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Smoked salmon filet on piece of slate.

Hot Smoked Salmon Without a Smoker


Make tender, delicious smoked salmon on your stovetop with just a few basic pieces of equipment you already have in your kitchen. Plan ahead to make this recipe, as it includes an overnight brine and a few hours of drying before smoking. It’s well worth the extra time it takes.



1 pound (450 g) wild salmon, skin on, 1 to 2 inches thick (2.5cm to 5cm)

1 quart (950 ml) cool water

1/4 cup (75 g) kosher salt

1/4 cup (75 g) brown sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut aminos (optional, for flavor only)


Gather your equipment:

  • Wood chips (see note)
  • Wok or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid
  • Metal steamer basket or round cake rack that fits inside the wok or Dutch oven
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cooling rack (to dry fish)

Remove all pin bones from the salmon. Optionally cut salmon fillet into four even pieces. The salmon will cook best if each piece is generally the same thickness all over.

In a large bowl combine the salt, sugar, and coconut aminos with 1 quart of cool water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the fish to the bowl and brine for 8 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Take your fish out of the brine and pat it dry.

Put the fillets on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet, skin side down. This step is important to dry out the surface of the salmon before smoking. There are two ways of doing this: One, place the fish in a cool room under a ceiling fan or near a regular fan for 2 to 4 hours. Or, put the rack of fish uncovered in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.

After the fish has completed the drying process, you’re ready to assemble the smoker.

Line a wok or Dutch oven with two big pieces of foil that hang over the edges by 4 to 6 inches (10 cm to 15 cm).

Add a thin layer of wood chips. Place a small square of foil loosely over the wood chips, then set a small round cake rack over the chips.

Place the salmon on the rack, skin side down.

Bring the sides of the foil up over the salmon, pinching the ends closed to form a tent. This allows the smoke to circulate around the salmon. The tighter the foil is sealed, the less likely it is that smoke will escape out into your kitchen.

Put the lid of the wok on tightly.

Cook the salmon until it reaches an internal temperature of 140ºF (60ºC). As a guideline, use these smoking times and heat levels for salmon with a robust smoky flavor that is cooked all the way through:

  • 1-inch thick fillet: Turn the heat on the gas stove to medium-high for 4 minutes, then down to medium for 12 minutes
  • 2-inch thick fillet: Turn the heat on a gas stove to medium-high for 4 minutes, then medium for 20 minutes

Carefully open the foil packet and transfer the salmon to a plate to rest for a few minutes. Serve immediately, or ideally chill in the refrigerator overnight and serve cold.


Nutrition info calculated using Cronometer.

Most of the brine gets discarded, so the sugar contributes negligibly to total carbohydrate content. Therefore, nutrition info is for salmon only.

When selecting wood chips, alder, apple, or cherry are best for this recipe. Oak or maple will also work fine. Don’t use mesquite or hickory; the flavor will overpower the salmon

  • Prep Time: 16 to 24 hours for brining and drying, mostly inactive time
  • Cook Time: 20 to 30 minutes


  • Serving Size: 4 ounces
  • Calories: 173
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Protein: 25 grams