Top 8 Woods for Smoking Salmon(Alder, Apple & More)


Discover the tastiest smoking woods for one of the best grilled fish out there: salmon. Alder, Hickory, Maple and more.

Best firewood for smoking salmon.

Dark, flavorful meats like pork tenderloin and brisket have been barbecue favorites for years, but there’s nothing quite like salmon.

When it comes to cold smoked salmon, the wood you choose has a huge impact on the flavor and aroma of the end product.

Choose something too light and you will have missed a great opportunity to take your meat to another level. Choose something too strong and you will overwhelm and ruin your fish.

So, what are the best woods for smoking salmon? Here are eight of my favorites so YOU ​​can get your grilled fish smoky in no time!

At a Glance: Our Top 3 Picks


Cameron’s Products Alder 100% All Natural

Smoker Chips – Works with gas grills, charcoal grills, and smoker boxes; Thickly cut pieces of alder go well with poultry, seafood and pork.


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Western Premium BBQ Smoking Chips, Apple BBQ

Heat treated apple wood to detect and prevent vermin, mold or rot. 100% natural; 180 Cubic Inches Oversized Apple BBQ Smoker Chips per pack.


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Weber 17148 Hickory Wood Chunks

Walnut wood shavings; Rich, subtly sweet taste; Ideal for poultry, pork and beef; 350cu. 0.006 m^3(in.) size bag

Best firewood for smoking salmon.


In too many smoking woods, alder is a smooth hardwood that gives the salmon a light, delicate smoky note.

While it’s easy to think this is too weak, it’s actually perfect, as keeps cold-smoked salmon for at least a day. This means we can slowly coat the salmon with alder without risking overpowering it or souring the fish.

This subtle flavor also makes it ideal for mixing with other woods and pairs perfectly with other species of fish. I have used it to cold smoke trout with great success .

Alder has been a favorite of seasoned smokers for as long as I can remember, and it’s not hard to see why. However, it is often considered too weak for red meat and too strong for poultry. The salmon sits perfectly in the middle.

  • Smoking Wood Chips – Works with gas grills, charcoal grills and smoker boxes.
  • BBQ Smoker Chunks: Made from 100% natural raw wood that is precision cut and kiln dried.
  • Alder Smoking Wood – Fires quickly and burns through to produce a subtle smoke flavor.


Despite being a subtle and sweet fruitwood, apple is so popular that it is used with a variety of types of cured meats.

It has a sweet, fresh taste with a moderate smoky aroma. This gives you the perfect balance of smoky sweetness without re-enhancing the salmon’s natural flavors.

If the alder is too weak for you, then the apple should be perfect for you. There’s a reason it goes so well with most meats. It is the best wood for smoking chicken , the best wood for smoking brisket, and even goes well with turkey .

If you want to experiment, mix applewood with a touch of mesquite. This should give your wood a slightly earthy hue and enhance your wood’s smoky flavors.

  • Apple BBQ smoking chips for the charcoal, gas or electric grill. See description for cooking…
  • Heat treated apple wood to detect and prevent vermin, mold or rot. 100% natural.
  • 180 Cubic Inches Oversized Apple BBQ Smoker Chips per pack.
cold-smoked salmon fillets in the chamber


Hickory has been a Southern grill dish for centuries, thanks to its good pairing with bacon and other types of pork.

Still, it pairs well with salmon and is the perfect hardwood when you’re looking for something strong and earthy rather than delicate.

The smoke she puts out is just the right side of strong and flavorful, finding a great balance between smoky and sweet.

One downside to using hickory is that due to its strong flavor profile, YOU have to be very careful IF YOU’RE grilling salmon with it. If your fish is exposed for hours, all of the wood’s rich natural flavors could overwhelm the meat, rendering it extremely bitter and virtually inedible.

  • Walnut piece
  • Subtly sweet, rich taste
  • Ideal for poultry, pork and beef.
Pile of crushed wood shavings for smoking meat


At the other end of the scale from hickory sits maple. It’s a hardwood that tastes a lot more tender and sweet, and it’s so soft that it doesn’t really risk overwhelming your salmon.

No bitterness either. No thick layers of smoke. Simply beautiful, subtle sweet notes.

It’s a hardwood typically used in poultry, vegetables and cheese, and it’s not hard to see why.

  • Maple BBQ chips for charcoal, gas or electric grill. See description for cooking…
  • Heat treated maple wood to detect and prevent vermin, mold or rot.
  • 180 Cubic Inches Oversized Maple BBQ Smoker Chips per pack.


Cherry is a lot more versatile than you might think and goes particularly well with poultry and fish.

It has a mildly sweet flavor that still lets the salmon’s natural flavors take center stage.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also use cherry wood to paint a nice, bold red color on your food.

Cherry is often paired with alder, oak, or walnut to create wonderfully rich and nuanced smoke profiles.

  • A bag of cherry roasting wood chips weighs about 10 pounds
  • Soak the wood chips for 20 minutes and place over hot coals for maximum flavor.
  • 840cu. in. (0.013m³) Cherry is the perfect wood for salmon, shellfish and vegetables
grilled smoked lemon salmon


No wonder oak is stronger than fruitwoods like apple or cherry. However, it is lighter than other traditional woods such as hickory or mesquite.

What makes oak so popular is that it can withstand very high temperatures, which means it has a wide temperature range and is very versatile.

It gives your salmon a moderately sweet taste, but slightly different from fruity wood. 


Walnut wood is just one of the strongest woods out there. It is part of the Walnut Wood Hearth, which is slightly less potent than Walnut but stronger than Fruit Woods. You ask be careful when using wood to smoke pecans as it can make the salmon hot and flavorful if you use a lot of it.

This is truly a cold-burning wood that, when used properly, will add a delicate flavor to meat and fish. You just have to be careful not to abuse it.

  • Piece of pecan wood
  • Give you a rich, sweet taste.
  • Use with fish, port, poultry, lamb and beef


Sourced from various forests, hickory smoking wood has a very strong flavor and can make salmon bitter if used in excess. Most people opt for red meat, but YOU can use it with salmon if you’re careful.

When trying to create the perfect smoked salmon with lots of smoky flavors, you have many options.

What YOU choose largely depends on how long YOU want to roast it, how YOU roast it, and how strong YOU like its flavor.

I always recommend Alder as a starting point. It has enough flavor to satisfy beginners without being overwhelming.

If you like a little more pizzazz in your salmon, you can try applewood, maybe mixed with hickory.

  • Enhance the flavor: a perfect combination of hickory, apple and cherry hardwoods that harmonize perfectly…
  • Amazing Wood – Fire Flavor: Give everything you grill, smoke, bake… pure hardwood flavor.
  • Smoking Chips: Made from natural, raw fruit wood, naturally kiln dried and smoked…

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