Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos

Photo of Ruddell's Smoked Salmon Tacos Recipe

Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos recipe is one of the most unique and delicious ways to use smoked salmon. We enjoyed “Smoker Jim” Ruddell’s delicious smoked seafood specialties during our summer trips to Cayucos, a little surf town just north of Morro Bay.

During one of our last visits, Jim was kind enough to take us on a tour behind the scenes. Huge vertical smokers filled the back of the restaurant, stacked high with fresh ahi, salmon and albacore. Jim shared that the secret to his deliciously sweet salmon was a glaze of apricot jam.

The menu at Ruddell’s Smokehouse is short and simple, allowing the freshness of his ingredients to shine.

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In addition to salmon, the menu includes smoked albacore, ahi, chicken, shrimp and pork loin. All are available as tacos, sandwiches, or salads.

Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos are something of a legend here in California. In fact, they’ve appeared on many “Best Of” lists, including Sunset Magazine and Coastal Living Magazine. Jim describes his tacos on the menu as “smoked salmon, wrapped in a flour tortilla and grilled to perfection with subtle gourmet sauce, tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, mixed with apples, celery, carrots, a hint of green onion and a touch of love.”

Photo of Ruddell's Smoked Salmon Tacos

For something more hearty, the same mixture is available on a huge deli roll that’s grilled and stuffed with the same mixture.

The smoked salmon sandwich from Ruddell's Smokehouse in Cayucos.

Update: We were saddened to learn that Smoker Jim passed away in 2018 and the restaurant is no longer operating.

Photo of Ruddell's Smoked Salmon Tacos

Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos

Recipe by Jason Hill –
This recipe for Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos is one of the most unique and delicious ways to use smoked salmon.
We enjoyed Smoker Jim Ruddell’s delicious smoked salmon and other seafood specialties during summer trips to Cayucos, a little surf town just north of Morro Bay. For a more hearty meal, serve on a grilled hoagie roll!
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Brining Time 4 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8



  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 pound skin-on salmon fillet cut into four equal pieces

Apricot Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons Smuckers apricot preserves

Gourmet Sauce:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Guldens spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Apple Slaw:

  • 1 Granny Smith apple peeled and diced
  • 1 celery rib diced
  • 1 carrot shredded
  • 1 green onion diced

To Assemble:

  • 12 flour tortillas warmed
  • 3 red leaf lettuce chopped
  • 2 tomatoes sliced
  • Cayucos Hot Sauce optional


Prepare the Salmon:

  • Combine sugar and salt in a bowl. Place salmon on a casserole dish and top with the sugar-salt mixture evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Make Gourmet Sauce:

  • Whisk gourmet sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and chill until ready to use.

Make the Slaw:

  • Combine apple, celery, carrot and green onion in a bowl and chill.

Smoke the Salmon:

  • Set smoker to 250 F.
  • Remove salmon from brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Brush tops and sides of salmon fillets evenly with apricot mixture. Place fillets, skin side down, on cooler side of grill, with thicker ends facing fire.
  • Smoke, skin side down, about 30-35 minutes.
  • Transfer salmon to a serving platter.

Assemble Tacos:

  • Remove skin from salmon and discard. Cut salmon into bite-sized pieces.
  • Warm the tortillas on a grill or over the stove.
  • Spread with gourmet sauce, topped with the apple slaw, salmon, red leaf lettuce and tomatoes. Enjoy with Tapatio hot sauce, if desired.
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Keyword fish tacos, salmon, tacos
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