This lemon pepper salmon recipe is easy to make and super flavorful, making it the perfect healthy summer meal. If you’re looking for a dish that guarantees to impress your friends and family, drizzle this smoked salmon in a mouthwatering dill sauce and prepare for endless compliments.
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How Long Does it Take to Smoke Salmon?
The length of time it takes to smoke salmon depends entirely on the size of your filet. In this smoked salmon recipe, we smoked our fish at 160-180°F for about 3 hours. Check out our smoking salmon time and temperature article to learn more.
Making this smoked salmon recipe is incredibly easy, even for beginners. You’ll start by checking it for bones, which you can do by rubbing your hand along the top of the fish, going against the grain. If you feel any bones, remove them by using tweezers or needlenose pliers.
Next, you’ll need to remove the thinnest layer of meat from the edges. You should also either remove the thin section of the tail or fold the tail inwards. While some people choose to save these thinner sections for other recipes, we love to cook them without seasonings and feed them to our grateful pets.
Seasoning the Salmon
Once you have prepared your salmon for the grill, sprinkle the zest of two lemons on top. Next, squeeze the lemon juice atop your salmon. Then, use a pepper mill to cover it with some freshly cracked black pepper. Finally, cut your filet in half, as this will make it easier to get on and off the grill.
Smoked Salmon Recipe
Ready to bring this lemon pepper salmon recipe to life? Just follow these simple steps.
Preheat the Z Grills Pellet Grill to 180°F
When it comes to smoking salmon, you can do either a cold smoke or hot smoke (more on that later). For this recipe, we’re doing a hot smoke that requires a temperature of about 180°F.
Add Salmon to the Pellet Grill
Make sure your grill grates are clean and oiled. Then, set your fish directly atop the grates. Finish dressing the salmon by placing some lemon slices and fresh dill on top of it. Then, you’ll be ready to go.
Smoke for 2 Hours at 180°F
For optimal results, smoke the salmon between 160°F and 180°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 145-150°F. Expect this to take around 3 hours total.
Make Summer Dill Sauce
While the salmon is smoking, go ahead and make your delicious summer dill sauce.
Making this creamy, summery sauce is incredibly easy and makes the salmon even more delicious. All you have to do is add the ingredients (full ingredient list is on the recipe card at the bottom of this article) to a bowl and mix well. Once the sauce is evenly combined, pop it into the fridge to start the chilling process.
Check the Internal Temperature of the Salmon
At the 2-hour mark, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the salmon. If it reads about 123°F, then you’re in the right place. Smoke for another hour.
Remove the Salmon From the Grill
After an hour has passed, check that the salmon’s internal temperature has reached 143-144°F. Use a spatula to remove the filet from the grill and transfer it to a board. For some additional flavor and a pop of bright color, feel free to place your smoked salmon atop a bed of fresh greens.
Rest, Serve, and Enjoy!
This smoked lemon pepper salmon is truly a beauty. After the fish has cooled, sprinkle it with the rind of half a lemon and a fresh orange. Then, drizzle your chilled summer dill sauce over the salmon and plate it with fresh asparagus for a mouthwatering summer dinner that looks just as good as it tastes.
Want to know this recipe’s secret weapon? It’s simple. We smoke our salmon using the Z Grills 10002B to deliver an unrivaled wood-fired flavor for the ultimate barbecue experience every time.
If you liked this recipe, check out the lemon pepper salmon tutorial on our Youtube channel. Thomas walks us step-by-step through this smoked salmon recipe and answers any questions you might have along the way.
What to Serve with Smoked Salmon?
If you’re looking for some tasty side dishes to complete the meal, try these:
Top Tips for Lemon Pepper Salmon
Regardless of your experience level behind the grill, these tips will ensure that your smoked salmon cooks to perfection:
Cold Smoke vs. Hot Smoke
There are two methods for smoking salmon: cold and hot. Cold smoked salmon is cooked between 90-100°F and has a fresher, less smoky taste. For this recipe, we used the hot smoke method for added smokiness, cooking it between 160-180°F.
What Temperature to Smoke Salmon?
We cooked our salmon at 160-180°F for about 3 hours. Of course, thicker filets will take a bit longer. For optimal results, you should remove your salmon from the grill once its internal temperature has reached 145°F.
Best Wood Pellets for Lemon Pepper Salmon
The best pellets for smoking salmon are Z Grills Competition Blend pellets, which is a mouthwatering mix of maple, hickory, and cherry woods that delivers a versatile flavor for all different smoked meat recipes.
How to Tell When Salmon is Done?
Your salmon is finished smoking when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Keep in mind that the fish will continue to cook a bit while it rests off the grill.
Lemon Pepper Salmon
- Z Grills 10002B Wood Pellet Grill
- Z Grills Competition Blend Pellets
- Sour cream
- Granulated garlic
- Kosher salt
- Red onions
- Dijon mustard
- Rind or zest of two lemons
- Juice of two lemons
- Fresh cracked black pepper
Summer Dill Sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed (chopped)
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice and rind
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- ¼ teaspoon garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat your Z Grill Pellet Smoker to 160-180°F. Prep your salmon filet by checking for bones and removing any thin sections of meat.
- Sprinkle your salmon with the rind of two lemons and squeeze the lemons’ juice on top. Then, use a pepper mill to season with freshly cracked black pepper.
- Make sure the Z Grill’s grates are clean and oiled. Place the salmon filet directly atop the grill grates. Cover the filet with lemon slices and fresh dill and smoke for 2 hours at 160-180°F.
- While the salmon is smoking, prepare your Summer Dill Sauce by combining chopped dill, sour cream, mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, lemon rind, horseradish, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Once combined, pop it in the fridge to start the chill process.
- At the 2-hour mark, use a meat thermometer to check the salmon’s internal temperature. If it reads 123°F, continue smoking for one hour.
- Remove the salmon from the grill when its internal temperature is 145°F (about one hour). Place the salmon atop a bed of fresh greens and garnish with lemon and orange rind. Top with Summer Dill Sauce and serve alongside fresh asparagus.