Luscious, buttery, smoky, silky, salty, and sweet. It’s all there in one bite. Smoked salmon packs all the complexity that much more complicated foods work much harder to achieve.
Smoked salmon is the king of bagel toppings, the master of canapes, and the Jedi knight of breakfast and brunch.
To put it another way, smoked salmon is as adaptable and multi-faceted as duct tape, as versatile as a Swiss army knife, and way easier to use than button-fly jeans.
The curing and smoking process actually helps to bring out the natural sweetness in the salmon and the smoke can also help offset its inherent richness.
For most of us, when we think of smoked salmon, we’re envisioning cold-smoked salmon, which is similar to lox (more on that later).
This is the smoked salmon that most people enjoy with a schmear on their bagels or that most often shows up in canapes and other appetizers. Cold-smoked salmon is tender, moist, and pink with a silky texture.
Hot-smoked salmon has flaky, firmer texture like cooked salmon, because – well – it is cooked.
All of that said, both are delicious and versatile.
But, what to serve with smoked salmon other than bagels and a schmear?
Well, first of all, don’t be so dismissive of that classic combination. It’s a classic for a reason.
And second, the possibilities are nearly endless. For all its distinctive flavor and texture, smoked salmon like salmon patties, plays incredibly well with other foods.
Smoked salmon is like a complex wine – each of its separate flavor notes can make a great jumping off point for pairing it with ingredients and building the perfect bite.
Bright herbs and vegetables – like dill, coriander, or cucumber – contrast beautifully with its fatty sweetness. Refreshing and spicy ingredients like ginger root or radishes really pop out against the buttery, smoky flavors.
And – though it might seem a little counterintuitive at first – mild and creamy ingredients like crème fraiche, cream cheese, and mascarpone snuggle right up with the fatty, luscious qualities of the salmon.
Oh. So. Many. Possibilities.
It’s these possibilities that make smoked salmon such a star in the world of appetizers, but also so flexible for brunch and dinner dishes.
From canapes and pates to quiches, scrambled eggs, and salads, smoked salmon is chill enough to hang.
What to Eat with Smoked Salmon: A Leaping List of Dishes, Wishes, and Delishes
It’s time to dive into all those possibilities and reel in a catch of great combos, and the best dishes and flavor combinations to make the most of your smoked salmon.
1. Twice-Baked Potatoes with Salmon
Bye, bye bacon. There’s a new sheriff in town.
And the new guy has smoke and salt and makes twice-baked potatoes crazy-elegant and rustic.
Yes, the new guy is smoked salmon.
Kick your favorite mashed and stuffed potatoes up to a whole new level – and don’t forget to add prepared horseradish into the mix.
That will make every bite of the soft and crunchy potato extra, ultra, delectable.
2. Smoked Salmon-Wrapped New Potatoes with Dill
If you’re wondering what to make with smoked salmon, one classic place to start is right at the beginning – with appetizers.
And you can up your appetizer game by grabbing a bag of new or gourmet potatoes. Get them halved and into boiling water. Then once they’re softened toss them in a flavorful sauce and wrap them in salmon.
“What the what?” you may be asking. “That’s just crazy talk! It can’t be that simple, it just can’t be!”
Ah, but mon chéri. It is that simple.
It truly is.
Grab the recipe from Tara at Noshing with the Nolands.
3. Homemade Everything Bagels
Garlic. Onion. Salt. Poppy seeds. Sesame seeds.
The combination of those five flavors and textures are a booster for the senses.
You can smell them in a bowl from six feet away, and smile.
That’s a bowl of goodness.
And when they’re topping a freshly boiled and baked bagel, well that’s just some pure, insanely fluffy deliciousness.
Your smoked salmon will love to be gently laid between the layers of these streetwise bagels.
Grab the recipe from Joshua and let’s get our bagels on! (Note: Some of the language is a little salty and bleepy, but hey. These are authentic New York bagels, so fuggetaboutit, it’s all good.)
4. Homemade Pumpernickel Bread
Pumpernickel bread and smoked salmon go together like Laverne and Shirley. Like “rock” and “roll.” Like “eggs” and “benedict.”
They’re a classic pairing for a reason.
The smoky meat really likes the dark and hearty bread. The flavors play off each other in a yin and yang of pure deliciousness.
We’ve found the key to developing the rich taste is an overnight rise in the fridge. It gives it skyscraper-tall layers of flavor – which is all smoked salmon really looks for in a bread pairing.
Oh yeah, pumpernickel is definitely what to serve with smoked salmon.
We like Olga’s recipe at Olga’s Flavor Factory. Grab it at the link.
5. Smoked Salmon Green Bean Casserole
Oh, wow. How much does smoked salmon love being included in everyone’s favorite cold weather comfort dish?
Answer: It loves it.
“Thanks for including me! I’m really happy to be here!”
Yes, the smoky salty flavor marries perfectly with homemade green bean casserole totally made from scratch.
Look, Ma! No cans!
So, we went looking to see if we could find a recipe to match our whimsical idea, and we found this from Megan at Country Cleaver. Your salmon will thank you.
6. Blini with Smoked Salmon
Little mini pancakes for the win!
Get your leavened flour on and fry it in a pan with clarified butter.
Then you have an amazing base for smoked salmon and crème fraiche.
It’s the perfect appetizer for an elegant cocktail party, or for when you want to enjoy a cocktail in your fluffy pajamas and feel elegant while drinking a glass of wine.
Smoked salmon and blinis won’t judge your attire. But they will judge you if you forget the fresh dill, so make sure you have that on hand for a garnish.
Because fresh dill is one of the most unassailable answers to the question of what goes with smoked salmon.
7. Smoked Salmon-Wrapped Asparagus
Ladies and gentlemen, your grill awaits! It awaits this simply decadent asparagus recipe.
Who wouldn’t want salty, smoky, lightly charred goodness on a plate?
And we know that asparagus loves to be grilled. It retains its lush green color, and crisp tender texture, which makes it the perfect vehicle for smoked salmon.
Don’t forget the garlic yogurt sauce for asparagus – it totally ties the dish together into an amazing gift of deliciousness.
Here’s the recipe from Spain on a Fork.
8. Smoked Salmon Crostini with Green Apples and Horseradish
When smoked salmon wants contrasting flavors, it looks apples up and down and says, “Hey, you seem pretty fresh and contrast-ey. Let’s hang out.”
The crunchy bite of the apple pairs sublimely with the salty smokiness of the salmon.
And when horseradish is thrown in for good measure, well – the flavors are elevated sky high.
We found a fantastic recipe from Mackenzie at her eponymously-named blog, Mackenzie Jordan, for the crostini of smoked salmon’s dreams.
9. Smoked Salmon-Wrapped Goat Cheese
Two types of cheese means double the fun.
We like to decadent our cream cheese up with goat cheese. (We also like to “verb” our “nouns.”)
It’s so rich.
And bursting with flavor.
Then, of course, it’s even better when there’s garlic and chives in the mix.
Just get all your favorite ingredients in a bowl and combine them. Then roll the salmon around the cheese mixture with some arugula.
You’ll be happy you did.
10. Smoked Salmon Dip
“Smoked salmon dip” are three words that really gets our proverbial motor running.
We like to toss cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a food processor and get them pulsed into a smooth mixture.
And then we toss in hot sauce, lemon juice, capers, dill, and chives. Then for the pièce de résistance, we gently fold in smoked salmon.
Then we grab an offset spatula and mound it on crackers.
You know that’s what you want for an appetizer tonight.
11. Avocado Caesar Salad
Why wouldn’t we want Caesar salad with smoky salmon? We mean, c’mon.
Crisp romaine, smoked salmon, some parmesan, and lemon is a combination of textures and flavors that make the palate sing.
Then, what if we threw sliced avocado into the mix?
And some crunchy, crunchy, rustic croutons.
Oh, and this is one case where we definitely would want the classic Caesar salad dressing. The combination of anchovies and smoked salmon is divine.
Yeah. That’s the ticket to Flavortown that we’re looking for.
So, if you’re stuck on what to eat with smoked salmon just remember, “Caesar to rescue!”
12. Smoked Salmon with Asparagus on Melba Toast
We really, really think Melba toast is underrated.
And the perfect vehicle for last minute, slapdash appetizers that present like a caterer was in our kitchen.
Bonus: They also make us feel like we’re crashing an elegant 1970s cocktail party. Oh, you can see it.
The shag carpeting.
The orange rotary phone.
The ABBA 8-track cassette sticking out of the stereo.
And the Melba toasts piled high with chivy cream cheese thinned out with sour cream and pretty, pretty, veggies.
Happy, happy appetizers.
13. Smoked Salmon and Alfalfa Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Delicate alfalfa sprouts create the topping for a luscious and stately salad that will turn heads at the table.
We mean, folks will be a-gawkin’.
Picture a platter of delicate greens topped with smoked salmon, and maybe cherry tomatoes for a pop of color and some sweet notes.
Now, picture a whisk – blending olive oil, white wine vinegar, kosher salt. And basil.
Now, picture all of that emulsified into silky dressing, dabbed all over the salad.
It’s a little slice of nirvana, isn’t it?
What to Serve with Smoked Salmon: Wet Your Whistle with the Proper Tipple
So, we’ve taken a good look at some great ideas for accompaniments and side dishes for smoked salmon.
But we can’t forget one of the most important choices of all beyond the best side dishes– your choice of beverage to round out an amazing cocktail party.
The perennial standby beverage pairing with smoked salmon is a flute of chilled champagne. And no doubt, bubbly can really be an incandescent addition to the table.
But smoked salmon really is much more versatile than that. It metaphorically bends and stretches and can accommodate both big and delicate flavors.
For starters, shoot for lighter-bodied white wines with relatively strong acid content and you’ve already won half the battle. This style of wine will cut through the rich, fattiness of the salmon.
For instance, a Pouilly-Fumé or sauvignon blanc will be perfect with nearly any smoked salmon dish.
And don’t forget the Chablis! A young Chablis will undercut the richness of the salmon.
Red wines can work well too, though. Just remember to stay on the lighter, gentler side, like a Beaujolais or a Northwest pinot noir.
Why Should Wine Have All the Fun?
Beer and cocktails are all fair game, too.
A German pilsner will refresh the palate, and so will a light wheat beer. They pair incredibly well with seafood, and that includes smoked salmon.
Or, as we like to say, “Dang, those taste great together!”
And don’t be afraid to reach for the mad money in your wallet and spring for a really good bottle of Polish vodka and stash that in the freezer.
The combination of icy cold vodka and smoked salmon will make your eyes roll in pure joy.
You Have to Ask Yourself One Question, “Do I Feel Lox(y)?” Well, Do Ya, Punk?
So, it’s PSA-time, kids. Just a little aside here to clear up some confusion about lox vs smoked salmon.
(And also to save you the Google-autofill suggestion of “is lox [a scrabble word]” – or the more esoteric and bizarre auto-fill rabbit holes of “why do walruses go to Tupperware parties” or “why does my arm shake when I eat?”)
But to climb out of that rabbit hole and get back to our PSA – no, lox and smoked salmon are not the same.
And no, we don’t know why your arm shakes when you eat dirt.
However, smoked salmon refers to any type of salmon that’s cured and then smoked with hot or cold smoke from a smoker.
Lox is salmon that has been cured in a salt-sugar rub or a brine. Lox is also traditionally made from the fatty belly not the whole fish.
They are different. They’re all completely delicious.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled smoked salmon post.
The Morning of the Next Day Awaits
As great as smoked salmon is at dinner parties and cocktail gatherings, it’s also a great way to wake up and start the next day – it’s one of those things that is even more delicious the day after.
If you feel like entertaining during your day of luxurious recovery, smoked salmon is a marvelous addition to a number of brunch and breakfast dishes.
Want to add an extra punch of flavor to your eggs benedict? Look no further.
Looking to bump your toast and scrambled eggs up to fancy-pants level? Break out your monocle and bring on the smoked salmon.
Craving some variety in your avocado toast? Smoked salmon and cucumbers are here to help.
Hopefully all of this has expanded your idea of what to serve with smoked salmon, because there’s no reason to relegate this amazing ingredient to just bagels, canapes, and champagne.
Though, of course, we love those too.
What to Serve with Smoked Salmon
- Twice-Baked Potatoes
- Pumpernickel Bread
- Green Bean Casserole
- Goat Cheese
- Smoked Salmon Dip
- Caesar Salad
- Asparagus on Melba Toast
- Alfalfa Salad
- Choose your desired Smoked Salmon side dish recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty Smoked Salmon side to complete your meal!