Smoked Fish Dip

Smoked Fish Dip

This classic smoked fish dip is made with Kingfish (Spanish Mackerel) that’s lightly pickled and smoked. This easy fish dip recipe comes together quickly in the food processor. You can also use store-bought smoked fish if you don’t have time to do it yourself.

fish fillets

In Florida, there are as many varieties of smoked fish dips as there are countries represented at Epcot — probably more.  And  it’s everywhere — in restaurants, supermarkets, seafood retailers.  It would not surprise me at all to see someone selling homemade batches out of a cooler on the side of the road.   Some people go with a chunky, vegetable laden version, others pump it up with hot sauce, some are very smoky.  And I’ll warn you right now, at least once or twice, you’re going to come across a bone.  Because real fish have bones.

pickling spice

For as long as I can remember, my favorite — I’m talking all-time, hands-down, most swoon-worthy fish dip came from Joe’s Riverside Grille in Pompano Beach.  Chef and owner Joe Cascio knows how to prepare seafood and his fish dip was legendary.  He has since moved (sniff!) to Athens, Georgia and has a new restaurant endeavor, Square One Fish Company.  I know he’ll do well there, but his departure has left me in a lurch without his dip.  

fish and pickling spice

Undaunted, I worked with my sources to come up with a pretty close rendition of his fabulous spread.  It starts with kingfish fillets.  The fish goes into a pickling bath for an hour or so before it’s slow smoked.  

Newsletter Signup
Join our community of food lovers!

Get my latest recipes, helpful kitchen tips and more good things each week in your inbox.

wood chips
fish on the grill

We used cherry wood chips, but I’m told apple or hickory would work too — just don’t use mesquite – it’s way too strong for the delicate fish.

smoking on the grill
smoked fish

We smoked the fish over indirect heat, which means that the burner under the smoker box was the only one that was lit.  The fish was set on the opposite side of that burner and was infused with the smoke for a good 2 – 2 1/2 hours.  See the gorgeous color it takes on?  

remove skin from smoked fish
fish in a food processor

And because it’s not a direct cooking method, the fish stays moist and tender.  Remove the skin and then transfer the fish fillets to a food processor.  Pulse 3-4 times to break down the fish a little.

parsley and fish in a food processor

Then add the seasonings.  Jalapeno, cilantro, white pepper, mayonnaise and lemon juice.  Ok, I also added lemon zest — I can’t help it.  I love this stuff!  But you don’t need much… Half a teaspoon will add a brightness to the dip.

pureed fish
mayonnaise lemon and jalapeno in food processor
Smoked Fish Dip in a food processor

Whiz around in the food processor until smooth.  And here comes the hard part.  You have to wait until the next day to serve it.  The flavors will marry and become more pronounced.   Trust me, it’s worth the wait.  Joe served his dip without any embellishments, but I really like mine with tangy pickled onion and some extra sprigs of cilantro and jalapeno.

Smoked Fish Dip on a cracker
Smoked Fish Dip with pickled onions

More seafood appetizers you might like:

Smoked Fish Dip with a cocktail
Smoked Fish Dip on cracker minus a bite

More easy dip recipes you might like:

Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.

Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.

We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!

Print Pin
4.82 from 11 votes

Smoked Fish Dip

Make this dip a day ahead of when you want to serve it. The flavors are deeper when it has a chance to set up.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword fish dip, smoked fish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 16


  • 1 1.5 ounce jar pickling spice
  • 1 ½ pounds kingfish fillet skin-on
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro chopped
  • 1 lemon zested and cut in half
  • 2 jalapeños finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • crackers for serving


special equipment

  • grill or smoker
  • cherry or apple wood chips
  • smoker box


  • In a dish large enough to hold the fish fillets, add the pickling spice and several cups of water. Add the fish and ensure that the water covers the fillets. Set aside for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Prepare the grill or smoker for indirect cooking (one side of the grill has heat and the other side doesn’t) Add the dry wood chips to the smoker box. Set the wood chips over the heat source on the grill and heat until it reaches about 250-275 degrees and begins to smoke. Add the fish fillets, skin side down to the opposite side of the grill that doesn’t have the heat on. Smoke the fish for 2-2 1/2 hours until the skin has taken on an amber color and the flesh is cooked through. Transfer the fish to a baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.
  • Remove the skin from the fish and discard. Add chunks of the fish to a food processor and pulse 1-2 times. Add the mayonnaise, cilantro, lemon zest, juice of half the lemon, jalapeños, salt and pepper. Pulse several more times until the dip is smooth.
  • Transfer the dip to a food storage container and refrigerate overnight for the flavors to marry.
  • Serve with crackers and pickled onions, sliced jalapeños and fresh cilantro for garnish.


Feel free to add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce either to the dip itself, or to top off every luscious bite!


Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 130mg | Potassium: 226mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 4.7mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 0.9mg

Don’t Forget To “Pin It” For Later!

The BEST recipe for Smoked Fish Dip in Florida! Make it a day ahead so the flavors will marry! Delicious with pickled onions and jalapenos!

Leave a Reply

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

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    Hi Lisa,

    I am so excited to make this over the weekend! I had a smoked fish dip at an upscale restaurant a while back, and I’d love to recreate it at home. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    great idea, I love those dips. I always wanted to try to smoke fish in our weber bbq. This can get me started

  3. 5 stars
    You fancy! 🙂 My dad was a great fisherman and he also smoked his salmon. Your recipe is amazing from beginning to end.

  4. 5 stars
    Minor detail, but the fish filets in the picture are king fish as in King Mackerel, not Spanish Mackerel. Spanish have yellow dots on the sides and are smaller fish. That said, I enjoyed the recipe. I added Smoked Tabasco sauce.

    1. I’m sorry – you’re correct – I guess that’s why I’m the “former” wife of an angler. Will make the change. Thanks for the catch.

  5. Sorry, but Tony Sindaco’s smoked Fish Dip (Sunfish grill, before the divorce) was the best in town.

    1. Now you tell me??? Let’s track down Tony!

  6. paizleysun says:

    5 stars
    I added minced green onion and used a red jalapeno for color! Also added some dill pickle juice and sour cream. tasty! Thanks!

    1. Sounds great! I’ll have to give it a go on my next batch. Thanks for sharing!