3 Best Woods For Smoking Trout

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Smoking food is one of the most delicious ways to impart an extra special layer of flavor to a meal.

Before the invention of refrigerators, traditionally we would have smoked our food to help preserve it. Now that we have other storage methods, smoking is used more as a flavor and cooking technique.

You might be most familiar with smoking foods like brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and chicken, but did you know you can also smoke fish, like trout, to create a whole new flavor experience?

Trout has a beautifully mild, slightly sweet flavor and a delicate, flaky texture that is perfect for smoking. 

But just like there are the certain types of wood that are best used to smoke certain meats, there are some wood that really compliment the flavor of trout. 

So what are the best woods for smoking trout? The best woods for smoking trout include cedar, cherry, and alder. None of these woods are going to overpower the flavor of the fish, but each add a unique dimension to the dish. 

Keep reading to discover more about the 3 best woods for smoking trout, how to smoke the perfect filet on the BBQ, and more!

1. Cedar Wood

This wood is the most flavorful choice on this list and it has a strong and beautiful aroma that makes it perfect for smoking trout.

Cedars are also plentiful in the region where most trout is found in the world, so the pairing makes sense on a historical and geographical level as well. 

It gives a bright, spicy, almost citrusy smokey flavor to the trout, which balances perfectly with the richness and mild flavor of the fish itself.

You will notice the distinct flavor of this wood and you won’t be disappointed in how it complements your trout. 

To smoke with cedar wood, you are going to need to use a plank since it is quite difficult to find cedar chips for smoking.

The plank style of smoking is great though because it will allow you to do whole filets right on your barbecue, no special equipment required. 

If you want to pick up some cedar planks to smoke your own trout right on your BBQ, you can check the current price on Amazon.

2. Cherry Wood

The next wood on our list comes from the cherry tree.

It is a popular smoking option because it has a very subtle cherry flavor that is imparted into whatever food you’re smoking.

The mild cherry flavor and rich smokiness pair beautifully with trout, without overpowering its natural taste. 

Unlike cedar wood, cherry comes in both smoking planks and wood chunks. That means that you can use the wood in a smoker or place the planks right on your barbecue, depending on what you have available and your preference. 

Either choice is going to give you a delicious final product, but the smoker will take a little longer and it will be a slightly more delicate process than wood plank grilling.

That means you will likely develop a richer smoke flavor than you would if you were using the plank. 

Depending on your time frame and the equipment you have available, you can choose any cut of cherry wood. 

If you want to try cherry wood, you can check out the links below:

Planks: Current Price on Amazon

Chunks: Current Price on Amazon

Chips: Current Price on Amazon

3. Alder Wood

The last wood on our list is alder, which is a hardwood with a subtle, earthy flavor when used in smoking.

For this wood, you don’t want to use it in a recipe that has too many other strong flavors, since its subtlety can be easily overwhelmed. Choose this wood for a simple trout dish. 

Alder trees grow all over North America, once again in similar regions where you will find trout. The combination of trout and alder is a delicate one that allows the subtle flavors of both the fish and the wood to shine through. 

Like cherry wood, you can find it in planks, chunks, and chips. That means you can smoke your trout using either a smoker or a BBQ depending on what you have available and how much time you want to commit to the smoking process. 

Regardless of the method you choose, we would recommend keeping it simple. Try seasoning your trout with salt, pepper, and maybe a touch of sugar to balance out the smokiness.

Remember, when it comes to alder wood smoking, the simpler the recipe, the better chance for the smoke to shine.

If you want to try alder wood, you can check out the links below:

Planks: Current Price on Amazon

Chunks: Current Price on Amazon

Chips: Current Price on Amazon

How To Smoke Trout On A Cedar Plank

Smoking your trout on a cedar plank is a great way to pair a unique smoke flavor with the rich texture and delicate flakiness of the fish.

The recipe below is just a suggestion; feel free to get creative with your seasonings to customize it to your tastes. 


  • 1 large trout filet, bones removed (skin can stay on)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1 cedar plank


  1. Soak your cedar plank as directed on the instructions, aiming for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  2. Preheat your grill to 300°F.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, spices, salt, and pepper. 
  4. Remove your cedar plank from the water and place on the counter. 
  5. Lay the trout filet skin-side down on the cedar plank.
  6. Spread the mixture over the fleshy side of the trout. 
  7. Place the cedar plank with the trout inside the barbecue and close the lid. You will want to check it every so often to ensure it is smoking and not on fire, but try to keep the lid closed as much as possible to prevent the smoke from escaping.
  8. Cook your fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Smaller filets will cook much more quickly than larger ones. We would check the temperature at around 20 minutes and adjust from there.
  9. Once cooked through, remove the plank from the barbecue and serve with your favorite side dishes. No need for a plate- the plank makes a great serving vessel. 

Can You Smoke Salmon With Alder, Cedar, And Cherry Wood?

Alder, cedar, and cherry wood are great choices to use with other fatty types of fish such as salmon.

Salmon tastes especially great smoked on a cedar plank in the barbecue. It is one of the fattier and richer fishes, with a strong flavor that holds up well to the cedar smoke. 

You can even use the recipe above to make a cedar plank salmon instead of using a trout filet. Just sub out the trout for the salmon.

You might need to add an extra half to full teaspoon of the ingredients if the filet is much larger than the trout filet. 

The cooking time may also be a little longer, so we would recommend checking your salmon at 25 minutes and cooking to an internal temperature of 145°F for the best results. 

Both cherry wood and alder wood are other great choices for smoking salmon. Since it is such a fatty, rich fish with a stronger flavor that trout, it can hold up well to an intense smoke, so don’t be afraid to pop it in the smoker. 

You could even try using a blend of woods to achieve a distinct flavor profile that complements either your salmon or your trout in a unique and exciting way. 

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a new way to prepare your trout, smoking is a great choice. The top 3 woods to use for smoking trout are cedar, cherry, and alder. Each one has a distinct flavor that complements the texture and taste of trout. 

Cedar wood is the most flavorful option on this list. It has a slightly spicy, sweet, and almost citrusy smoke flavor that pairs well with strong and bold flavors. Typically, you will use cedar planks to smoke your trout on the BBQ. 

Cherry wood is going to impart a slight cherry-like sweetness to your trout, which can cut through the richness of the fish. You can use either a plank or wood chips/chunks in a smoker to prepare your fish.

Alder wood is the mildest of the woods on this list and works best with simple recipes that don’t overwhelm the smoke taste.

Like cherry, you can use either an alder plank or wood chips/chunks in a smoker to make the most delicious and delicate smoked trout. 

Up Next: Trout Vs Salmon – What’s The Difference?

Leave a Reply

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