Cold vs Hot Smoked Salmon

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Ever wondered why some smoked salmon is velvety smooth, and others are dry and flakey? Let’s discover the world of smoked salmon together…

Hot smoked and cold-smoked salmons with couple of slices of lemon on a white plate. There're 2 types of smoked salmon: cold-smoked and hot smoked.


Smoked salmon varieties:

Back in 2013, I traveled to Alaska for a work conference and I brought back a few packages of smoked salmon. Upon my return home, I was quite surprised how different these smoked salmon looked. Not the usual velvety soft refrigerated kind of smoked salmon that I used to.

And after some research, I learned that there’re two different ways to smoke a salmon: cold-smoked and hot-smoked.

What is hot smoked salmon?

Hot-smoked salmon is rich and flakey, opaque orange in color.

This method is where you smoke/cook salmon at 120-180°F. 

What is cold smoked salmon?

Cold-smoked salmon has delicately soft and silky texture and translucent pinkish orange color.

Cold-smoking method requires first curing the fish with salt brine, then slowly smoking it at 70-90°F.

What is lox?

Now, what is lox, you ask? Well, lox is similar to cold-smoked salmon, but it’s never smoked. It’s simply brined in salt solution and refrigerated for 24 hours.

How to store smoked salmon?

Hot-smoked salmon: 

Hot-smoked salmon is usually canned or vacuum-sealed and can be stored at room temperature for very long time. Once opened, refrigerate it for up to 1 week.

Cold-smoked salmon and lox: 

Cold-smoked salmon is perishable and must be stored in the refrigerator. Once opened, store cold-smoked salmon no more than 1 week in the fridge.

How to use smoked salmon:

Both types of smoked salmon are versatile and can be eaten right out of packaging.

Typically, hot-smoked salmon is best for cooking though. Because it’s rich and flakey, it stands the heat really well and lends great flavor in hot dishes.

Cold-smoked salmon is ideal when consumed cold.


As the texture of cold-smoked salmon is delicate, it loses its velvety texture when exposed to heat.

My favorite recipes with smoked salmon:

Can I make smoked salmon at home?

Yes, you sure can! Especially, if you can get your hands on some really fresh salmon, it’s quite a treat to make a homemade smoked salmon. Here’re a great tutorials:

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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