If you have not tried smoked steelhead trout then have been missing out on one of the most buttery and delicious tasting fish available. It looks a lot like salmon but it seems to have a little more fat between the layers of meat and, for this reason, it is perfect for smoking low and slow.

Unlike every other recipe on the internet and elsewhere for smoking steelhead trout, I recommend that you don't brine it or worry  about forming a pellicle. Trust me.. this fish is wonderful and doesn't need these extra processes to make it taste really good.

A little of my Texas style rub (purchase recipes here) on the surface which can be applied the night before if you like and onto the smoker grate for a couple of hours renders a fish that will wow you with flavor, moisture and tenderness.

Abi makes a great watermelon salad that goes really well with the fish. I have included the recipe below for your enjoyment.


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Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 140°F
  • Recommended Wood: Alder and/or Apple
What You’ll Need
Prepare the Fish

Remove the fish from it's container or wrapper and rinse it well under cold water.


Lay it on the cutting board for seasoning.

Brush olive oil all over the top and sides of the fish.


Sprinkle Jeff's Texas style rub (purchase recipes here) all over the fish.


If you like, you can place the seasoned fish into a large lidded container or ziptop bag and place it in the fridge overnight or until you are ready to put it on the pit.



Smoke the Fish

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225°F using indirect heat.

If your smoker has a water pan, fill it up with water.

When the smoker is preheated to 225°F and ready to go, place the fish on a piece of parchment paper cut or torn just a little larger than the fish and the same basic shape, on the smoker grate.

The parchment paper will help in the removal of the fish from the grates and make sure it doesn't stick.

Note: Do not use wax paper.

Keep a light smoke going for at least an hour or longer and monitor the temperature of the fish in the thickest part using an instant read digital thermometer such as the Thermapen.

Finish and Serve

The fish is done when it reaches 140°F and that is the perfect time to get it out of the heat and stop the cooking process.


Brush a little melted butter onto the top of the fish if you like, cut it into pieces and serve immediately.


How to Make the Watermelon Salad
  • ¼ seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, very thinly sliced and separated
  • 1 large navel orange, segmented
  • ¼ c of feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse black pepper
  • Coarse salt

Layer watermelon, orange segments, and red onion on a plate. Add the crumbled feta. Cover and chill if not serving immediately. Just prior to serving, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top with chopped cilantro.



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Printable Recipe


Smoked Steelhead Trout – Buttery Goodness!

5 from 1 reviews

If you have not tried smoked steelhead trout then have been missing out on one of the most buttery and delicious tasting fish on the planet.

  • Author: Jeff Phillips
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 mins
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Hot Smoking



  1. Rinse fish under cold water.
  2. Brush olive oil onto the top and sides of the fish.
  3. Apply my Texas style rub to the top of the fish.
  4. Place into a lidded container or ziptop bag and place it in the fridge if the smoker is not ready or if you prepped it ahead of time.
  5. Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225°F with indirect heat and a light tasting wood such as alder and/or apple.
  6. When the smoker is ready, place the fish on a piece of parchment paper and on to the smoker grate.
  7. Smoke cook the fish for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature reads 140°F in the thickest part.
  8. Remove the fish from the heat.
  9. Slice and serve immediately.


About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

3 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Mark Rideout January 21, 2017 at 2:58 am - Reply

    Winter in Maine brings an abundance of fresh water smelts from ice fishing. Any good recipies for smoking these?

  2. Steve August 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I made this a couple weeks ago for some friends and it came out awesome. I’m not a big fish eating person, but this sounded good and a co-worker of mine loves steelhead so I thought I would give it a try. Between the fish and the Watermelon Salad, dinner was a huge success. The fish was perfectly done in only 1 hour so be careful to check on it, the thickness is a big factor on cook time.

  3. Jim in Conroe July 28, 2016 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    I have not used this recipe yet, but I have done a lot of salmon and some sea trout on my Big Green Egg. I will be trying this recipe soon.

    One preparation step not included in your method is to check the fish for small, white, flexible bones. Depending on how your seatrout or salmon was cleaned, these may or may not be present along the bottom, thinner part of the filet (sort of like ribs) or along the center of the thicker part toward the top. You should be able to feel them sticking out of the flesh, if you can’t see them.

    They are easily removed by grasping them with a needle nose pliers and gently pulling straight up. I prefer to use one of the pliers that have a 90 degree bend at the end, but a normal needle nose will do just fine.

    If you don’t remove them before cooking, let your diners know that they may be present.

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