Spice-Crusted Smoked Salmon with Yogurt Mint Lemon Sauce

Spice-Custed Smoked salmon with yogurt mint sauce

It’s a very rare treat when I get to cook salmon at home. Actually, it means that my wife is going out and I am on my own for dinner! She refuses to eat any kind of fish, so when she is gone is the only occasion I get a chance to make it. When she went out recently, I whipped up this spice-crusted smoked salmon and paired it with a yogurt mint lemon sauce. The mild tasting salmon, with an outrageously flavorful spice crust, topped with the creamy yogurt sauce, makes for an absolutely delicious bite!

There are so many ways to cook salmon; pan-frying, roasting, broiling, grilling, sous vide, poaching. My go-to method is always on the smoker for several reasons. First, salmon is delicate. It likes to fall apart when you mess with it too much while cooking. Additionally, it is rather easy to overcook a filet of salmon using the higher heat cooking methods. Lastly, salmon is a fairly mild tasting fish and the smoke flavor plays really well on the palate.

The Best Internal Temperature of your Spice-Crusted Smoke Salmon

Spice-crusted smoked salmon

Salmon is very similar to beef or pork; it can be eaten at a range of internal temperatures. According to the FDA , seafood is properly cooked at 145 degrees. Like most of these suggested cooking temperatures, they are set with focus on killing every last particle of bacteria. However, that may not be ideal for you and your taste preference. You can safely eat salmon at 120 – 125 degrees. That internal temperature would be considered medium rare and the texture will be more meaty than flakey. I prefer mine a little bit more done in the 130 – 135 degree range which is recognized as medium. I favor this range because it’s not as meaty and starts to turn a little bit more flakey, but without losing too much texture.

Clearly, a salmon filet is not even all the way across, so the internal temperature is measured at the thickest part. I haven’t mentioned it yet but having a good and reliable thermometer is a key tool to have in the kitchen. This recipe, plus many more will depend on it for success.

Salmon with Yogurt Sauce
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Spice-Crusted Smoked Salmon with Yogurt Mint Lemon Sauce

A quick and easy meal but but elegant with ton of flavor
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian
Keyword: salmon, smoke salmon, yogurt sauce
Servings: 2 people
Cost: $20


  • smoker or grill set for indirect heat


  • 1 pound salmon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Spice Rub

  • 1 teaspoon cumin toasted and ground or pre-ground
  • 1 teaspoon corriander toasted and ground or pre-ground
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper fresh ground is always best

Yogurt Mint Lemon Sauce

  • 1/2 cup whole plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 leaves mint chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


For the Salmon

  • Set smoker or grill (set for indirect heat) to 325°
  • Examine the salmon and remove any pin bones not already extracted
  • Coat the salmon with oil and kosher salt
  • Combine cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic powder, ginger powder and black pepper in a small bowl or cup. Mix to combine.
  • Liberally coat the salmon with the spice rub. Rub should be applied thick. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow rub to adhere to meat.
  • Place salmon on smoker/grill directly on grates or using a wood plank. Skin side down.
  • Smoke for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 130° (or your desired internal temperature. see notes below)

For the yogurt mint lemon sauce

  • Combine yogurt, kosher salt, black pepper, chopped mint, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes for flavors to marry.
  • Not all yogurts are created equal, so after about 10 minutes, taste the sauce and test the consistency. Adjust salt and lemon level to taste. Add olive oil for taste and to thin out the consistency to your liking.


  • Serve the salmon immediately as it does not need to rest. Use as much, or as little, of the yogurt mint lemon sauce as your heart desires.


Salmon (like beef or pork) can be eaten on a range of internal temperatures.  125 degrees would be considered medium and 145 degrees is well done.  Medium will result in a texture that is more firm while well done will be more flakey.