Smoked Cod [Easy Barbecue Fish Recipe]

Smoked cod cooked low and slow over applewood for a delicious serving of barbecue white fish. Discover how to smoke this delicious seafood today.

smoked cod pieces served on plate

Smoked cod is the best way to enjoy this classic white fish. Made with a simple dry brine before hot smoked for less than an hour, this quick and simple smoked fish recipe is perfect for a quick appetizer or a camping meal on the road.

The natural flavors of the cod fillets are brought to the fore while offering subtle layers of smoke and salt. If you have any seafood skeptics in your group, this is the perfect way to change their minds.

From dry brining to fish filleting, and smoking temperatures to best woods, discover how to smoke cod today.

cod white fish smoking over coals in fish baskets

Buying Cod

Always buy fresh fish. Even when frozen, fish quality deteriorates faster than any other type of meat, and the difference in taste is noticeable even after one day.

This obviously puts people living on or near the coast at a distinct advantage, but nowadays there are more and more fresh options at markets or even online delivery services.

Buying frozen might be tempting but the ice shards can rupture the cell membranes of the fish, ruining the texture of the fish as it thaws.

Dry Brining

Because white fish is low in fat and high in water content, this can present problems for barbecue. However, their high water content means that they can absorb salt well, so we’ll use a dry brine to sturdy up the fish for the smoker.

Simply apply a layer of brown sugar and kosher salt across all sides of the filleted cod, and leave them in the refrigerator for one hour. 60 minutes might seem like a short time for brining, but the water content of cod means that even this short window can improve the fish flavor significantly.

Smoking Wood

The delicate nature of white fish means that it’s important to use a mild fruitwood like apple or pecan, and avoid heavy woods like hickory and mesquite. For me, the best wood for smoking cod is apple. It’s subtle and slightly sweet, so will pair perfectly with your cod as it slowly cooks and caramelizes.

Smoking Time & Temperatures

Cod needs about 15-30 minutes per pound of fish at a temperature of 225°F (107°C) until it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C).

Quick Tips

  1. Cod is a mild and lean white fish with very little fat (less than 0.5%!). As a result, it needs to be treated carefully when smoked. Cooked over gentle smoke for a short period of time to stop it from being overwhelmed by the wood and coals.
  2. Give the inside walls of your smoker or grill a clean after smoking. Fish oil can get everywhere and may spoil the flavor of your future smoked meat dishes.
  3. Stop cod from sticking to the grates by using a fish basket or applying a very thin layer of mayonnaise to the fish
smoked cod pieces served on plate

Serving Ideas

Not sure how to make the most of your barbecue fish? Here are a few ideas for what to eat with smoked cod.

  1. Fish Tacos:  Cut the fillets into small pieces for easy grilled fish tacos. Served lime juice and pico de gallo dressing, these mini tortillas are loaded with zesty flavor.
  2. Cole Slaw: The tangy flavors of a fresh cabbage slaw pair perfectly with white fish. Pro tip: Finish off your slaw in the smoker for 1-2 minutes to add a delicate barbecue flavor.
  3. Cauliflower Steaks: Prepared in a smoky dry rub and cooked until tender, these grilled cauliflower steaks are more than your average side vegetable.
smoked cod pieces served on plate
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Smoked Cod

Smoked cod cooked low and slow over applewood for a delicious serving of barbecue white fish
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, BBQ
Cook Time 40 minutes
Dry Brine 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • applewood smoking chips

Ingredients

  • 4 cod fillets

Dry Brine

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • cup kosher salt

Instructions

  • Sprinkle fish with salt and dry brine in the refrigerator for an hour
  • Remove from fridge and pat fish dry with paper towels
  • Fire up your smoker to 225°F (107°C) or set up your grill for 2-zone cooking. Add wood chips to coals.
  • Line the cod fillets with non-stick spray or a light coating of mayonnaise. This will stop the fillets from sticking to your smoker’s grates.
  • Place cod on smoker grates. Cook until the internal temperature is 140°F (60°C), about 40-60 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy immediately

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