If you want to make smoked salmon on your Traeger or pellet smoker then here is your complete guide for success! 

Most people don’t realize that there are a few steps that need to happen when smoking salmon in order to get the desired texture of smoked salmon. If you don’t first do these steps including making the brine and airing out the salmon overnight to form the pellicle, you will end up with the texture of GRILLED Salmon, not smoked salmon.

For this batch of smoked salmon, I am using Sustainably Caught Wild Sockeye Salmon Filets I got in my Moinkbox. Have you heard of Moinkbox? It is a Meat Subscription box that works with family farms, aka “tender hearted carnivores” and ensures that all meat is ethically sourced and harvested and their seafood it is sustainably caught. The Moinkbox is fully customizable so you can pick what suits your needs and it comes with a ton of meat so each month’s subscription (which can be paused when you want) is a great value! 

smoked salmon traeger

I really feel relieved that I have finally found a Meat Subscription Box that I feel good about supporting as I have never really trusted the meat or the seafood you find at the grocery store. There is no real way to know how the animals were treated so Moinkbox has really been a welcome change in how I get my meat, now to mention the fact that it is majorly convenient to have it arrive at my doorstep!

If you want to give moink a try, use my promo code for free ground beef for a year! 



Dry Brine Your Salmon

The first step in making Smoked Salmon on your Traeger or Pellet Smoker or any smoker is to first brine the salmon to remove the excess moisture for 45 minutes. This is a 1/1 mixture of brown sugar and sea salt or kosher salt. 

Make sure not to keep the salmon in the brine mixture more than 45 minutes or it will be too salty.

Next, rinse the brine off the salmon and pat it completely dry. 

smoked salmon traeger

Form the Pellicle

The next step is to air out the salmon overnight, uncovered to form a pellicle. The pellicle is the film that the salmon will develop by airing out overnight in the fridge. The pellicle is what the smoke adheres to when you put it on the smoker and gives you that smoked salmon texture.

Make sure your fridge is well ventilated. If you are short on time and can’t go overnight, then you will need to put in a battery operated fan into your fridge and let it blow on the salmon for about 4 hours to form the pellicle.

smoked salmon traeger

Smoking the Salmon

After the salmon has formed the pellicle, it is time to smoke the salmon. Now here is the fun part! We are going to use my Maple Bourbon Smoked Salmon recipe so this is a great opportunity to take a shot of bourbon while you make your glaze! 


This method works for any type of fish you want to smoke so feel free to try it on trout or whatever fish you have locally available!

It doesn’t take long to smoke salmon or any other type of fish. The key to smoking salmon on your Traeger or pellet smoker or any other kind of smoker is to bring the smoker up to temp slowly so that the fish doesn’t not produce a protein called albumin. 

So, what you want to do is gradually increase the temp on your smoker in increments, starting at 150 and then moving up at 20 degree increments until you are finally at 250 degrees.

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Salmon?

It doesn’t not take a long time to smoke salmon at 225- no more than 2 ½ hours. You will need to monitor the temp of your fish with an internal read thermometer like the Thermapen (if you don’t have a Thermapen yet and consider yourself a serious griller well then go and get one ASAP!) reads 145 degrees or a few degrees under that.

Maple Bourbon Glaze

Glaze the salmon every 30 minutes or so with the maple bourbon glaze. Trust me when I tell you that you will want to bath yourself in this stuff- so good!

Proper Internal Temp for Smoked Salmon

You are looking to get to an internal temp of 145 degrees in your salmon, if it is a few degrees under that is okay because it will continue to cook when you pull the salmon off your smoker.

You can store the salmon in the fridge for up to 2 weeks but I can assure you that it will not last that long! I love using this smoked salmon in pasta, paired with crackers and cream cheese and also topped on deviled eggs!

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smoked salmon treager

How to Smoke Salmon (Smoked Salmon with Maple Bourbon Glaze)

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  • Author: Robyn
  • Total Time: 27 hours
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x


This easy Maple Bourbon Smoked Salmon recipe will set you up for success to easily smoke salmon on any Pellet smoker, Traeger or any kind of smoker.


  • 2 lbs smoked salmon, cut into filets (I got mine from Moinkbox.com)



  • ¾ cup maple syrup 
  • 2 tbsp bourbon 


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 225 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. 



Note: this recipe was developed in partnership with Moinkbox. I only work with companies I use and recommend! Thanks!


  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 2-3 hours
  • Category: appetizer, smoked fish, smoked salmon
  • Method: BBQ, Grill
  • Cuisine: American

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