The key to getting correct smoked salmon texture is the brine and then airing it out to form what is called the pellicle. I give you a brine recipe for smoked salmon using brown sugar and kosher salt and pair it with an epic Maple Bourbon glaze that will make you the star of your backyard once people try this epic smoked salmon recipe. Smoked salmon is awesome to have on hand on it’s own but imagine the possibilities of bagels and cream cheese, mixed into omelets with goat cheese, or making Penne ala vodka. The opportunities are endless!

The main thing you need to remember about making smoked salmon is that it needs a bit of time to “air out” in the refrigerator to get what is called the “Pellicle”. What is a Pellicle? A pellicle is a skin or coating of proteins on the surface of meat, fish or poultry, which allow smoke to better adhere to the surface of the meat during the smoking process. If you don’t give the salmon to form a pellicle, you will not get the texture you are looking for in smoked salmon, it will resemble salmon texture when it is cooked in the oven or on the grill.

This is yet another recipe I developed for my Healthy Electric Smoker Cookbook that I’ve put on my website for you to enjoy! If you make this recipe, don’t forget to leave a comment below or tag me on @grillgirlrobyn or the GrillGirl Facebook page with pictures! And please give me a follow at these places, I really appreciate it!


smoked salmon recipe brine


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grill girl, maple smoked salmon

Maple Bourbon Smoked Salmon

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  • Author: Robyn
  • Total Time: 4-5 hours
  • Yield: serves 10 1x



lbs smoked salmon, cut into filets 

Dry Brine 

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder 


  • ¾ cup maple syrup 
  • 2 tbsp bourbon 


Smoker temperature: 200 degrees

The process for getting true smoked salmon texture versus the texture of grilled salmon is airing the salmon in the refrigerator overnight after it has been dry brined to form a “pellicle” which helps it absorb smoke. 

Place salmon filets skin down in a glass dish.

Combine the salt, sugar and garlic powder and rub all over the filets, including the sides of the dish to ensure all parts of the salmon are covered.

Let the fish dry brine in the refrigerator for 45 minutes- it will give have given up a lot of liquid by this time.

Rinse the fish really well to remove the salt sugar mixture.  

Dry the fish REALLY WELL with paper towels and let air dry (no cover) in a well ventilated refrigerator for 24 hours or until the fish has developed a shiny skin- the “pellicle.” 

Smoke the fish at 200 degrees, but bring the heat up gradually, start as low as the smoker will let you go. The goal is to eliminate the release of a protein called albumin- a white milky substance– the release of this will mess up the texture of the smoked salmon and also dry it out. 

After the first hour and each hour until you’ve reached an internal temp of 140 degrees, baste the salmon with the maple bourbon mixture- this will also help eliminate and remove the release of albumin. 

Smoke the salmon until the internal temp reaches 140, this will take 3 hours or more depending on consistency of smoker and size of fish filets. 


It is wise to use an internal temp thermometer, like the chef alarm, that will alert you when you’ve reached proper internal temp of the meat. In addition, set yourself an alarm to baste every hour so you maintain consistency. 

On top of bagels and cream cheese (Google keto bagel recipe to make it low carb), it is repurposed in a smoked salmon frittata, smoked salmon and caper deviled eggs and is great used in a penne a la vodka with smoked salmon (use zoodles to make low carb.) 

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 3+ hours
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Smoked
  • Cuisine: salmon


  • Serving Size: 4 oz smoked salmon





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