If you are looking for the best recipe for smoked fish dip on the web, well, just read the comments below.
This recipe has become a staple for people who fall in love with this appetizer in their visits to Florida. Even if you don't live in Florida, you can make this recipe for smoked fish dip with trout, tuna or even salmon. This recipe has been a fan favorite for years and honors the Florida tradition of smoked fish dip, the unofficial appetizer of the Sunshine State.
Smoked fish dip is an old school Florida tradition. If the rumors are true, South Florida was once dotted with smoked fish huts that existed solely for the purpose of smoking fish and selling fish dip. My neighbor, Dan's family used to own one of these fish smokin' shacks until about 30 years ago, so he now does his fish smoking in his back yard.
Lucky me, about once a month he brings over smoked mullet, marlin, and sailfish which make wonderful fish dip. Scott calls my dip “crack” because it is that good and addicting. My recipe is a derivation of Dan's family recipe. Keep in mind that if you don't have these types of smoked fish available (marlin, sailfish, mullet) that you can substitute other kinds of smoked fish you can find at your local seafood shop.
In Florida, you will often find the fish dip made with mullet, kingfish, amberjack or even mahi mahi. The oilier fish are great for smoking because they don't dry out, but if you are buying versus catching for smoking, the ones that are easiest to find is usually mahi. I've made this with wahoo as well and it was delicious, but my Instagram friends told me that was sacrilegious to use such a nice fish for smoked fish dip.
This is the BEST recipe for Smoked Fish Dip – that's why it's also called “crack dip,” because it's highly addictive!
Florida smoked fish dip is kind of like pizza. Even the bad fish dip is still good because, just like how bad pizza is still good, even fish dip on a scale of 5 out of 10 is still amazing. Over the years, my smoked fish dip has become to be known as my most stellar of recipes. When friends come to visit from out of town, they request I make surplus batches so they can take it home with them in their suitcase.
So, when I tell you mine is good, I am not being arrogant, it is damn good! I think what really takes it up a notch is the addition of lime juice and lime zest. Something about the brightness of the lime juice and zest helps cut into the smokiness of the fish, while also getting a tingle of spice from the jalapenos and that right there is just about the perfect bite. I promise.
If you are looking to make this recipe from scratch, ie. not buying fish that has already been smoked, here are the necessary steps to get started.
How to Smoke Fish Correctly to Make this Recipe for Smoked Fish Dip
- Use a dry brine, ie., a mixture of one part brown sugar to one part kosher salt and apply to your fish filets hitting all sides of the exposed fish. Cover, and let the dry brine do it's thing for an hour.
- Rinse the brine off. Place the fish on a plate and pat dry with a paper towel making sure there is no moisture on the plate and the fish filets.
- Let the fish dry out overnight in the refrigerator uncovered so they form a pellicle. What is a pellicle? The pellicle is a coating of proteins that the fish gets by airing out so that the smoke will adhere to during the smoking process. Without the pellicle, your smoked fish will have the texture of grilled fish, so this part is important. If you don't have the time to air out overnight, put your fish in the fridge with a small fan over it for 4 hours and that should get the job done.
- Smoke the fish at 225 degrees until it reaches an internal temp of 145. This will take a few hours. You can also coat it with a layer of maple/bourbon as you go along to add additional flavor. This is great if you just want to eat the fish by itself. Reference my Maple Smoked Salmon Recipe for the full recipe that will guide you to smoked salmon perfection, perfect for adding to all your favorite dishes!
- Now, your fish is ready to be made into this most epic of all SMOKED FISH DIP RECIPES!
If you want to try your hand at smoked fish for enjoying on its own, check out my Maple Bourbon Smoked Salmon recipe!
Did y'all know that Smoked Fish dip is one of the first recipes I received notoriety for? In fact, I started it making it early on in the GrillGirl days, as can be seen here in a pic from my sailboat racing days! Here is a pic from Miami race week back in 2010! And the recipe was even featured in Flamingo Magazine in 2019.
So, are you excited to make it yet?!!!!! Leave me a comment if you make it and let me know what you think!
South Florida Smoked Fish Dip
- Total Time: 16 hours (if smoking the fish yourself)
- Yield: 3-4 servings 1x
This dip is so good, you may eat the whole batch in one sitting! Enjoy!
- 6–8 ounces smoked fish, skin removed, meat chopped in coarsely (so as not to burn out the motor on your food processor!)
- 1/2 block cream cheese
- 2 jalapenos
- Juice of one lime
- Zest of one lime
- 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 cup light mayo (or less, depending on how wet your mixture is and how well it is blending)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Puree ingredients in a food processor until well blended. I like to make mine almost whipped so as to easily spread on crackers. Be like a true Floridian and serve this with pickled jalapenos and hot sauce!
- Prep Time: 12 hours (not including smoking)
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: smoked fish, fish dip
- Method: smoking, grilling
- Cuisine: Floribbean, Caribbean, Floriddean
Keywords: Recipe for Smoked Fish Dip, Best Smoked Fish Dip, Best Florida Smoked Fish Dip Recipe, Fish Dip Recipe
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Great, I love fish recipes. I’ll enjoy this very much. Thanks, Adam
Great info, thanks for useful article. I am waiting for more
Keep working ,great job!
Nice, looks tasty!
Wow! What a fantastic recipe. I made it today and I loved it. I’ll probably make this really often. Thanks.
Just had the smoked fish spread at the Friendly Fisherman at John’s Pass and it was absolutely wonderful. Would love to have their recipe. I’m wondering if the recipe above will taste like the one at the friendly fisherman? I live in St. Louis and don’t know where to get smoked fish. Gonna find out! Thanks for this site! Karen
I make my dip out of smoked marlin or kingfish but I believe on the west coast they make theirs out of smoked mullet.
Usually, after having dip at restaurants, I still find my recipe to be a step above the rest as the lime zest and old bay and jalapenos really add a lot of flavor.
You could probably try this recipe with any smoked fish you can find and try it that way.
Yum! I just made this today with smoked fish from a friend and LOVED it. The whole bowl is gone. Must make more!
Thanks for a great post.
Awesome! That stuff is like crack rock! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Good recipe! I was wondering how long this dish keeps in the refrigerator. should dish be thrown out after about 3 days or so?
If you ever get the chance to go to Cedar Key, FL it is just like you described. Fish huts all along the downtown, and you just inhale that fabulous smell of fresh smoked mullet. It’s a must see, tiny town but so worth the drive. Totally authentic old Florida. Go to Tony’s for clam chowder that is amazing (and you can get a frozen bucket to go) and get smoked fish dip at the produce stand on the way into town. Five generations of my family is from there!
I’ve heard great things about Cedar key!! Id love to go there. Smoked fish dip is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.
I love your recipe and I add Chopped up Vidala onions and it is heaven!!
we love smoked fish spread – how do you think it would be w/o the spicy peppers? We are mtg some friends on Marco Island next week and she can’t eat spicy food, but loves fish and shellfish
I think it would be fine without the peppers. You may want to add more black pepper if no jalapenos. Let me know what you think!
This is truly the best smoked fish dip recipe. I made it for a family and friend get together a few years ago with some mullet my brother caught. Since then, people bring me mullet to make it for them. I’m making a big batch today to distribute! Yum! Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!
So glad you are enjoying the recipe Natasha! Similarly, I have a pair of friends from San Francisco and everytime they come visit they request I make this, and then they ask for more so they can take it home with them… 🙂
Tried your Fish dip tonight……… Awesome. THANKYOU
Glad you enjoyed! It’s addictive!!
I use to eat at the Quarterdeck in Ft Lau. Their smoked marlin dip was so addictive, i use to close up early just to go do a batch, im talking 5 nights
Jeffrey I live just down the street from the quarter deck at the dania beach pier. This recipe is taken and improved on from a local florida cracker. To be authentic u could use sea grape wood fo4 the smoke.
Awesome recipe-we used Kingfish caught off the Navarre pier. I use applewood for smoking.
Had a ton of fish from a week long stay in Islamorada and smoked a 3 lb fillet of amberjack today. Followed your recipe to a tee and couldn’t stop eating it. Delicious.
Val- there is a reason we call it “crack dip” lol. Glad you enjoyed!
Thanks to my father who stated to me regarding this blog, this web site is in fact amazing.
Smokin Wes on Madeira Beach, close to Johns Pass, west coast of Florida. He had the very best smoked fish spread, and his smoked fish was out of this world. he even smoked a holiday turkey for me one year. I have never found a fish spread as good as his. Wes is long gone from the beach, this was back in mid to late 70’s. Have you ever heard of him? Anyway, I’m going to try your recipe! 🙂
I hope this meets your expectations Holly! This recipe came from a real Floridian and I have tweaked it a bit. Let me know what you think after you make it!