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smoked mackerel on a grill

Smoked Mackerel with a Maple Balsamic Glaze

Mackerel or King Mackerel Fillets brined overnight then slow smoked and brushed with a balsamic-maple-dijon glaze to finish.
This smoked mackerel can be made on a gas grill, a pellet grill like a Traeger, Pit Boss or Camp Chef, or in any kind of electric smoker such as a Masterbuilt.
4.5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Brining Time 8 hrs
Total Time 10 hrs 50 mins
Course Main Course, Seafood
Cuisine American, Australian, barbecue, BBQ, Mediterranean, Seafood, Smoked
Servings 4 people
Calories 400 kcal


  • Gas Grill, Pellet Grill, or Smoker
  • Wood pellets, chunks, or a pellet tube smoker with pellets or a smoker box with wood chips
  • Cutting Board and Knife
  • Paper Towels
  • Baking Dish or Large Sealable Plastic Food Storage Bags
  • Wire Rack
  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Basting brush
  • Grill Mat (optional)


  • 4 8 oz Mackerel or King Mackerel Fillets

Mackerel Wet Brine

  • 2 Quarts Cold Water
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • Cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Pepper
  • 4 cloves Garic minced
  • 1 Shallot minced
  • 2 Bay Leaves whole
  • 8 oz Can of Pineapple Juice

Maple Balsamic Glaze

  • ¼ Cup Maple Syrup gently warmed in microwave
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Black Pepper
  • ¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional for heat)


  • Fillet the mackerel with a good fish fillet knife if necessary into 8 oz portions. Remove any bones.
    filleting a king mackerel
  • Rinse the mackerel under cold running water.

Brine the Mackerel Overnight

  • Mix the brine mixture ingredients together well and place some in the bottom of the covered baking dish, brining bucket or large plastic food storage bag.
    pouring pineapple juice into smoked mackerel brine
  • Place the mackerel fillets in the container and then pour more brine mixture until the fillets are mostly submerged.
  • Place the container of brining mackerel in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but preferably 6-8 hours overnight.

Rinse and Dry the Brined Mackerel

  • After the mackerel is finished brining, take the fillets out and rinse them off really well under cold running water.
    rinsing brined mackerel before smoking
  • Pat the mackerel fillets dry with paper towels, and place them on a wire rack to air dry.
    drying the brined and rinsed mackerel fillets before smoking
  • Keep them on the wire rack and place them back in the refigerator for about 1-2 hours while you start to get your grill or smoker ready.

Set up your Grill or Smoker

  • Light or turn on your smoker, grill or pellet grill and set up the temperature to 225°F. If using a grill, only light a small amount of charcoal or light a single burner on one side for indirect cooking
    charcoal grill set up for indirect heat
  • Brush the grill grates with oil to keep the mackerel from sticking. Ideally use a grill mat.
  • Add your wood chunks directly to the firebox of a smoker, or use chips in a smoker box, or pellets in a tube smoker or pellet grill.
  • Once smoke is being produced and the grill or smoker is at 225°F, put your mackerel on the indirect side, skin side down.
    placing mackerel fillets on pellet grill to smoke

Smoking the Mackerel

  • Once the mackerel is on the grill or smoker, prepare your maple balsamic glaze by mixing those ingredients well in a small microwave safe bowl.
  • Let the mackerel smoke at 225° for about 30 minutes before applying any glaze. Then brush a thin coating on every 20 minutes until the mackerel is finished smoking. You may need to microwave for 10-15 seconds occasionally to make the glaze thinner to brush on.
    basting smoked mackerel with maple glaze
  • Continue smoking the mackerel, skin side down, until the internal temperature of your mackerel fillets reach 140-145°F internally.
    smoked mackerel on a pellet grill
  • Remove the smoked mackerel from the smoker and serve immediately.
    smoked mackerel on a grill



Video courtesy of On the Water Media
Keyword Balsamic, BBQ fish, Brine, Camp Chef, Charcoal, electric smoker, Garlic, Glaze, hot smoked mackerel, king mackerel, mackerel, maple, Masterbuilt, Mustard, Pit Boss, smoked fish, smoked mackerel, smoked seafood, traeger