Apr 26, 2013

Hot-Smoked, Bourbon-Cured Salmon with Caper VinaigretteRecipe by Jamie Purviance

Rating: 5 stars

4 Reviews

Serves: 8 // Prep time: 20 minutes | Refrigeration time: 14 to 16 hours | Grilling time: 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1-½ hours

Grocery List

Fresh Produce

  • 1 lemons
  • 1 oranges
  • 1 shallots

Meat / Poultry / Seafood

  • 1 salmon fillets (with skin), each about 3 lb

Oil and Spices

  • .75 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.25 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • .5 cups kosher salt


  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Wine / Beer / Spirits

  • 2.5 fl oz bourbon


  • .75 cups dark brown sugar
  • .5 tsp granulated sugar

Special Equipment

  • 3 hickory wood chunks (for a charcoal grill) or 4 handfuls hickory wood chips (for a gas grill)


  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon bourbon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 salmon fillet (with skin), about 3 pounds, pin bones removed
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided


  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, salt, ¼ cup of the bourbon, the lemon zest, orange zest, and black pepper. Pour about one-quarter of the mixture into a 15-by-10-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Place the salmon, skin side down, in the baking dish. Spread and pat the remaining brown sugar mixture over the salmon flesh, covering it entirely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 to 14 hours. 

  2. Remove the salmon from the dish. Rinse the salmon under cold water to remove the brown sugar mixture. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the salmon on a large baking sheet. Brush the top of the salmon with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon bourbon. Refrigerate the salmon, uncovered, until the surface looks lightly glazed, about 2 hours.

  3. If using wood chips, soak in water for at least 30 minutes (no need to soak wood chunks).

  4. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over very low heat (200° to 250°F). 

  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the vinaigrette ingredients. Slowly drizzle and whisk in the remaining ½ cup oil until it is emulsified. Set aside. 

  6. Brush the cooking grates clean. Add one wood chunk to the charcoal or drain and add one handful of the wood chips to the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer’s instructions. Close the lid. When the wood begins to smoke, place the salmon fillet, skin side down, over indirect very low heat. Close the lid and cook until the salmon is firm, has a golden brown patina, and is opaque but just slightly pink all the way to the center, about 1 hour and 10 minutes at 250°F or about 1½ hours at 200°F. If you’re using a charcoal grill, replenish the charcoal as needed to maintain a steady temperature. Leave the lid off the grill for about 5 minutes to help the new briquettes light. Add one wood chunk to the charcoal every 30 minutes, or drain and add one handful of the remaining wood chips to the smoker box every 20 minutes before the old chips burn out. Remove the salmon from the grill and let rest for about 5 minutes. Serve the salmon warm with the vinaigrette.

4 Reviews

Average Rating

Rating: 5 stars

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Rating: 5 stars

May 12, 2013

Joe R

Good flavor, but SALTY!

I was surprised at the amount of salt, worrying that the Salmon would take up too much of it, but I tried it anyway, since you rise off the mixture before cooking. YIKES! I was right. It was good, but WAY too salty. I might try this recipe again with little or no salt at all.

Type of Griller


Would you recommend this recipe? YES

Rating: 5 stars

May 30, 2013

Vernon T

Another Homerun by Jamie Purviance!!

I think the previous reviewer is confused as to what this recipe actually is (and is not). It is not a grilled salmon recipe intended as a main course.

It is one of the best smoked salmon recipes that I have ever used. Along with the vinaigrette it makes a wonderful hors d'oeuvre served on your favorite cracker. Like all "smoked" fish the salt and sugar are used for preservation first and flavor last. But be aware that the longer you keep it on the "cure" or "brine rub" the saltier it will be. In my opinion, Jamie's suggested 12 - 14 hours is the absolute maximum. Especially considering that the liquid ingredents (bourbon and oil) will dissolve the salt faster.

So, if you plan on consuming it soon (as I always do) 8 - 10 hours might be more acceptable to your palate.

I have made it three times now and I am amazed at how well it compares to the old tried and true "low and slow" method.

Thanks Jamie!!!!

Type of Griller


Would you recommend this recipe? YES

Rating: 5 stars

Feb 4, 2014

Chuck N

Best Salmon Ever!!!

Made this on Super Bowl Sunday. Loved it!! A lot of salt but did not taste salty

Type of Griller


Would you recommend this recipe? YES

Rating: 5 stars

Jun 18, 2014

John C

One note of caution

Fish should not be placed directly on the grate. An accessory plate with holes or a screen should be used. In my early days of grilling I grilled salmon, and a couple of days later, after super-heating and brushing the grate, I grilled a couple of beautiful filets that tasted like fish! If you have a super trustworthy cleaning method, go ahead, but I prefer to play it safe and separate the fish from the cooking grates.

Type of Griller


Would you recommend this recipe? YES

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Hot-Smoked, Bourbon-Cured Salmon with Caper Vinaigrette