Bourbon Cold Smoked Salmon

The following recipe was kindly provided by our good friend Don Marco, Pit Boss of TB and the BBQ Scouts BBQ team. Cold smoked salmon is a delightful treat and relatively simple to make, providing a few important rules are followed.

Use the freshest fish available, if it looks like it has just come out of the water, eyes are clear, gills are pink and the skin should not be slimy. If any of these visual guides are not right, move on and find a fish that meets these criteria. 1st prize would be to catch your own.

The Salmon will need to be cured before smoking, either by brining or dry curing, please see instructions below.

Before the fish goes onto the smoker, it should be kept at temperatures below 4°C (39°F), once it is on the smoker, it must not be exposed to temperatures above 30°C (86°F).

Brines and Dry Cures are corrosive, so be sure to use glass, food grade plastic or a high quality stainless steel dishes to place the fish in.

Method: Cold Smoking

Suggested Wood: Cherry

Approx. Smoke Time: 5 Hours, Plus 48 – 60 Hours Curing Time


  • Side of salmon
  • Sea salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Black Pepper
  • Bourbon
  • Dill


Step 1

Remove all the bones from the Salmon fillet using long nosed pliers.

Step 2

Mix 1 cup salt with 1/2 cup brown sugar, grind up some black pepper and add it to the mix. Then spread that all over the Salmon and rub it in. Then cover the whole fillet with dried Dill and wrap it in foil, or cling film. You need to put this into the coldest part of your refrigerator and put some weight on it (bags of rice work really well). Let it cure for 48-60 hours and turn it over once about every 12 hours.

Step 3

After 48-60 hours, clean the salmon under running water and pat it dry.

Step 4

Baste the Salmon with some bourbon, allowing it to dry slightly before basting again.

Step 5

After 5 hours of smoke, remove the Salmon from the smoker, baste it with an EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)/Jack Daniels® mixture and cover it with Dill again. It’s important to not slice it directly after smoking, as it definitely needs a night in the fridge to ensure the flavours are distributed evenly.