Traditional recipes

The Best Smoked Salmon

The Best Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon has long been a brunch favorite and hankered-after passed hors d'œuvre, occupying a place of pride on menus and silver trays alike. And what's not to like? A little smoked salmon nestled atop a poached egg or draped across a lovingly spread layer of cream cheese on an everything bagel — or, for purists, sampled with nothing but thinly sliced toast — is just the right light, savory touch.

The trouble with buying smoked salmon to enjoy at home or serve at parties is that it's not usually the most cost-effective item to throw into the shopping cart. Thus when The Daily Meal's editorial staff sat down to taste smoked salmon varieties available nationwide, we paid attention to value as well as quality.

A panel of eight editors tasted nine different brands of smoked salmon, including samples from, among others, Russ & Daughters, Petrossian, Duck Trap, and Daniel Boulud. We set out with the idea in mind that the perfect smoked salmon is a balanced combination: the salt and smoke trigger umami, while the fish itself is buttery, silky, and smooth.

Specifically, the criteria we used included saltiness (was it bland, or was there actually too much salt?), smokiness (was it savory, or did it fall flat?), texture (how was the mouthfeel?), and finally, of course, flavor (was it nuanced or fishy?).

There were several clear favorites, a few definite duds, and some middle-of-the-road choices. The smoked salmons were supplied by their producers, so the package size varied. To make this ranking more helpful, however, we considered the price per ounce. After all, taste and texture matter, but when you're shelling out for something like salmon, cost doesn't always translate to quality. Or does it? Check out the slideshow for the panel's commentary and full details about each brand.


Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!

Smoked Salmon

The place I worked in Alaska was very remote. The nearest town was over 90 miles away. The only way to get there was via a 100-mile plane ride over a large glacier field or a 100-mile boat ride in the rough seas of the Gulf of Alaska. I’ll never forget my first Summer in Alaska. We had access to over 100,000 acres of land, a large bay, and four tidewater glaciers. One of the tallest mountains in North America was right in our backyard too. At 18,008 feet, Mt. Saint Elias is one of the tallest mountains in North America. A good portion of that Summer was spent doing trail maintenance and getting the living facilities ready to go for our first guests in the Fall. One evening, I finished up work a little early, and let the gentleman I was living with know I was heading out to the river to see if salmon were in.

The River

The Long Walk

Once the ATV was up out of harm’s way from the rising tide, it was time for me to start my walk back. 100 yards in, and I saw a pair of bears walking the beach in front of me. I yelled at them. They stood up and looked at me, and then continued walking towards me on the beach. SHIT. As they got closer, tears started rolling down my cheeks. This was how I was going to die. Mauled by bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. When the bears were about 50 yards away they stood up again to get a better look at me and then ran into the forest. I continued to sob and quickly walked past their entry point into the forest. They didn’t attack me! I’m alive!


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