Hot Smoked Salmon with Zucchini Salad

Hot smoked salmon with zucchini salad

Hot smoked salmon with zucchini salad brings the southwest flavors and smoke to the dinner table. Very little effort with great results. This recipe is almost as easy as making toast. It involves slightly more work with a knife, but you get the idea.

Hot smoked salmon with Smoky Southwest Dry Rub, zucchini salad, and cheese

This post is written in partnership with Kvaroy ArcticThese posts and affiliate links enable me to maintain and operate this site which is free to the public. I only partner with brands that I personally use and believe in.

Choose your fish wisely.

The process is important, but so is the ingredient. Lighter, firm, farm-raised salmon on clearance is the last thing you want to use if you’re looking for the best experience. There’s nothing wrong with farm-raised salmon, as long as it’s been raised with sustainable practices. Not all farmed fish are created equal!

Kvaroy Arctic provided me with their salmon to test, research, and share with you. Deciding to partner with them was an easy choice due to their extremely transparent practices. Kvaroy (pronounced Kwa-ray) is an island located on the Norwegian Inner Passage on the Arctic Circle. Their products are imported, vacuum-sealed and extremely fresh.

Pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, artificial dyes? Nope. They’ve even developed a new feed for their fish to dramatically reduce contaminants such as mercury. Read here for information about their practices, sustainability, and other common questions that might come up.

Bottom line: The salmon from Kvaroy is extremely flavor and absolutely tender. The most tender salmon I’ve ever had, period.

Low and slow is the way to go.

Have you ever stressed about grilling or smoking salmon? I couldn’t tell you the number of failures I’ve had. Typically it’s one of two things: skin sticking to the grill, or simply just overcooking it and seeing all of that fat drip out (the gooey white stuff, called albumin).

Process for hot smoked salmon:

  • Low and slow, 225-250˚F. This will help the fish stay moist, for a few reasons. The biggest factor is that white stuff that leaks out, called albumin. It’s a liquid protein that becomes semi-solid during the cooking process. As your fish cooks, the muscle fibers contract and squeeze it out. Think of a wet towel, and wringing out all of the water. Apply that to cooking and that means you’re squeezing out moisture from the fish. Low and slow heat will still cook your fish, and you’ll have minimal loss of albumin. Plus, now you have delicious smoke flavor.
  • Clean your grill. This is extremely obvious, but it’s soooo important when it comes to fish. Smoke the salmon portions skin-side down, on clean grates. If you do this, they will simply lift off the grill grates when ready, and you won’t have issues.
Hot smoked salmon, smoking at 250F on a pellet smoker.

Southwest flavors all around.

Seasoning the salmon couldn’t be easier. You could use this guide to prepare fresh salmon filets however you’d like, but if you don’t try out the Smoky Southwest Dry Rub you’ll be missing out. Simple seasoning you can use on any meat or seafood, made quickly with ingredients you probably have at home. It adds amazing color to the salmon, enhancing the natural flavors while adding some smoke and herbs.

Use the Smoky Southwest Dry Rub for this salmon!

The best part, you do not need to brine your salmon with this process. Cooking low and slow ensures the meat will stay nice and moist, and the rub is packed with enough flavor that each bite will have a punch. The process is very different for cold-smoked salmon, so make sure you use this method for only hot smoked salmon.

Fresh zucchini salad, no cooking needed.

Fresh salad, no cooking required.

Wait, raw zucchini? Yes. Well it has a marinade, does that count?

It’s safe to eat. Not only that it’s incredibly tender and tasty. We’ll whisk the vinaigrette together and let it sit while the salmon is on the smoker. Here’s the quick recipe:

  • 3 cups zucchini, green or yellow
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp zest of lime
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Sliced jalapeno for garnish
  • Queso fresco to taste

You can see the flavor profile would be easy to change or customize. Add in dill, parsley, and feta for a completely different profile. Toast up some seeds or nuts for extra crunch. I also like to use toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) depending on when I’m serving it. Make this at least 15 minutes before you need to serve it, so the veggies have a chance to marinade together.

Hot smoked salmon, plated with fresh zucchini salad.
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Hot smoked salmon with zucchini salad

Hot Smoked Salmon with Zucchini Salad

Hot smoked salmon with zucchini salad brings the southwest flavors and smoke to the dinner table.

  • Total Time: 70
  • Yield: 5-6 1x


  • 2 lb. fresh salmon fillets, portioned
  • 2 tbsp Smoky Southwest Dry Rub
  • 3 cups zucchini, green or yellow (about 2 small zucchini)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil’
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp zest of lime
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Sliced jalapeno for garnish
  • Queso fresco to taste


  1. Preheat the smoker for 250˚F, indirect cooking.
  2. Season the filets on all sides, except the skin. Allow them to rest for 20 minutes at room temp, giving the seasoning a chance to set.
  3. Clean the grill grates. Next, fold up a paper towel and dab with oil, wiping each of the grates.
  4. Place the salmon fillets on the grates, skin-side down. Give them at least 1-2″ space between. Smoke to your preferred temperature, which should take an estimated 40-60 minutes. I prefer to cook mine to 135˚F and then remove which ends up with a very tender texture, not flakey.
  5. Prepare the salad while the salmon is smoking. Slice the zucchini very thin, preferably on a mandolin. Mix the oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro together. Taste and adjust. Pour this over the zucchini in a serving bowl and toss gently to coat.
  6. Serve the warm salmon with the salad. Garnish with jalapeno and queso fresco.


The skin will not crisp up, you may remove it before serving. It helps protect the fish while cooking. Do not prepare the salad too far in advance, it may soften the zucchini too much.

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Keywords: Seafood, salmon, zucchini, salad, vegetables, hot smoked, smoking, pellet grill

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