Smoked salmon can be a very foreign concept to some people. If you didn’t grow up eating it or haven’t had it before, I get how you can be unsure of it. A question we’ve heard often is: can smoked salmon be cooked?
Yes, it can. However, it doesn’t need to be. Smoked salmon, whether it was hot-smoked or cold-smoked, is safe for consumption and doesn’t require additional cooking.
Throughout this article, we will explain more about the two common types of smoked salmon – hot and cold, how to properly heat or reheat smoked salmon, and much more about the topic.
We cover the following items in this post:
- Is Smoked Salmon Cooked Already?
- Can You Heat Smoked Salmon?
- How Do You Cook Salmon That’s Already Smoked?
- Can I Eat Smoked Salmon Raw?
- What To Serve with Hot Smoked Salmon?
- Final Thoughts: Can Smoked Salmon Be Cooked?
Is Smoked Salmon Cooked Already?
It depends. Hot-smoked salmon is cooked, while cold-smoked salmon isn’t. However, both are safe for consumption!
- Cold smoking doesn’t cook the fish, and therefore it is still raw. Cold smoking temperatures are generally between 68 – 86 °F (or 20 – 30 °C). This allows the fish to obtain a smoky flavor and retain its moisture.
- Hot smoking does cook the fish as it exposes the fish to greater levels of heat. Hot smoking temperatures are generally between 126 – 176 °F (52 – 80 °C).
Cold-smoked salmon is often what you purchase from a supermarket from refrigerators or freezers. It’s ready to eat right when you get home — right out of the packet.
Can You Heat Smoked Salmon?
You definitely can heat smoked salmon, but there is no requirement to do so.
This really comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer their fish to be served warm, so even if safe for consumption cold, they’d still like to warm it up.
Just be sure not to overcook the meat. Doing so will negatively impact the quality of the fish, leading it to dry out.
How Do You Cook Salmon That’s Already Smoked?
Less is more! Remember this as you continue on through this section. When reheating something as thin as smoked salmon, you want to be very cautious not to overcook and dry out the meat.
Now, onto the answer:
Simply preheat your oven to 325-350 °F, then place the smoked salmon filet(s) on a lightly greased baking sheet. At this point, you can further season or flavor the smoked salmon, but chances are it already has inherent flavor from being smoked.
Set a timer for about 5 minutes and put the salmon in the oven. If it isn’t warmed up by the time you check it after 5 minutes, you can put it back in for a few more minutes. You don’t want to overheat it, though, as it could ruin the texture and taste.
Can I Eat Smoked Salmon Raw?
You can eat smoked salmon raw. This is due to the curing process that takes place prior to cold-smoking the fish.
Curing salmon accomplishes the following:
- Prevents bacteria growth
- Preserves taste and texture
- Preserves the overall quality of the meat for a longer period of time, as well as maintains a healthy salmon color
Salmon is commonly cured in salt and/or sugar. The meat is coated and then stored for a period of hours or even a few days to ensure the meat is properly cured to your liking. The sugar helps to reduce the strength of salt flavor and can assist in the growth of healthy bacteria. Common curing techniques involve adding salt, sugar, nitrates, nitrites, or smoking meat.
Normally, we depend upon the cooking process to kill off bacteria and make the fish safe to consume, but curing can do the same thing and gives you the opportunity to enjoy salmon in a different way, with a slightly different texture and flavor.
What To Serve with Hot Smoked Salmon?
One of the most common dishes made with hot smoked salmon is pasta with some variation of white wine cream sauce. The smoky flavor and texture of hot smoked salmon pair well in a seafood pasta dish, along with some typical salmon seasonings like lemon juice, salt, garlic, and dill.
You can also use smoked salmon in homemade dips for crackers, as a filling for a baked quiche, or even for a topping on a salad if you want to switch things up a bit.
Some other fan favorites include omelets, chowders, sandwiches, salmon patties, salmon with rice pilaf, and a sneaky star — smoked salmon with mac and cheese!
Final Thoughts: Can Smoked Salmon Be Cooked?
Smoked salmon can be cooked, but that doesn’t mean it should be. Before you decide to cook the fish, maybe try it cold first and ensure that’s not what you like. From my experience, cold-smoked salmon can be just as good, if not better than hot-smoked salmon.
If you’re going to cook it or reheat it, start small. Low temperatures for low periods of time, so you don’t dry out the meat.
And if you’re wondering what the best way is to eat smoked salmon, well, it’s whichever way tastes best to you!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to Tell When Smoked Salmon is Done?
If you’re buying salmon that has already been smoked, it’s already “done” when you purchase it. But if you’re smoking it yourself, it should reach an internal temperature of 145 °F, per the FDA.
Do You Have to Cook Smoked Salmon?
No, you don’t. If you purchased cold-smoked salmon — it’s ready and safe to eat straight out of the package.
Can I Heat Up Ready-to-Eat Salmon?
Although it’s already fully cooked, you can still heat up ready-to-eat salmon (smoked salmon) at home. Reheat the fish in either the oven or the microwave. They are the two most effective ways to heat smoked salmon without losing the taste and texture of the fish.