Smoked salmon is a slice of luxury we wish we could enjoy every single weekend. But, it’s often reserved for special occasions instead – the quintessential topping for canapés circling a party or layered onto scrambled egg on Christmas morning.
With that in mind, we want to make sure you are choosing the very best smoked salmon. There is nothing quite like that distinctive taste, now mastered by many smokehouses across the world – many of the finest right here in the UK.
Whether you’re having it sandwiched in a bagel with a dollop of cream cheese and a sprinkling of chives, straight from pack to fork or whizzed into a pate, there is so much you can do with this ocean A-lister. And if you’re looking for something different from the traditional, there are many producers experimenting with additional flavours such as smoked salmon with a truffle topping or a lemon and pepper seasoning, a few which you will see below.
With Christmas fast approaching, smoked salmon with scrambled or poached eggs is a breakfast choice many of us will enjoy as the first dish of foodie festivities. Paired with a flute of champagne or bucks fizz, this really is an unbeatable combination. We will help you in sourcing a flawless slice of smoked salmon to make that breakfast a superior start to the day.
How we tested
We wanted to make sure we were exploring the full taste of each product, without intrusion from the flavours of other ingredients, so we tried the smoked salmon fresh from the packet. We were looking for a strong balance of salty and smokey flavours, but nothing too overpowering, and of course, we were poised for that melt-in-your-mouth creaminess.
We also evaluated which would make a suitable combination for canapés, sandwiches and more. There is a wide range of prices when it comes to smoked salmon so we made sure to assess the value of each product too.
The best smoked salmon for 2021 is:
- Best overall – Panzer’s smoked salmon: £12, Panzers.co.uk
- Best for texture – Dukeshill sliced oak smoked salmon: £11, Dukeshillham.co.uk
- Best for additional flavours – Tesco Finest Scottish smoked salmon with lemon and peppercorn: £4.80, Tesco.com
- Best for vegans – Morrisons the best vegan smoked salmon and cream cheese: £5, Morrisons.com
- Best for powerful flavours – Morrisons the best Scottish smoked salmon: £4, Morrisons.com
- Best for smokiness – London Smoke and Cure sashimi-grade smoked salmon: £14.95, Londonsmokeandcure.co.uk
- Best for saltiness – Dunkeld smoked salmon: £6.25, Dunkeldsmokedsalmon.com
- Best for Christmas morning – Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference bucks fizz smoked salmon: £13.50, Sainsburys.co.uk
- Best for luxury – Petrossian smoked salmon with truffle: £45, Petrossian.fr
- Best for sandwiches – Co-op irresistible beech and oak smoked Scottish salmon: £5, Coop.co.uk
- Best partnership – Bleikers gravadlax cured smoked salmon with honey and mustard sauce: £4.50, Bleikers.co.uk
- Best wild salmon – Leap wild smoked sockeye salmon: £7.99, Planetorganic.com
- Best for canapés –Waitrose no.1 chestnut smoked Scottish salmon: £6, Waitrose.com
- Best for a special occasion – Fortnum and Mason farmed Scottish smoked salmon: £12, Fortnumandmason.com
Panzer’s smoked salmon, 227g
Panzer’s knows a thing or two about smoked salmon. For the last 75 years, it has been refining its signature product and has become world renown for its delicate, glossy offerings of smoked salmon. The strips, which are all hand-sliced in the brand’s HQ in London, were some of the easiest to peel away. The flavour was very subtle and fresh, indicative of its technique of a mild cure and light smoke. Every mouthful was divine, making this our favourite dish.
You can purchase it sliced, as a whole side, as caviar or as part of a very special Panzer’s hamper, with other items from their deli. Even better, you can choose the level of oiliness of your smoked salmon, from dry to oily.
Dukeshill sliced oak smoked salmon, 200g
We expected something fit for royalty with Dukeshill as it holds the Royal Warrant to the Queen for its hams and offers an exceptional range of meats, fish and cheeses. And our high expectations were definitely met. The dark orange colour of these thick slices was immediately captivating and each piece had a succulent texture and an oaky, strong flavour. Each salmon side is smoked, filleted and sliced by hand, and the care poured into each is clear to see and taste.
Tesco Finest Scottish smoked salmon with lemon and peppercorn, 120g
Best: For additional flavours
If you’re slightly dubious of the powerful and unique flavours of smoked salmon, the sprinkling of lemon on this one might be for you – it takes the edge off. The thin slices, kiln smoked over oak and beechwood, had a piquant lemon seasoning, leaving a refreshing aftertaste. While the peppercorn is just subtle enough to lift the lemony notes. Tesco also offer a range of different smoked salmon, including its ready-to-eat smoked salmon slices (£3.50, Tesco.com), which is a slightly cheaper and fuss-free option.
Morrisons the best vegan smoked salmon and cream cheese, 260g
Best: For vegans
Yes, you read that right. Using thin ribbons of carrots marinated in a vinegary oil and planted on top of a vegan alternative to cream cheese using coconut milk, caper berries and spinach, Morrisons has tried to replicate this traditional dish. It is a bit far off tasting like smoked salmon but the combination of ingredients works really well. An excellent choice if any of your dinner party guests are vegan or vegetarian.
Morrisons the best Scottish smoked salmon, 120g
Best: For powerful flavours
One of our favourites from the supermarket offerings, Morrisons’ salmon is dry cured with sea salt and Demerara sugar. It is then smoked three times, which gives it a really intense flavour. This would be a great addition to your scrambled eggs or for your smoked salmon paté recipe.
London Smoke & Cure sashimi-grade smoked salmon, 200g
Best: For smokiness
A gorgeous light pink hue with brown trim, these thick and firm strips of salmon were aesthetically pleasing before we’d even tucked in. London Smoke & Cure is a small company which has won multiple awards for its artisan smoked salmon, so we had high expectations. Each sashimi-grade salmon is lightly cured and cold smoked using oak, beech and heather. The buttery flavour melted in our mouths straight away, and its superb smokiness had us returning for more. This brand deserve its awards.
Dunkeld smoked salmon, 100g
Best: For saltiness
Dunkeld salmon is cured in dry salt and smoked over whiskey barrel chips and oak dust, all beautifully mastered right in the heart of Dunkeld – an ancient cathedral town in Scotland. Springwells Smokehouse is focused on fresh and natural products and doesn’t use additives, flavourings, enhancers or colourings. The flesh was meaty and glossy and a deep orange colour. An indulgent, creamy flavour, this was a juicy piece of fish which we would highly recommend.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference bucks fizz smoked salmon, 300g
Best: For Christmas morning
Adding a little sparkle into your Christmas morning, Sainsbury’s has mastered the balance of flavours with this one. Soaked in a prosecco and orange glaze, we worried it would have an overpowering bite but the subtle fizz worked well. It would be fantastic served on a breakfast platter alongside a glass of champagne or prosecco. Sainsbury’s has a range of different salmons, including the more traditional offering. This will be available to buy from 1 December.
Petrossian smoked salmon with truffle, 180g
Best: For luxury
If you are looking for something incredibly special, Petrossian has pulled out all the stops for its Coupe du Tsar truffle salmon. It is flavoured with black truffle and truffle salt. Initially, we wondered whether the powerful flavours of the truffle and smoked salmon would be a clash, but we found they complimented each other well and neither was too overpowering. It had a rich and vibrant flesh and a distinctive smokiness. This luxury dish would work well on a canapé or paired with a glass of champagne.
Co-op irresistible beech and oak smoked Scottish salmon, 100g
Best: For sandwiches
This is a luscious Scottish salmon expertly smoked with oak and beech. A fleshy texture and subtle flavour, this would be a great sandwich or bagel filling with a heap of cream cheese and perhaps a squeeze of lemon, though it is slightly more expensive than the other supermarket products.
Bleikers gravadlax cured smoked salmon with honey and mustard sauce, 100g
Bleikers is a fantastic family-run smokehouse which is passionate about delivering high quality food and has partnered with Aldi for a range of unique smoked salmon products. We chose to sample the brand’s gravadlax, as we were curious about the honey and mustard dressing which perhaps wouldn’t have been our go-to for flavour combinations. However, the sauce complimented the cured fish beautifully.
Leap wild smoked sockeye salmon, 100g
Best: Wild salmon
The bright orangey red colours made Leap stand out immediately. Its wild smoked sockeye salmon – a specific species, wild-caught in the North Pacific waters of Alaska – has a unique flavour compared to all of the other salmon we tried. It didn’t have the same velvety texture as the others we tested, rather, it was firm and thick – perhaps a show of its wild heritage.
Waitrose no.1 chestnut smoked Scottish salmon, 100g
Best: For canapés
We loved the sweet flavours of this smoked salmon, which derives from its time being smoked over chestnuts, alongside oak and beech wood. The subtle smokiness and sweet flavour works well and the fillet flaked in our hands, making for a great canapé topping.
Fortnum & Mason farmed Scottish smoked salmon, 200g
Best: For a special occasion
Beautiful peachy strips of salmon, Fortnum & Mason has a very special offering here. It uses single-source, welfare accredited raw fish and its process is intricate and specialised. The salmon is smoked for between 24-72 hours over British oak using traditional smoke boxes. Like most of its products, Fortnum’s focus is on high quality and we could taste this with every morsel. If you’re looking for a real treat, we think this is worth forking out a little extra for.
The verdict: Smoked salmon
The velvet, glossy texture, its smoky flavour and buttery aftertaste is what makes this classic fish so simply scrumptious. The supermarkets have expanded their range massively over the years and offer a wide variety of smoked salmon, but we think some of the more local, bespoke producers have really mastered the art. That’s exactly why we adored Panzer’s and London Smoke & Cure, two businesses with local and quality at heart.
For a real treat, opt for Fortnum & Mason or Petrossian, but expect to pay for the luxury. It is not long before we start orchestrating our epic Christmas food shopping list and any of the above would be an excellent choice.
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Ensure you get the festive season off to a good start by checking out our round-up of the best bottles of prosecco
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