Apricot & Honey Smoked Salmon

This apricot and honey smoked salmon recipe is a “hot smoked salmon,” made by smoking salmon over low heat on the Green Mountain Grills pellet grill. It’s one of our most tried-and-true family recipes, inspired by the great “Smoker Jim” in Cayucos!

chef tips smoked salmon recipe

Honey & Apricot Smoked Salmon Ingredients

  • 1 filet fresh wild salmon (we buy ours at Costco)
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Apricot Jam or Honey

How to Make Honey Smoked Salmon

The first thing I do is rinse the salmon filets in very cool water on both sides. Next, transfer them over to some paper towels to dry.

Next, you want to take your hand and run it down the fillet to see if you feel any little bones protruding through the flesh. If you do, use some pliers or even tweezers to pull them out.

cedar plank salmon recipe

Now that we’ve checked for pin bones, we are going to cut the salmon in sections. I usually cut the filet into about four pieces so it’s easier to brine and cook on the smoker.

Smoked Salmon Brine

To make the dry brine, we are going to mix together 2 cups of dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup of kosher salt. You don’t want to use regular table salt for this. I’m also adding 1 tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper.

In a large casserole dish, spread some of the dry brine on the base. Add the filets of salmon and pack on more of the brown sugar brine so it’s really well coated. Make sure you pack around the edges as well. Try not to leave any of the flesh exposed. Brining sucks out some of the moisture from the fish while infusing it with great flavor.

Now, wrap your dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator anywhere from four to 8 hours. When it’s done, you’ll definitely notice the difference in color.

The next step is to remove the brine. Rinse all of your filets very well under cold running water, making sure to remove all of the brown sugar and salt.

Drying the Honey Smoked Salmon

Now, place on a rack that’s been sprayed with a little nonstick spray. Additionally, you can also use something called a frog mat that are silicone sheets that are used in smokers so your product doesn’t stick to the grill.

Let the salmon sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. It will develop a film called pellicle that will help seal moisture inside of the salmon and create a sticky surface for the smoke to stick to.

Now, the salmon filets are ready for the smoker. Basically, I like to slice them in smaller serving sizes, but you can leave them any size you like.

Smoking the Salmon

I preheat my smoker to 150 F. Smoke the salmon for about 2 hours. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, brush on about 1/4 cup of melted apricot jam or honey onto the salmon.

We got the idea from Smoker Jim, who ran a great little fish smoke shop in Cayucos.

Serve this delicious apricot smoked salmon with cream cheese, crackers, and some cold craft beer or a glass of wine. Give this recipe a try — I think you’ll like it!

Watch my smoked salmon video!

If you make this apricot honey smoked salmon, you can use the leftovers for this smoked salmon dip!

honey smoked salmon appetizer on crackers with cream cheese

More easy salmon recipes

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chef tips smoked salmon recipe

Apricot & Honey Smoked Salmon

Recipe by Jason Hill – CookingSessions.com
This honey smoked salmon recipe is a "hot smoked salmon," made by smoking salmon over low heat. Smoke the salmon for around 2 hours, then brush with an apricot glaze or honey. Serve on its own, or as an appetizer with crackers and cream cheese. 
4.82 from 16 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Brining Time 5 hours
Total Time 7 hours 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8



  • 1 filet fresh wild salmon

Dry Brine

  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper


  • Apricot Jam or Honey for basting, as needed


  • Rinse and pat dry salmon fillet. Remove any pinbones and skin (if desired).
  • Cut salmon into serving-size steaks.
  • Make dry brine by mixing the sugar, salt and pepper together.
  • Spread dry brine on a glass casserole dish and pack in layers with the salmon pieces. Put in the refrigerator to set 4 to 8 hours.
  • Rinse the salmon pieces under cool running water, thoroughly removing the brine.
  • Let the salmon sit on a rack at room temperature for 1-2 hours. It will develop a film called pellicle that will help seal moisture inside of the salmon and create a sticky surface for the smoke to stick to.
  • On a smoker set to 150 F, smoke the fish roughly 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it reaches your desired firmness. 
  • During the last 15-30 minutes of cooking, you can brush on some melted apricot jam and/or honey.
  • Serve as an appetizer with cold beer and a chilled glass of chardonnay, or over crackers with some cream cheese and fresh chopped chives. Bon appetit!
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Keyword salmon, seafood, smoker
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.


  1. This recipe is amazing. Unfortunately we moved to the different country and we are not able to get cracked pepper. Do you think we could use the normal one and just crack it by using a knife?

  2. 5 stars
    I have made this several times and it is EPIC! My families favorite thing on the smoker! I just got two fillets and I am about to brine them now to smoke tomorrow! God bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas! Thank you chef Jason for this recipe!

4.82 from 16 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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