How to Smoke Red Snapper: Whole, Fillets, Frozen

Because red snapper has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, it’s the preference of many who don’t like the fishy taste of most fish varieties. The way it tastes also makes it an extremely versatile cooking ingredient — it can be fried, sauteed, baked, grilled, broiled, poached and steamed. Oh, and it also makes for an excellent smoking fish!

Smoking red snapper, no matter if whole, filleted or frozen, starts with brining it for at least 2 hours to prevent it from drying out. Soaking it in seasoned brine infuses it with flavor. Red snapper should then be smoked from 60 to 75 minutes at 155°F to 160°F (68°C to 71°C), depending on the thickness.

Red snapper is one the most delightful and easiest to smoke among various fish options.

However, it’s still important to know some red snapper smoking tips and tricks, especially if this is your first time attempting such a marvelous culinary task. By the time you are through checking out this post, everyone will come to you for some advice on how they can serve the perfect smoked red snapper each time, too.

By the way, to help you get started in your home cooking revolution, I will give you a secret smoked red snapper recipe near the end of the article — so don’t stop reading now!

Can You Eat Red Snapper Raw?

Red snapper can be eaten raw like many other fish varieties that can be enjoyed without prior cooking. Some popular examples include salmon, tuna, mackerel, flounder, sea bass and yellowtail. However, when planning on serving raw red snapper, one must buy good-quality red snapper, in particular the sushi-grade kind.

How Do You Cook Frozen Red Snapper?

Frozen red snapper can be cooked just like thawed red snapper. As a matter of fact, cooking it straight from the freezer is possible, although adding a few minutes to the cooking time is necessary to account for the lack of prior thawing. But if there’s a lot of ice, frozen red snapper is best thawed for a while before cooking.

Can You Smoke Red Snapper?

Red snapper is a wonderful smoking fish. That’s because it has a mild, non-fishy taste that absorbs the flavor of smoke as well as just about any seasoning added to the brine or rubbed onto it. No matter if whole, filleted or frozen, the smoking process of red snapper remains the same, resulting in the same delectable white fish dish.

Related Article: How to Smoke Water

How Do You Prepare Red Snapper for Smoking?

Most red snappers available at supermarkets and on the internet are already cleaned, which makes them entirely ready for smoking. However, double-check beforehand. If necessary, scale red snapper with a fork. Cut off the hard fins, create a slit through the belly and cut off the head to be able to remove the guts.

How Do You Smoke Whole Red Snapper?

Smoking red snapper begins with soaking it in brine for not less than 2 hours. Seasoning the brine is also possible in order to infuse red snapper with preferred flavors. Smoking red snapper follows, which has to be done anywhere from 60 to 75 minutes, depending on the size, thickness and weight of the fish.

How Do You Smoke Red Snapper Fillets?

The smoking process for red snapper filets is the very same smoking process for whole red snappers. However, since more surface areas are exposed, filleted red snapper can be soaked in brine, seasoned or otherwise, in half the time — just an hour instead of two. Red snapper fillets should be smoked for at least 60 minutes.

Red snapper with spicy sambal
Red snapper with spicy sambal

How Do You Smoke Frozen Red Snapper?

When smoking red snapper from the freezer, there’s no thawing necessary beforehand. Frozen red snapper can be soaked in brine for not less than 2 hours — the process will thaw and infuse red snapper with flavors all at the same time. The brining time length will depend on the size of red snapper or whether it’s whole or filleted.

How Do You Make Red Snapper Brine?

In order to make red snapper brine, 1 1/2 cups of salt and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar should be dissolved in 2 quarts or around a liter of water. The brine should be salty enough to allow an egg to float in it. After brining, red snapper is rubbed with a mixture of olive oil, brown sugar, garlic powder and pepper.

What is the Best Wood for Smoking Red Snapper?

The general consensus is that alder is the best wood for smoking red snapper and many other mild-flavored fish varieties. It’s for the fact that the light flavor of alder won’t overshadow the naturally delicious taste of red snapper. Apple and pecan, both of which lend a mild sweet smoky flavor, are also great smoking wood options.

Smoked Red Snapper Recipe

As promised, here’s a secret, no-frills smoked red snapper recipe that’s broken down into two parts: brining and smoking. While both parts are really easy, they can be time-consuming. And that is why you should plan and prepare smoked red snapper ahead of time if you want this time-honored dish to grace the table.


In a large container, dissolve 1 1/2 cups of salt and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar — this should cause the water to be salty enough to make an egg float in it.

Brine red snapper for at least 2 hours. If red snapper is fresh from the freezer, there’s no need to thaw it beforehand. Soaking it in the brine solution will thaw and brine it at the same time. Using red snapper fillet? An hour of brining is usually enough since more surface areas can come into contact with brine.

After brining, rub red snapper with a combination of olive oil, brown sugar, garlic powder and ground black pepper to infuse it with even more flavors. Feel free to add your preferred herbs or spices to the mix.

grilled red snapper
Grilled red snapper


After brining red snapper comes smoking. For this part of this culinary task, you can choose just about any wood of your choice, particularly one that has the flavor that fits your palate to a T. But if you want to bring out the naturally sweet and nutty flavor of red snapper, it’s a good idea to alder wood chips.

But before you smoke red snapper, score it first. To do this, use a sharp knife to make 3 to 4 cuts in a diagonal direction and another 3 to 4 diagonal cuts in the opposite direction.

Create the same diamond cuts on the opposite side of your red snapper.

There are no other steps left to take but to smoke red snapper. This should be done for 60 to 75 minutes at 155°F to 160°F — the smoking time and temperature will depend on the size of the fish. Naturally, filleted red snapper does not require spending a lot of time in the smoker.

Before serving smoked red snapper, glaze it with a thin coat of maple syrup.

Just Before You Smoke Red Snapper

Because of its mild and non-fishy flavor, red snapper makes for a highly versatile cooking ingredient. So, in other words, there are tons of ways to prepare and serve it.

Smoking is one of the most popular and easiest, albeit a little time-consuming, ways to prepare red snapper.

Above, we talked about some of the most important things about smoking red snapper, including the essential brining part. Keep the simple and foolproof tips and tricks you have encountered here in mind and your family and friends will refer to you as an authority in smoking red snapper!

Related Questions

Is red snapper good for weight loss?

A 3-ounce serving of red snapper contains only 109 calories, which makes it a great addition to one’s low-calorie diet. The same red snapper serving packs more than 22 grams of protein, which is vital for building lean muscles as well as accelerating the metabolism, both of which are essential for healthy weight loss.

Which red wine is best with red snapper?

Wines that go well with red snapper, whether smoked or otherwise, are bright and fruity ones. Some popular examples include Pinot Noir and Merlot. Despite the name, red snapper is white fish, and some of the best wines for such a fish variety include dry and crisp ones such as Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

Read Also: Can Cedar Planks Be Reused?

Paint the fish with warmed maple syrup as a glaze.

like it, it is easy to skip, but you won’t know unless you try, will you?

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