Instructions for Fish Smokers


A fish smoker works like any other smoker, using indirect heat at low controlled temperatures to cook the fish. However, preparing the fish for smoking and ensuring that the temperature of the smoker is always above 150 degrees Fahrenheit can be challenging, especially since failing to do so can be quite dangerous. Eating smoked fish that was not prepared or cooked properly can cause food poisoning. Fish with a high oil content such as salmon, trout or tuna is easier to salt and prepare, but any fish can be smoked if prepared properly without fear of food poisoning.

Things You'll Need

  • Fish
  • Sharp knife
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter fluid
  • Matches
  • Wood chunks (hard wood)
  • Soak chunks of hard wood in water for an hour. Fish doesn't need to be smoked for a long period of time, so a couple pieces of wood will work fine.

  • Prepare the fish. If the fish you are using hasn't been skinned you will need to use a knife to remove it. Pressing down on the fish with one hand and carefully cut the skin away without removing a lot of the meat. Once the fish is skinned you will need to brine the fish in a salt water solution. Brining will help lock in the moisture of the fish. The formula is 1 cup of salt with 7 cups of water for two to three pounds of fish. Let the fish soak in this mixture for an hour. Refrigerate.

  • Prepare the smoker. Remove the water pan and firebox of the smoker. Add 8 pounds of charcoal to the firebox and saturate with lighter fluid. Insert the firebox back into the smoker and ignite the charcoal with a match. Allow the fire to burn down until the coals are red hot and a grayish color. Fill the water pan 2/3 of the way full with water and insert into the smoker.

  • Place the chunks of hard wood on the hot coals and close the door. The wood will begin smoking within a couple minutes. Close the chamber door for the firebox. Once the heat and smoke is as it should be you can add your fish. Check the temperature gauge of the smoker to ensure that the temperature is above 160 degrees Fahrenheit and below 200 degrees. Ideally, fish should be smoked with temperatures between 160 and 180 degrees.

  • Add the fish. Place the brined fish onto the grill rack of the smoker, spaced evenly. Even spacing will ensure that each piece of fish receives an equal amount of heat and moisture. Cover with the smoker lid.

  • Smoke the fish for approximately 30 minutes until they have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is needed to prevent the fish to spoil. Once the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees, you will need to smoke the fish for another four to five hours until done.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never thaw and refreeze fish because they can become full of bacteria.
  • Always keep the fish refrigerated before smoking.

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  • Photo Credit Dry fish on a dish in the form of a fish image by terex from
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