Learn how to make smoked mahi mahi on ANY grill or smoker!
Mahi Mahi is a deliciously firm fish that comes out GREAT when smoked.
It's also incredibly easy to prepare and to smoke, whether you are using a pellet grill like a Traeger or Pit Boss, an electric smoker like a Masterbuilt, or just a conventional propane grill like a Weber.
Seasoning your Mahi Mahi for Smoking
You can go still gentle and delicate with a simple blend of salt, lemon pepper, thyme and garlic if that's your thing. You can also add in some smoked paprika for more color and depth of flavor.
Mix the spices and sprinkle on the mahi mahi after rubbing both sides with some olive oil.
You can place the fillets in a ziploc bag and let them marinate for an hour in the refrigerator while you get your smoker set up.
Alternatively, you can go a little bigger and use a spicier BBQ rub like our current favorite Three Little Pigs Kansas City BBQ Rub.
Best Wood Choices for Smoked Mahi Mahi
Because we are only smoking the mahi mahi fillets for such a short period of time, you can really get away with any kind of smoking wood of your choosing.
If you want to keep it simple and straightforward, choose a lighter smoking wood like alder, oak, apple, or peach.
Want more smokey wood flavor? We also really like hickory or cherry for smoking mahi mahi.
But if you want a more delicate flavor, then go lighter with some conventional wood choices.
Best Times and Temperatures for Smoked Mahi Mahi
What is the Best Temperature to Smoke Mahi Mahi?
We are going to set up the smoker for indirect cooking at 250-275°F.
When we are smoking fish, (unless we are looking to smoke small thin strips for preservation, like a jerky where we dry out the protein on purpose at super low temps), anything lower tends to dry out the fish before it cooks completely.
You CAN set the temperature higher if you want a higher heat taste and finish, just know that smoking over 325°F may burn any sugar in your fancy BBQ rub, and the mahi mahi may cook too fast to absorb any smoke flavor before its finished.
Target Internal Temperature for Smoked Mahi Mahi
You HAVE to use a good instant read meat thermometer to know where the internal temperature is of your mahi mahi fillets, especially because they will cook relatively FAST!
We are particular fans of this one from Thermopro because of its durability and affordable price.
We are targeting a final internal temperature of 145°F on the mahi mahi to know that it is finished cooking.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Mahi Mahi?
At 250°F, the typical mahi mahi filet will take about 45-60 minutes to cook and come up to 145°F internally.
This gives it plenty of time to absorb a good amount of smoke and really develop some great flavors on the smoker.
But watch your internal temperature closely, smaller fillets may only take 30 minutes to finish cooking!
Smoking Mahi Mahi with Cedar Planks, Grill Baskets, or Phat Mats
Option 1: Cedar Planks
You can also experiment with cooking your mahi mahi on cedar planks for some added woods-ey flavor.
Make sure to soak the cedar planks in water for at least an hour before putting them on your grill or smoker so that they don't char and burn.
This also helps release steam and flavor the mahi mahi while they are smoking.
Option 2: Use a Grill Basket or Grill Mat
Because mahi mahi is more delicate than other cuts of meat, you may be more successful if you place the filets in a grill basket rather than directly on the grill grates.
We are particular fans of the ORDORA Portable Grill Basket because it comes with its own handle, making it much easier to manage and move lots of delicate food around with one quick motion.
Another option is to use a grill mat, which are becoming increasingly popular in many BBQ circles, especially for delicate veggies and small seafood like shrimp and scallops.
Our personal favorite is the PhatMat Non Stick Grill Mat.
Just throw it down on your grill to keep your fish (or any other food) from falling through. It keeps your grates really clean, and when you are done, you just throw it right in the dishwasher!
Setting up your Smoker for Mahi Mahi
Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker
Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with a few handfuls of unlit charcoal and create a small hollowed out depression in the center where you can add your lit briquets.
If your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, fill the water pan as well to help stabilize the temperature and add moisture to the cooking chamber.
Light a charcoal chimney about ¼ way with charcoal and wait about 15 minutes for it to fully ignite.
You will not need too many briquets here because we are only smoking the mahi mahi for about an hour at the most.
Fill your water pan first, then add the lit briquets to the center depression you created.
Keep the dampers about ½ way to ¾ open until the cooking chamber temperature reaches about 225°F. Then slowly close them down until they are just barely open and you are maintaining a temperature of 250° F.
Place 1 chunk of your chosen smoking wood on top of your lit charcoal once the smoker is up to temperature and put your mahi mahi on once the smoker is actively producing smoke.
Propane or Electric Smoker
Propane and electric options are some of the easiest smokers for beginners to start with.
For Propane: Open your gas valve and light the bottom burner. Adjust it to keep the temperature constant at 250° F.
Need a refresher? Check our our Complete Guide to How to Use a Propane Smoker HERE.
Fill the water tray if there is one.
Pellet grills like the ones from Traeger and Camp Chef are great for smoking tilapia.
Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.
Then turn the temperature to 250°F.
When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, place your seasoned mahi mahi in the pellet grill set up for indirect heat.
Never used a pellet grill like a Traeger or a Camp Chef before?
Read our ultimate guide to pellet grills to learn why they are so easy to use and how to set one up for success every time.
Gas or Charcoal Grill
Think you need a fancy smoker to smoke food at home?
Think again. Great smoked food can be made right on your current gas or charcoal grill!
If you are unfamiliar with these gas grill smoking devices mentioned above, no worries, we have you covered!
Not sure which is best to use?
In the case of mahi mahi, we would opt for just using the smoker box filled with some wood chips since we will be cooking for probably no longer than 45-60 minutes
Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking with the burners or a small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your mahi mahi to be on the other side.
Once the temperature of your grill is around 250°F, place your smoker box or pellet tube smoker over the coals or lit burners and once smoke begins coming out, place your mahi mahi on the opposite side of the heat.
Make sure to oil the grates on the indirect side well so that the smoked mahi mahi does not stick.
Monitor your Grill Temperature
Almost every grill and smoker will have some sort of temperature gauge on them.
Now, if you are using a pellet grill or electric smoker, you should be able to pretty accurately dial in your desired temperature of 250°F with the turn of a dial.
This is what makes them so convenient!
If, however, you are using a charcoal or propane grill/smoker, you can't rely on the cheap lid mounted temperature gauge that come installed on them.
We have found these can sometimes be up to 30°F off from what the true actual temperature at the grill grate level.
This is unacceptable.
This is why you will always see competition cooks, and backyard chefs who know their stuff, using wireless digital probe thermometers to keep track of both their meat AND their cooking chamber.
And even if you have a fancy pellet grill like a Traeger or even an electric smoker, it can't hurt to double check how accurate your temperature settings are to the true temperatures you are getting.
We are big fans of the ThermoPro Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer series.
Best Ways to Serve Smoked Mahi Mahi
Your smoked mahi mahi fillets should be served immediately after removing them from the smoker.
You can brush at the end with a BBQ or mustard glaze or just have them simply seasoned right off the grill!
No need to rest or wait to eat!
You can also slice up that fish to make delicious smoked mahi mahi fish tacos, or incorporate it into a dip for a party for all to enjoy.
Smoked Mahi Mahi with Lemon Pepper Rub
- Grill, Pellet Grill, or Smoker
- Wood chunks or a pellet tube smoker with pellets or a smoker box with wood chips
- 2-4 Long Cedar Planks, soaked in water for 1 hour (optional)
- Grill Tongs or Spatula
- Instant Read Thermometer and/or Leave in Temperature Probe
- Ziploc Bag
- Filet Knife
- Cutting Board
- 2 lbs Mahi Mahi Fillets rinsed patted dry, cut into (4) ½ lb portions
- 6 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 cloves Minced and crushed fresh garlic can substitute 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 2 tablespoon Lemon Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Dried Thyme
- 1 tablespoon Dried Basil
- 2 teaspoon Paprika for color
- ½ Lemon Lemon Juice (squeezed) for juice at the end
Prepare and Season the Mahi Mahi
- Divide the Mahi Mahi fillets into 8 oz portions. Rinse well and pat dry.
- Place the Mahi Mahi fillets on a cutting board and drizzle the olive oil over both sides of each fillet and rub to cover the surface.
- Combine the garlic, salt, lemon pepper, thyme, basil, and paprika, in a small mixing bowl and then sprinkle ver each side of the mahi mahi fillets.
- Place the fillets in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator while you prepare and preheat your grill or smoker.
Set up the Grill, Pellet Grill, or Smoker
- Light or turn on your smoker or pellet grill and set up the temperature to 250°F. If using a grill, set up the burners or charcoal on only one side for indirect cooking.
- Brush the grill grates with oil to keep the smoked mahi mahi from sticking or use cedar planks that have soaked in water for at least 1 hour to hold the fillets.
- Add your wood chunk(s) directly to the firebox or on top of the charcoal of a smoker, or use chips in a smoker box, or pellets in a tube smoker on a gas grill.
Smoking the Mahi Mahi
- Once smoke is being produced, put your mahi mahi filets in the smoker, or on the grill AWAY from the direct heat, even if using cedar planks.
- Cook the mahi mahi fillets continuously at 250°F, without flipping, until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F. This should take about 45-60 minutes.
- Remove the smoked mahi mahi from the grill or smoker, optionally squeeze some lemon juice over the fillets, and serve immediately while hot.