Smoked Maple Salmon Jerky {Secret Ingredient}

Make this delicious and ridiculously easy smoked maple salmon jerky. Maple salmon jerky is a simple recipe that results in a tasty and nutrient-dense snack. Salmon jerky is similar to candied salmon, and if you’re already throwing some salmon on your smoker — save some and make it into jerky at the same time.

strips of wild alaskan salmon smoked maple jerky on a granite board

What’s my secret ingredient? A smoky, peaty scotch — just a touch now, and you can also substitute that with bourbon, or leave it out altogether.

Whether you have a Traeger Grill or some other pellet smoker, or something different, the recipe doesn’t change. Simple ingredients make this a delicious and nutritious snack in the summer to take on your next hiking or camping trip — it’s pretty shelf-stable.

Oh and if you have some salmon that’s been in the freezer for longer than you like, making it into salmon candy or jerky will help disguise that freezer-burned taste and improve the texture.

If you love jerky (I do), check out my smoked spicy beef jerky recipe. And if you’re into fishing and hunting, make sure to check out my thorough guide on brined and smoked whole trout, roasted or smoked bone marrow, and smoked whole grouse. My recipe for brined and smoked turkey is popular for Thanksgiving as is my smoked cranberry sauce.

I love BBQ and I even make my own smoked salt. Even veggies like smoked tomatoes, and smoked caramelized onions are frequent side dishes here.

all ofthe ingredients needed for smoked salmon jerky

Ingredients

  • salmon (I always choose wild Alaskan salmon when possible)
  • dark brown sugar
  • kosher salt
  • maple syrup
  • scotch whiskey (optional, and I prefer a smoky peaty one)

See the recipe card for quantities.

Equipment

  • Smoker. I use a Traeger Grill, but they all work.
  • Wood or wood pellets. What is the best wood? Whatever you have on hand. But I’m partial to cherry or hickory.
  • Pastry brush, for basting.
  • Wire rack, for resting the salmon after curing and developing.

Instructions

  1. First, we will make a simple cure for the salmon. Whisk your brown sugar and salt together thoroughly in a glass container that comes with a lid (or can be wrapped with cling wrap or a beeswax cover).
  2. Cut your salmon into strips or chunks. Aim for strips that are about 1 to 1.5 inches wide. Remember that as the salmon smokes and becomes salmon jerky it will lose a lot of moisture and shrink.
  3. Take your strips of salmon and cover them completely in the brown sugar-salt cure, cover your bowl, and place it in the refrigerator. Leave it for a minimum of 12 and no more than 24 hours.
  4. Depending on how much salmon you are turning into jerky, you may need more or less cure. If you are staking salmon strips on top of each other, ensure there is a heavy layer of cure between the strips. Use your judgment.
  5. After the salmon has finished curing, take it out and rinse it completely in cold water. Pat salmon until completely dry.
  6. Now you have two options: Take the salmon strips and place them in a single layer on a wire rack over a baking sheet (tea towels or paper towels work too) to capture excess moisture. Place the salmon, uncovered, in the refrigerator overnight OR place it in front of a fan somewhere cool and shady for 1 – 3 hours.
  7. This final step gets the surface of your salmon sticky and helps the smoke adhere to it. This is called the pellicle.
  8. Turn on your smoker and let it get ready.
  9. Brush on the scotch if using and allow your salmon to smoke undisturbed for one hour.
  10. After that hour is up, baste your salmon every 30 minutes with maple syrup until it is finished. Depending on the temperature, it will take from 3 – 5 hours. The salmon should be pliable and chewy but not dried out. At the 3-hour mark test it to see if it is to your liking.
strips of wild alaskan salmon smoked maple jerky on a granite board

Salmon Skin

YES! And you absolutely should!

After smoking my salmon, I like to pull off the skin and fry up the skin in bacon fat or lard. The skin will crisp up beautifully in a minute or so.

Salmon skin is better than any chips, I swear.

Substitutions & Variations

skip the scotch: use bourbon, or just skip this step.

use honey: dark buckwheat honey is a delicious choice too.

birch syrup: ever had birch syrup? It’s harder to find, but also a delicious alternative.

Add a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper on your salmon before smoking.

Storage

Smoked salmon jerky holds up really well for several weeks! You can store it in an airtight container in a cool cupboard (preferably with oxygen absorbers) or you can vacuum seal and freeze it. I prefer to wrap mine tightly and keep in the refrigerator.

And if you want more in-depth information on the freshness and safe storage of smoked fish, my article on how long does smoked fish last will tell you in-depth.

smoked salmon jerky on dark grey granite board

FAQ

Can you dehydrate smoked salmon?

Yes, you can use your dehydrator and make an even more stable food product with an even longer shelf life. You can also dehydrate salmon fillets and use liquid smoke if you don’t have an actual smoker.

What does salmon jerky taste like?

Salmon jerky is chewy and tastes sweet from the maple and brown sugar cure. It is both sweet and salty and a lovely treat.

How long will salmon jerky keep?

If you vacuum seal your smoked salmon jerky, it will last in your pantry without refrigeration for as long as two months. Vacuum-sealed and refrigerated? Even longer. I don’t think I can even give you a rational response here. I have never kept salmon jerky longer than one month, it just doesn’t last. I highly recommend the following article for more precise information: Does Jerky Go Bad? I do not vacuum seal my salmon jerky. I put it into a glass container in the fridge and that is how it is stored.

smoked salmon jerky on dark grey granite board

Smoked Maple Salmon Jerky {Secret Ingredient}

Make delicious smoked salmon jerky basted with maple syrup for an easy nutrient-dense snack.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Curing Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 17 hours 10 minutes
Course: Dinner/Appetizer
Cuisine: North America
Keyword: fish, snack, summer
Servings: 8
Calories: 699kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • Smoker. I use a Traeger Grill, but they all work.
  • Wood or wood pellets. What is the best wood? Whatever you have on hand. But I'm partial to cherry or hickory.
  • Pastry brush, for basting.
  • Wire rack, for resting the salmon after curing and developing.

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs wild salmon fillets cut into 1 to 1.5 inch strips
  • 1.5 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon scotch optional
  • ½ cup maple syrup

Instructions

  • First we will make a simple cure for the salmon. Whisk your brown sugar and salt together thoroughly in a glass container that comes with a lid (or can be wrapped with cling wrap or a beeswax cover).
    1.5 cups dark brown sugar, 1.5 cups kosher salt
  • Cut your salmon into strips or chunks. Aim for strips that are about 1 to 1.5 inches wide. Remember that as the salmon smokes and becomes jerkey it will lose a lot of moisture and shrink.
    6 lbs wild salmon fillets
  • Take your strips of salmon and cover them completely in the brown sugar-salt cure, cover your bowl, and place it in the refrigerator. Leave it for a minimum of 12 and no more than 24 hours.
    1.5 cups dark brown sugar, 1.5 cups kosher salt
  • Depending on how much salmon you are turning into jerky, you may need more or less cure. If you are staking salmon strips on top of each other, ensure there is a heavy layer of cure between the strips. Use your judgement.
  • After the salmon has finished curing, take it out and rinse it competely in cold water. Pat salmon until completely dry.
  • Now you have two options: Take the salmon strips and place them in a single layer on a wire rack over a baking sheet or (tea towels or paper towels work too) to capture excess mointure. Place the salmon, uncovered, in the refrigerator overnight OR place it in front of a fan somewhere cool and shady for 1 – 3 hours.
  • This final step gets the surface of your salmon sticky and helps the smoke adhere to it. This is called pellicle. Now we are ready to smoke.
  • Preheat your Traeger on the ‘Smoke’ setting for 5 minutes with the lid open. Or preheat whichever pellet or other type of smoker you are using.
  • Baste the salmon on the flesh-side with the scotch (if using) with a pastry brush (silicone is my favourite) and place the fillets directly on the grill,skin side down. Close the lid.
    1 tablespoon scotch
  • Set your timer for 1 hour and then baste the salmon with a thick layer of maple syrup. Every hour baste the salmon with more maple syrup.
    1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Depending on the size of your strips, the smoking will take anywhere from 3.5 hours to 4 hours. Maybe a bit more. You should do a taste test at the 3-hour mark.
  • Do NOT let the temperate get above 200/220° Fahrenheit, and if it does place a bowl of ice water inside the smoker.
  • You will have successfully made salmon jerky once the flesh looks dry and is stiff while still being slightly pliable and chewy.

Nutrition

Calories: 699kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 68g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 187mg | Sodium: 300mg | Potassium: 1771mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 136IU | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
5 from 1 vote

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. Pingback: 11 Real Food Recipes High In Vitamin D - The Peasant's Daughter
  2. On the Traeger are you shooting for type of internal temp?
    Or was the cooking done with the Brine?

    1. I never have never bothered checking internal temperature for salmon like I would with pork or beef. With smoking salmon, you would have to try very hard to undercook it. For overcooking, as soon as you see the flakiness of the flesh, it’s done. This will depend on the size and thickness too. If you want to check to be on the safe side, just don’t let it get past 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. Pingback: How I'm Following an Ancestral Health Diet for Pregnancy & Nursing | What I Eat In a Day Pregnant | The Peasant's Daughter
  4. YUM! I already make my own beef and pork jerky in the dehydrator, but have been wanting to try smoked salmon jerky in our green mountain grill. Perfect pregnancy snack 😋

  5. Very excited to try! Is the sugar cane ratio the same as the salt? Would I do 2 tablespoons per cup of water or what is the size of fillet this amount is referring to?

    1. The only important ratio is the salt-to-water and that’s determined by whatever size of filet you have which makes it pretty easy — just submerge your fish, then take it out and see how many cups/quarts/litres/whatever are remaining. Salt to water is always 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 cup of water.

      When it comes to sugar and other flavours/spices/herbs, their impact on the final result is minimal. They’re just there for a little hint of extra taste but you can easily do away with them. For cane sugar, I wouldn’t add more than a quarter of the amount of salt, even less.

      Let me know how it works out if you try it 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe really look so good! Can’t wait to try this one! Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Hello! I’ve been reading your weblog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

    1. If you have a long filet, it can be easier to cut it into strips, but it’s really up to you. I usually do for jerky as you get a nice browning/crisping on the edges that way. Yes, you can do this with skinless salmon as well, just make sure the grill is clean.