Smoked Salmon Spread

Looking for a healthy appetizer? Or a simple spread for a charcuterie platter? Think smoked salmon spread on crackers, low-carb and low-cal.It’s good for you but tastes rich and indulgent.

Smoked Salmon Spread ♥, just smoked salmon plus a few pantry ingredients.

Real Food, Fresh & Festive. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Great for Meal Prep. Potluck & Party Friendly. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

Twas a Salmon-Lover's Summer

While visiting cities along the Baltic Sea back in June, we ate our weight in smoked salmon two or three times a day, never once tiring of the stuff.


At breakfast, Scandinavian hotels put out incredible breakfast buffets.

The major appeal? Platters of smoked salmon, more specifically, the Nordic "gravlax", wet, salt-cured salmon quite similar to the "lox" of lox and bagel fame.

Me, I ate the buttery orange-fleshed slices of gravlax Finn-style: draped open-face across slices of sturdy bread with good cheese, tomato or cucumber, savoring every nibble.


For lunch one day, we bought “hot-smoked” salmon off a fishing boat moored in the harbor near the Helsinki market. We ate it on the spot, sitting in the sun near the water, picking the filet apart with our fingers, tossing scraps to insistent seagulls.

Ooops, only later did we see the signs, “Do not feed the birds.”


One evening, we peeked into a quiet little restaurant near our hotel, casual and candle-lit. Call it one of the best meals of my life, roasted salmon steaks with a light creamy spinach sauce. The best part? Good Finnish rye bread spread with salted butter and topped with a few bites of salty salmon roe.


Smoke houses are found along the Great Lakes too.

In August, we picked up smoked whitefish, trout, herring and salmon on our way out of Bayfield, Wisconsin, hauling several pounds south in a cooler, stopping for a windy lake-side supper just as the sun was setting.


Heaven? Find it at home, too.

We're perfecting our own recipe for gravlax and once it's nailed, will share it here.

Smoked Salmon Spread, ♥, just smoked salmon plus a few pantry ingredients.

About This Recipe

  • Smoked Salmon Spread is a rich, indulgent spread for crackers, obviously, but also crostini (small, dried toasts). This makes for a much-appreciated appetizer or a spread for a charcuterie platter.

  • The distinctive ingredients are smoked salmon, sour cream and horseradish.
  • For this recipe, you'll want to use "hot smoked" salmon that has been cooked with heat. It has a drier texture and the rich smoked flavor that "just works" with minimal embellishment.
  • Look for small pieces wrapped in heavy plastic at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and well-stocked supermarkets. Cured salmon is bright "salmon-colored" in color and appears "wet". In contrast, hot-smoked salmon is a paler salmon color and appears dry and flaky.
  • Feeling a little puzzled over all this salmon terminology? Me too! There's a great explanation of the differences here, Smoked Salmon, Lox, Gravlax: Is There A Difference?.

  • Ingredient List = smoked salmon + sour cream + mayonnaise + chive + horseradish + hot sauce + lemon zest + salt & pepper

  • It takes just 15 minutes to mix the spread's ingredients. But I do recommend making it ahead of time, just an hour or two is enough for the flavors to meld.

  • I love it when you look at a food and can tell exactly what it is! That's definitely the case here, you see it and you know it's smoked salmon.

  • The recipe makes a full cup of spread. That's a small batch but plenty, since you only use a bit of the spread at a time and if you're doing a spread, well, you'll probably make other dishes as well.
Smoked Salmon from a fishing boat in Heisinki, Finland.

A Most Romantic Lunch

Back in June, this was our favorite lunch in Helsinki, Finland.

It was a sunny, breezy day and we found salmon chowder in a small stand in the harbor-side open-air market called the "kauppatori" and and bought smoked salmon straight off a fishing boat.

We sat right on the water, and yes, we had to fight off most-insistent seagulls!

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Smoked Salmon Spread ♥, just smoked salmon plus a few pantry ingredients.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes but best if refrigerated for an hour or two before serving
Makes 1 cup, easily multiplied
  • 6 ounces (115g) smoked salmon, preferably hot-smoked
  • 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
  • 4 teaspoons (17g) mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh chive
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons horseradish
  • Hot sauce
  • Zest of a lemon
  • Salt & pepper

SALMON Remove the salmon skin and pull the flesh off the bone. Carefully break the flesh into small pieces, removing all the bones (see ALANNA's TIPS). You’ll want about four ounces useable salmon. With a small food processor, pulse until fine, just a couple of pulses, you don't want to turn the fish into mush.

SAUCE Mix the salmon with sour cream, mayonnaise and fresh chive. Stir in the horseradish, hot sauce, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to taste.

REFRIGERATE Cover and refrigerate for one or two hours for the flavors to meld.

SERVE with crackers (Caraway Triscuits work especially well) or baguette slices.

MORE SERVING IDEAS Spread Smoked-Salmon Spread atop a cracker or bread slice, top with a thin slice of cucumber, a small chunk of smoked salmon and chopped chive. I also love Smoked Salmon Spread on a diagonal-cut piece of cucumber, extra healthy!

ALANNA's TIPS Some pieces of salmon still have what are called "pin bones". These are soft, skinny little bones but you'll want to extract them before breaking up the fish. To do so, run your fingers across the top of the fish, feeling for a bit of sharpness. Fish tweezers (affiliate link) make it easy to grasp the tiny bones, gently tugging to pull them out of the flesh.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Two Tablespoons: 40 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 7mg Cholesterol; 136mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Sorry, due to technical issues during a laptop conversion, Weight Watchers points will be updated later.

More Healthy Appetizers for Gatherings Small and Large

~ appetizer recipes ~
Three Favorite Sandwich & Cracker Spreads ♥, quick and easy, great for meal prep, made from simple pantry ingredients.

Smoked Whitefish Spread on Cucumber Slices, another easy summer recipe ♥ Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Tuna & White Bean Dip ♥, a real crowd pleaser. Low Carb. High Protein. Naturally Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ salmon recipes ~
~ sour cream recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Catherine12/29/2014

    Looks lovely. Wonder if it would work with smoked mackerel as well. I like smoked salmon served on soda/wheatmeal bread with capers atop. It's what they do in Ireland.

  2. Catherine ~ Thank you! I love your Irish caper idea, they would indeed add a pretty touch to this! I don’t think I’ve had smoked mackerel but somehow have the idea it would be a little oily? We have a nice selection of smoked fish at a local international market (it seems targeted for the large community of recent Russian immigrants here in St. Louis) and to our taste, have learned to avoid the oily fishes.

  3. Catherine12/29/2014

    You haven't had smoked mackerel! You must try it. Mackerel pate is very very popular in the UK. Can be made with cream cheese/creme fraiche and horseradish, lemon, or without. There are lots of recipes out there, Jamie Oliver has one and the BBC food website has a few. Have also seen a recipe which uses cottage cheese and mackerel.

    I also like smoked haddock pate! Don't let the idea of oil put you off. It has the best kind of fat!

    I have

  4. I'm not a salmon lover but I'd even try this if someone else made it. BTW...I like most of your recipes and appreciate the way you tell what the WW points, etc. are. So helpful!! Thanks for such good things over the year! Hope you have a Happy New Year!

  5. Catherine ~ I promise, I’ll look for mackerel the next time I hit that intl grocery -- and thank you, no doubt! PS It’s not the fat/calories that puts me off some times, it’s an oiliness, even with “good fats”.

    A ~ Thanks so much for your kind words!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna