Smoked Salmon on a Stick




Introduction: Smoked Salmon on a Stick

So before I get into it let me just say that if you wish to bypass the backstory by all means skip down to step 7, the overview, to view the recipe but if you want to stick with me I will explain why this is so special to me and a labor of love.

If you are from New England like me, you probably already know about The Big E but for those who don't, let me explain. The Big E is a huge regional fair held for three weeks at the end of September into October that celebrates all of New England. I have been going to this since I was a kid and to me, its the perfect way to say goodbye to summer and kick off the start of fall.

One of the best features of the Big E are the state buildings. Each of the six New England states has its own dedicated building filled with all of the best things from that state and believe me when I say that food is a big deal here. Every year we strategically eat our way through each state and there are certain things that are must haves no matter what.

One of my favorite buildings and states for that matter is Maine and one of the things my family eats every year from the Maine building is the Smoked Salmon On A Stick. It is easily in our top three foods at the Big E but unfortunately when the fair is over so is the salmon...until now! I have spent several years perfecting the recipe to replicate this fair favorite. So with out further ado, here is my version of Maine's smoked salmon on a stick.

Step 1: What You Will Need

The list of what you will need is pretty simple. One of the best parts about this recipe is how easy it is. I have a smoker but to be honest I can get the same results on my propane grill which I find easier for this since the smoke time is fairly short.

Time:Prep - 20 min, Marinate - Overnight, Cook - 2 Hours

Serves: 5


  • 2 Pounds of Salmon
  • 4 Cloves Of Garlic Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of Minced Ginger
  • 4 Cups of Brown Sugar
  • 3 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Ground Black Pepper


  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Glass Baking Dish
  • Mixing Bowl
  • BBQ Skewers
  • Foil
  • Wood Chips or pellets
  • Oven Thermometer
  • Plastic Wrap

Step 2: Make the Dry Rub

Mince the garlic and ginger and add to a mixing bowl. Next add 4 cups of packed brown sugar and then 3 cups of kosher salt. Make sure you use kosher salt, regular table salt has iodine and other chemicals used in processing that I think effect the taste in the end. Lastly add black pepper, I grind it right in the bowl so i just eyeballed it but It would be about three tablespoons. Now grab a fork and mix it all up, making sure to break up any clumps of brown sugar.

Step 3: Prepare the Salmon Day 1

This time i used two pounds of salmon but you could clearly scale up for more. I have done this with huge filets of salmon from Costco for parties and it was a huge hit. You also want to make sure the skin is off the filet so if you can buy it with the skin already removed its much easier but if not make sure you take it off.

Now, put a thin layer of the dry rub in a glass baking dish place the salmon on top and then cover with the remaining dry rub mixture. Cover the glass dish with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight. Besides adding flavor the dry rub is going to suck out a ton of moisture from the salmon which is key for the smoke flavor.

Step 4: Prepare the Salmon Day 2

After the salmon has marinated overnight and you are ready to smoke pull it out of the fridge and uncover. The glass baking dish will be full of liquid (see photo above). Remove the salmon from the dish and rinse the salmon off in the sink. Almost all of the dry rub will rinse off but some of the pepper and salt will be left. Place the fish on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.

At this point the salmon will feel different. The filet will be stiffer since a lot of the moisture was removed and it will have a sticky layer on the surface. This is good, the sticky layer is what will trap the smoke flavor.

Now the last step cut the salmon into strips. The size is up to you but I generally cut strips about an inch and a half wide make them wider once I get to the thinner part of the filet. Finally, skewer each strip with a BBQ skewer almost all the way through. Now this is not absolutely necessary but thats how it is served at the fair and frankly who doesn't like meat on a stick .

Step 5: Smoke It!

My grill has three sections so I remove the third one. If your is only two then just remove one side. Next, prepare the wood chips which can be done in a couple ways. I use one of those small, cheap, disposable foil dishes filled with wood chips and covered with foil. You could also just create a foil packet filled of wood chips with holes poked in it to release the smoke. Either way place the wood chips on top on the burner a turn it on to low.

Once the grill is heated and smoking at 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, I use an oven thermometer inside the grill since the built in ones can be inaccurate, place the salmon strips on the top rack on the side of the grill opposite the burner. Close the grill and set a timer for two hours....No Peeking...Okay I had to peek and take a picture.

Step 6: Its Done

After two hours the salmon should be done. When you take it out it should have that beautiful brown red color. Now the way it is served at the fair and my favorite way to eat it is cold but there is no way to resist taking a bite now, so grab a stick for yourself to munch, cover the rest with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge to chill.

Hope you liked the recipe and please leave me a comment if you have any questions or you try this out for yourself. Also if you are ever in Massachusetts at the end of September I highly recommend going to the Big E and trying the original version from the Maine building.

Thanks for reading!

Step 7: Recipe Overview

Time: Prep - 20 min, Marinate - Overnight, Cook - 2 Hours

Serves: 5


  • 2 Pounds of Salmon (skin removed)
  • 4 Cloves Of Garlic Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of Minced Ginger
  • 4 Cups of Brown Sugar
  • 3 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Ground Black Pepper

How to Make:

Make the dry rub - Combine garlic, ginger, salt, brown sugar and pepper in a mixing bowl.

In a glass baking disk add an thin layer if the dry rub mixture place salmon on top and then cover with the rest of the dry rub. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator over night.

Remove from fridge and rinse the salmon removing the residual dry rub. Place on a cutting board and cut salmon into 1 1/2 strips. Next skewer each strip of salmon all the way through.

Prepare smoker at 225 degrees or heat one burner on a propane grill and place smoking packet on top of the heated burner. Once ready place salmon on the upper grill rack, close lid and let cook for two hours.

Remove salmon from the grill and let chill in the refrigerator and serve cold.

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    26 Discussions

    Man, the Big E and Big Y ingredients... that takes me right back to childhood. I used to love the deer in the Maine tent. Can't wait to try this out.

    1 reply

    That’s awesome! I was hoping some New Englanders would see this and feel a little nostalgic.


    Question 24 days ago

    Will pink himalayan salt work in place of kosher salt in your opinion. I like the himalayan salt better.

    1 more answer

    YEs I do think that pink Himalayan salt will work. Any pure salt without added chemicals should work great.

    Why kosher salt, is it important? Red Hawaiinian salt or Flor De Sal not good enough?

    4 replies

    I think those would work fine. The issue with regular table salt is the iodine and other chemicals used in the processing.

    Pish-posh. That iodine keeps you from getting a goiter. Kosher salt is often just a cult thing (though iodine does discolor garlic in pickling).

    Well your certainly welcome to use whatever salt you want but I think you get enough regular table salt in other places so I wouldn’t worrry about the goiter

    On a laptop there is an icon in the upper right corner that looks like three dots connected by lines clich that and you can share that way. From an iPhone if you tap the icon at the bottom that is a square with an arrow you can share as well. Thanks for viewing and wanting to share.

    What type of wood chips do you use? ceder? applewood? hickory? Mesquete? oak? Please advise!!

    1 more answer

    4 weeks ago

    Well done ible! I cannot wait to try this. I have my own honey smoked salmon recipe with a wet marinade, then topped with cracked pepper or dill then smoked. But this recipe is tantalizing. I love that it is a recreation of a childhood favorite. Thanks again!

    2 replies

    Oh that recipe sounds delectable!! do you think you could post it or post it's source?

    Attached an image of the recipe. Not sure why, but it wouldn't let me paste the recipe txt into the reply.


    Sounds good, but why so much salt and sugar? Seems like it would be extremely sweet and salty. Or does most of it get thrown out after mainating? Have you tried cutting back on the sugar or salt? Thanks for posting!

    3 replies

    Having cooked something similar to this myself, most of it get thrown out after marinating because it is dissolved in the liquid and rinsing off of the item to be cooked. If you try to cut back on the quantity the recipe wont work out. I know it seems like a waste but it really isn't...

    Thanks, I printed it out and will give it a try.

    The big role the salt and sugar play in this is to remove moisture from the salmon which is key to smoking salmon. Most of this will be rinsed off prior to smoking. The final product is not over sweet or salty. The amount you need is really just enough to cover the salmon while it sits over night.