Smoked Salmon Pasta

Smoked salmon with pasta in a sauce of shallots, garlic, white wine, lemon, and cream, with toasted pine nuts and parsley.

  • 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 tablespoons extra virgin 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 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (divided into 1 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or dill
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Fresh ground black pepper


1 Put pasta water on to boil: 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.)

2 Toast the pine nuts: 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.

3 Start cooking the pasta: 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).

Once the pasta is done, and before draining the pasta, scoop out one cup of the pasta cooking liquid and reserve.

4 Prepare the sauce: 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.

5 Add pasta, some pasta cooking liquid, smoked salmon, toasted pine nuts, parsley, zest to sauce: 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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  • Ben

    We’re 2 school kids of 13 and think your recipe would be good for our assessment. Do you have any advice for sizes for one person?

  • Linda

    Hi Elise,
    I have made this so many times and don’t remember if I’ve ever reviewed it, but last week my husband said “this is good enough for guests” so that’s what I’m doing tonight for my birthday group. I always use the honey smoked salmon that Costco carries…in a vacuum sealed bag…it’s so delicious. I also add a few capers, fresh dill, a dollop of pesto at the end. This is one of the best recipes EVER and it goes together so quickly. Thanks so much!


  • Charlie

    I can’t have pasta, but I do enjoy a slice of smoked salmon on toast topped with an egg.
    Mixed with filling for deviled eggs, on Eggs Benedict and a lot of other things.

    Fairly inexpensive is Costco. They have smoked salmon in a box of vacuum sealed packages of 3 to four slices of smoked salmon. Really nice. I believe each box has 8(?) packages.

    • Dallas Jensen

      Charlie, You might try spaghetti squash as a substitute. I have made this dish for years, really worth trying.

  • Lisa

    I loved it and I’m not even sure I made it exactly right as I had been drinking the rose wine(yes, rose cause that’s what I had) I intended to use- and actually had enough left! Anyhou at first taste I thought “way too lemony?’ but then after adding the cream, smoked salmon, a little parmesan, dill and black pepper it was just right! I love that the recipe gives options like using onion if shallots aren’t available. Linguine was the pasta used. This dish was quick easy and I even mixed in some fresh arugula at the very end.


  • Laura

    Thank you for this recipe! I added a few pinches of red pepper flakes with the shallots and few tablespoons of good quality parmesan at the end. This recipe is now bookmarked & will be in my regular rotation!


  • Hugh

    Easy to prepare, extraordinary taste. A keeper!


  • Jennifer

    I dont normally like thick creamy fettuccine alfredo like dishes but me and my husband loved how light this dish is! It is also versatile, would be great with asparagus tips, capers or broccoli added. We did add some smoked white cheddar cheese since we had it and used bowtie pasta and it turned out great! We also used fresh parsley. Will try with dill next time. Overall was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out and will be making again!


  • Craig

    Bland and completely tasteless, even with 1 1/2 times the amount of smoked salmon!

  • serina

    excellent ! added 1/2 cube of low sodium vegatable stock (no wine) and 11/2 tablespoon lemon . Worth doing again a real winner !

  • Lisa

    I found your recipe while attempting to satiate a craving I’ve had based on a delectable memory – from where and when I still can’t recall. Delicious! Thank you for sharing!


  • Morna West

    This was delicious! I will definitely be cooking it again. It was so light and tasty. I tossed some broccoli florets in with the pasta for the last couple of minutes so we had some greenery as well.


  • Michelle

    Would this be good served cold? I need a dish to make several hours ahead to bring to a party. Looks delicious, but worried that once chilled it may not be creamy anymore.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Michelle, I would leave out the cream, add it a bit more olive oil, and serve at room temperature.

  • Doug

    Quick, easy and tasty – used a little less cream than suggested so it wasnt to heavy.


  • Mary

    Super easy and delicious! The lemon flavor comes through so delicately yet distinctly. I used 1/4 cup of creme fraiche and frozen peas for the vegetable. Also went with gluten free fusilli.


  • Grace

    I loved it!..definitely a keeper!


  • Kat

    Absolutely fabulous, loved, loved, loved this recipe!


  • Anita

    I’m so excited to make this for a brunch potluck this weekend! Will probably leave out the cream to keep it light.

  • KTV

    I made his tonight for dinner and my family really enjoyed it. I followed the recipe pretty closely for quantities except I used quinoa pasta instead of regular. I forgot to save the pasta water so used a bit of veggie broth that I had on hand. Added a touch more cream and wine. Oh and used peas instead of asparagus. It was great!!

  • jason

    I forgot the capers☺

  • jason

    If u like salmon spaghetti then maybe put finely chopped onion in with minced garlic in hot garlic oil pan and brown. Then add the cream and smoked salmon and dill and lemon zest and juice and touch tomato paste. Balance to suit u then serve up on aldente spaghetti

  • Nicole Normand

    I made this last night with cooked asparagus. It made 3 nice portions. The problems that I incurred were that it did not blend properly, and it was a bit dry, so I used my salad spoons to blend it all and added a bit more cream and cream cheese. I still give this 4 stars as it tasted great. I think next time I do it, I will warm the salmon into my sauce, hoping it will make a difference.

  • sue

    I first made this salmon pasta dish a few weeks ago and loved it so much that I am cooking it again tonight for dinner. I use dill and not parsley because it has a nicer flavour with fish. Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe.

  • marilene

    Will this work with pickled lemon.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Marilene, I haven’t tried it with pickled lemon but I do think it would be quite interesting. If you try it with pickled lemon, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • Roman H.

    No cream, red onion instead of shallot, dill instead of parsley = absolutely brilliant. Thanks!

  • Linda

    Hi Elise,

    I made this last night and my husband and I both give it 5 stars! It was not only super easy, but absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe except for adding just a touch more cream…actually I used non fat dairy creamer that I get for my husband’s coffee and it worked great. Trader Joe’s has it…also got my smoked salmon there. Served with a caesar salad and a glass of Chardonnay and made lots of yum sounds while we were eating :-)
    Love this site and all of your recipes! Thanks for the inspiration.


  • Elizabeth

    Made this for dinner for the family last night and everyone absolutely LOVED it. Thank you so much xx

  • lp

    this is a great recipe,

    when i did it i used sliced garlic instead of minced and let it get crispy for extra flavor/texture, I also left out the pine nuts and added capers. also, went with mostly parsley but had to add the optional dill (not too much as it can get overpowering).

    fantastic result.

  • Karen

    THIS IS FAB!!! I used home smoked salmon and did add some lightly steamed chopped asparagus! More wine and more cream! This is soooooooo yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  • sonia

    I made this tonight for our family and everyone loved it. My son (age 5) had 4 servings and my daughter (age 3) has two. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Fiona

    Great! Just what I was looking for. I needed something quick and easy using smoked salmon and pasta. And, I had everything in the pantry except for the pine nuts (so I left them out). It’s also good to know that it will stand up to improvisation.

  • Nathalie

    Simple, quick and healthy recipe. Ready to eat in 15mn, just what you need on a week day. We have a low salt approach to cooking, so we did not add any salt and with the salt from the pasta cooking water and the smoked salmon, it was perfect. First time on this blog and will definitely put it in my list of favorites.

  • Sarah

    I made this last night and we loved it. It will become a staple for us! Sarah

  • Wolfgang

    Cooked this for my family today. It was so delicious. And the whole process -buying the ingredients at whole foods, preparing and cooking- took only 1h. thanks for this great recipe! Goes well with 1 or 2 glasses of Californian Chardonnay. Prost.

  • rose

    I just made this for a girlie Friday night in, was perfect! I added some garlic and fresh chili and used reduced fat creme fraiche instead of cream and it was totally delish! Thanks! x

  • Christine Tam

    I’m wondering if I can make the sauce the day ahead if I want to serve this at a party at my house and need to keep cooking to a minimum in order to entertain the kids and adults? This looks so yummy!

    You mean make ahead the sauce and make the pasta right before serving? Could work. ~Elise

  • Dawid @

    Great dish. Did it today but i’ve used cashew nuts instead pine nuts. Also delicious.

  • June

    This is delicious Elise. We had it last night for dinner and enjoyed it very much – I added some asparagus and extra cream, but basically followed your version. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • renaccio

    Excellent recipe. Quite delicious. My Tuscan man loved it and mopped the rest of the sauce out of the pan. That tells me it was a big hit.

  • Joanie

    We just had this for dinner and the sight of it prompted my husband to open our fave bottle of red wine to go with! We served Scalloped Potatoes (also from Simply Recipes) along with a Spinach Leaf-Mozarella Salad on the side. For the pasta, we used smoked salmon bought from IKEA and simply toss it in when the pasta and sauce were well-mixed. Simply Yummy! Thank you Elise!

    I have been seeking your blog whenever I run out of ideas of what else to cook or simply wanted something different. Here in Singapore, our diet is mostly Chinese (I used Basmatic Rice) with stir-fry dishes. I shall definitely try out your Asian dishes cos they look interesting and yet familiar and homecooked enough to wanna try approaching it in a non-Asian but Elise’s way of cooking it!

  • Katie in the UK


    Found this recipe on google whilst looking for something to do with smoked salmon, and I have to say its the nicest pasta recipe I’ve had for a long time, thank you! I used half fat creme fraiche (don’t know if thats what its called in the US) instead of cream and it worked beautifully.

    Will be checking your site regularly from now on!

  • Celia

    Help! The cream curdled when I added it to the sauce. O.k., I used whole milk rather than cream, because that’s what I had, and the pasta water variation rather than wine, but surely those things wouldn’t make the difference? Made the sauce again without any cream and it was still delicious, but would love suggestions for how to avoid the curdling when I make this in the future.

    Use cream, not milk. That will help prevent curdling. ~Elise

  • Jacques R.

    Might I suggest a salad beforehand consisting of arugula, a dressing made of good olive oil, lemon juice, ground pepper and salt. Top it off with shavings of Parmesan. YUM!

  • Evelyn

    I made this exacly according to the recipe, using the cream, and my husband I both thought it was delicious. What an easy, nutritious and tasty meal!

  • Ashley R.

    Mmmmm….just made this for lunch and I’m STUFFED! It was really good. I cut the lemon zest to about 2 tsp, and it was plenty for my taste. I used a packaged smoked salmon (in the tuna aisle), and it was good, but next time I’m going for the more pungent stuff you find in teh refrigerated section. Loved the pine nuts, loved the sauce, loved the ease of preparation. Sprinkled a litle Parmesan on my second helping for an added guilt factor. :-) Very yummy, and I’ll be making it again.

  • Rita

    Really good and simple recipe. I toasted some almonds and used red wine instead and turned out delicious!

  • Diana

    I was wondering if you could serve this dish cold as it is
    summer and I’m looking for a cold dish to serve my Mah Jongg group.
    What do you think?

    No, I think I remember trying the leftovers cold and they weren’t very good that way. Much better warm. You might want to take a look at some of the noodle salad recipes on the site as an alternative. ~Elise

  • Charles

    To Amy, it’s not just the smoked salmon you should not eat while pregnant, it’s any oily predatory fish at all, including fresh salmon and tuna of any kind. The reason is mercury. There is no safe level of mecury exposure for your unborn child. In fact, women of child bearing age should seriously limit their exposure even if they aren’t planning on getting pregnant soon.

    I was looking for some ideas to make salmon and spaghetti this evening, so I’m trying this out with some yummy canned slamon I have on the shelf. I’m sure it will be great!

  • Marie Scott

    I recently found your blog and made this recipe. It turned out fantastic. I really like your blog and your recipes. I can’t wait to try the smoked salmon and gruyere sandwich next.

  • soapbox mom (formerly bmgmom)

    Another winner! My hubby and I loved this simple and delicious recipe. I’ve added it to my “keeper” file.

  • Deborah Dowd

    My daughter made this recipe for her boyfriend for Valentine’s day and it was a big hit!

  • olio

    You can try this pasta also using fresh little hot pepper in place of black pepper :-)

  • Andaly

    Could I substitute cream cheese for cream?

    • A

      Yes. That is what I did, since I didn’t have any cream in the house!

  • Simply

    Wow this sounds absolutely delicious! Definitely will give it a try. Quick question about this step:

    1/3 cup dry white wine (can substitute pasta cooking water with a Tbsp of lemon juice)

    Does that mean I can substitute the wine with the water/lemon juice? I see in the recipe that you used wine, water, and lemon juice so I was just wondering. My boyfriend is Muslim and I’d like to omit this part.

    Yep, you would just use more water and more lemon juice. Just don’t omit the cream if you do this. ~Elise

  • Michelle

    If adding cream cheese, how much and how to add? This recipe sounds amazing!

    Look at the links to other recipes at the bottom of the post. Personally, I would add no more than a 1/4 cup and I would whisk it into the white wine. ~Elise

  • Donald

    Elise, this looks like a delicate yet tasty combination.

    I actually smoke my own salmon, thanks to Emeril, I drank the Kool-Aid and bought a stove top smoker, so look forward to a link back to this recipe. I am thinking about how this will taste, and it’s almost 2 in the morning!

    Another nice dish!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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