe, rather than a time frame.

What Temperature Should You Smoke Salmon At?

You should smoke salmon at around 250-275°F. 

This gives enough heat to cook while giving the wood pellets a chance to produce a good amount of smoke. 

Wood Chip Recommendations for Salmon

Sweet subtle flavors such as oak, cherrywood, applewood or pecan work well with salmon..

Stick to lighter fruit or nut flavored wood pellets. More robust flavors will overwhelm the natural flavor of salmon.

What Should You Serve Up Salmon?

Salmon is a rich source of protein, calcium, selenium, vitamin B’s, and omega-3 fatty acids to name a few.

Plus salmon is really high in fat so it makes it a good fish to smoke. What better way to honor such a powerhouse than to smoke it?

How to Make Smoked Salmon with Brown Sugar Rub

Pre-heat the smoker grill to 250-275°F.

While the smoker is heating up, prepare the rub. Mix the salt, pepper, brown sugar, and dill into a rub. Use dill leaves, not seeds as the seeds have too strong a flavor.

Lay the prepared salmon out onto a baking sheet. Pat the salmon rub onto the surface of the salmon. This can be prepared an hour ahead and stored in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to absorb and settle.

Smoke the seasoned salmon for an hour, or until the internal temps reach 145°F.

Hot vs Cold-Smoked Salmon

Hot-smoked salmon and cold-smoked salmon are two methods of preparing it. Hot-smoking involves exposing the salmon to both heat and smoke simultaneously, fully cooking the fish and giving it a flaky texture with a robust smoky flavor. It is ready to eat as soon as it’s done smoking. This is what we are doing in this recipe.

On the other hand, cold-smoked salmon undergoes a long process, in which the fish is cured with salt and sugar before being exposed to cold smoke. It remains raw throughout the process, resulting in a delicate texture with a milder smoke taste. Cold-smoked salmon is typically sliced thinly and is well-suited for appetizers or in bagels or sandwiches.

How Long Does Salmon Keep In The Fridge?

Your homemade smoked salmon will remain fresh in the refrigerator for approximately one week. However, if you place it in a vacuum-sealed bag, removing all the air, it can stay fresh for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

What to Serve With Smoked Salmon?

Smoked Carrots With Brown Butter

Smoked Asparagus

Cheesy Potatoes

Serve it on a platter with bagels, capers and cream cheese.

Smoked Salmon With Brown Sugar Rub

This smoked salmon with a brown sugar rub is delicious and incredibly healthy to boot. Add in a tasty brown sugar rub and you get an EPIC caramelization on your salmon!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Dinner, lunch, main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 429kcal
Author: Charlie

Equipment

  • Smoker

Ingredients

  • 2 lb fresh salmon filet
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the smoker grill to 250-275°F.
  • While the smoker is heating up, prepare the rub.
  • Mix the salt, pepper, brown sugar, and dill into a rub. Use dill leaves, not seeds as the seeds have too strong a flavor.
  • Lay the prepared salmon out onto a baking sheet.
  • Pat the salmon rub onto the surface of the salmon. This can be prepared an hour ahead and stored in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to absorb and settle.
  • Smoke the seasoned salmon for an hour, or until the internal temps reach 145°F.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

 For a healthy alternative, why not try smoking salmon for your next cook-up?  

Smoke On!

Charlie

Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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