The Best Way to Smoke Yellowtail

by Christopher Godwin ; Updated August 14, 2017

Fresh yellowtail fish on ice.

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Smoking yellowtail at home can seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually a fairly simple process that costs less than buying smoked yellowtail and gives you control over the taste of your smoked fish. Before smoking the fish, it needs to be soaked in a brining liquid, which helps to remove blood from the meat and gives it a bit of extra flavor. Brining is essential to smoking yellowtail, but do not allow the fish to brine for more than 60 minutes, or it may be too salty to eat.

Combine 1/2 gallon water and the kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic powder and black pepper in a large food storage container to make the brining liquid. Place the container in the refrigerator and allow it to cool for one hour.

Stir the brining liquid in the refrigerator to recombine the ingredients after 1 hour. Add the yellowtail fillets to the brining liquid, cover the container and put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Remove the yellowtail from the refrigerator, and rinse the fish with cold clean water from the tap, using your fingers to remove excess seasoning.

Pat the fillets dry with clean paper towels, and place them on a cooling rack. Allow the fish to rest without being covered for 2 hours.

Heat your smoker to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and brush the grill with extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil.

Place the fish on the gril,l and cover the smoker. Smoke the fish for 4 hours for lightly smoked fish or 5 hours for fish with a heavier smoke flavor.

Remove the fillets from the smoker, and allow them to cool to room temperature before packaging them.


  • A cooling rack like those used for baking can be used for drying the fish.

    If you want to add wood to your smoker for extra flavor, cedar works particularly well with yellowtail.


  • "Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking"; Mark Bittman; 1999
  • "The Smoked Foods Cookbook"; Lue Park; 1992

Photo Credits

  • DigiPub/Moment/Getty Images

About the Author

Christopher Godwin is a freelance writer from Los Angeles. He spent his formative years as a chef and bartender crafting signature dishes and cocktails as the head of an upscale catering firm. He has since ventured into sharing original creations and expertise with the public. Godwin has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction in publications like "Spork Magazine," "Cold Mountain Review" and "From Abalone To Zest."