How to Smoke a Salmon on a Weber BBQ

How to Smoke a Salmon on a Weber BBQ

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  1. You can smoke a salmon on a Weber barbecue in four simple steps, provided you use the appropriate caution. The first thing you’ll need, of course, is a salmon. The fish smokes more smoothly when removed from the bones and skinned. What may be considerably harder to find is a pipe with a bowl large enough to accommodate an entire salmon filet. Try a specialty smoke shop or construct your own out of a metal pipe with ¼-inch interior diameter and a coffee can. Due to the water content of the fish, you’ll have to use an acetylene torch to ignite the salmon and possess considerable lung capacity to suck down the fumes.

    The hard part is maintaining your balance on top of the barbecue. I suggest wearing old pants and sitting on the grill, and for God’s sake, don’t light the charcoal!

    For those who wish to eat the smoked salmon as opposed to inhaling it—which I might add is considerably more healthy for your lungs and body as a whole—you may want to light those briquettes, though I would not recommend climbing onto the grill.

    I probably should have added "for dummies" to the end of the title, because I go into ridiculous detal for anyone accustomed to using a charcoal grill, so consider this a lesson for the utterly inexperienced.


    For this, you will need:

    • Weber grill (full-sized 22-inch kettle grill)
    • Two cookie sheets that you don’t mind scorching
    • Charcoal (Kingsford is the best and lasts the longest)
    • Wood pieces (mesquite, hickory or any fruit wood, 2-3 inches thick; at least twenty pieces)
    • Charcoal lighting chimney
    • Lighter fluid
    • Salmon (whole, filets or thick steaks)
    • Metal meat thermometer


    The Procedure:

    1. Remove the top grill and position one cookie sheet across the middle of the kettle (in the large kettle, it should rest on the lower grill). Place the second cookie sheet across the first one at a 90-degree angle, centered and overlapping one side, forming an X. The cookie sheets will act as drip pans to keep the bottom of the grill reasonably clean (as if the charcoal ash won’t make a mess; but at least the ash won’t stick to the barbecue as much and will clean up easier); they will also reduce the amount of heat coming into direct contact with the fish. The slower it cooks, the smokier the salmon.
    2. Open the vent on the Weber’s lid and all three on the bottom of the kettle fully.
    3. Soak the wood chunks in water for at least two hours before lighting the barbecue, then place some of them a layer thick along the exposed side of the lower grill.
    4. Use the charcoal lighting chimney to light the briquettes. Add two layers of briquettes to the chimney and douse with lighter fluid (Note: do not do this near an open flame; it’s best to douse the charcoal over pavement of some kind; any that spills or drips onto the cement with evaporate quickly), then fill the chimney about half full with un-soaked briquettes. Place the chimney on pavement (preferably away from any spilled lighter fluid) and use a wooden match to light the charcoal from the bottom through one of the vent holes. Let the charcoal burn until glowing with no residual lighter fluid fumes.
    5. Pour the charcoal onto the wet wood chunks; make sure all the briquettes stay on the far side of the cookie sheet and none spill atop the pan.
    6. Replace the top grill and lay the salmon or the fish steaks across the side of the grill opposite the charcoal.
    7. Leave the top vent on the Weber lid open, but close the lower three vents in the kettle about ¾ of the way. Place the lid on the kettle and insert the probe end of the meat thermometer into one of the lid’s vent holes.
    8. Adjust the lower vents as necessary to keep the coals burning low (if you close them completely, the lack of oxygen will snuff the coals) and to maintain a temperature of about 225 degrees Fahrenheit inside the kettle.
    9. After an hour (or if the wood stops smoking), check the charcoal. If the thermometer reads cool and the charcoal is not fully burned, you need to open the lower vents more. If the charcoal and/or wood have burned, you need to add more. Use the chimney as before to start fresh charcoal; add the wood layer first, then the ready coals on top of the wood, cover and continue smoking. Even if the charcoal and wood are still burning, be prepared to replace both when the Weber stops spewing smoke. Repeat this process as needed.
    10. Smoke filets for at least an hour; steaks for two hours and a whole salmon for three hours. Check for doneness by sticking a fork into the thickest part and pulling the flesh apart; if it’s flakey, it’s done.

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