Smoked Salmon Pasta

What I love about this recipe, other than the ingredients (smoked salmon, pine nuts, yum!) is that it can be pulled together so quickly and it’s not particularly heavy, as so many cream sauce pastas can be. There’s also room for maneuvering; add more or less wine or cream to taste; leave out the pine nuts if you can’t be bothered; add some asparagus or cream cheese if you want; use smoked trout or sturgeon instead of the salmon. The essentials are smoked fish, lemon, garlic, and pasta with some olive oil, wine, and or cream binding them together.

Smoked Salmon Pasta Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 3.


  • 8 ounces spaghetti (or other) pasta
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots (can substitute onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (can substitute pasta cooking water with a Tbsp of lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest (divided into 1 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or dill
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Fresh ground black pepper


1 Heat to boiling a large pot with at least 4 quarts of salted water in it. (2 Tbsp of salt for 4 quarts of water.) While the water is heating, brown the pine nuts. Put the pine nuts in a single layer in a large skillet. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside.

2 Once the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot. Cook uncovered on high heat at a rolling boil. Put the timer on for 8-10 minutes, or whatever your pasta package says is appropriate for al dente (cooked but still a little firm).

3 While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, cook for 2 minutes, then add white wine, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp of lemon zest. Increase the heat and let boil down by half. If you want a slightly creamy sauce, add the cream and let boil a minute more.

The sauce should be done about the same time the pasta is done. If you get done earlier with it than the pasta, take it off the heat.

4 Once the pasta is done, and before draining the pasta, scoop out one cup of the pasta cooking liquid and reserve. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the sauce. Add back some of the pasta cooking liquid to the pasta if it is a little dry. Add the smoked salmon, toasted pine nuts, parsley, and the remaining lemon zest. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

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Showing 4 of 42 Comments

  • radish

    Elise, do you think if i omit dairy (my bf is lactose intolerant and we try to cook dairy-free) it’ll still work? I wonder what I could substitute for a thickening sauce to bind all the ingredients… Other than that, it looks like a very tasty, quick meal! And who doesn’t love smoked salmon?

    Hi Radish, you can easily omit the cream. In fact, I made it first without any cream, just with white wine and pasta cooking water. I like it better with a little cream, but it isn’t necessary. ~Elise

  • Amy

    Add a couple of spears of steamed asparagus, and you’ve just described one of our favorite pasta meals! I’ve even seen a 2 year old eat it with pleasure!

    I’m pregnant now, though, and the doctors say not to eat smoked salmon (who knows why!), so we substitute poached salmon — and it’s still pretty good!

  • Elizabeth Holmes

    Where do you get smoked salmon?

    It’s pretty easy to come by at the grocery stores around here. It’s packaged and in a refrigerated section. Or you can order some online. ~Elise

  • Karl


    I accidentally drained all the pasta water without reserving any. In desperation, I used another 2/3 cups of cream (since it tends to come in 1 cup containers and that’s what I had left) and was pleasantly surprised when it worked out just fine.

    My wife loved it since it saved us, as I mentioned above, from another Friday of Tuna Noodle Casserole. I am a big hero with my wife – and that is never a bad thing. Thank you Elise.

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