Out of all the salmon recipes on the grill that I’ve tried, this “smoked salmon” is easily my favorite recipe. This is an easy, relatively quick recipe to produce a beautifully flavored smoked salmon at home on the grill. It’s also a more affordable option versus buying smoked salmon at the store, especially when you can find a good sale on salmon at your local grocery store.
The whole process in a nutshell can be summarized into three parts: 1) brining the salmon, 2) preparing your grill and wood chips and finally 3) cooking / smoking the salmon on the grill. We’ll cover a bit more detail on this recipe here, and show you where to get some additional tips for preparing this recipe.
You only need a few common household ingredients:
- vegetable oil
- a good size salmon filet
- wood chips for creating smoke in the grill
You first want to create your brine for the salmon. A brine is basically a well-seasoned water bath that you soak your salmon in for a few hours. Simply dissolve a cup of sugar and half a cup of salt in about 7 cups of water. I like to use those really big Ziploc freezer bags, but you could also use a big tupperware container or pot. Just make sure whatever you use can hold the brine and fully immerse your salmon.
Get the brine made and then immerse the salmon in it for a few hours in the refrigerator. While your salmon is brining, start soaking your wood chips in water. Soaking your wood chips helps create strong smoke and keeps the wood chips from burning while you’re smoking the salmon. After an hour or two, drain your wood chips, wrap them up in foil and set it aside.
When your near finished brining your salmon, start to prepare your grill. You will be smoking the salmon on your grill using “indirect heat”. So light up your charcoal, and when they’re ready, carefully pile them up on one side of the grill. You do not want any charcoal briquettes directly under your salmon filet. When your charcoal’s ready and piled up on one side of the grill, place your wood chips over the charcoal. Poke holes into the top of the foil so the smoke from the wood chips can escape.
Cover your grill, open all the vents (on your grill lid, as well as on the bottom of the grill). After your grill heats up, clean the grates well. Also make sure the vents on your grill lid is on the opposite side of the wood chips. This will help draw the smoke from the wood chips over your salmon.
Now take your salmon out of the brine. Dry it completely with paper towels. Rub the whole salmon with vegetable oil and season it to your liking with pepper and paprika. Also brush some vegetable oil on the grates to help keep your salmon from sticking to the grill. Carefully place your salmon on the grill, again, on the opposite side of the charcoal and wood chips. Cover the grill with the vents directly above the salmon, drawing the smoke over the salmon.
That’s it! Depending on the size of your salmon, it will take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Grill and smoke it until the salmon is cooked through all the way. Since we are brining the salmon and using indirect heat, you do not have to worry about overcooking the salmon too much. I personally like to under cook it a bit, so the salmon comes out very moist.
You can serve and eat the salmon right away. And of course, this smoked salmon is also great served cold. After you try this once, I’m sure you’ll find this becoming one of your favorite salmon recipes on the grill.