Hot Smoked Salmon Is My Secret to Easy, Flavor-Packed Summer Meals

It's great on salads, turned into a dip, or used as a topper for avocado toast.

Smoked salmon on a platter.

Simply Recipes / Jesse Wong

Summer is all about maximizing my time outside. I want to be lounging on the porch with a good book or driving out to the beach with friends and not strapped to indoor responsibilities. So as much as I love cooking—I do it for a living after all—motivation comes at a minimum on warm, sunny days. To limit my hours in the kitchen, I lean hard on conveniences. My husband’s eagerness to grill almost nightly is a convenience I am deeply grateful for, but when we’re both even too lazy for that, hot smoked salmon comes to the rescue. 

 What Is Hot Smoked Salmon?

Hot smoked salmon is salmon that is cured and then smoked with heat so that it’s fully cooked. You’re likely more familiar with cold smoked salmon, which is cured and smoked without heat so that it doesn’t cook. The latter is sliced thin and most often enjoyed on a bagel with cream cheese. Hot smoked salmon, however, looks like a cooked fillet of salmon and can be flaked in a similar manner. It’s firm and meaty, with a deeply savory, earthy flavor due to the smoking process. 

This firm, meatiness is exactly why I love leaning on hot smoked salmon at mealtime. It delivers the texture and satisfaction of cooked salmon without me having to crank up the oven or fire up the grill. Plus, I think it's even more flavorful than regular cooked fillets since it’s smoked. That means it both bulks up and perks up dinner with minimal effort from me.

How I Turn Hot Smoked Salmon Into Lazy Summer Dinners

There are countless ways to turn a piece of hot smoked salmon into dinner. Here are just a handful of my favorites:

  • Scatter flaked chunks onto a summer salad. It’s especially nice in a Greek salad or juicy tomato-filled panzanella. Though it’s not out of place atop a basic kale salad or even leftover potato salad, either. 
  • Flake it into a bowl and toss with a little mayo, a squeeze of lemon, diced red onion, and capers for a tuna salad sort of situation. 
  • Speaking of tuna, swapping it out for hot smoked salmon in this patty recipe is a good idea if you’re willing to turn your stove on for a few minutes.
  • Or make a dip or spread by combining flaked salmon with softened cream cheese, a little sour cream, Dijon mustard, and chopped fresh herbs. Serve it with crudite and cracker or crostini and declare snacks for dinner.
  • Toss chunks into hot pasta along with pesto and chopped fresh tomatoes or just with good olive oil, lemon juice, a little grated or minced garlic, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • Pile big pieces on top of avocado toast, tomato toast, or even just scrambled eggs on toast.

Where to Buy Hot Smoked Salmon

I typically pick up hot smoked salmon fillets at the fish counter of my go-to grocery store. They’re usually pre-packaged and sold next to the cold smoked salmon packages or occasionally sold right at the counter and wrapped up by your fishmonger. If you live in the Northeastern United States, I particularly love the Boston Smoked Fish Co. brand.

I’ve also recently become enamored with Fishwife. This women-owned brand sells their hot smoked salmon in tins rather than fillets and also sells hot smoked tuna and trout, which can be used just like hot smoked salmon and are equally wonderful.