Knock your presentation out of the park with this whole smoked trout recipe. Not only do you impress everyone with awesome delicious flavor but you put the doubters of your fishing story to rest. There is nothing like catching trout in a beautiful river and bring it home to smoke and enjoy with friends.
I turned 40 this year. Instead of having a big party, I decided to take a bunch of friends on a four-day fishing trip. From NJ, we drove north two hours up the Delaware River. We rented a house on the river and had the best fishing results that I could have ever imagined.
I probably caught 30+ fish over the four days.
From pulling up monster walleye jigging off the bottom to tons of smallmouth and the best part was hooking up with a couple of trout. I had to climb some pretty large boulders to get in the middle of some fast-moving rapids. Dropping a small jig behind large rocks into slack water produced some beautiful rainbow trout.
How to Cook Whole Trout
One of the first things I had to decide was how I wanted to cook the trout. Did I want trout fillets or keep it whole? Was I going to smoke or grill it? I ended up deciding to put the whole trout on the smoker. If you have caught a trout and you want to quickly prepare it, just completely gut it and put it on ice. If you aren't cooking it that day, freeze it and then pull it out of the freezer to defrost in the refrigerator about 24 hours before you plan to cook so that it is completely defrosted.
If you wanted to do a brine, you will need to do that before you cook. You can wet brine or if you want to go with an easy dry brine, mix kosher salt and a little brown sugar. Rub it into the trout and place it in a container with a lid in the refrigerator for at least an hour before smoking. Take out and rinse well to get any excess salt off. Pat dry and you are ready to season with fresh herbs.
How to Smoke Whole Trout
When you are smoking trout or any other fish, it is important to remember that it will cook fairly quickly and you want the fish to have enough time to absorb the smoke. If you have a lot of time, you could cold smoke it first and then cook it up however you want. I wanted to prepare the fish by hot smoking trout and cook it all at the same time. I decided to use my weber kettle to get the most smoke flavor while it cooked. I prepared about half a chimney full of coals and let them start while I prepared the fish.
I wanted to keep the fish whole to have a fun presentation. I wanted to keep it simple. I gathered kosher salt, black pepper, fresh dill, and lemon juice. The fish should be gutted and cleaned. Rinse it out thoroughly. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel. We don't want to steam the fish.
Step 1: Cut thin slits in the skin of the fish. We want to create areas for the smoke to permeate the fish. Thin slits will allow the fish to absorb more of the smoke flavor. Be sure to cut only the skin. We don't want deep gashes in the flesh of the fish or the whole smoked trout will cook unevenly.
Step 2: Season the fish with kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper. Be sure to season the inside cavity of the fish. Next roughly chop the fresh dill rubbing it all over the skin on both sides as well as putting some in the cavity. Lastly, drizzle some fresh lemon juice over the trout or squeeze some fresh lemon. The acidity from the lemon will be a bold burst of flavor and balance out the smoke. You could also make thin slices of lemon and stuff the lemon slices into the trout.
Step 3: In the weber kettle, I took my prepared coals and put them on one side of the grill. I then left the trout on the foil and placed it on the other side of the grill. I did not place the trout directly on the grill grates. My goal was to have indirect heat and smoke to cook the trout. If this was a gas or electric smoker, we would be looking for medium heat, about 275°F. For a stick burner or charcoal smoker you will adjust the vent to control your temperature.
We want to cook the trout until the internal temperature hits 150°F. This should take about 25 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the fish and the heat of your smoker. You want to make sure your smoker is preheated so that you have time to impart the smoke flavor to the whole smoked trout before you overcook it.
How do I Know My Whole Smoked Trout is Done?
Once the fish is done and reaches 150°F, remove from smoker and let sit for 5 minutes then serve. You will be able to use your fork to gently peel the flesh off the bone skeleton. I hope you enjoy it. I might add, this makes it a lot more fun when you are able to catch your fish, smoke it, and enjoy it.
What is the best wood to use for smoking trout?
I used cherry wood chips for the smoke. I tend to like the fruit woods when smoking fish. Cherry and apple work well. You could also go with a blend if you want to mix some oak chips in. You can also do this if you have a pellet smoker. Mix some of your favorite wood pellets to come up with your own flavor blend.
What to Serve with Fish?
To me, this really is the entire meal. But if you want ideas for a side dish or two to go with it the smoked trout or salmon in the air fryer. Here are my favorite:
- 1 whole trout
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 handful fresh dill
- 1 lemon
- Ensure the trout is cleaned. Gutted and rinsed well. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Make small slits in the sides of the fish, just breaking the skin. Season inside and outside with salt, pepper, and fresh dill.
- Drizzle with fresh lemon juice.
- After preheating your smoker, cook trout at about 375° F for 25 to 35 minutes or until the internal temperature is 150° F.
- Serve and enjoy.