11 Best Fish to Smoke

The best fish to smoke at your next cook-off. Beautiful hot and cold smoking recipes, from freshwater walleye to buttery red snapper, raise your fish smoking game today.

barbecue smoked herring fillets

Fish might not be your first port of call when planning your next session at your barbecue smoker, but with such an array of fish to choose from, there’s never been a better time to start experimenting with smoked fish.

From delicious mackerel fillets to homemade cold smoked salmon, discover the best fish to smoke on your backyard cooker today.

Cod

smoked cod pieces served on plate

Smoking cod is the best way to enjoy this classic white fish. This quick and simple smoked fish recipe is made with a simple dry brine, and then hot smoked for less than an hour. The quick cook time makes cod for perfect go-to fish for a quick appetizer or a camping meal on the road.

A subtle layer of smoke and salt enhances the natural flavors of the cod fillets without being overpowering, making smoked cod the perfect way to convert any seafood skeptics in your group.

Try This Recipe: These smoked cod fillets can be cooked in just under an hour. Prepare with a simple salt dry brine for an hour before smoking at 225°F (107°C) over applewood for 40-60 minutes.

Tuna

smoked tuna steak

With a firm texture and mild taste, tuna has countless admirers, even among non-fish lovers. Its firm texture makes it closer to meats like chicken or turkey, and as a result is the reason why it works so well for barbecue smoking or even grilling.

Tuna steak has a unique deep red color and firm texture that’s similar to traditional beef steaks, and can be cooked in similar ways! Cut perpendicular to the spin, tuna steaks are available bone-in or boneless.

Tuna is a huge species of fish, ranging anywhere up to 16 feet long. Because of this, they offer so much that they can be cut into both steaks and fillets.

Try This Recipe: Our smoked tuna is prepared in a simple wet brine for an hour before being smoked over oakwood at 250°F (120°C) for about one hour.

Mahi-Mahi

smoked mahi-mahi

Mahi-mahi (also known as Blue Dolphin Fish) are saltwater fish found in warm tropical and subtropical waters throughout the South Pacific, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. It has a mild taste comparable to swordfish but with a slightly sweeter flavor.

Cooked with the skin on to hold the meat together, smoked mahi-mahi will have a firm and flakey texture once served.

Try This Recipe: Our smoked mahi-mahi is coated in lemon pepper and herb seasoning before cooked low and slow on cedar planks. This mild-but-sweet hot smoked mahi-mahi recipe is the perfect way to enjoy barbecue seafood at home.

Halibut

smoked halibut

Halibut is a white fish popular for its mild, slightly sweet taste and firm, meaty texture. It is a large flatfish that produces extremely lean and bright white meat. Its firm flesh makes halibut an ideal fish for smoking as it takes on the flavor of the smoke really well.

Smoking halibut can help to bring the sweeter side of the natural flavor. Marinating, cooking, or serving halibut with butter can also add to the silky texture and rich taste of halibut fillets.

Try This Recipe: Our smoked halibut is prepared in a white wine and garlic marinade before we slow-smoke it over alder wood.

Walleye

smoked walleye recipe

Walleye is a large freshwater fish is native to rivers between the Rockies and the Appalachian Mountains in North America. It’s also sometimes known as dory, yellow pike, freshwater pike, pickerel, or pike-perch.

This isn’t just any regular fish, however. There is a distinct difference in taste between walleye and other freshwater fish. It produces firm, fine-flaked filets with hardly any bones and has a sweet yet subtle flavor with a buttery texture. 

Try This Recipe: Easy smoked walleye cooked low and slow over alder wood. These fresh fish fillets are prepared in milk and dry seasoning and cooked on your backyard BBQ smoker in just 40 minutes.

Red Snapper

smoked red snapper

Red snapper is a versatile white fish with a sweet, slightly nutty flavor. Red snapper produces a lean and firm meat that doesn’t have a strong fishy taste (when compared to the likes of some oily fish), making it an ideal fish to infuse with a variety of different flavors and spices or to serve for people who aren’t keen on strong seafood tastes.

The lean meat absorbs a good amount of smokey flavors, and the skin (once descaled) also tastes good while also helping to keep the fish together when smoking either as fillets or as a whole fish.  

The mild yet slightly sweet white meat of red snapper is ideal for anyone who isn’t keen on overly fishy tastes, and it can be paired with just about any ingredient or seasoning to produce a wonderful dish.

Try This Recipe: Incredible freshly smoked red snapper prepared in garlic and thyme, and hot smoked on cedar planks for delicately sweet-but-smoky barbecue fish.

Trout

smoked trout

Trout is a freshwater fish that carries a unique and fresh flavor, which is then taken to an entirely new level when done on the barbecue. With a combination of a sweet salt-water brine and cold smoking over wood, nothing is quite like this smoked fish.

If you’ve never had trout before, you’re in for a treat. The composition of the meat means that the fish is perfectly built for absorbing smoke while still boasting a clean and fresh taste. Just like with salmon, trout carries a beautiful deep orange color, as well as a thick flavor.

Try This Recipe: Make smoked trout the right way with our cold smoking recipe. Prepared with a salt and herb brine before smoked over alder for the perfect flavor.

Catfish

smoked catfish recipe

Catfish has a mild-but-sweet flavor that makes it unique from many other fish. It’s less flaky than most other fish, but this only serves to make catfish better suited to absorbing smoke and seasonings.

Try This Recipe: Filleted and brined before slow-cooked over smoke and wood, before coated with delicious butter and Cajun spice mix, our smoked catfish boasts flavor in every bite.

Mackerel

beautiful orange colored mackerel piece on fork

Oily and packed full of moisture and flavor, mackerel is an underrated but robust fish perfect for absorbing all the flavors from your smoker. The mackerel fillets are best prepared in a dry brine consisting of just salt before smoking for a couple of hours over low heat.

You can season them with black pepper and mustard powder, or just enjoy the fillets alone! The fish oil does wonders at locking in moisture and natural smokey flavors from your smoker and is a cut above any store-bought mackerel.

Try This Recipe: Barbecue smoked mackerel cooked low and slow over oak wood. Rich in fishy flavor and matched with an easy dry brine, this is as good as smoked fish comes.

Tilapia

smoked tilapia recipe

Smoked tilapia is tender with a mild-but-light flavor that offers enough versatility to match with smoke and any BBQ dry rub. Its mild flavor means it goes well with almost anything, whether served as an appetizer, or as part of a dip.

Try This Recipe: Our smoked whole tilapia is lightly seasoned in a garlic and basil rub before cooked low and slow over alder wood for two hours.

Salmon

cold smoked cured salmon fillet

Cold smoked salmon is the perfect way to enjoy one of our favorite plates of fish. Made with a salt-water brine and a sugar-based curing solution, this smoked fish is unlike any other.

Going through the process of cold smoking salmon at home might seem daunting, but with a little patience, the rewards are well worth it. It can be broken down into a few easy stages: Scaling, deboning, and slicing. It’s then brined and cured, before smoking at a low temperature of 80°F for approximately 5 hours.

Try This Recipe: Our cold smoked salmon is easy to make from scratch. Prepared in a simple salt-water brine solution overnight before being cured in molasses sugar, every step of the preparation is designed to ensure flavor in every bite.


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