Tasty Hot Smoked Mackerel Cooked on the Grill

Mackerel cooking on a street food stall,Istanbul
Gary Yeowell / Getty Images
  • 105 mins
  • Prep: 80 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

Mackerel is an oily fish that is perfect for smoking because it will not dry out as much as leaner white fish. Here it is seasoned with sugar, Dijon mustard, pepper and lemon juice. You can use either a charcoal ​grill or ​gas grill. If you prefer, you can substitute other dark-fleshed, oily fish for the mackerel. Plan ahead for marination time. This recipe is from "Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking" by Mark Bittman.

What You'll Need

  • 2 handfuls hardwood chips (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 mackerel fillets, about 1 pound, skin on, or any dark-flesh fish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

How to Make It


  1. Soak the wood chips in water that just covers them for at least 1 hour or as long as 24 hours.
  2. Mix together the salt and sugar and sprinkle the fish fillets on both sides.
  3. Let the fillets sit for 30 to 40 minutes; refrigerate them if the room is especially warm.
  4. Mix together the pepper, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice and rub into the fillets; marinate for another 30 minutes.

Grilling With Charcoal

  1. If you are using a charcoal grill, remove the racks and build a small fire.
  1. When the coals are hot, move them to one side, top with the chips and replace the racks.
  2. Drain the fish of its accumulated liquid, brush off any of the rubs that have not dissolved and place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil.
  3. Put the foil on the side of the grill away from the coals.
  4. Poke some holes in the foil and cover the grill, closing all the vents but one.
  5. Check the fish for doneness after 15 minutes. It is done if it flakes if touched with a fork near the edges. It should also be firm, with a shiny crust and opaque but not dry inside.

Grilling With Gas

  1. If you are using a gas grill, remove the racks, turn the heat of one burner to low and top the lava rocks or heat plate over that burner with the soaked chips.
  2. Replace the rack.
  3. Place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil; put the foil on the side of the grill away from the lit burner.
  4. Poke some holes in the foil and cover the grill.
  5. Check the fish for doneness after 25 minutes; it should show the same aspects as described if you're cooking on a charcoal grill. 

Serving Suggestions

Anything cooked on the grill means summertime sides. The usual suspects are all good choices: potato or pasta salad, fries or coleslaw. An interesting twist on slaw is to add some Dijon mustard and lemon juice to the dressing so it plays off the flavors of the mackerel.