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Best Fish to Smoke

What Fish is Best to Smoke?

Smoking fish is an age-old cooking technique that has been used by cultures around the world for centuries. Smoking fish imparts a unique flavor to it that can't be replicated by any other cooking method. If you're new to smoking fish, you may be wondering what fish is best to smoke. In this article, we'll discuss the different types of fish that are commonly smoked, the best ways to prepare them, and how to achieve the perfect smoked fish at home.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of fish for smoking
  3. Preparation
  4. Brining
  5. Dry Rubs
  6. Smoking Methods
  7. Hot Smoking
  8. Cold Smoking
  9. Wood Selection
  10. Cooking Time and Temperature
  11. Tips for Perfectly Smoked Fish
  12. Serving Suggestions
  13. Conclusion
  14. FAQs

Types of fish for smoking

The best fish for smoking are oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout. These fish are high in fat, which makes them ideal for smoking because they don't dry out as easily. Other fish that can be smoked include cod, whitefish, halibut, and chubs, but these are not as commonly smoked as the oily fish.


Before you can smoke your fish, you'll need to prepare it properly. Start by cleaning and filleting the fish, removing the skin and bones. Then, rinse the fish under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. It's important to make sure the fish is completely dry before smoking it, as any excess moisture can cause the fish to become tough and chewy.


One of the most important steps in preparing fish for smoking is to brine it. Brining is a process where you soak the fish in a mixture of salt and water, which helps to draw out excess moisture and flavor the fish. To make a basic brine, mix 1 cup of kosher salt with 1 gallon of water. You can also add other seasonings, such as sugar, herbs, and spices, to the brine to enhance the flavor of the fish.

Dry Rubs

In addition to brining, you can also use dry rubs to add flavor to your smoked fish. Dry rubs are a mixture of herbs, spices, and other seasonings that you rub onto the surface of the fish before smoking it. Popular dry rub ingredients include brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

Smoking Methods

There are two main methods for smoking fish: hot smoking and cold smoking.

Hot Smoking

At home hot smoking is a method where the fish is smoked at a temperature of around 180-220°F (82-104°C) until it is fully cooked. This method typically takes 2-3 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the fish. The smoke from the wood chips infuses the fish with flavor, and the heat from the smoker cooks the fish through.

Cold Smoking

At home cold smoking is a method where the fish is smoked at a temperature of around 60-80°F (15-27°C) for several hours. Unlike hot smoking, the fish is not cooked during the smoking process. Instead, the smoke simply infuses the fish with flavor. Cold smoking typically takes longer than hot smoking, and the fish will need to be cooked separately before it can be eaten.

Wood Selection

The type of wood you use for smoking your fish can have a big impact on the flavor of the finished product. Some popular wood choices for smoking fish include alder, hickory, oak, and maple. Each type of wood has its own unique flavor profile, so it's worth experimenting to find out which one you like best.

Cooking Time and Temperature

The cooking time and temperature for smoking fish will depend on the type of fish you are smoking and the method you are using. As a general rule, you'll want to smoke the fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for 30 minutes. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the fish.

Tips for Perfectly Smoked Fish

  • Use high-quality, fresh fish for the best results
  • Make sure the fish is completely dry before smoking it
  • Brine the fish before smoking to enhance its flavor and texture
  • Experiment with different types of wood to find the one you prefer
  • Monitor the temperature of the smoker to ensure the fish is cooked evenly and to avoid overcooking
  • Let the smoked fish rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together

Best Fish for Smoking

While you can smoke any type of fish, some varieties are better suited for smoking than others. Here are some of the best fish for smoking:


Salmon is one of the most popular fish for smoking, thanks to its rich flavor and firm, oily flesh. Coho, sockeye, and chinook salmon are all great choices for smoking.


Trout is another popular fish for smoking, with a delicate flavor and tender flesh. Rainbow and brown trout are both good options for smoking.


Mackerel has a strong, distinct flavor that pairs well with smoking. It's also a good choice for cold smoking.


Whitefish is a mild, white fish that is well-suited for smoking. Its firm, flaky texture holds up well to smoking.


At home Smoked fish is a delicious and flavorful addition to any meal. Whether you're using hot or cold smoking, brining or dry rubbing, or experimenting with different types of wood, there are plenty of ways to customize your smoked fish to your liking. By following these tips and choosing the right fish, you'll be well on your way to creating perfectly smoked fish every time.


    1. Can I smoke any type of fish? Yes, you can smoke any type of fish, but some are better suited for smoking than others.

    2. Can I use any type of wood for smoking fish? You can use any type of wood for smoking fish, but some are better suited for certain types of fish than others.

    3. How long does it take to smoke fish? The smoking time will depend on the type and size of the fish, as well as the smoking method you are using.

    4. Should I brine my fish before smoking? Brining your fish can help to enhance its flavor and texture, so it's recommended to do so before smoking.

    5. Can I eat cold-smoked fish without cooking it first? yes, cold-smoked fish is considered cooked during the smoking process and doesn't have to be cooked separately before it can be eaten.

    6. What is the difference between hot smoking and cold smoking? Hot smoking cooks the fish while smoking it, while cold smoking only infuses the fish with flavor and does not cook it.

    7. What type of smoker should I use for smoking fish? You can use a variety of smokers, including electric, gas, charcoal, or wood smokers. The type of smoker you choose will depend on personal preference and availability.

    8. How do I know when the fish is done smoking? The fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) and should be firm and opaque throughout.

    9. Can I freeze smoked fish? Yes, smoked fish can be frozen for later use. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the freezer for up to three months.

    10. How can I serve smoked fish? Smoked fish can be served in a variety of ways, including as an appetizer with crackers and cheese, as a topping for salads or pasta dishes, or as a main course with vegetables and potatoes.

      Overall, smoking fish is a great way to add flavor and depth to your meals. With the right techniques and ingredients, you can create delicious smoked fish that will impress your family and friends. So go ahead and experiment with different types of fish and smoking methods to find the perfect combination for your taste buds. And don't forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor – a plate of perfectly smoked fish!

If you want to avoid all that time feel free to just purchase the best smoked fish directly from Banner Smoked Fish in New York. 

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