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The Best Wood for Smoking Salmon

I love smoking salmon in during summer. Salmon not only contains loads of high-quality protein. It is also soft, pink, and delectable, which makes it one of the most popular types of meat to smoke.

While seasoning and marinade can enhance this meat’s taste, nothing can match the flavor of smoked salmon.

Selecting the best wood for smoking salmon has a significant effect on the overall taste, flavor, and aroma of your food. Choosing a wood that is too light or too strong will only ruin your dish.

To help you avoid such a disaster, I’ll share some of my favorite types of wood for smoking salmon.

The Best Wood for Smoking Salmon


If you do in-depth research, you’ll find that alder is the very first choice for a lot of experienced pitmasters whenever they smoke salmon. I highly recommend alder for smoking salmon because the aroma and taste it imparts on the fish are mild and light. Even if you aren’t into smoked fish, you’ll probably enjoy the mild smokiness that this wood offers.

What I love about alder is that it goes exceptionally well with a wide range of other fishes. It is recommended to use when smoking poultry as well.

Be that as it may, alder is often considered too mild for smoking red meat. I also don’t recommend it for heavier meats since the flavors are not as noticeable. However, you can always opt to blend alder with other woods to give you the flavor that you need.

All that aside, alder is perfect if you’re looking to smoke food for a few hours. This is because it’ll take hours to pass on the flavors to the meat.


A smoking staple in the South, hickory is one of the most popular hardwoods for all kinds of meat grilling. All the same, it’s especially good for smoking salmon.

I use hickory for smoking salmon when I want a strong flavor on my fish. The smoke it produces is strong and pungent, which then gives the salmon a smoky yet sweet flavor. Indeed, it is the ideal hardwood to use if you want something earthy, powerful, sweet, and sharp.

However, because of its strong natural flavors, I suggest that you stay mindful of the amount of hickory wood you use when smoking salmon. Using too much of this wood can overpower the flavors of the meat. You don’t want to end up having an awfully bitter (and nearly inedible) fish.


Some people find alder too light and hickory too strong. If that describes you, applewood is here to give your salmon the perfect balance of flavors.

If you want a fruity, sweet, yet smoky flavor on your salmon, using applewood is perfect. It provides the perfect balance of smoky sweetness without taking away the natural flavors of the salmon.

All the same, if you want to offset the fruity flavor, you can always mix apple with a slightly stronger wood like oak or mesquite. Doing so will add a slight earthy tone to your wood and enhance the flavors of the fish.

I use applewood in different kinds of meat, not just salmon. I recommend it for smoking lamb, pork, and poultry as well.


Are you looking for a moderately smoky flavor on your salmon? Oak is the ideal wood to use if you want smokiness to be the primary flavor of the fish.

This type of wood offers stronger flavors than a fruitwood like applewood. Even so, oak is milder than a traditional wood like hickory. This makes oak the perfect wood if you want to achieve a flavor that is not overpowering nor too light. Oak sits perfectly in the middle.

Oak is a popular wood because it is so easy to use. It can burn very hot for a long time. For this reason, people don’t need to refill the smoker with oak as often as they might with a different wood.

Other Notable Types of Wood Perfect for Smoking Salmon

  • Walnut
  • Cherry
  • Maple
  • Pecan