Many people worldwide enjoy the taste of smoked food. You know what we are talking about, right? Indeed there is something special about the summer grill and the smoke that makes our mouth water the moment we think about it. Have you noticed that many people exclusively have meat in mind when talking about smoked food? Like, it is possible to smoke everything, right? Smoked cheese is delicious, smoked veggies, fish, etc. Nevertheless, most people seem to be focused on smoking meat only. Have you ever wondered about that?
Okay, for many of us, meat is the main ingredient in our diets, so that may be the reason. Still, we feel that it is essential to let ourselves explore and enjoy other smoked foods.
You see, we have this friend Rob who is a passionate fisherman. Not only that he likes to catch fish, but he also enjoys preparing it and treating his friends to all kinds of fish delicacies. Once, for dinner, he served smoked salmon as an appetizer. Now you might think, “Okay, but what is so special about it? You can get smoked salmon everywhere.” True enough. Except this smoked salmon and quail’s egg bruschetta was to die for. “It’s the salmon you caught?! It’s marvelous!” “Caught and smoked,” he said, grinning proudly! “And,” he continued, “To tell you the truth, the quality heavily depends on the wood for smoking salmon.”
The rest of the evening, we enjoyed all the treats he prepared and didn’t talk more about it. But the next day, still under the impression of this splendid appetizer, we’ve decided to find out what IS the best wood for smoking salmon? The funny thing is that until then we were convinced that people use the same wood for smoking ribs and anything else. Nonetheless, it was now clear that we were wrong. Each wood has a different flavor, etc., and if you want to get splendid smoked foods, you have to precisely know which wood is suitable for the specific food you want to smoke. These discoveries truly impressed us, so we’ve decided to compile our own wood for smoking salmon reviews to share this valuable info with you. So let’s see what we found out!
Top 5 Woods for Smoking Salmon: Comparison Table
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Best Woods for Smoking Salmon: What Are They?
When used for smoking, alder is a type of wood that you would describe as assertive. It is a delicate wood with a subtle flavor. That is why many experienced smokers consider alder ones to be one of if not the best wood chips for smoking salmon or any other fish, really. When you burn alder wood chips, you get a mildly sweet aroma which is vital when you want to infuse salmon for several hours. People recommend this wood for smoking all types of fish. It is even good for smoking poultry. However, when it comes to red meat, etc., seasoned smokers advise choosing other types of wood.
- It comes with a light flavor for all fish, including salmon
- Works on different grills and smokers
- Affordable wood
- Excellent for beginners
- It is an excellent option for those looking for a subtle taste
It is impossible to talk about wood chips for smoking fish without mentioning apple wood. Same as alder, apple has a subtle, fruity flavor. “Isn’t it more used for smoking poultry and pork?” – some of you may wonder. Yup. Indeed, it is more used more these types of meat. Nevertheless, since applewood chips come with a mild aroma, they have also been considered the best wood for smoking fish too. Some people say that alder is too mild, whereas some other types, such as hickory, are too strong for salmon. In that case, experts recommend using applewood. They also recommend mixing it with some stronger types of wood if you want to counteract the fruity flavor.
- Natural wood
- The food gets a nice crust
- Easy to light up
- Works for all types of grills and smokers
Hickory also creates sweet flavored smoke. However, it is different from than previous two because it comes with a flavor of bacon. That is the reason why smokers primarily use it for smoking heavier types of meat such as beef and pork. Experts don’t recommend it for working with fish or poultry as it is too potent. They, nevertheless, say that the results are fantastic when hickory is used in a blend with other wood. Salmon works well with hickory wood, particularly when it comes to cold smoking. However, you need to be careful not to expose to smoke for too long or use too much wood, since that will just ruin a good taste.
- Sold in pre-made blends
- It gives a jerky flavor
- Natural wood
Cherry is wood with a sweet, fruity flavor, and it is considered a good option for all types of fish and meat. It is commonly used for pork and beef. However, it is a popular choice for smoking salmon among experienced smokers. Cherry wood is combined with types of wood that come with a pungent flavor, such as hickory.
- Subtle flavor
- It is good for smoking fish, poultry, vegetables
Pecan nuts are delicious, not to mention nutritional! But is this wood good for smoking salmon?! Well, the flavor of pecan is quite potent, similar to hickory. However, it comes with a nutty flavor that compliments the fruity flavor you find in other types of wood. That is the reason why pecan works wonderfully with other woods when you smoke salmon. It is a cool-burning wood and gives to meat and fish alike quite a delicate flavor when used properly.
- Cool burning
- It is potent wood
- Delicate nutty flavor
Which Woods Work Best for Different Smoking Styles?
Best Wood for Hot Smoking Salmon
So let’s first see what hot smoking is because many beginners aren’t entirely sure about it. When talking about hot and cold, we don’t have in mind the temperature at which the fish is served but the temperature of the oven or smoker where it was smoked. Hot smoked salmon is cooked at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence it is done a lot faster than with cold smoking. That means that we can use some types of wood that have a stronger flavor, such as pecan for example. You can also use hickory and walnut; according to many wood for smoking salmon reviews, they make your meal a lot more delicious.
Best Wood For Cold Smoking Salmon
During the cold smoking process, fish is not cooked and the smoker has to work at low temperatures. The average temperature for cold smoking is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And keep in mind that you should leave the fish for about 24 hours for the best results. For this type of smoking, opt for the wood for smoking salmon, that has a fruity flavor, such as applewood. Moreover, with this type of wood, it won’t be challenging to keep wood chips from burning in smoker. Other than that, beechwood and cherry also make good wood chips for smoking fish.
But if you prefer the stronger taste, you can pick wood like hickory. Just keep in mind that in this case, you need to make sure not to leave the fish for too long in the smoker.
What Woods to Avoid?
Paradoxically, you will often hear about salmon cooked on cedarwood. While creating our wood for smoking salmon reviews we certainly saw some recommendations for this type. However, this is one of the first woods you should avoid. Cedar is a type of softwood that comes with high levels of sap and terpenes, which can be irritating for some people. In some cases, cedar smoke causes allergic reactions.
This one and some other woods such as poisonous walnut, oleander, etc., contain harmful toxins that can make people sick. And that is especially the case for mangroves since they can trap harmful to your health metals.
Many of us agree that very few fish can compare with smoked salmon. Besides being delicious, smoked salmon is also very beneficial to your health, as it is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. Other than that, salmon is generally simple to smoke, and there are plenty of ways to do it. And we sincerely hope that we’ve helped you learn more about what is the best wood for smoking salmon. And while we personally prefer Alder and Cherry, there are still many options to choose from.
And now, when you know everything about the best wood for smoking salmon 2023, the final choice is up to you and your preferences! So best of luck, and feel free to share which is your choice for the best wood for smoking fish! Perhaps you’ve smoked some already?