Learn how to make Smoked Red Snapper on ANY grill or smoker!
Smoked Red Snapper Fillets are incredibly easy to prepare, whether you are using a pellet grill like a Traeger, Camp Chef, or Pit Boss, an electric smoker like a Masterbuilt, or just a conventional propane grill like a Weber.
Seasoning Red Snapper 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.
Our current favorite seasoning for smoked red snapper is Old Bay Blackening Seasoning.
It gives a nice kick in addition to the classic old bay flavors we love on seafood.
Best Wood Choices for Red Snapper
Because we are only smoking the red snapper 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. For smoked red snapper we especially like alder, oak, apple, or peach.
Want more smoky wood flavor? Go ahead and mix in some hickory or cherry.
We are going to set up the smoker for indirect cooking today a little higher than usual at 350°F.
When we are smoking fish, (unless we are looking to smoke small thin strips for preservation, like jerky where we dry out the protein on purpose at super low temps), long low and slow temps tend to dry out the fish before it cooks completely.
Because we are setting the temperature higher, know that smoking over 300°F may burn any sugar in your traditional BBQ rub.
Target Internal Temperature
You HAVE to use a good instant read meat thermometer to know where the internal temperature is of your smoked red snapper 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 smoked red snapper to know that it is finished cooking.
Some oilier fishes like our Maple Smoked Mackerel will take a couple hours to cook low and slow at 250°F
However, at 350°F, the typical red snapper fillet will only take about 30-40 minutes to cook and come up to 145°F internally.
This gives it enough of time to absorb a good amount of smoke and really develop some great flavors on the smoker, without taking up your whole day to cook.
But watch your internal temperature closely, smaller fillets may take less than 30 minutes to finish cooking!
Cedar Planks, Grill Baskets, or Grill Mats
Option 1: Cedar Planks
You can experiment with smoking your red snapper 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 red snapper fillets while they are smoking.
Option 2: Use a Grill Basket or Grill Mat
Because red snapper fillets, and really any fish, are more delicate than other cuts of meat, you may be more successful if you place the fillets in a grill basket rather than directly on the grill grates of your grill or smoker.
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, even shrimp, scallops, and asparagus 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 oysters.
Our personal favorite is the Grillaholics Mesh Grill Mat.
Just throw it down on your grill to keep your smoked red snapper (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!
Monitor your Grill Temperature
Almost every grill and smoker will have some sort of temperature gauge on them.
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.
We are big fans of the ThermoPro Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer series.
Our current favorite thermometer is the MEATER, a dual sensor thermometer that measures the internal temperature of the food and the ambient grill temperature simultaneously.
The thermometer connects via Bluetooth to a free app on your smart phone to allow you to monitor the temperature from up to 165 feet away!
Your smoked red snapper fillets should be served immediately after removing them from the grill or smoker.
You can squeeze some lemon and serve over pasta or with some smoked vegetables, or just eat them as is!
Smoked Red Snapper
- Grill, Pellet Grill, or Smoker
- Wood chunks or a pellet tube smoker with pellets or a smoker box with wood chips
- Grill Basket or Grilling Mat (optional)
- Grill Tongs or Spatula
- Instant Read Thermometer and/or Leave in Temperature Probe
- Ziploc Bag
- Filet Knife
- Cutting Board
- 2 lbs Red Snapper Fillets rinsed, patted dry, cut into (4) 8 oz portions
- 6 tablespoon Olive Oil
- ½ Lemon to squeeze over when finished (optional)
Cajun Blackening Rub
- 2 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt more or less to taste
- 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional for heat)
- ½ teaspoon Dried Basil
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Dried Thyme
Prepare and Season the Red Snapper
- Divide the red snapper fillets into 8 oz portions. Rinse well and pat dry.
- Place the red snapper fillets on a cutting board and drizzle the olive oil over both sides of each fillet and rub to cover the surfaces.
- Combine the Cajun Blackening Rub ingredients in a small mixing bowl and then sprinkle over each side of the red snapper 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 350°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 red snapper from sticking or use an oiled grill basket 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.
Smoke the Red Snapper
- Once smoke is being produced, put your red snapper filets in the smoker, or on the grill AWAY from the direct heat.
- Cook the red snapper fillets continuously at 350°F, flipping and rotating as needed, until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F. This should take about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your fillets.
- Remove the smoked red snapper from the grill or smoker, optionally squeeze some lemon juice over the fillets, and serve immediately while hot.