Nova Lox Recipe (w/o cold smoker attachment)


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Sep 21, 2019
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I wanted to make lox for my lady and found a ton of different recipes online–many of which lack detailed information or are irrelevant for Traegers without the cold smoker attachment. I'm posting this here in the hopes of helping out others who got lost on the matter.

First off: there seems to be a general confusion about what is “lox” and what is “smoked salmon.” I don't really eat the stuff, but I make a pretty mean hot-smoked salmon and wanted to incorporate some of that smokey goodness into the fish. I therefore opted for what (I think) is known as “nova lox”: salmon that is dry-cured and then cold smoked.

Please be sure to understand the health risks associated with cold smoking before trying it out!

  • Fish:
    • 1 x Costco wild-caught skinless salmon fillet (I love you Costco, don't ever change ❤)
    • Fillet cut down to 1# since I wasn’t sure how this would turn out
  • Cure:
    • Traeger’s recommendation
    • Halved everything (except lemon zest) to accommodate smaller fillet
    • Used 1 tbsp dried dill (aka dill weed) instead of fresh
    • Left out the orange zest
  • Curing
    • Put down half the cure onto a strip of plastic wrap
    • Layer fillet on top
    • Coat top and sides with the remaining cure
    • Wrap tightly with more plastic wrap
    • Place in a baking dish with a small cutting board on top
    • Weigh down with canned food
    • Let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours
  • Pre-smoke
    • Remove from the fridge, being careful of the fish oil that was pressed out
    • Rinse off the remaining cure
      • My fillet soaked up most of the cure and turned a beautiful color after 24 hours
    • Put under gently running water for 10 minutes (I just let it sit in a wok under a lightly running faucet)
    • Pat dry
    • Let sit at room temp for an hour
  • Smoke
    • Set Traeger to smoke
    • Fill up a disposable 9 x 13 aluminum tray with ~3.5# of ice
    • Place fish in another tray and layer on top of the ice
    • Smoke for 4.5 hours, maintaining a constant temperature of <80° by adding more ice as needed
      • Make sure to monitor your fillet temperature directly with its own thermometer
  • Post-Smoke
    • Remove the fish and wrap tightly with plastic wrap
    • Place in the refrigerator to let the flavors settle, at least 3 hours
    • Slice thin and enjoy!

  • Recipe
    • It's frustrating that there isn't really a hard rule for when the nova lox is "done." Some recipes (like Traeger's) say go as low as 30 minutes of smoke, others say 12-24 hours. I found a few suggestions pointing to 3-6, and I ended up calling it at 4.5 because I was tired of managing the ice.
      • The fish's finished texture was firm (approaching jerky) with a little bit of give.
      • Watching the color wasn't really helpful for me since this is essentially raw fish
  • Temp
    • My outside temp: 62-66°
    • The Traeger read ~155° with the ice inside it, so having an additional thermometer for the fish is critical
  • Ice
    • Ended up using ~10# of ice in total for the entire 4.5 hour smoke
    • I saw temperature surges around the 30 minute, 2h, 3h, and 4h marks, forcing me to run out and put more ice in
    • Condensation gradually built up under the fish and, being sufficiently scared by all the health warnings of cold smoking, I occasionally lifted it out and wiped away the moisture with a paper towel :)

All in all it turned out great: smokey, but not overly so, and excellent flavor imparted from the cure. I don't own a vacuum sealer (yes, yes, I need to get one) but we ate it all within a week, so I wasn't too worried about food poisoning.

I can't say that I would do this again given how much micromanaging was required without having the cold smoker attachment–which doesn't seem to be for sale anymore :/

That's all, thanks for reading!


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