Dry-Brined Smoked Salmon

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We’ve been playing with smoked salmon recipes for years and this quick dry-brine process is easy and delicious. A go-to appetizer in our house any time there’s a party. Hope you enjoy. Try serving it with plain bagels and cream cheese.


  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar, divided
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 3 pounds salmon fillets
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 (12 fluid ounce) cans or bottles cola-flavored carbonated beverage (such as Coca-Cola®) (Optional)
  • 3 cups wood chips, soaked


Mix 1 cup brown sugar and kosher salt together in a small bowl.

Spread a thin layer of the brown sugar mixture in the bottom of a 9-inch baking pan. Arrange 2 to 3 salmon fillets on top; cover with some of the brown sugar mixture. Repeat layers until all the salmon fillets are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, 8 hours to overnight.

Preheat a smoker to 195 degrees F (91 degrees C) according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Rinse brown sugar mixture off salmon fillets. Brush fillets lightly with honey and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar on top.

Pour cola-flavored beverage into the smoker’s water pan; add water to within 1 inch of the top. Place half of the wood chips around the perimeter of the hot charcoal. Place salmon on the cooking racks.

Cook salmon, adding more wood chips if needed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 degrees F (63 degrees C), about 2 hours. Cool before serving, at least 15 minutes.

Preparation time: –
Cook time: 2 hrs
Total time: 10 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 12 – Yield: 3 pounds



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