Appetizers and Drinks, Grilling
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Grill Smoked Trout

Smoked trout on a piece of aluminum foil in a grill

Grill Smoked Trout

Grill Smoked Trout make a great appetizer. Smoky, meaty, sweet trout plays well with all sorts of different tasty beverages. It’s easy to make at home, tastes better than store-bought, and will impress your guests. What more can you ask for?

I like to serve it chilled, with crackers, red onions, capers, and sour cream. But smoked trout is not just an appetizer; served warm, it can be the main course; leftovers make the base of a smoked trout spread.

Now, this trout takes a little planning ahead; it needs to brine for a few hours, and then smoke for at least a half an hour on the grill. That’s OK – I work around that by making it way ahead; smoked fish can be made up to two days ahead of time. It tastes great cold, straight out of the refrigerator, or at room temperature, if it has time to warm up.

One more thing – usually, when I cook fish, I want medium-rare to medium doneness – just the slightest hint of translucence in the middle. Not with smoked fish – I want to cook it all the way through, filling it with a smoky flavor. That’s another advantage to this recipe – the cooking time is very forgiving.

Recipe: Grill Smoked Trout

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Smoked trout on a piece of aluminum foil in a grill

Grill Smoked Trout

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 1h
  • Cook Time: 45m
  • Total Time: 54 minute
  • Yield: 4 trout fillets 1x


Grill Smoked Trout, a fancy appetizer from the kettle grill in your own backyard.


  • 2 trout, filleted
  • 1 fist-sized wood chunk or 1 cup wood chips (oak and hickory are my favorite wood flavors)


  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons table salt (4 tablespoons diamond crystal kosher salt)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Accompaniments for appetizer style trout

  • Paper thin sliced red onions
  • Capers
  • Sour cream
  • Crackers


  1. Brine the trout, soak the wood: In a large bowl, stir salt and brown sugar in the water, then wait for the salt and sugar to dissolve, about five minutes. Add the trout fillets and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours. While the trout is brining, soak the smoking wood in water.
  2. Set the grill up for indirect medium-low (300°F): Set the grill up for cooking on indirect medium-low heat. For my Weber kettle, I fill a chimney starter half full of charcoal (about 50 coals), light it, and pour it in a tight pile on one side of the grill. Then I drain my wood chunk and put it on top of the charcoal.
  3. Make a foil tray for the trout: While the grill is preheating, take the trout out of the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Double up a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil to use as a tray, a little wider than you need for all four pieces of trout, and lay the trout fillets on the foil skin side down.
  4. Grill smoke the trout: Drain the smoking wood and add it directly to the coals. Carefully slide the tray of trout onto the grill grate, as far away from the lit coals as possible. Close the lid. (If you have a kettle grill, rotate the lid until the vent is directly over the trout to pull the smoke over the fish.) Cook with the lid closed until the fish is thoroughly cooked and browned from the smoke, 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Serve: Serve immediately, or (my preferred method) chill the smoked trout first. To chill, move the foil tray of trout to a sheet pan, let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To serve, scrape the trout fillet away from the skin with a spatula – the skin will stick to the foil. Serve with the accompaniments.


  • Why aluminum foil? Because it’s easier to get the smoked fish on and off the grill that way; there’s no chance of sticking.
  • If you’re serving straight from the grill as a main course, skip the foil; wipe the grill grate clean with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil, then lay the fish directly on the grate, skin side down.
  • And…is it fillet, or filet? I’m going with fillet; I think of filet as a cut of beef from the tenderloin (filet mignon), and fillet as the deboned side of a piece of fish. (As in fillet o’ fish. Wait…bad example.)


  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American
Trout in brine in a food service container

Brining the trout

Kettle grill with coals and smoking wood on one side and a foil tray of uncooked trout filets on the other side

Trout on the grill, away from the heat

Done! Carefully lifting off the grill with a long spatula

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Inspired by

Steven Raichlen, How To Grill

Related Posts

Grill Smoked Salmon
Plank Grilled Brie with Honey and Thyme
Salmon Salad Bites with Sushi Flavors
My other Grilling Recipes

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Filed under: Appetizers and Drinks, Grilling


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Andrew S says

    This recipe turned out fantastic!
    The only thing I did different was add about 8 shakes of Morton’s “Natures Seasons” seasoning blend and used mesquite chunks. Will definitely do this again! I used the smoker box on my chargrill, instead of on one side of grill as suggested, so I cooked it about 50 minutes.

  2. John Bankovich says

    I made this recipe with some trout I caught last season. It was the first time I made smoked fish. It was excellent. My wife commented 3 times during the meal which I served right off the charcoal grill how good it was. I will be using this recipe on smoking other fish. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Cary Hill says

    Mike, these recipes look great and somewhat simpler than other smoked fish recipes I’ve used before. Am I safe to assume that I can use my electric smoker as I do not have a charcoal grill and my gas grill doesn’t maintain good smoke at lower temperatures? Also, I have a thinner salmon filet in the freezer I need to use up before it goes bad. Will reducing the temp and/or cooking time keep the filet from drying out? Will monitoring the fish temp accomplish this and if so, what should the target temp be; like maybe 140 degrees? Thanks

  4. Cytel says

    I have been using this recipe for the last year and it rocks. Thank you! I like that the brine is mildly salty and not overwhelming. I want to taste the fish.

  5. Brian Thomas says

    You’re welcome! There’s really no limit to the items you can vacuum seal and re-use later.

    I’m planning on making pulled pork and pulled chicken soon and vacuum sealing several bags of each. This will come in handy later for weeknight meals. Just take out a bag, put it in a pot of simmering water, heat it up to serving temp, and presto. You have smoked meat ready to eat that tastes almost as good as when it came out of the smoker. Amazing!

  6. Brian Thomas says

    Ah, smoked fish. One of my favorites. I like a milder wood when smoking fish. My favorites are Alder (my go-to wood when smoking fish), apple, cherry, pecan, and maple. I also have a bag of peach wood chips so will have to give those a try next time.

    Cedar planks work great too. I did this last weekend with some salmon I had in the freezer that needed to be used. I cut the pieces into steaks and this went well until I got to the last section. That turned into a mess since I just could not cut through the backbone the first try. Or the second try, or the third try. By this time it didn’t resemble a steak at all so there was no way I was gonna serve this for dinner. I was pretty PO’d by this time and didn’t really know what to do with this last piece, but my wife said “just cook it anyway and we’ll use it for dip”. Great idea! So we ended up with 5 steaks and one piece that was pretty much unrecognizable :-). I just pulled the meat off that piece and we’ll be making a dip out of it for tonight.

    Smoked fish also freezes well. Ended up with more fish than we’ll need for dip after I finished pulling the meat off of it, so I put half of it in a quart size foodsaver bag, vacuum sealed it and into the freezer it went.

    Happy New Year!

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