Guide to Home Canning Smoked Salmon

Red smoked salmon pieces on wooden surface
Canning smoked salmon begins by smoking the fish at 130-160°F. Cut the fish into fillets that will fit inside pint-sized canning jars. Pack them tightly into the jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Wipe the rims, seal, and process in a pressure canner for 110 minutes.

What’s the Best Way to Can Smoked Salmon?

Pressure canning is the best way to can smoked salmon. Salmon has a high pH of 6.5-7.5, making it a low-acid food. Processing fish in a boiling water bath canner may lead to food poisoning or botulism because the temperature isn’t high enough to kill harmful pathogens.

Smoked salmon filets on grate set on top of a wood surface
Smoked salmon filets

Pressure Canning Smoked Salmon

Follow these steps to safely pressure can smoked salmon:

  1. Inspect canning jars for cracks or nicks. Wash canning jars, lids, and rings in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Set them aside to dry on a clean towel.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the smoked fish into jar-length chunks or fillets, keeping in mind a headspace of 1 inch is required.
  3. Fill the pressure canner with 4 quarts or 16 cups of cool water. Do not heat the water. Place a canning rack inside the pressure canner.
  4. Fill the canning jars with fish vertically, with the skin side facing out. Ensure there is 1 inch of headspace and no added liquid.
  5. Dampen a paper towel or cloth with hot water or vinegar, and clean the rims of the jars.
  6. Center the sterilized canning lids over each jar. Add the screw bands and tighten until fingertip tight.
  7. Put the filled canning jars into your pressure canner.
  8. Secure the canner’s lid, and place it on a stove. Turn the heat on to medium-high.
  9. Wait till the water reaches a rolling boil. Open the vent hole to allow steam-venting for 10 minutes.
  10. Place the weight on and let the pressure build to the appropriate level based on your canner type and altitude:

Pressure for canning smoked salmon in a dial-gauge pressure canner:

Altitude (ft)0 – 2,0002,001 – 4,0004,001 – 6,0006,001 – 8,000
Pints (110 minutes)11 lbs12 lbs13 lbs14 lbs

Pressure for canning smoked salmon in a weighted-gauge pressure canner:

Altitude (ft)0 – 1,0001,000 +
Pints (110 minutes)10 lbs15 lbs
  1. Set a processing time of 110 minutes (1 hour and 50 minutes). 
  2. Once the time is complete, turn off the heat. Allow the canner to cool undisturbed until the pressure gauge reaches zero.
  3. Remove the weights. Wait 5 minutes before opening the lid.
  4. Carefully lift the processed jars from the hot water using a jar lifter and place them on a towel-covered countertop to cool.
  5. Allow the jars to rest for 12-24 hours.
  6. Remove the screw bands. Confirm the jars are sealed by pressing the top with your finger. Properly-sealed jar lids shouldn’t pop up when you press down on them.
  7. Place any unsealed jars in a refrigerator and use them within seven days.
  8. Label properly sealed jars with the date and contents. Store the jars in a dry, clean place at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
Pressure canned salmon in canning jar
Pressure canned salmon

How Long Do You Pressure Can Smoked Salmon?

The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends a processing time of 110 minutes for canned smoked salmon processed in pint jars.

How Long Should Salmon Be Smoked Before Canning?

For the best results, salmon smoked with the intent of canning should only be lightly smoked. It is recommended to smoke fish for 10-15 minutes or up to 2 hours, at 140-160°F, depending on the desired level of smoke flavor. Smoking the fish longer produces an undesirable dry texture and intense smoky flavor.

Salmon hanging in smoke house
Smoking salmon

Benefits of Canned Smoked Salmon

  • Canned smoked salmon can be eaten straight from the jar.
  • Home-canned salmon cuts grocery costs because commercially canned goods cost more.
  • It’s a versatile ingredient that can be stirred into pasta or served on top of salad.
  • It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, lipids, selenium, and B vitamins.
  • The canning process safely preserves smoked salmon without relying on a freezer.

What Size Jars Should be Used for Canning Smoked Salmon?

Pint jars are recommended for canning smoked salmon. It is okay to use half-pints with the same processing time, but the jars may float inside the canner, which can cause consistency issues. Experts also warn against canning in quart jars because there are no safe tested salmon recipes for jars of this size.

Several pint-sized canning jars upside down with screw bands
Pint jars

How Many Cans of Smoked Salmon Do You Need for a Canner Load?

The canner load will depend on the size of your canner. For example, the most common 22-quart pressure canner holds 18-20 pints or 24-26 half-pint jars of smoked salmon. If using a 16-quart canner, it will hold 10-pint size jars or 12 half-pints.

What to Do if Your Canned Salmon is Pink

If your canned salmon is pink, there’s no cause for alarm. The color of your salmon fillets depends on their type and what they eat. Red and pink salmon are the most common types of salmon.

The red salmon is from the Alaskan sockeye salmon species, while the pink belongs to the humpback salmon, native to the Pacific Ocean. Pink salmon are often farmed in aquaculture farms and have a different diet than wild salmon that feeds on shrimp and ocean creatures.

Will Canning Smoked Salmon Preserve It Longer?

Yes. Canning smoked salmon is the best food preservation method for long-term storage. Properly canned salmon is shelf-stable and has a shelf life of 2-3 years. For the best quality, it is recommended to use it within 12 months.


Growing up as a farm girl, Regie assisted her grandparents in canning sheep meat and helped her mother sell canned carrots. This grew her passion for canning from a young age. As a writer, she uses her canning experience to give creative, practical ideas for preserving different foods to canning enthusiasts.

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