Smoked Salmon Dip is the perfect appetizer for smoked salmon lovers. This dip combines flavorful and tender chunks of hot smoked salmon (not lox) a mix of cream cheese and crème fraîche base, seasoned with a little dill and lemon.
The Best Smoked Salmon
Salmon is one of the first things we cooked when we got our first smoker over a decade ago. It’s amazing cooked on the smoker.
Not the tight packaged cold smoked or cured salmon you’ll find at the supermarket. I’m talking about warm smoked, cooked at a low temperature, on your smoker.
Salmon can be hard thing to do well on a grill (it dries out easily), but on the smoker it retains its moisture and texture and developed complex flavors, and results in tender and juicy meat.
Most smoked salmon dips you see online, however, are made with Lox or store-bought shrink wrapped cold smoked salmon. What do I mean by that?
What’s the difference between Lox and Smoked Salmon?
- Lox refers to salmon that has been cured in a combination of sugar and salt. Think of what you get with a typical bagel lox spread. True traditional “lox” comes form the belly of the salmon, although at most stores you will see “lox” fillets, and is richly textured. Lox is cured. This is not what we’re using in this recipe. (But you can)
- Smoked Salmon can mean a number of things: cold smoked, hot smoked, or cured or brined then smoked. The point is it’s cooked on a smoker at low heat. You can buy “smoked salmon” in shrink wrapped packages from the store. But in this recipe we’re doing it ourselves (it’s sooo worth it!).
For this salmon dip recipe use hot smoked salmon that is cooked on the smoker. This is also a great idea for leftover salmon you may have.
Smoked Salmon Dip
Another thing to note about our recipe is that most recipes you find for a “smoked salmon dip,” or “salmon spread,” are very cream heavy. You’ll find large proportions of cream cheese (or sour cream, mayo, etc.), and a small proportion of the fish. They also often use store-bought lox or shrink wrapped salmon.
That is not the case for this dip. I want to highlight the beautiful smoked salmon flavors, not drown them in mayo or creamy sauces. That’s why the proportions of salmon to cream based ingredients are more in favor of the salmon.
Why go through all the effort to smoke your own salmon if you’re going to drown it in cheese. Here, the salmon is the star, and the cream cheese is a minor character.
Feel free to adjust the ingredients based on how creamy (or not) you want your salmon dip. But just look at the close-up, you can see fresh pieces of the salmon that aren’t drowned in cream cheese or mayo. SO GOOD!
How to Smoke Salmon for this Dip
We go into detail on how to smoke salmon over our easy and tender smoked salmon filet post.
But we’ll do a quick recap here too:
- Start by seasoning your salmon with some salt and pepper, then rub the fish with a little Dijon mustard for moisture and flavor, finally sprinkle with a simple dry rub (you can find the dry rub recipe linked in this post).
- Place the seasoned salmon on your smoker for roughly 90 minutes at 275 degrees. Look for a moist, slightly opaque, and pink interior. After you remove it from the smoker let it rest for about 15 minutes, don’t forget you will have some carry over cooking from the residual heat
- Break the cooled, smoked salmon into chunks (not shredded, we want to be able to SEE the fish pieces in this dip!).
The secret to perfect salmon, is to cook to the correct internal temperature. In our case we pull our salmon closer to 130 for a more rare texture and 145 for medium rare.
Combine the salmon chunks with the cream cheese and crème fraîche (or Greek yogurt) and gently fold them together. Top with a few more pieces of salmon and some fresh dill and you’re ready to serve!
**If you do not have a smoker or grill but still want to use this recipe, you can use store bought smoked salmon, just make sure you look for “smoked” salmon vs. “cured” salmon. There is a huge flavor difference!
How to Store Smoked Salmon Dip
Keep your smoked salmon dip in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days.
What to Serve With This Dip
- Warm baguette slices
- Vegetables (like celery)
Smoked Salmon Dip Recipe
Smoked Salmon Dip
- 8 ounces smoked salmon fillet, roughly 1 overflowing cup full
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche, or whole fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill (plus extra for garnish)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, a few twists of the pepper grinder
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon smoked salt, for garnish
- Prepare your smoked salmon by breaking the cooked (and cooled) meat up into pieces. You don’t want it shredded, but instead broken up into small chunks with your fingers. Also pay attention to any bones that may be in there and remove any you may see.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the softened cream cheese, crème fraîche (or Greek yogurt), lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.
- Start to combine the salmon into the dip (reserving about ¼ of the salmon pieces). Gently incorporate them together. Taste and adjust for your preferences (this is the time to add more cream cheese or crème fraîche should you wish it to have more of a creamy texture).
- Transfer to serving dish. Add the remainder of the salmon pieces to the top of the salmon/cream mixture and sprinkle with the optional smoked salt.
- Serve with slices of toasted baguette or crackers.
I’ve paired this salmon dip with a wide range of styles and wines. My favorites are domestic Riesling and sparkling wine (especially rosé sparkling). The creamy textures do well with a wine with high acidity. The acidity cuts through the cheese and refreshes your palate between bites.
*This recipe was originally published in April 2015, and updated in 2019 with new photos.
**This post contains affiliate links, which means should you click and purchase some of the items mentioned, we receive a small commission. This allows us to keep putting awesome content out there and we only partner with brands we love and use.
If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes.