Cider Hot-Smoked Salmon

Author: Traeger

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Difficulty Rating: 3/5
  • One center-cut salmon fillet, skin-on, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds, preferably wild-caught
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of hard cider (we used Woodchuck Draft Cider), or 1-1/2 cups apple juice or cider
  • 3 juniper berries, lightly crushed, or 2 tablespoons of gin
  • 1 piece of star anise, broken
  • 1 bay leaf, coarsely crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink salt (optional; see Note below)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Traeger Saskatchewan Rub, or your favorite barbecue rub
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Preperation Steps
  • Optional accompaniments: Butter, cream cheese, diced red onion, drained brined capers, finely chopped hard-cooked egg, lemon wedges, chopped fresh dill, cocktail rye or pumpernickel bread or crackers
  • Rinse the salmon fillet under cold running water and check for pin bones by running a finger over the fleshy part of the fillet. If you feel a bone, remove it with kitchen tweezers or a needle-nose pliers.
  • In a sturdy resealable plastic bag, combine the cider, juniper berries, star anise, bay leaf, and pink salt, if using. Add the salmon fillet and put the bag in a bowl or pan in the refrigerator. Let sit for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  • Remove the salmon from the bag and discard the cider mixture. Dry the salmon well on paper towels. Make the cure: In a small mixing bowl, combine the kosher salt, brown sugar, and Traeger rub. Pour half into a shallow plate, like a pie plate, or baking dish. Put the salmon fillet, skin-side down, on top of the cure. Generously sprinkle the top with the remaining cure, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Any longer, and the fish will get too salty.
  • Remove the salmon from the cure and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Dry on paper towels. Sprinkle the black pepper on top of the fillet.
  • When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 200 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes. Leave on the Smoke setting if you own a manual controller.
  • Lay the salmon skin-side down on the grill grate. Cook for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the fish reaches 150 degrees or the fish flakes easily when pressed with a finger or fork. Let cool slightly. Turn the fillet over and remove the skin; it should come off in one piece. If not serving immediately, let the salmon cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Transfer to a platter and serve with some or all of the suggested accompaniments.