This simple cold smoked salmon uses a liquid smoke hack & absolutely no heat. The end result is a luscious, salty fillet that can be used in so many different ways!

Cold Smoked Salmon

The smoky flavor of this cold smoked salmon tastes out of this world. From the silky texture to the rich moisture, it’s a knockout recipe that only requires a couple of simple ingredients. For the best results, pick up the freshest fillet of salmon you can get your hands on (Costco has amazing fillets that are quite affordable).

A Little Overview on Cold Smoking

Before we dive in, let’s cover off on the process of cold smoking. With this technique, you rely on salt curing in the fridge to make the fish safe to eat, retaining the raw texture of the salmon and giving it a wonderfully salty flavor. Often referred to as “gravlax”, cold smoked salmon is wonderful for everything from lox bagels to appetizers to salads.

How to Prepare Cold Smoked Salmon

Preparing this cold smoked salmon only requires 5 ingredients and a bit of patience to let the salt cure work it’s magic.

  • Prepare the Salmon: Use a paper towel to pat the salmon fillet down and season each side with kosher salt and sugar.
  • Cure the Salmon: Place the salmon in a baking dish and cover it with a lid or plastic wrap. Cure it in the fridge for 12-18 hours.
  • Rinse the Salmon: Rinse the salmon under cold water to remove the seasoning. Dry it with a paper towel.
  • Soak the Salmon. Whisk the liquid smoke with the water and pour it over the salmon. Cover the baking dish and allow the salmon to soak in the wet brine for 6-8 hours.
  • Dry the Salmon: Remove the salmon from the liquid smoke and dry it with a towel. Allow it to sit at room temperature on a wire rack for 8 hours to create a crust. Slice and enjoy!

Handy Tips & Tricks for Cold Smoked Salmon

A couple of helpful tips will help you make the best cold smoked salmon on the planet.

  • Remove the skin. For best results, remove the skin to allow the marinade to penetrate the flesh​.
  • Add in your favorite ingredients. Tweak the seasoning by swapping in brown sugar, fresh dill, garlic, or fresh cracked black peppercorns to the salt cure.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the salmon. To get those sleek, thin slices, use a really sharp knife to cut the salmon.

Several Ways to Serve Cold Smoked Salmon

There’s a million and one different ways you can serve cold smoked salmon. Below, find a couple of ideas to inspire you.

  • Lox Bagel: Serve the salmon on a toasted bagel with cream cheese, tomato, red onions, and a sprinkle of capers. Optionally, squeeze on a bit of lemon.
  • ​Appetizer Canapés: Use the cold smoked salmon in our smoked salmon tea sandwiches recipe.
  • Salmon Scramble: Throw some cold smoked salmon slices in your scrambled eggs for a quick and easy brunch.

Storage Tips

Find all the tips you need for storing and freezing your cold smoked salmon.

  • Refrigerator: Keep the cold smoked salmon fillet in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent it from drying out. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: To freeze the cold smoked salmon for up to 3 months, pop it in a freezer-safe bag marked with the date. To thaw it, pop it in the fridge overnight.


Is cold smoked salmon cooked or raw?

Cold smoked salmon is technically still raw and is cured not cooked. The process of salt-curing process pulls out the moisture and makes it safe to eat.

Can you leave the skin on the salmon?

You can leave the skin on, but the fillet won’t soak up as much of the spices. For best results, take the skin off.

What is the difference between cold and hot smoked salmon?

Cold smoked salmon is salt-cured in the fridge, while hot smoked salmon is salt-cured in the fridge and finished in a smoker with charcoal or wood pellets.

Can you use anything else besides liquid smoke?

Liquid smoke yields the best flavor, but you can use smoked paprika instead if you don’t have any.

Should you cure the salmon covered or uncovered?

You should cure the salmon covered in the fridge. This will prevent it from absorbing smells in your refrigerator.

Other Salmon Recipes to Try

About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.