If you love the combo of bourbon and maple syrup as much as I do, get ready to fall hard for my delicious Smoked Salmon recipe with a hot and tangy chipotle BBQ glaze. The warmth of the bourbon, the sweetness of the maple, along with the apple-smoked flavors from the wood chips, take the natural flavor of wild-caught salmon to another level!
While I’d never say no to cold smoked salmon on a cream cheese bagel, this is not that kind of recipe. This is hot smoked salmon at its best. It starts with a killer dry cure that infuses intense flavor into the whole side of salmon, while the low and slow cooking process delivers melt-in-your-mouth tenderness!
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If you’ve never used an Oklahoma Joe for an outdoor smoker, check out my trusted Bronco Pro Drum Smoker if you want to make the best smoked salmon ever in your own backyard. When it comes to temperature control and keeping the cooker at a steady low temperature, this pro smoker gets it right every time.
Table of Contents
- Why You’ll Love Smoked Wild Salmon
- How to Make the Best Salmon in a Smoker
- This sauce is FYR!
- Pro Tip: How to Choose the Best Salmon
- For More on Salmon
- How to Store Leftovers & Reheat
- What to Serve with Smoked Salmon
- Recipe FAQs
- Flavor X Fire & FOOD X Fire
- Smoked Salmon Recipe
- Pro Tip: How to Choose the Best Salmon
Why You’ll Love Smoked Wild Salmon
With so many methods for cooking salmon, this is one of my favorite ways, by far, to enjoy whole salmon. There is something alchemical about the smoking process. The intensely sweet smoky flavor wafting from the Western Apple Wood Chips get me excited before I even take the first bite.
Fresh salmon is a fatty fish packed with health benefits. It’s also a crowd-pleaser thanks to its rich, buttery taste. When combined with the warmth of bourbon and the sweetness of maple, it doesn’t get any better!
- Whole Salmon – As for the type of salmon, Atlantic Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, and Chinook Salmon (often referred to as King Salmon) are all excellent choices.
- Maple Bourbon Seasoning – My favorite Spiceology seasoning mix amps up my favorite flavor combo to perfection.
- Granulated Sugar – Some sweetness from the table sugar helps counterbalance the saltiness of the dry cure. So, don’t skip this key ingredient.
- Kosher Salt – With its larger, flaky crystals, this everyday cooking salt is a must-have in your pantry staples. It brings out the best flavor in almost any recipe.
- Bourbon – If you’re not already familiar, bourbon is my drink of choice for every occasion. Which also explains why it appears so often in my favorite recipes.
- Maple Syrup – Bourbon’s sweet notes of caramel and vanilla blend seamlessly with the rich, earthy sweetness of maple syrup.
- Ketchup – This classic American pantry staple and condiment is the go-to for adding a tangy, sweet kick to any BBQ sauce recipe.
- Chipotle Hot Sauce – A couple of tablespoons of this hot sauce adds just the right amount of heat to your BBQ sauce.
- White Vinegar & Lemon – White vinegar and a squeeze of lemon bring all the right amounts of tanginess to the homemade barbecue sauce.
- Black Pepper – Along with the salt, grind in as much pepper as you want when finishing up your BBQ glaze sauce.
Given the long curing process and the good amount of time it takes to get this cured salmon recipe on the table, this smoker recipe for salmon is a great option for those long lazy weekends when all you want to do is stay close to your circle of family and friends.
How to Make the Best Salmon in a Smoker
The key to this easy smoked salmon recipe is the curing process. My Maple Bourbon Seasoning added into the real maple and bourbon mixture dials up the flavor quite a few generous notches. If you haven’t grabbed my rub yet, no worries – just swap it out with a cup of brown sugar, and you should be good to go!
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Get started by generously slathering the curing ingredients over a side of salmon (or two for bigger crowds). Place covered in a food-safe dish in the fridge and let cure for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
About two hours before you’re ready to serve up the salmon, fire up the Oklahoma Joe! This is my main smoker, mostly because it’s easy to work and keeps great consistent heat all day long. For this recipe, start the fire with some charcoal mixed with Western’s Apple BBQ Smoking Chips.
While the Oklahoma Joe is working its low and slow magic, take the salmon out of the fridge, pat dry with paper towels, and return it to the fridge uncovered for about 2 hours to dry.
Once the Bronco is holding steady at 150 degrees F, add the salmon to the grill. Then cover it, and let it smoke for 2-4 hours. Keep an eye on the salmon with a thermometer. It will be ready to take off the fire when it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.
Before the salmon is fully cooked, combine the BBQ sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. If you want more sweet than heat, leave out the hot sauce and add a little bit more maple syrup.
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This sauce is FYR!
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When the salmon is close to reaching the finish line, lather the homemade BBQ glaze over the top of the salmon. Then, continue to cook it until done.
Pull the salmon carefully off the Bronco. Let it rest for about 5 minutes, make some slices with a sharp knife, and serve!
Pro Tip: How to Choose the Best Salmon
Flavorwise, fresh wild-caught salmon is always more satisfying than frozen or farm-raised salmon. However, no judgment here about where it comes from, especially if you have ethical concerns about salmon fishing.
When shopping for a side of salmon at your local seafood counter, look for salmon that has a vibrant color, firm texture, and a clean, briny scent.
How to Store Leftovers & Reheat
Place any leftovers in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store for up to 3-5 days. You can gently reheat in some aluminum foil on the grill or toss some cold salmon into a fresh salad.
What to Serve with Smoked Salmon
For a truly great meal, in summertime, I like to serve Smoked Salmon with an arugula salad with a simple vinaigrette and some crunchy rustic bread. In cooler months, pair the salmon with herb mashed potatoes and some roasted green beans tossed in olive oil and fresh chopped garlic.
Hot smoked salmon is cooked through the smoking process at a higher temperature. Cold smoking salmon involves using much lower temperatures over a longer period of time. This gives it a silky, raw-like texture, but making it less food-safe overall.
Smoked salmon is a nutritious option! It is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals.
Yes, smoked salmon can be frozen to extend its shelf life. Be sure to wrap it tightly to prevent freezer burn.
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- Smoker, BBQ Sauce Pan, and Tongs.
- 1 whole side of Salmon pin bones out
- ½ cup of my Maple Bourbon Seasoning
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 cup Kosher Salt
- 1 cup of your favorite Bourbon
- ½ cup of Maple Syrup
BBQ Sauce Ingredients:
- ½ cup of Ketchup
- 1 ½ tbsp of Bourbon
- 2 tbsp of Chipotle Hot Sauce
- 2 tbsp of Maple Syrup
- 2 tsp White Vinegar
- ½ Lemon juiced
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a bowl, mix sugar, salt and maple bourbon seasoning.
- Lather over the salmon and let cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Pat salmon dry and let dry in the fridge for 2 hours.
- When your Bronco is at an even 150F, add the salmon and let smoke for 2-4 hours.
- Cook until it reaches 140F internal.
- In a bbq sauce pan, add all the ingredients for the bbq sauce and let simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Pull off once done.
- Once the salmon is close to being done, lather the outside of the salmon with the bbq sauce and continue to cook until done.
- Pull salmon off Bronco and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and enjoy!
Pro Tip: How to Choose the Best SalmonFlavorwise, fresh wild-caught salmon is always more satisfying than frozen or farm-raised salmon, but no judgment here about where it comes from, especially if you have ethical concerns about salmon fishing. When shopping for a side of salmon at your local seafood counter, look for salmon that has a vibrant color, firm texture, and a clean, briny scent.
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