Smoked Fish Dip Recipe

Smoked fish dip and crackers is always a huge hit at parties. It’s also a great way to clean out the freezer or use up leftovers.

I use white bass here, which smoke well because they’re more strongly flavored than other delicate warmwater fish like crappie or bluegill, but pretty much any flavorful fresh or saltwater species will work. Pike, trout, salmon, catfish, grouper, mackerel, bluefish, striped bass, gar, whitefish, bass, carp, drum, and eel all come to mind. The same applies to the smoking wood: I use pecan and oak because there are plenty of free twigs right outside my door, but hickory, alder, apple, peach, or cherry will all impart a nice smoke, too.

Potato chips, thinly sliced radishes, crackers, and toasted bread all work as serving vehicles. Don’t overlook slathering fish dip on an everything bagel with some capers and chopped red onion, or as a sandwich on toasted white bread with sliced ripe tomato and butter lettuce.

Serving size


Time to make

2 Hours


4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 lb. fish fillets
8 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
3 tbsp. pickled peppers, finely chopped
3 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped, some celery leaves reserved for garnish
4 sprigs parsley or dill, finely chopped
2 tsp. paprika

Also works with

Most fresh and saltwater fish

Special equipment



  1. Combine the salt, brown sugar, granulated garlic, and thyme in a small bowl. Season the fillets generously with the cure mix and set aside in the refrigerator for one or two hours.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a smoker to 225°F. Smoke the fillets until they are nicely browned, lightly crisp at the edges and flake easily. This takes about 40-50 minutes.
  3. Mix the cream cheese, horseradish, pickled peppers, onion, celery, and parsley together in a medium bowl. Once the smoked fish is cool enough to handle, crumble it into the bowl and mix to just combine. If you prefer a finer texture, mix the fish more and break it up to your liking.
  4. Serve cold with parsley and celery leaves as garnish with a dusting of paprika on top.