How Long to Smoke Trout? (Explained)

Smoking trout is a relatively simple task, but what’s not simple is determining how long you should smoke.

There are many variables to consider before determining the smoking time, such as the size of the trout, whole or filet, and smoker temperature.

On average, the time to smoke a whole trout is around 2 hours.

Smoking Trout Times

Type/Size160°F (71°C)170°F (77°C)180°F (82°C)Additional Time (Cold Smoker Start)
Whole Small Trout1.5-2 hrs1-1.5 hrs45min-1 hr+45 min
Whole Large Trout2.5-3 hrs2-2.5 hrs1.5-2 hrs+45 min
Trout Fillet (small)1-1.5 hrs45min-1 hr30-45 min+45 min
Trout Fillet (large)2-2.5 hrs1.5-2 hrs1-1.5 hrs+45 min

This is a guideline on trout smoking times and will have other variables to consider which I will explain below.

The additional time for cold smoking is a rough guide on how long it takes your smoker to come to temperature and will vary according to external temperature, elevation, wind, etc.

Variables That Affect Trout Smoking Time

Smoking trout is not like smoking meat, trout is much more delicate and can quickly overcook.

Below, I will show you some variables that will affect the overall smoking time of your trout.

Size of Trout

One of the most obvious factors that will affect the smoking time of trout is the size of the fish.

How Long to Smoke Trout

While for most people the average size of a rainbow and related species is 12 -20 inches, some species like lake trout can get much larger, and brook can be smaller on average.

Unlike smoking venison, trout is not calculated by weight, as there is no harm in smoking for longer or less once you hit the desired temperature of 145F.

This means that although you could smoke a 12-inch trout for three hours, an 18-inch trout could also be done in 3 hours.

Starting Hot vs. Cold

When I am smoking trout I always like to start with a cold smoker. 

If you place your trout into a hot smoker you may get the white albumin that will leak from the fish.

While this is no harm, it makes for a less presentable smoked trout.

How Long to Smoke Trout

Another reason for starting with a cold smoker is to get some extra smokey flavor without actively cooking the fish.

Considering the short time it takes to smoke trout, it may not achieve your desired level of smokiness.

Putting it in a cold smoker allows you to get more smokiness without extending the cooking time.

While this will extend the smoking time from 20-45 minutes, it’s not as harsh on cooking the fish.

Grill Temperature

How Long to Smoke Trout

A rather obvious factor that affects the smoking time of trout is the grill temperature.

While ideally, you should be smoking trout at low temperatures there is still a range you can choose from.

The ideal temperature range for smoking trout is from 160 -180F.

There is a whole hour of difference there if smoking an average-sized trout.

Whole Trout vs. Fillets

I prefer to smoke trout whole, particularly because the fish I catch are not usually large.

Also, I find smaller trout taste better than large trout.

How Long to Smoke Trout

However, if you are smoking fillets you may have a shorter smoking time.

Although, if you are out slaying large trout, good on you, but the smoking time may not be as different than smoking whole trout.

To give you an example, a small trout filet takes about 1-1.5 hours at 160F and a small whole trout takes about 1.5-2 hours at the same temperature.

Now, if we look at a large filet at this temperature, it takes 2-2.5 hours.


Finally, the last thing that will affect how long you smoke your trout is the flavor intensity that you are looking for.

How Long to Smoke Trout

Simply put, if you want your trout to have a stronger flavor, smoke it for longer.

While there are some methods to speed up the smoking process, like smoking from cold or choosing a slightly stronger wood, these are only marginal at adding flavor.

All said and done, I smoke trout on average for 2 hours. I start with a cold smoker and smoke around 170F. 

The two hours account for approximately 45 minutes for the smoker to come to temperature and smoking for about 1.15 minutes at the temperature.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *