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Best Smoked Salmon

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 15 Models Considered
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  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 350 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best smoked salmon

    Last Updated August 2018

    Brunch and smoked salmon go together like peas and carrots. The salmon’s smoky and deliciously rich flavor pairs well with a variety of foods. With barely any preparation required, smoked salmon a great food to add to your last-minute hosting menu.

    We at BestReviews strive to bring to you useful shopping guides to help you with all your purchasing decisions. Our guides are backed by hours of meticulous research and feedback from consumers just like you.

    This shopping guide delves into the various kinds of smoked salmon available and what you should look for when shopping for this delectable fish. If you’re ready to buy, see our top recommendations in the matrix above.

    Below, you’ll find information about the different kinds of smoked salmon and some tasty suggestions for ways to use it, as well as the perfect recipe for your next dinner party.

    Salmon species from different parts of the world have different textures and flavor profiles.

    Types of smoked salmon

    Smoked salmon is available in different forms. At the store, you might find it packaged in thin slices, steaks, or chunks. It may also be sold as fillets. You can also buy a whole smoked fish.

    Regarding storage, some smoked salmon varieties don’t need to be refrigerated, but check the packaging to be sure. Hot smoked products have a much longer shelf life – as long as five years in some cases.

    Before you head to the supermarket, let’s cover the basics and the various types of smoked salmon.

    Cold smoked salmon

    This is the most common way of preparing smoked salmon, a method that preserves the smooth and silky texture of the fish. This type of smoked salmon requires refrigeration, so don’t forget to pop it in the fridge when you get home from the store.

    If you’re pregnant or have a compromised immune system, be wary about eating cold smoked salmon. The smoking process involved in this preparation is done at a low temperature (about 80°F) that may not kill certain bacteria (such as Listeria). Eating the product soon after buying it can reduce the risk. Lightly cooking the salmon can also help to kill any potential contaminants.

    Cold smoked salmon is best eaten uncooked to preserve its silky texture. Include it in salads and other cold dishes or use it to top crackers or hors d'oeuvres. Cold smoked varieties are often fishier in taste, so choose hot smoked salmon if you prefer a milder flavor.

    • Nova: Originally from Nova Scotia, now you can find “Nova” from the Pacific, Scotland, and Ireland, each with a distinctive flavor and texture. This salmon is cured before it is cold smoked. If you’re worried about a fishy taste, opt for Nova smoked salmon, since it has a milder flavor profile.

    • Balyk: The most expensive smoked salmon is also one of the tastiest. The best part of the fish is used to make Balyk smoked salmon. It is trimmed by hand and then very lightly and briefly smoking and salted. You likely won’t find this type of smoked salmon at your local grocer, but you may encounter it at a fancy restaurant.

    Hot smoked salmon

    This type of salmon is smoked at a higher temperature (around 145°F) and for a longer period of time than cold smoked salmon. Because it’s cooked, the texture is flakier and the flavor is smokier. The more prolonged cooking process kills more bacteria that may be present in the food. Hot smoked salmon also has a longer shelf life and may not require refrigeration at all.

    This type of smoked salmon is the best choice if you’re not planning on eating the fish right away or have any health issues that may affect your immune system. If you don’t care for a strong fishy taste, the longer smoking process used to make hot smoked salmon results in a milder fish flavor. Here are a few varieties of smoked salmon you might spot on grocery store shelves.

    • Kippered salmon: This type of hot smoked salmon is dry brined before being smoked at about 130°F. Sometimes the fish is coated in a sweet alcohol mixture first.

    • Candy salmon: These small strips of cured salmon smoked for an extended period give the fish a jerky-like texture. This variety often tastes sweet.

    • Wood-smoked salmon: This salmon is smoked over wood. Most packaging will tell you the type of wood used because each one imparts a unique flavor. Some wood-smoked salmon may also be rubbed with spices first.

    Cured salmon

    Other salmon preparations are sometimes confused with smoked salmon, but they are cured or brined instead of smoked. The fish is silkier in texture and doesn't have a strong smoky flavor. Like cold smoked salmon, cured salmon is best kept refrigerated. It goes well with bagels and cream cheese.

    • Lox: Sound familiar? This mild-flavored and popular cured salmon is easy to find at the grocery store. Lox is commonly served as thin slices on bagels. Traditionally, lox was made by salt-curing or brining the belly portion of the salmon, a process that preserves the texture of the fish. Now lox may be prepared using any part of the fish. The process of making lox does not involve smoking, but some people get lox and smoked salmon confused.

    • Gravlax: If you’ve been to IKEA recently, you may have noticed gravlax on the menu. This Scandinavian version of lox is cured using additional ingredients such as dill, spices, and alcohol. The extra seasoning imparts a unique flavor.
    DID YOU KNOW?

    While hot smoked salmon is flakier than its cold smoked variety it shouldn’t taste completely dried out.

    Smoked salmon prices

    As with fresh fish, the price of smoked salmon can vary widely, and the global salmon supply may affect product prices, too. The cost will also depend on the quantity of smoked salmon in the package. You can expect to pay $18 and more for about six ounces of sliced or filleted salmon and $40 and up for a whole smoked salmon.

    Tasty ways to use smoked salmon

    Are you looking for ideas for using all the smoked salmon you found on sale, or do you just want some inspiration for your next holiday brunch? Here are a few suggestions for how to best use this versatile ingredient.

    • Wrap cooked asparagus

    • Serve with bagels and cream cheese

    • Garnish savory breakfast crepes

    • Adorn toasted baguette slices

    • Top a salad

    • Stir into eggs

    • Fill a sandwich

    • Roll into sushi

    • Toss with pasta

    EXPERT TIP

    Feel free to eat smoked salmon with the skin on, but it’s completely alright to remove it, too.


    EXPERT TIP

    Spice rubs add more flavor to some types of hot smoked salmon. Experiment with different combinations.


    EXPERT TIP

    Be on the lookout for pickled lox. It is great if your taste buds prefer a bit more tang.


    Recipe for cheesy cucumber smoked salmon bites

    Here is a simple, tasty, and quick smoked salmon appetizer that’s great for any kind of gathering.

    Ingredients

    • Small wheel of Camembert cheese (cut into bite-size pieces)

    • 2-3 slices of smoked salmon (chopped)

    • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

    • 1 tablespoon capers

    • 1 garlic clove

    • Fresh dill fronds for garnish

    • 3 large cucumbers (sliced)
       

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

    2. Bake cheese in a single layer in oven-safe dish until visibly bubbling (about ten minutes).

    3. Remove cheese from oven.

    4. Mix green onions, capers, and garlic into the cheese.

    5. Bake for about two minutes.

    6. Remove mixture from oven.

    7. Top each cucumber slice with warm cheese mixture.

    8. Add dollop of smoked salmon to each cheese-topped cucumber slice.

    9. Garnish with dill fronds.

    Smoked salmon can be either wild or farmed salmon. Check the packaging to verify the source.

    FAQ

    Q. Is smoked salmon healthful?

    A. Smoked salmon is similar to fresh salmon when it comes to nutrients – B vitamins, protein, vitamin D, along with other essential vitamins and minerals. Unlike fresh fish, however, hot and cold smoked, as well as cured, salmon should be consumed in moderation due to the high sodium content. There is also some evidence that smoked foods are carcinogenic, but unless you’re eating large amounts of smoked products, it’s unlikely to increase your cancer risk dramatically.

    Q. How long will smoked salmon last if unopened?

    A. In the fridge, use the “best before” date as a guide. Typically, a sealed package of cold smoked salmon should stay fresh for about two to three weeks. If you’re buying smoked salmon on sale and plan to keep it on hand, you can store it in the freezer for up to three months. After three months, it won’t be spoiled, but may not taste as fresh once defrosted. Most hot smoked varieties do not require refrigeration and can last for years if left unopened.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Steph
      Steph
      Writer