An electric smoker is ideal for making smoked salmon because of the convenience, ease, and flexibility of choosing to hot or cold smoke your salmon. Think of an electric smoker as the crockpot of outdoor cooking, you can set the temperature, the time, and just walk away until it’s ready.

Why you should use an electric smoker to make smoked salmon

There are many kinds of smokers on the market today, all with a variety of heat sources. So why choose electric? An electric smoker is ideal for both the beginner and seasoned veteran, convenience being my main reason. 

Often electric smokers will come with the option of an attachment that will give you the flexibility of hot or cold smoking. Cold smoked salmon, also known as lox, is smoked at a temperature between 65°F and 85°F. When making lox, the smoke needs to be funneled into the chamber that hold the fish. It’s key that the salmon isn’t exposed to a temperature high enough to cook it.

Hot smoking temperatures are more in the range of 125 – 175°F and result in a fully cooked product. Whichever method you choose, there are several steps you can take to assure that your smoked salmon is the best smoked salmon.

How to make smoked salmon in electric smoker

I am a firm believer in either brining or curing my salmon before it hits the smoker. 12 hours is plenty of time for either method. Brining involves leaving the fish in a liquid solution of salt, sugar, and water, while curing is covering the fish with just salt and sugar. Spices can be added to either brines or cures to add additional flavors. After brining or curing, it’s important to make sure the fish is rinsed and dried before going into the smoker. 

The majority of smoke flavor is absorbed within the first 30 minutes of smoking and it is possible to over smoke foods, which can cause a rather unpleasant acrid flavor. The general rule is to add some chips every now and then. There should always be a visible amount of smoke escaping from the vent, however, if smoke is consistently billowing out you should tone it down a bit.

What kind of wood works best for smoking salmon?

So, what kind of wood chips work best for smoking salmon? Personal taste is always important, but due to the delicate nature of salmon I would recommend a mild flavored wood. Alder, Cherry and Maple are all good choices. Here is a great selection of wood chip flavors for all your smoking needs.

If you are ready to give this a go, procure a high-quality filet of salmon, some wood chips, and an electric smoker. Check out this great recipe for Alder Smoked Salmon, and give it a try.