Salmon is widely-available, versatile and delicious—most importantly, it makes for a fantastic jerky.
Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse—rich in omega-3 fatty acids, packed with protein, and loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.
But that’s not all, salmon is an excellent canvas for flavor. This fatty fish balances the fresh salinity of the sea with buttery richness. When dried into jerky, it’s a nutrient-dense snack with no shortage of flavor.
Maybe you’re looking to spice things up in the kitchen? Maybe you’re looking for an alternative protein source? Maybe you have a bounty of fresh salmon from a recent fishing trip, expedition to the local market, or a generous fisherman?
No matter the reason, salmon jerky is an unexpected and delicious snack. And we’ve tested dozens of batches to find the perfect recipe to prove it.
Taking inspiration from the flavors of Japanese cooking, this salmon jerky marinade blends soy sauce, miso, rice vinegar, sesame, and honey.
It doesn’t hide or shy away from the natural fish flavor of salmon. Instead, the salty sweet marinade brings out its fullest flavor in this fish jerky. The vibrant red color of salmon deepens to an appetizing mahogany color, punctuated by sesame seeds. It’s a jerky that looks as good as it tastes.
Keep reading for detailed steps, our pro tips, and frequently asked questions on how to make salmon jerky.
How to Make Salmon Jerky
The following steps will give you a step-by-step guide on how to make salmon jerky. This recipe also works great with other types of fish for a variety of fish jerky options.
1. Chill the salmon in the freezer until firm, but not frozen.
This might seem counterintuitive, but the first step of slicing the salmon begins with chilling down the fish so that it’s easier to slice.
Cover the salmon (you can leave the fish in the original packaging or wrap it in plastic) and place in the freezer until cold, but not frozen. Somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes.
You can use this time to prep the marinade.
Once the salmon is cool and firm, take it out of the freezer and place on your cutting board.
Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to slice meat for jerky when working with beef and other protein sources.
2. Remove the skin, cut into fillets, and slice against the grain.
If your fish still has skin, remove by cutting at the base of the fish and running your knife along the bottom. Use pressure to pull the skin along the knife.
Here’s a video of Gordon Ramsey removing salmon skin.
We recommend removing the skin of the salmon. Because we are not cooking at high enough temperature to crisp up the skin, it will turn tough and rubbery during the drying process.
If you’re working with a full side of fish, break down the piece into more manageable pieces.
- Trim off the tail portion of the fish. Slice against the grain for long even strips. Adjust the width of the slices based on the thickness of the piece. The tail part of fish gets skinnier the closer the tail.
- Cut the remaining section of salmon into 4-5 inch fillets.
- Cut against the grain of each filet between ⅛” and ¼” thickness. Maintain even thickness across all the pieces to ensure even cooking.
The goal is evenly sliced pieces so that the fish will cook and dry evenly.
3. Mix the ingredients of the marinade in a bag or non-reactive bowl.
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a plastic bag or non-reactive bowl. Whisk until the honey and brown sugar are fully-dissolved and the ingredients are well-mixed. You can use a whisk, fork, or spoon.
Open and place a large plastic bag into a bowl. This will make the transfer to the refrigerator much easier for the marination step.
4. Mix the fish and the marinade until every piece of fish has been covered.
Add the fish to the marinade and toss until the pieces are evenly coated.
Add the fish to the marinade, piece by piece, to ensure the marinade coats all the nooks and crannies. Sometimes the meat can knot up leaving some un-marinated pieces. The goal is to coat every piece of fish.
5. Marinade the fish for 16 hours in the refrigerator.
Cover with plastic wrap (or transfer to a plastic bag) and marinate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
While the meat marinades, give the bag or bowl a good toss once or twice to ensure contact between the marinade and meat.
Our recommendation for 16 hours comes from a series of marination tests that we conducted to find the ideal time for marination.
6. Lay the fish onto a drying rack.
If using an oven, heat the oven to 165°F. If the lowest oven setting is above 165°F, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and monitor the temperature during the cooking process. The goal is to maintain the temperature as close to 165°F as possible.
Set two oven racks in the centermost positions. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Place a wire rack into each pan.
If using a dehydrator, set the temperature to 165°F.
Arrange the marinated fish onto each wire rack or dehydrator screen. Be careful not to overlap the fish jerky. The pieces can touch, but they shouldn’t overlap. This will lead to irregular drying.
Let as much of the marinade drip off the meat as possible. Lightly pat the salmon jerky dry with paper towels. This ensures a nice, even cook and full dryness.
7. Cook the salmon.
If using an oven, cook the fish for 3 to 6 hours. At the 2 hour mark, rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Also flip each piece of salmon. Start checking the salmon for doneness at the 3 hour mark. Let it cook for blocks of 15 minutes until done.
If using a dehydrator, cook the salmon for 3 to 6 hours. No need to rotate the screens in a dehydrator. Start checking the salmon for doneness at the 3.5 hour mark. Let it cook for blocks of 15 minutes until done.
When we make the salmon jerky in our dehydrator it takes around 4 hours.
The salmon should bend and eventually break, but not snap off. If you’re unable to break the fish jerky into two pieces, and it’s still rubbery, that means it needs more time. If the fish jerky snaps into two pieces with bending, it’s most over-dried. Finished jerky should be like a green tree branch.
Here’s an in-depth guide on how to tell when jerky is done.
8. Let cool and enjoy!
Salmon jerky tastes fantastic right out of the oven or dehydrator, but it’s equally delicious when enjoyed as an on-the-go snack. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy within one week or refrigerate for up to a month.
Pro-Tips for Making Salmon Jerky
- Slice the fish thinner than beef jerky. The goal is ⅛” and max thickness is ¼”. You can get away with thicker pieces of beef, but because salmon has a higher fat content, it needs to be sliced thinner to dry properly.
- Remove the salmon skin. It turns to an unpleasant rubbery, chewy texture when dried for a long period of time.
- Try to cook and dehydrate at the lowest possible oven temperature to prevent excessive browning during the longer cooking process.
Salmon Jerky FAQ
Still have questions about salmon jerky? No worries, keep reading for some common questions. You can always reach out to us on social media for additional questions.
Is salmon jerky healthy?
Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods in the world and the dehydration process makes salmon jerky one of the healthiest snacks in the world.
Salmon is one of the best sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fatty acid is essential, which means you must get them from food and the body does not naturally create them. Salmon is also packed with protein. Salmon jerky is also an excellent source of B vitamins, potassium, and selenium.
During the dehydration process, the nutritional density of the raw salmon is increased by 3-4x.
Does salmon jerky taste good?
Salmon jerky tastes rich, complex, and delicious. Salmon jerky blends the fresh salinity of the ocean with a buttery richness. The dehydration process intensifies the natural flavors of the fish and marinade.
Is salmon jerky fishy?
Salmon jerky is made from salmon, so yes, it does taste like fish, but in an appealing, delicious way. It’s not too “fishy” as the dehydration process mellows the more assertive fish flavor.
Is it safe to dehydrate salmon?
Yes, it is safe to dehydrate salmon. Salmon must be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F to reach full lethality. It also must be dried to a water activity under 0.85 to qualify as shelf-stable. As long as you follow the instructions of a reputable recipe that has a time and temperature standard, it is safe to dehydrate salmon for salmon jerky.
How long does it take to dehydrate salmon?
Salmon jerky takes between 3 to 8 hours to dry depending on the temperature of the oven or dehydrator, as well as the thickness of the fish. A thinner piece of salmon, cooked at a higher temperature, will take less time. A thicker piece of salmon, cooked at a slower temperature, will take more time.
How long can you store salmon jerky?
Enjoy salmon jerky within one week or refrigerate for up to a month.
How long does salmon jerky last in the fridge?
Salmon jerky will last up to a month in a sealed bag in the refrigerator.
How do you use salmon jerky?
Salmon jerky is a great on-the-go snack. It’s as simple as packing and enjoying at your leisure.
Can I make jerky out of fish?
Absolutely, you can make jerky out of fish. Salmon jerky is nutritious, flavorful, and convenient.
Miso-Honey Salmon Jerky Recipe
Salmon is widely-available, versatile and delicious—most importantly, it makes for a fantastic jerky. Soy sauce, miso, and honey make this a can't-miss recipe.
3 LB Salmon
5 TBSP Soy Sauce
5 TBSP Honey
3 TBSP White Miso
3 TBSP Seasoned Rice Vinegar
2 TBSP Sesame Oil
3 TBSP Sesame Seeds
3 TSP Cracked Black Pepper
3 TSP Garlic Powder
1.5 TSP Ginger Powder
1.5 TSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Cover and chill the salmon in the freezer until cold and firm, but not frozen. Somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes.
Mix the marinade in a ziplock bag placed in a bowl. Whisk until the honey dissolves and ingredients are well mixed.
Remove the salmon from the freezer. Remove skin if applicable. If working with a full side, cut in half lengthwise. Slice against the grain to ⅛” thick.
Add the fish, piece-by-piece, to the marinade ensuring that each piece is covered with marinade.
Refrigerate marinade for 16 hours. Anytime between 8 to 24 hours will work. Rotate and mix the fish a few times to ensure proper contact with the marinade.
Heat the oven, smoker, or dehydrator to 165°F. If the minimum oven temperature is above 165°F, prop open the door and monitor the cooking temperature during the cooking process.
(Oven) Line the sheet pans with aluminum foil and place the cooling racks into the sheet pans.
Remove the meat from the marinade. Let the marinade drip off the fish.
Lay the strips on the wire racks or mesh trays of the dehydrator. Make sure not to overlap the fish.
Place in the oven or dehydrator and cook for 3 to 6 hours. Switching the racks top to bottom and front to back at the 2 hour mark if using an oven.
Start checking the jerky at the 3 hour mark.
Once the salmon jerky has been cooked, remove from the oven and let cool.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy.