SCold smoked salmon in strips ready for serving
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My Favourite Cold Smoked Salmon Recipe

This is a basic cold smoked salmon recipe. It is a great recipe to use a base to work on your own secret recipe. Please feel free to swap out different ingredients for your own or add in slightly different amounts of the brine ingredients to make it your own.
Total Time3 d 8 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: seafood
Servings: 10
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: 40


  • 2 - 3 pounds salmon fillet fresh and from the head end if possible

Brine (optional but recommended)

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or molasses
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups coarse sea salt
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 whole bay leaves

Garnishes (optional but recommended)

  • Brined capers Drained
  • Brioche toast points or crackers Toasted or grilled
  • Fresh dill Chopped
  • Lemons Sliced
  • Red onion Thinly sliced


  • Running your fingers overtop of the skin side of the samon fillets and feel for any bones. Pull out any bones with a pair of tweezers. Once all the bones have been removed, run your fingers over one more time to double check all bones have been removed.
  • Combine your brine ingredients into a large deep pot and heat on medium heat until a gentle boil has been reached. Once boiling simmer for 5 minutes and then turn off. Cover to let cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature try to balance a boiled egg in the brine. If it sinks, slowly mix a further ¼ cup of salt into the brine until it floats. Once the right salt level has been reached refrigerate until 40 degrees or less.
  • Once the brine has come to temperature brine the salmon, cover and set in the refrigerator for 6 – 12 hours.
  • Once brined, rinse the salmon with plenty of fresh, cold water to clear out any access salt.
  • In a mixing bowl mix together the salt and brown sugar.
  • In a glass baking dish slightly larger than the fillets, spread out 1/3 of the cure. Lay the salmon fillets on top of the cure making sure that the cure extends around ½ inch from each side of the salmon. Spread the remaining cure on the top side of the salmon, making sure that the fillet is covered completely.
  • Cover the dish completely with plastic wrap and place the coolest part of your refrigerator for 24 – 48 hours to cure. For best results place a weight on top of your curing salmon. I recommend something like a pie dish or a baking tray with a couple of cans of food. You are looking for around 1 - 1.5 pounds of weight.   The key here is the longer the better.
  • After curing, gently rinse the salmon under cold running water. In a large bowl filled with 3 inches of water soak the fillets for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes drain well in a colander.
  • Dry the fillets on both sides with a paper towel then arrange them skin side down uncovered on a wire rack to air dry. Pop in the refrigerator and let air dry for around 4 hours. The fillets should feel a little sticky at this point.
  • Prepare your smoker for cold smoking as per your manufacturer's instructions.
  • Place in your smoker and smoke until the salmon feels leathery, firm and has a nice bronze color. This should take a minimum of 10 hours.
  • Before serving wrap the salmon in butcher/ baking paper and rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours. Ideally leave overnight.
  • Diagonally cut thin (or thick depending on your preference) slices with a very sharp knife and garnish with lots of fresh dill, lemon slices, capers, red onion and crusty bread or crackers.