8 Satisfying Smoked Salmon Recipes

Smoking and curing meats were originally techniques used to preserve food for lean times. However, these days, most of us think of smoked fish and meat as another delicious flavor option. We can get fresh or frozen salmon any time of year at our local store, but we still love the complex taste that comes from smoking salmon and the firm texture created by the curing and long, low cooking. While all smoked salmon starts off with some time being salted to draw out moisture, the cured salmon can then be hot-smoked, cold-smoked, or even eaten as is, semi-raw.

The semi-raw version of salmon, also known as lox, is a delicacy often found on bagels and sandwiches, but it's also welcome when tossed into a pasta or chowder recipe. Cold-smoked salmon is nearly the same as lox, with a hint of smokiness from spending time exposed to smoke but not much heat. Hot-smoked salmon is more like cooked salmon in appearance but firmer and darker due to higher heat and time in the smoke box.

All of these savory, salty salmon varieties are good choices for most of the recipes here. There's really no bad choice when it comes to choosing smoked salmon, and because it's ready to eat, these recipes are quick, convenient, and desireably delicious.

Smoked Salmon Pasta

Crumbling some smoked salmon into piping hot pasta is the perfect way to use up the last bit you might have on hand from a party or event. You'll just need 4 ounces of fish for two servings, which is economical but still bursting with flavor. Our recipe includes a touch of heat from a small pepper, a bright pop of cherry tomatoes, and a bit of sunny lemon zest — all ingredients that balance the rich smokiness of the salmon. Whether you choose a tangle of spaghetti or a bowl of al dente penne, this pasta makes any weeknight meal seem like a special occasion.

Recipe: Smoked Salmon Pasta

Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwich

Open-faced fish sandwiches are a treat from Scandinavia, where they make a filling part of a brunch or lunch plate. There's no need to toast anything for this savory sandwich that's built atop dense rye bread and features a schmear of dill and parsley-laden sour cream. Thinly sliced radishes add crunchy contrast to the ribbons of salty salmon — this colorful combination would be too pretty to top with another slice of bread anyway. Feel free to scatter additional herbs, too, like chives or microgreens. And don't forget a final grinding of coarse black pepper.

Recipe: Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwich

Classic Salmon Rillettes

Rillettes is the French term for a rough and savory meat paste with a good amount of fat to make it spreadable. This version uses two kinds of salmon: Freshly steamed fish and cold smoked salmon with intense flavor and buttery texture. The two types of salmon layer together to make a deeper-tasting spread. If this sounds fancy, maybe you're right, but that doesn't make it difficult to master. Mashing the salmon with butter, shallot, and a dollop of crème fraîche is all it takes to put this spread together. It could be the centerpiece of any charcuterie display, along with toasts and crackers to spread it on.

Recipe: Classic Salmon Rillettes

Eggs Benedict With Salmon

Every cook should become familiar with how to make silky Hollandaise sauce — homemade is so much better than any packet, and it makes simple poached eggs instantly elegant. Hollandaise is, of course, a key ingredient in eggs Benedict, which typically features salty ham to balance the rich eggs and sauce. Smoked salmon is a brilliant substitution for ham, bringing a kiss of the sea to the traditional dish, and the combination is sometimes known as eggs royale. You could use slices of cold smoked salmon or even break apart chunks of hot smoked salmon on a toasted English muffin for this adaptation.

Recipe: Eggs Benedict With Salmon

Smoked Salmon And Leek Soup

This rich soup features tasty leeks, the most mellow of the allium family, to add flavor to what is almost a chowdery concoction of potatoes, chicken stock, and a touch of cream. Flavor hints from dijon mustard, fresh chives, and dill brighten up the broth, while smoked salmon brings that salty, ocean taste. This recipe comes together very quickly for such a sophisticated-tasting soup. It would be a wonderful, lighter (and faster) alternative to clam chowder, too.

Recipe: Smoked Salmon And Leek Soup

Homemade Cured Salmon

If you've ever wanted to try your hand at homemade lox, which is similar to cold-smoked salmon without the smokiness, you might be surprised at how easy it is and how few ingredients you actually need. With just a sprinkle of salt, sugar, and black pepper, you can turn a piece of sashimi-grade salmon into a house-cured salmon specialty. The salt and sugar draw water out of the fish, changing its texture to glossy and translucent. This step also inhibits bacterial growth, but the fish is still essentially raw, which is why you'll want that sashimi quality. The process is easy, but you do need time: After two lots of 12 hours of rest in the refrigerator, your cured salmon will be ready for your bagel board.

Recipe: Homemade Cured Salmon

Cedar Plank-Baked Salmon

While not exactly smoked, this recipe still brings the flavor of woody cedar to your table with oven-baked salmon cooked on a cedar plank. Cooking on a plank is a much better alternative to smoking up your kitchen if you want savory salmon without heading out to the grill. It's not hard to find food-safe cedar planks in the grocery or cooking aisle of the hardware store, and you can even get multiple cooking uses from the investment. You'll also love the bourbon and brown sugar glaze that's brushed on before and during baking this salmon in our recipe — it's glossy and brown, with an edge of sweetness and spice that is a great flavor combination. 

Recipe: Cedar Plank-Baked Salmon

Lox, Scrambled Eggs And Onions

Celebrity chef Gabe Kennedy knows a few things about good taste. One that he shares with us is this elegant method for whipping up a soft scramble featuring savory lox and onions. By dicing the onion and lox very finely, they seem to melt into the slowly cooked eggs. The lox provides the seasoning for this simple recipe that's more about technique than a laundry list of ingredients. If you tried your hand at homemade cured salmon, this would be a great place to use up some of the end bits — just a few ounces of salmon are all that's needed for this elevated breakfast plate.

Recipe: Lox, Scrambled Eggs And Onions — Gabe Kennedy