Smoking Canned Fish

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Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 1, 2022
My hat is off to anyone that can get the mackerel / sardines out of the can and keep em in one piece to smoke em! :emoji_wink:

How would you get the olive oil off of it and keep it together?
Much to my surprise, there is no problem at all. At least not with the brand I used.

There were 3 large pieces, cut like steaks and were firm enough to get through the drain, salt and rinsing and toughened up nicely as they dried.

The only reason I salted was because I don't know anything about the brine they are in so this was just to make sure it was enough.

Also not sure if hot smoking made much difference after the cold but they did put on a more appetizing color after the hot period.

There is no oil, just "brine".

Gotta try sardines. Toyed with the idea of making anchovies out of them but never got around to it. Sardines are usually in oil but I imagine they can be had in brine.

I went to a lot of trouble last week to make kippers out of a frozen mackerel, including splitting them from the back and 20 hours of cold smoke.

They were a poor second compared to the canned ones.



Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Apr 13, 2010
Watza mat?

one of them woven grill mat jobbies that look like screening. Keeps smaller items from falling through the grate, but still allows smoke through.

Last edited:

Retired Spook

Smoking Fanatic
Jun 28, 2022
Somewhere in Texas
They do sell sardines and other fish packed in spring water.
I've been eating Nuri sardines and Callol Seratts anchovies (both in in olive oil) for so long that I never even thought to look at other sardines or anchovies - I never knew other companies packed them in water!!!

I'd still rather smoke a Norwegian mackerel :emoji_wink:
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Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 1, 2022
The answer is....... Smoking canned fish works!

Starting with a $3 can of "Pampa" brand mackerel from Walmart...

1. drained it
2. dry-salted for 1 hr
3. air dried overnight
4. cold smoked for 4 hrs (never got above 70F)
5. hot smoked at 150F for 1 hr
5. opened a bottle of Sam Adams

My wife had to take it away before I ate it all. It is very possibly, the best smoked fish I have ever tasted.

The only downside is that she thinks it's a bit too salty. It's packed in "brine" but don't know what that means but I could possibly skip that step or reduce the dry-salt time.

Could also reduce or eliminate the hot smoke time to keep a bit more moisture.

Big bonus is that the bones are like an extra treat, like bits of corn chips. She liked the bones better than the meat AND the dark meat is as good a the light.

I'm sold.



Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 1, 2022
To follow up on this, I did another can of Mackerel but left out the dry salt stage and the hot smoke.

Doesn't make much sense but after poaching the same as before, it is very dry and not in the same ballpark as the first try. In fact, it's better right out of the can.

Dry salting must do something we do not understand.

Aug 19, 2022
is possible to smoke canned fish, although the results may not be the same as smoking fresh fish. Smoking canned fish may give it a smoky flavor, but it will not have the same texture or taste as fresh fish that has been smoked.

If you are interested in smoking canned fish, you can try a cold smoking method, as you mentioned you did with the frozen mackerel. Cold smoking is a method of smoking food in which the food is not directly exposed to heat, but is instead smoked at a low temperature for a longer period of time. This can help to preserve the food and give it a smoky flavor without cooking it.

To cold smoke canned fish, you can follow these steps:

  1. Remove the fish from the can and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. Place the fish in a brine solution (water and salt) for several hours or overnight to help preserve it and enhance the flavor.
  3. Prepare the smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions and set the temperature to around 100-120°F (37-48°C).
  4. Place the fish in the smoker and smoke it for several hours or until it reaches the desired level of smokiness.
  5. Allow the fish to cool and then refrigerate it until ready to use.
It is important to follow proper food safety guidelines when smoking any type of food, including canned fish. Make sure to use clean utensils and equipment, and store the smoked fish properly to prevent contamination.

I hope this information is helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions.