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Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Hello again and welcome back! This year has started off with a series of blog posts featuring things I have wanted to learn but for one reason or another procrastinated. This post focuses on curing and cold smoking, two areas covered in a great book named Charcuterie The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. For this cook I cured, then cold smoked a beautiful piece of farm raised salmon. Now sit back, grab a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and enjoy this post for Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

 

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Although there are a lot of moving parts to this recipe the cure used for the salmon was simple featuring just two ingredients: Coarse Salt & Brown Sugar.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Mix the salt and brown sugar well and place a layer on the bottom of a pan before laying the salmon on top. Then cover the salmon with the remainder of the salt, sugar mixture.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

I moved the cured salmon to a deeper dish since the cure creates a brine when pulling the moisture from the fish. Here is the salmon after 36 hours in the cure.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

After 24-48 hours, rinse the salmon under cold then place it in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to extract the salt.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Pull the salmon out of the water and place on a wire rack, then refrigerate (uncovered) overnight. This helps dry the salmon creating a surface the smoke will adhere to.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

After the salmon sits overnight in the fridge it is time to set up your Big Green Egg for the cold smoke. I used the Amazen Pellet Smoker with Apple Wood pellets.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Fill the maze with the pellets.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Clean out all of the lump charcoal in your Big Green Egg so the fire box is empty. To light the pellet smoker, place on top of your grate, light the corner of the smoker with a butane torch, and let the flame burn for 10 minutes.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

After 10 minutes, blow out the flame, and place the pellet smoker in the bottom of your fire box (mine sits on top of my Kick Ash Basket below).

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Keep the top and bottom vents all the way open and let the smoke billow from the Big Green Egg. Place your ConvEGGerator legs up and then the grill grate on top to complete your set up.

Remember this is a COLD SMOKE so if you are doing this in weather above 70° Fahrenheit you need to add a tray of ice to your environment to keep temp under 90°. Fortunately, this cook was in February and it was 32° outside.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Once the pellet smoker has been producing smoke for another 10 minutes place your salmon inside on top of a wire rack on the grill grate. Close the dome and let the salmon smoke away for 6 to 12 hours.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

For this cook, the salmon was ready at the 8 hour mark. As you can see the smoke was still going strong with this little pellet smoker!

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Pull the smoked salmon from the Big Green Egg and place it on a large piece of butcher paper. Wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and serving.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Serve with lemon, chopped hard-boiled egg, sliced red onion, capers, cream cheese, and fresh bagels.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

This was an amazing experience and one I look forward to doing again soon trying various aromatics for the salmon cure.

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

The BBQ Buddha
Have you ever wanted to cure and cold smoke salmon? If so, this recipe will walk you through it and teach you all the in's and out's.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 2 d
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 2 d 8 hrs
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 Lbs. Salmon Filet
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Coarse Salt
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Brown Sugar

Instructions
 

  • To make the cure:
  • Combine the salt and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Spread 1/3 of the cure over the bottom of a glass baking dish large enough to hold the fish.
  • Lay the salmon on top of the cure.
  • Spread the remaining cure on top of the salmon to cover the fish completely.
  • Cover the dish with plastic wrap and cure the fish in your refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
  • After 24-48 hours in the cure rinse the cure off the salmon under cold running water.
  • Place the salmon in a large bowl and cover with cold water.
  • Soak for 30 minutes, then drain well.
  • Blot the salmon dry on both sides with paper towels.
  • Lay the salmon on a wire rack over a sheet pan and let the salmon dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator over night.
  • Fill your Amazen Pellet Smoker with Apple Wood pellets and light in one corner.
  • Let the flame burn 10 minutes before blowing it out to produce the smoke.
  • If you’re smoking the salmon on a warm day (temperature above 70 degrees), arrange the fish on a wire rack over a roasting pan filled with ice. (The fish should be at least 1 inch above the ice.)
  • Empty out your fire box and place the Amazen Pellet smoker inside.
  • Put the ConvEGGerator in the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking.
  • Place the salmon on a wire rack in the Big Green Egg on top of the grill grate.
  • Now cold smoke the salmon 6-12 hours. You will know when it is ready when it takes on that semi-firm and leathery look.
  • Wrap the salmon in butcher paper and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Slice using a sharp knife diagonal to the fish, cut the salmon into paper-thin slices.
Tried this recipe?Mention @the_bbq_buddha or tag #the_bbq_buddha!

 

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89 comments on “Big Green Egg Cold Smoked Salmon

  1. This smoked salmon looks incredible, it takes a bit of time (ok…waiting time) to make it, but dang, I am sure it´s worth the wait, thanks for all the great tips to make this smoked salmon, all I was missing was my glass of Sauvignon Blanc 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe!! But I have a question: I have smoked this salmon twice now, same salmon, same times/method, same everything except the outside air temperature was about 10°C (18°F) warmer the second time, & it appeared slightly more like cooked salmon, whereas the first time it was really “raw” like “typical” smoked salmon. I smoked it 12hrs through the night. First time was +/-10-11°C (50°F), 2nd time +/-19-20°C (68°F). Surely even at 20°C the salmon would not “cook” in 12hrs. Perhaps I should try with the Ice as suggested, even at lower temperatures (??)
    Nevertheless still super tasty, just wondering if anyone had the same experience or has any ideas?
    Cheers..

    1. James you are exactly right. The change in outside temp impacted the cold smoke. Next time try the ice as that should offset the outside environment.

  3. Hi Chris,

    Going to give your recipe a go this weekend. Thanks for the well described process; it will be my first cold smoke.

    Do you think outside temps around the freezing mark and just below will be a problem or affect the results? My setup is the same as yours.

    Thanks

    1. Darryl,

      Thanks for reaching out. My assumption is it will not impact your cold smoke. If anything it should help. Interested in the results… please report back!

        1. Sorry for the delay in coming back with the results. The salmon came out perfectly in those conditions. I smoked on the lower side of your recommended time and we were very pleased with the results. Thank you for this excellent article and recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe twice now; each time amazing. The second time I smoked the fish for only 6 hours and it was probably the best smoked salmon I’ve had in my entire life. Long and fulfilling process – thanks for posting and can’t wait to try more curing/smoking.

  5. Hi Chris. I’m new to your site but look forward to many future visits. The site is great and your recipes look awesome! Question. With the cold smoking in warm/hot weather using a large BGE, how would you suggest incorporating the ice into the process? Thanks!

    1. To be direct, I haven’t done cold smoking in warm weather. With that said, I would suspect putting a large tray of ice in the BGE on top of the ConEVVGtor would help keep the environment cool.

  6. Hi Chris, this is very interesting. To be clear, you are not using any charcoal in the BGE?
    The pellets provide the smoke, but also are the heat source?
    I have a cast iron smoker box I used to use with my gas grill. Can this hold the pellets?

    1. You are correct, the pellets are the heat source as well. This is truly “cold smoking” which is more like curing than it is cooking. With that said, the smoker box should work fine.

      1. Hi Chris. Finally did the salmon a few weeks ago. Live in Canada, 2 hours east of Toronto. Was able to find the Amazon pellet smoker, so very happy with it.
        Salmon turned out ok.
        Texture was great! Was a little salty though.
        Left in the cure for 48 hours. Rinsed, then soaked in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinsed & soaked for another 30 minutes.
        For my next attempt I have 2 thoughts:
        1) reduce the amount of salt in the cure.
        2) only cure for 24 hours.
        I’m thinking option 2 is the best solution.
        You’re thoughts?

          1. I’ve done it 3 times now. The best outcome was with curing with just over 24hrs. First I did 48 hrs and it was very salty also. The other was 36 hrs, not as salty, but it didn’t turn out as well because my XL BGE got too hot. I think the pellets caught of fire near the end and raised the temp over 100°F. On the other hand, the “skin” produced during the time when the temperature was too high made what I called salmon jerky that was a big hit with some. I filleted that hard “skin” layer off and served it separately from the rest of the meat.

          2. Thanks for the input Eric.
            I too ended up with the “skin”. Mine came from deciding to do an 8 hour smoke. I filleted it off as well(all mine!).
            Next time it’s a 24 hour brine & 6 hour smoke. Stay tuned!

          3. I did another round over the weekend. This time 24hrs in cure and 5hrs in smoke and it turned out really good. I was aiming for 6 hrs in smoke, but my BGE was in direct sunlight and the temp kept creeping up past 90 despite ambient temps near 50. I tried everything to keep temp down, even closing the bottom vent completely and barely cracking the top vent but nothing worked, so I stopped at 5 hrs. Still have a little “skin” but not the jerky texture.

    2. When you say close the dome….are you referring to just the lid or do you shut down the vents also? I have a 2xl. Outside temp was 77 here in Arizona and I had a tray full or ice and ice surrounding and had an awful time keeping the temp down…pretty much think it cooked…not discouraged though as I am brand new to the big green egg.

      1. No, I mean just close the dome. The wording above tells you how to set the vents (Keep the top and bottom vents all the way open and let the smoke billow from the Big Green Egg. Place your ConvEGGerator legs up and then the grill grate on top to complete your set up)

        Remember this is a COLD SMOKE so if you are doing this in weather above 70° Fahrenheit you need to add a tray of ice to your environment to keep temp under 90°. F

  7. I just finished smoking my. It looks fantastic! I’m trying to perfect it before thanksgiving. If this one is as good as it looks, how long will it last? I can get my hands on a vacuum sealer to prolong its life.

  8. 5 stars
    Smoking 2 filets now on our Kamado Joe grill (just like the BGE). I bribed for 22.5 hours (only because of the schedule we had that day), rinsed and soaked in cold water for 30 mins and now smoking. Thinking of going for 6 hours and checking then. Hoping for the best! But so far, very easy. Just takes a bit of planning with time beforehand.

  9. Hi, would like to try this recipe (Seems amazing) but it’s 14F outside (canada winter), would you do it the same way with the amaze N cold smoker? Would you add a heat source?

    Thanks

  10. 5 stars
    I want to try this recipe in my BGE but here in Canada it’s 14F, do I follow the recipe or do I add a heat source so the salmon won’t freeze?

    1. The colder outside the better! Basically the salmon is cured and edible by the time you go to smoke it. So the smoke is further curing it and adding flavor i.e. it isn’t for cooking it with heat. Make sense?!

    2. Hi Patrice. I also live in Canada (Eastern Ontario).
      Done this twice with only the pellets as the heat source. No problems. Used my thermoworks smoke thermometer to monitor temp. 70 – 80 F maintained.
      First try was mid November. 48 hr brine, 8 hr smoke. Good, but salty and slightly overdone.
      Chris, I didn’t follow up with you after the 2nd attempt, so here it is.
      This one was mid December, very cold! Temp was good in the BGE tho.
      This time I brined for 24 hrs and smoked for 6 hours.
      Excellent Christmas day brunch!
      Next time I’m going to drop the brine time go 20/22 hrs. Gotta experiment!

      1. Jim,
        Your first experience sounds exactly like mine, too salty and over smoked. My second was ~26hrs and 6 hrs and it was fantastic. My third attempt was closer to 36hrs of brine 8 hrs of smoke. I think my pellets must have caught fire at some point because the salmon formed a skin on it that was tough. I dubbed it salmon jerky and it was a hit. I cut the tougher “jerky” off the top and sliced the other meat up and it was ok. On another note, after the first attempt, I consulted some other sites and decided to try leaving the skin on the fish. I feel that skin on produces a better product plus it makes slicing easier.

  11. 5 stars
    Good morning Chris. The first time I made this recipe. I followed the recipe with the exception my smoke tube only does 6 hrs. And I removed the skin. The Salmon was perfect. I gave some to my girl friend on Christmas 2019 (our first date). She loved it so much, she is now requesting more for Valentine’s Day instead of chocolate. Now to figure out, is it me or the Salmon she is falling for…lol. Thank you for the recipe.

  12. 5 stars
    Second time making this, and I’m thrilled with the results. 36 hours cure, 8.5 hours on the smoker, perfect results. I’ve amazed my friends and family with this recipe, and will continue to do so. Planning on vacuum sealing in thirds and freezing some of it for later. Thanks again!

  13. Hi this is very interesting. We have a bge and a Traeger. I’m curios about your using pellets in the bge. Why not use bge smoke? Why not use a pellet grill?

    1. This is a cold smoke and thus you need to keep the temp very low. That’s easily accomplished with the pellet maze I used for this cook. You cannot set the temperature that low on a Traeger so that isn’t an option. This is less about the wood type and more about the cooking environment. Hope that helped.

  14. 5 stars
    I’m still saving up for my BGE.. but having a blast curing and cold smoking just using my weber. Cure for 36 hours or so, cold smoke for 2-3 hours gives me the flavor I like. Now that it’s summer, the cold smoking has to be done early in the am, and over a pan of ice cubes. I change them about every hour (which I realize releases the smoke, but I am fast)

  15. I don’t want to cold smoke the salmon but rather just cook it low and slow on The Bug Green Egg. Does 215* work?
    I live in So California!!!

  16. Thank you for this recipe! i’m a rookie in smoking and i’m really concerned about storage. I’ve read that many things can go wrong if we don’t follow precise steps in the preparation and, after the smoking session, when storing it in the fridge or freezer.
    How will i need to store this in the fridge? How long will it last if not vacuum sealed?

    Thanks!

  17. Alberto, a good vacuum sealer will become your most prized kitchen tool (almost) – I cold smoke a bunch of this when it’s cool enough in the spring mornings. I just had the last of it this morning, still delicious. The long 6 months in the freezer didn’t seem to affect it in the least. I can’t wait for it to cool down around here again.

  18. Thanks for that awesome recipe and all the detail. I’m stoked to be trying it now/overnight. Most people in the comments going through their setup and experience never mention the overnight fridge drying step. Is it that most skip it? Would be great as I’m short on time, already reducing curing by a few hours (will be doing something like 18-20h at best).

    1. I would not skip that curing step or reduce the time as that’s the part keeping you safe. Raw salmon could be a bad thing to eat and curing it kills the bacteria that would negatively affect you.

      1. Argh – I understand. Thanks for the prompt reply.
        I cured it for 17 or 17.5h. Then rinsed and soaked 30min, then fridge dried 2.5h. Smoking for 4.5h. On the low side obviously, hopefully ok?

  19. 5 stars
    Hi Chris
    This salmon is fantastic. Thanks so much for your detailed and clear recipe. I really like that you have provided feedback on the comments and questions as that helped me get it right from the start. I have now made this three times – 24hr brining with 6 hr smoke using alder pellets. It has gotten rave reviews from family and friends (we have to share a little 🙂 every time. Really appreciate you sharing your expertise.

      1. Oh I second that. This has become my staple recipe. But it’s always great. Have played with it a bit, added maple sugar for instance in the brine. Was great. Thanks again.

  20. 5 stars
    Just tried this recipe and it’s awesome. The details and steps are very well explained. I found the tail piece much saltier then the rest of the salmon as the meat is thinner. I would cut that piece off and soak it a while longer to remove the over salty taste. But overall, it was a great success.

      1. hi. great recipe.
        would this same recipe work on sockeye? or do you suggest as a first timer, use farm raised or king (if i could find king)

  21. Hi Chris. I’m a newbie to this recipie and I forgot to cut skin off salmon before curing?. Its 22hrs into curing process. Should I cut if off now and continue to cure for another day?

    1. I’ve never had this happen. However, my gut tells me just remove the skin and keep going. The brine should have penetrated enough to be safe. But with salmon you don’t want to take chances with food safety.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. Just removed it and will continue to let it soak in remaining salt mixture for remaining time. Will let u know?

      2. 5 stars
        I typically leave the skin on. It gets saltier than I like with the skin removed. I’ve done it both ways several times.

  22. 5 stars
    I have a friend who’s family has used this method for generations. Salmon fisherman. However, they don’t do the rinse. What are your thoughts on that? I’m nervous it will be to salty.

  23. 5 stars
    Hey Chris, I absolutely love this recipe!! I live in Charleston so I don’t get too many cold smoking days. I made more than I can eat and have the leftovers vacuum sealed in the fridge right now and was wondering how long it will stay for? Will this it keep well if put in the freezer? If so, how long? Thanks again for the great recipe.. I was shocked at how well the a-maze-n pellet smoker worked.

      1. It seriously does! After 8 hours it still had almost 1/4 of the pellets still left in there. Was tempted to run to the store to grab a block of Cheddar lol. Awesome, thanks for the quick reply!

  24. Love this recipe Chris, thank you! Occassionally my pellets will catch fire and then the salmon cooks a bit instead of smokes. My intuition is that open vents would more likely facilitate it catching fire, but I know that’s what you advise. Any thoughts on best way to manage the pellets catching fire?

    1. I leave the top and bottom vents closed almost all the way to avoid the pellets catching fire. In addition, use that pellet maze if you are not as that helps the pellets burn in an even and snake like fashion.

    2. I have exactly the same issue. Not only you will need to keep those vents almost completely closed, but also place your BGE front away from direct wind. I realized that when they start burning the BGE is not smoking anymore (obviously) and then is very difficult to turn the fire off and back to a normal slow smoke. In some cases i had to completely restart the procedure.

  25. Silly question: i normally use this procedure (the best IMO) but this time i have an issue, no time to dry the salmon overnight in the fridge. Is there any salmon preservation issues reducing the time to a couple of hours? i know the smoke won’ t adhere as good as it would when it’s a bit dry….but this time i just poorly calculated the times. Many thanks.

  26. It was 50° out when I smoked. I couldn’t for the life of me keep the Green egg under 90°. I’m using a medium green egg and a 12 in hexagonal smoking tube. Any advice for keeping the smoker temperature down?

    1. Put a pan of ice in the chamber and that should help cool it down. So have the pellet smoker at the bottom as described, then add conveggtor, pan of ice, grill grate, then salmon.

  27. Quick question….just did my 48hr cure and while Im rinsing it off, I noticed the salmon filet is markedly firmer than before I started. Is this normal/expected? Thanks!

    1. Yes that is to be expected. As the salt works its way in the the flesh the moisture is being pulled out. When the two meet (salt, moisture) the process stops and locks in creating the pellicle needed for smoke adhesion. So, when you reach that state the fish will feel firmer. Nice job!

      1. Awesome, thanks!! Appreciate that! Feeling a little better…shes been in the fridge overnight and will get smoked later today or tomorrow!

  28. Hey Chris…just asked about the firmness after curing…realizing that might be due to the fact that I left the skin on :/ thinking I need to filet that off before smoking, yes? Thanks again, Robb

    1. Doesn’t have to do with the skin being left on. However, you want to remove the skin so that side of the fish can get as much smoke penetration as the other side!

      1. I actually prefer the skin on because it makes it much easier to thinly slice, but that’s just my opinion. I typically do it 2 ways, skin on part and skin of an cut into 1/4″ wide strips because my son likes those pieces. The strips get SUPER smokey!!

      2. Awesome, thanks!! Appreciate that! Feeling a little better…shes been in the fridge overnight and will get smoked later today or tomorrow!
        PS…was able to get the skin off easily last night before it went into the fridge so Im good so far..

      3. Hey Chris,
        Just an update….smoked for what I think was 6hrs but I realized at some point my pellet maze died out…looks to be about half way thru the pellets. Has this happened to anyone on any regularity? The Salmon is definitely more firm after smoking but not like jerky stiff, thankfully… its not over salty or over smokey so I think it ended up ok despite the oddities above. Will be grabbing some capers and cream cheese for breakfast tomorrow! Thanks for your recipe guidance! Would love to know thoughts on the above….Robb

        1. I usually only let it smoke for 3-4 hours anyway. I use Alder wood which is a bit less strong than some other woods, but from your description sounds like it came out great! I have had the pellets go out, but I use a pellet “tube” which I don’t think is as good as the maze. (I always leave the skin on too, but I’ve done it both ways with success) This last go round, I went wild on my dry brine, used cardamom, grapefruit zest and chili flake. Was awesome. Still have a time down here in the south for a few more smokes before it gets too hot. Cheers!