Brine for salmon.

Started by Gebs27, October 06, 2019, 05:28:20 PM

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Need help smoking salmon way to salty.

At supper yesterday I prepped my dry brine. 2 cups brown sugar 1 cup kosher salt. Left it in fridge over night. At 10 am I rinsed it off. Dried 2 hours.

Put in smoker. 120, 140,160 2 hours a piece.

Go to eat. One bite was so salty I spit it in garbage.

Is this normal or what am I doing wrong ??


All the recipes I've come across normally use a 4:1 Brown sugar to salt ratio. Yours is 2:1 ratio, that's way too salty for dry brine salmon. I've been using 1 cup Kosher salt and 4 cups packed brown sugar and haven't had any issues like yours. If your salmon is too salty you could try soaking the smoked pieces in cold water for an hour. Dry them off and try tasting, if its still too salty change the water and repeat. I once had my salmon too salty, and an hour in cold water really helped. I also set my smoker to 150°F and smoke for 90 minutes, brush (melted in microwave) apricot jam and another 30 minutes in smoker--total smoke is 2 hours.   

Habanero Smoker

It's been a while since I've dried brine salmon. I now just us a flavoring brine; using a wet brine. I hot smoke it roughly using the times and temperatures you use - when I fully smoke/cook the salmon in the Bradley.

In addition to Eward176 post, the thickness of your salmon and the length of time you brine it also has an effect on how salty the finish product is.



I'm with HS on this - I never dry brine fish.  I use a wet brine for 18 to 24 hours and then smoke.  I also cover each fillet with brown sugar after the brining process is completed and just prior to putting the fillets in the smoker.  Here is my brine recipe:

Soak in the following brine solution for at least 12 hours at refrigerator temperatures (I do it more like 18 or more).  Use a stainless steel or wooden grate over the top of the meat to hold it completely under the brine.  Stir fish a few times during the brining process.

1 gallon cold water
10 oz Teriyaki sauce
5 oz orange juice
1/3 cup pickling salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Works for me every time its tried.   ;D
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I'm 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
"Free men don't ask permission to bear arms." ― Glen Aldrich
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." ― Dr. Seuss


Just smoked salmon yesterday. Made wet brine. 1C kosher,1 1/2 C brown sugar, 1/2C maple syrup, juice of one lemon, 1onion chopped course, 2cloves crushed garlic, 1 1/2 qts cold water. Brine skinless thin filets for 5-7 hours. Quick rinse in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with course ground pepper and air dry on racks in fridge overnight. Smoked with alder at 140 until nice glazed appearance. My favorite recipe. 👍👍
I've had similar issues with dry brine being too salty.


Thank you everyone.
I am going to give this a go next weekend.

Sausage Master

Here's what I use....


•   2 salmon fillets with skin


•   1 cup Soy Sauce
•   1 cup Agave Syrup
•   1/2 cup Olive Oil
•   2 Tbs Garlic
•   1 Tbs Ginger
•   2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
•   1 lemon, quartered


•   Wash the salmon filets thoroughly and place in a pan.
•   In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, syrup, and sugar and mix well. Pour the marinade over the fillets.
•   Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or if you prefer, overnight.

1.   Preheat a smoker to 250 degrees F and smoke with pecan.
2.   Place salmon on smoker racks skin side down.   
3.   Smoke for 30 to 60 minutes or until fish flakes nicely.
Charles (Chuck) Freeland
The Sausage Master
Phone: 405-397-1084 Fax: 888-547-7993
Email: [email protected]


I've been smoking salmon (chinook only) for 20 years.  I've developed my "process" over many runs and really like how the product turns out.  Here is what I do...

Dry Brine-
2 pound bag of brown sugar
1 cup Johnny's Seasoning Salt
3/4 cup lemon pepper
3/4 cup ground black pepper
I use a sealed container to mix the above items, 3 batches at a time.

I lay out the salmon, previously frozen, into equal sized pieces on paper towels for 1-2 hours.  Once the moisture has evaporated off I put a couple of cups of brine in the bottom of a 2.5 gallon kitchen container and start layering the salmon.  Flesh to flesh, skin to skin and putting 1/2" of brine between layers.  Then leave at room temp for 12 hours.  Flip over and place in the fridge for 24-36 hours, flipping the container a couple times a day.  Before smoking give the salmon a quick rinse and again layout on paper towel for 1-2 hours.  While waiting for the salmon to dry and come up to room temp I preheat the Bradley.  Place the salmon on the racks with equal spacing, on the bottom 2 racks I only place the salmon on the door side (the back side of the lower racks gets too hot when the heating element is on), and use the top racks for the thickest pieces.  Don't pack too much, your run times will go way up.  I prefer to do an extra run rather than stuffing the racks full.  3 hours smoke only, 1 hour at 120 and then 1 hour at 160 to finish the thick pieces.  I tend to pull the bellies and tails about half way through the 120 temp.  To tell if it is "done" I judge by the firmness and if it is looking dry.  I like a moist product.  Once finished I let cool for 10-15 mins then vacuum pack, leave in the fridge for 12 hours then into the freezer.  I feel sealing the salmon quickly helps seal in the moisture. 

Tip- Don't be in a rush to get the salmon into the smoker.  Take your time and bring the internal temp up slowly and constantly.  Otherwise you'll see a white liquid on top of the pieces which is a protein release from heating too quickly.

Love to hear others feedback.


As an ex commercial salmon troller here in B.C., I've been smoking salmon, both hot and cold smoke for 40 years. Gebs:in your post you describe hot smoking your salmon and, as others have mentioned, I only use a wet brine if I'm hot smoking. My wet brine is based on Kummoks recipe, posted on this site with some minor variations: I use chopped up fresh garlic instead of garlic powder and I reduce the amount of cayenne from 3 T. To 1 T. As my wife cannot handle spicy foods. Dry brine comes into play when I'm cold smoking and with dry brine you have to be very careful on how you apply it. To make things easier in this regard, I only cold smoke centre fillets of my spring salmon as I find the thinner  tails and belly parts too tricky to salt correctly. I dry brine first with salt, leave for 12 hours, then rinse the salt off and dry the fillets. If the fillets are over 1 1/2 " thick, I make diagonal slices skin deep about an inch apart in the skin and rub the salt into the slices. Otherwise on bigger fish, the dry salt does not penetrate and you get an uneven cure. I then use brown sugar to brine and repeat the process. I then put a bit of cooking oil on and back into the fridge for overnight. I then use a rum soaked cloth to wipe the oil off, let the fillets dry and come up to room temp and they are ready to cold smoke. 2 hours rolling smoke, never letting the smoker get above 85 F. This produces a drier product than Spyguys wetbrine cold smoke (which I do once in awhile just for variation).