Smoking 101: How to Smoke Fish in a Smoker Plus Recipe

Fish takes on a deliciously moist texture when slow roasted in a smoker. The meat of the fish easily peels away in tender, flaky chunks as it is infused with all the flavours of sweet smoky wood. When paired with seasonings of fresh herbs and citrus aromatics, smoked fish is a tasty treat that you can feel good about indulging in. Here are our best tips for how to smoke fish in a smoker.

Sea bass, Salmon, Sailfish – Oh my! The Best Fish to Smoke

Fattier fish like salmon or sea bass absorb smoke better than leaner fish. While any fish will be delicious cooked in the smoker, we suggest going with tuna, salmon or sea bass for tender, moist smoked fish. This article can tell you even more about choosing the best types of fatty or lean fish to smoke.

  1. How to Prepare Fish
    There are many different ways to enjoy smoked fish, and these variations mostly depend on how you prepare it. Whole fish makes a delicious smoked fish treat because the skin crisps up and separates from the meat of the fish. Fish fillets with skin on are our favourite, though, because they are easy to eat and hold up well in the heat of the smoker.

  2. Choose the Right Wood Chips
    Sweet, mild woods like apple, cherry, or alder are the best option for smoked fish because they won’t overpower the delicate, mild flavour of the meat.

  3. Smoke Fish
    Preheat smoker and add wood chips to get things going. We suggest letting the wood chips preheat for about 45 mins. Add fish and let smoke for about 3 hours.

  4. Test the Temperature
    Whether your fish is caught wild from a stream or plucked from the meat aisle, it’s vital to smoke your fish until it has reached a safe internal temperature. Most fish fillets will be done once the internal temperature reaches 70 degrees C. You can use a digital meat thermometer to check the temperature throughout the cook time to be sure.

HOT TIP – If your fillets aren’t thick enough for the meat probe to get an accurate reading, calculate the smoke time for about three hours plus 30 minutes per pound of fish.

Easy Smoked Fish Recipe


1.8-2.2 kg hearty, skin-on fillets (salmon, mackerel, or sea bass)
1 quart water
½ cup salt
½ cup white granulated sugar


  1. Mix brine over low heat until salt and sugar dissolved. Let cool completely.
  2. Submerge fish in brine. Let rest in the fridge for 6-10 hours, or overnight.
  3. Remove fillets and lightly rinse before smoking. Pat dry and sprinkle with paprika.
  4. Preheat smoker and add wood chips. Smoke fish for about 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

Now that you know all the secrets to making perfectly smoked fish, check out the Char-Broil community site for more great recipes.