Does cold smoking fish stink up your smoker?

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Sep 4, 2013
Omaha, Nebraska
Had a friend suggest that cold smoking salmon will stink up my smoker and make the food taste fishy.  I haven't encountered that. As long as the racks are cleaned, that hasn't been my experience.

What are your thoughts?
I have accidentally overcooked fish in my smoker.... the fat dripping on the inside left a "fishy taste and smell" in subsequent smokes....

Now I have a dedicated smoker for "fish only".....

Cold and hot smoking are done in that smoker.... Sooooo....... I don't know what effect cold smoking will have on your smoker......
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I notice a fishy smell in my smoker after doing fish but I smoke hot.  The better question might be what to do if it does leave a smell.  I turn my smoker up full bore and put a couple of chunks in the chip box.  The high heat seems to burn out the smell of the box and the racks get washed anyways after a smoke.
You'll be fine. I've cold and hot smoked salmon in mine and never noticed any off odors or flavors. Dave might be doing a much bigger load of salmon than I, but honestly I've never had a problem with +/- a couple pounds. I do clean my racks each time I use the smoker.
I smile reading this thread because I love using oil on my face/skin and often am grabbing things from the cupboard thus, (avocado oil, argan, grapeseed, olive, coconut etc.), to try as "moisturizer" on my face.

Well one day not long ago, I reached in the fridge and took the Cod Liver Oil, (thinking it's good enough to eat why not try it on my skin) and put it all over my face and thought it felt OK, and I went to Target to run an errand.

Once home, my husband informed me that he indeed could really SMELL it like crazy, and now I know why everyone was directing me to a certain aisle while in the store, (OK, OK, enough horrible humor, but I DID get all the way home only to realize that I had indeed smelled oceany during that whole time)!

Oh well. Here's to humor, to good skin, and to cold smoking! I couldn't help but share this true story. Cheers! - Leah
I both hot and cold smoke fish on a regular basis. As long as you keep everything clean and use high quality fish, cold smoking shouldn't be a problem. Hot smoking is trickier as some of the fat gets rendered so extra attention to clean is needed. Drip pans are important then because if you start burning the fat, the odors will stick and you will pay the price in elbow grease.

Best thing to remember for fish though are the 3 F's - Fresh, Fresh and Fresh. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.