How To Smoke Whitefish: An Easy Guide For Novices

Whitefish can be bland if it is not cooked or prepared the right way. If you want to make it a well-loved dish amongst your family and friends, one thing that you can do is to have it smoked. You need only a few ingredients and minimal effort to come up with a yummy treat that will surely be a precious commodity.

If you are thinking of how to smoke whitefish, I got you covered in the rest of this post. Even if you are a beginner in the kitchen, there is no need to worry. The steps involved are very basic, which means that anyone can easily do it. By the time you are finished reading, you might regret not having done it before.​

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

Here is a list of the materials that you will need to have to get started with smoking whitefish:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Container
  • Smoker
  • Woodchips
  • Whitefish

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Smoke Whitefish

In this section, we will be breaking up the discussion into sections to make it easier to proceed with smoking whitefish.

Brining The Whitefish

If there is one step that will prove to be crucial, it would be brining. This will help to make the fish more flavorful after it is smoked. Through brining, the liquid that you can find in fish will be replaced with your choice of solution, which will be vital in altering its flavor.

Here are the simple steps that you should follow when it comes to brining:​

  • Combine one gallon of water, half cup of salt, and half cup of sugar. Stir it with enough force until you notice that salt and sugar has totally melted.
  • You may also want to consider adding garlic and onion if you want to have a more distinct flavor.
  • Now that the brine solution is ready, you can now add the whitefish. Place it in the refrigerator, not the freezer, for at least 12 hours. Also, stir it from time to time so that the solution will be distributed evenly.
  • After at least 12 hours, take out the fish from the brine. Rinse it using cold water. Use paper towels to take out any excess liquid. Leave it at room temperature for about an hour. For the fish to not turn soggy, you can add a pinch of salt and sugar.

Smoking The Fish

Now that the whitefish has been brined, it is now time to proceed to smoking. Here is how you can do it:

  • Start by having an inspection of the smoker. See to it that it is clean. Any traces of dirt will most probably have a negative impact on the flavor of the smoked whitefish.
  • Place the woodchips in the smoker. Make sure to choose wisely based on the specific flavor that is preferred.
  • Lay down the fish in the smoker, making sure that there is even space in between each of them. Start the smoker and set the temperature of the smoker to at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit. For the best outcomes, white fish needs to be smoked for four to ten hours, but this will vary depending on its thickness.

Here is a video that will also show you how to easily smoke whitefish:

Preparing Sauce For Smoked Whitefish

While smoked whitefish is already full of flavor, it will taste even more delicious if it comes with a nice dip or sauce. This will perfectly complement the flavor of the fish. Here is a simple way to prepare a nice dip:

  • In a bowl, simply mix Dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, ground black pepper, dill, and brown sugar. Just continue mixing with enough force until the dip becomes smoother.
  • Once the desired consistency is achieved, it is now time to enjoy the dip with your smoked whitefish. You might also want to prepare baguette or fresh lettuce. The latter will be a perfect match for the strong flavor of the whitefish.

Pro Tips

To be assured of the best outcomes, the following are some of the tips that you have to keep in mind:

  • When brining, you should choose a non-reactive container. Ceramic, stainless steel, and plastic are the best choices. The latter will not affect the flavor in any negative way.
  • Still with regards to brining, do not put more than four pounds of fish in the container. Also, make sure that the fish is not frozen. When ice melts, this can dilute the brining solution, and hence, will make the flavor weaker.
  • You should also pay attention to when exactly is the fish done being smoked. Using a thermometer will be a good idea. With this, check the temperature of the fish and make sure that it is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Choosing the right type of wood for smoking is also important for achieving optimal flavor. If you want to have a strong flavor, you can choose hickory or alder. For milder flavor, on the other hand, maple, cherry, or apple are ideal choices.
  • For fuller flavor, it is also important to make sure that whitefish will be properly positioned in the smoker. The skin should be turned down. Also, throughout the process of smoking, it would be best to light coat it with oil, which will be important in retaining its moisture.
  • You should also control the amount of wood that is added in the smoker. It may be tempting to add more, but this should not be done unless it is necessary. There is a possibility that the whitefish will end up being bitter.
  • Always pay attention to the smoker. Although this is an activity that is low maintenance, it does not mean that you can just do what you want and leave it on its own. From time to time, check the fish and the smoker to be sure that everything goes well.
  • After the fish is smoked, it is also critical to ensure its proper storage, especially if you plan to keep it in the long-term. Air penetration should be avoided, as well as heat and humidity. You should wrap it in plastic and keep it in the fridge or freezer to retain its freshness for an extended period.
  • Even if it is recommended that you prepare a dip or sides, the star of the dish should always be the smoked whitefish. Make sure that it will be the one with a dominant flavor. Keep all other things at a minimum.


By now, I hope that the discussion above were able to provide you with enlightenment on how to smoke whitefish. Through these steps, it will be easier to make the fish more flavorful, instead of serving it the usual way where it tends to be bland.

Did you enjoy reading this guide? Have you tried smoking whitefish before? How did you do it? Feel free to leave a comment below.


Hi, my name is Chidinma. I’ve been happily married for 4+ years (actually almost 6 years now), and my husband and I have been trying to have our own children for almost all the time we’ve been married, with no success…yet. We haven’t lost hope (far from it), and we believe it will happen very soon.

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crowncare - April 27, 2017

Thanks for the tips given here


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