Maple Juniper Smoked Salmon

Fish cookery and smoked foods don't have to be labor intensive and intimidating. Our recipe for Maple Juniper Smoked Salmon uses a simple Native American technique to easily bring lightly smoked, delicately cooked, flavorful salmon to your table (and impress your wife with your pioneering skills)! For those of you with maples growing in your backyards, its time to break out the clippers! The fish is grilled on a bed of freshly cut maple twigs and leaves, which allows the fish to gently cook while wrapping it in aromatic smoke. The glaze uses juniper and maple syrup to produce a subtle sweet and piney flavor. When buying fish, we try to make sure it is sustainably harvested (or farmed). Ask at your local seafood store, they are usually very knowledgeable. This recipe is based on one of my favorite cookbooks: Food of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions by Fernando and Marlene Divina. If you are interested, check out some of our other seafood recipes.


Yield: Serves 2 as a main


  • 1 pound salmon fillet (boned, skin left on)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 pinch (1/16 teaspoon) black pepper
  • Handful maple leaves and twigs (enough to cover your grill grate), rinsed


  1. Preheat your grill to medium high.
  2. In a food processor or blender, briefly combine (about 15 seconds) the maple syrup, vinegar, oil, salt, juniper berries, and black pepper. Transfer the glaze to a small bowl. 
  3. Make a bed of maple twigs and leaves on the grill, with the leaves forming a solid layer over the twigs for the fish to lay on.
  4. Brush the skin-side of the fish with glaze and lay (skin-side-down) on the bed of leaves. Generously brush the top side of the fish with glaze.
  5. Close the grill lid and cook on medium heat for a total of 12-16 minutes. Every two minutes, open the grill lid and brush the top of the fish with a generous coating of glaze. The fish will be done when the center of the fish has lost its translucency and begins to easily flake apart. 
  6. Remove the fish from the grill, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately. Note that the skin will be soft, not crispy (having been steamed between the fish and leaves).

Note: If you don't have access to maple twigs/leaves, or want an alternative, this recipe can be used with a cedar plank. However, cooking times will vary.