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Cider Hot-Smoked Salmon

Fall is just around the corner, and each cool breeze conjures up images of red leaves, pumpkin patches, apple orchards and of course apple cider. This recipe for Cider Hot Smoked Salmon is perfectly timed for cooler weather and comforting food.

  • Difficulty4/5
  • Prep time25 mins
  • Cook time1 hr
  • Serves4
  • Recommended HardwoodOak


Center-cut Salmon Fillet, skin-on, peferably wild-caughtone (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs)
Hard Cider, or 1 1/2 cups Apple Juice or Ciderone 12-oz. bottle
Juniper Berries, lightly crushed, or 2 Tbsp. of Gin3 to 4
Star Anise, broken1 piece
Bay Leaf, coarsely crumbled1
Kosher Salt1/2 cup
Light or Dark Brown Sugar1/4 cup
Traeger Saskatchewan Rub, or tour favorite barbecue rub2 tsp.
coarsely Ground Black Pepper1 tsp.


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 pat dry with 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 200F 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 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.

  • Difficulty4/5
  • Prep time25 mins
  • Cook time1 hr
  • Serves4
  • Recommended HardwoodOak

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