Best Wood For Smoking Salmon – And What Not To Use

best wood for smoking salmon

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Using one of the many smoker grills on the market to smoke salmon is one of the most popular ways to prepare fish, and it’s actually super easy.  The delicious smoky flavor enhances the salmon’s natural taste, making it even more enjoyable. But what is the best wood for smoking salmon?

In order for your smoked salmon to turn out perfect every time, you need to make sure you use the right type of wood when smoking it.

Different types of wood can impart different flavors to your salmon, so choosing the right kind is essential if you want a flavorful final product.

In this article we will discuss some of the best types of wood for smoking salmon and how they can help bring out its unique flavor.

The Best Wood For Smoking Salmon


Hickory is at the top of our list for best wood for smoking salmon. It has a strong and distinct flavor that really stands out.

Hickory imparts a sweet yet smoky taste to your salmon, making it an excellent choice for those who like bold flavors. However, hickory can be quite overpowering so make sure you don’t use too much of it when smoking your salmon.


Applewood comes in second for the best wood for smoking salmon.  Applewood has a subtle yet sweet flavor that adds depth to the taste of your smoked salmon without overpowering it.

Additionally, applewood helps produce a nice pink color in the flesh of the fish, making it a great choice for those who want to achieve an aesthetically pleasing finished product.


Lastly, maple wood is also great for smoking salmon. Maple imparts a mild and slightly sweet flavor that complements the taste of salmon without overshadowing it. Additionally, the smokiness of maple is rather subtle, making it a good choice for those who don’t want an overly smoky flavor.

Wood Types We’d Avoid For Salmon


Mesquite is one of the most popular types of wood for smoking, but it should be avoided when smoking salmon. Mesquite has a pungent flavor that can easily overpower the delicate flavor of salmon, making it an unwise choice for this particular type of fish.


Lastly, oak wood is not recommended for smoking salmon. Oak has a strong and intense flavor that can easily overpower the taste of salmon.

While it’s not quite as strong as mesquite, it is still easy to overdo it on salmon – so we think it’s best to stay away from it when smoking any type of fish.

Bonus Suggestion: Cedar

Ok so cedar isn’t a wood you’d normally use in a BBQ smoker.  However, we’d be remiss to not include it on this list because one of the most popular ways to prepare salmon is by grilling it over a cedar plank.

Simply soak your cedar planks, put’em on the grill, add your salmon, and you’ll be well on your way to incredibly tasty flavor.  The cedar smoke is a perfect complement to the delicate salmon flavor profile.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to smoking salmon, the type of wood you choose can really make or break the final product.

By using one of these three types of wood – hickory, applewood, or maple – you can be sure that your smoked salmon will have a delicious flavor that will make it stand out from the rest. So, get your smoker ready for some smoky salmon goodness!  Happy smoking!