Understanding Costco Smoked Salmon (Hot & Cold) Best Picks, Price, Review
Smoked Salmon At Costco
Costco carries quite a few different smoked salmon options in their warehouse, and it can be quite confusing picking the right smoked salmon for your taste or your occasion.
In this guide, I will go over the various options available at Costco and go through the pros and cons of each pick and which is the best tasting, the best value, and even the best for parties.
4 Different Smoked Salmon Options at Costco
Each Costco smoked salmon choice serves a purpose, and I want to provide all the necessary information to help you make the perfect pick.
The smoked salmon that I will cover in this guide will be:
- Kirkland Signature Imported Smoked Salmon
- Kirkland Signature Wild Sockeye Smoked Salmon
- Kirkland Signature Smoked Salmon
- Foppen Norwegian Smoked Salmon Slices
Each smoked salmon option will also have a link to its full review.
Hot or Cold Smoked Salmon
The first thing I want to discuss with smoked salmon is the two different types. There are cold smoked salmon and hot smoked salmon.
While both are imparted with a delicious smoky flavor, they are actually quite different in taste and texture.
Hot Smoked Salmon
Hot Smoked salmon is placed in a wet brine (water mixed with salt, sugar, and spices) for 8-12 hours to help cure the salmon. The salmon is then smoked at a temperature of anywhere between 150°F and 225°F.
The goal is to get the hot smoked salmon to an internal temperature of 135°F.
The end result is a flaky piece of salmon that looks and behaves very similar to traditionally cooked salmon. The big difference will be the added smoke flavor that elevates the dish.
Cold Smoked Salmon
Cold smoked salmon is prepared similarly, but instead of in a brine, it will be dry-cured for days in order to remove a large amount of moisture.
Once the salmon has been appropriately cured, it will be smoked at temperatures below 85°F.
It is imperative the internal temperature never reaches above 85° or 90° where the salmon starts to cook. This process takes anywhere from 6-24 hours.
The salmon takes a significant smoky flavor, and the final texture is silky smooth and very similar to the texture of raw salmon.
Hot vs. Cold Salmon
To sum it up, cold smoked salmon is not cooked and will be closer to smoked sashimi or raw salmon.
Hot smoked salmon is cooked and will be nearly identical to traditionally cooked salmon but will be infused with smoky deliciousness.
Atlantic vs Wild Sockeye Salmon
The next significant difference between the Costco smoked salmon options will be the different salmon species used.
3 of the 4 options at Costco will be crafted with Atlantic Salmon, while only the Kirkland Signature Wild Sockeye Smoked Salmon will be made with, of course, Wild Sockeye Salmon.
Atlantic Salmon is the most common salmon eaten in America and probably the salmon that most people are familiar with. Atlantic Salmon is known for its mild, oily, and fatty flavor profile.
One thing to know is that Atlantic Salmon is actually farmed salmon, and only a small percentage (1% or so) is wild-caught.
Because the salmon is farmed, it is fed pellets instead of naturally feeding on ocean wildlife. This causes the salmon to be deficient in carotenoids, normally giving the flesh a red color.
Instead, the flesh of farmed Atlantic salmon is actually grayish and then dyed that traditional orange or “salmon” color.
Sockeye Salmon, on the other hand, is wild-caught and has a rich and complex flavor. When most people think of a salmon flavor, they think of sockeye salmon.
The flesh of wild Sockeye salmon will be thinner, firmer, and, just as importantly, will have a natural deep red color.
The bold taste of the wild salmon blends perfectly with the smoke flavor, and the red flesh looks beautiful whether hot or cold smoked.
Kirkland Signature Hot Smoked Salmon Product Information and Cost
Costco sells their Hot Smoked Salmon with Honey for $13.99 a pound, and the salmon is sold in approximately 0.7 – 1 pound packages. The price will range from about $10 to $14 per package.
Costco hot smoked salmon is crafted with Atlantic Salmon that is brined and then lightly glazed with honey. It is smoked with hickory hardwood.
Costco Hot Smoked Salmon Taste Test
Costco Kirkland Signature Hot Smoked Salmon is super delicious. The texture is very close to traditionally cooked salmon and will appeal to a larger variety of people.
The salmon filet also comes with the skin attached, which adds a ton of flavor and enjoyment to the dish.
The Hot Smoked Salmon Is Candied
Kirkland Signature’s hot smoked salmon has a candied chewy/crusty exterior that holds a soft, flaky, and smokey interior.
For flavor, there is a nice balance between the salmon and the smoke. No one taste overpowers the other, but I have to say the “touch of honey” is not noticeable.
Closest Texture To Cooked Salmon
This is an excellent option for those who love a real smoky flavor or those who may not necessarily like the rawish texture of cold smoked salmon. The salmon is delicious and pairs well with a bunch of other dishes.
Verdict: Most Smoky Flavor
Kirkland Signature Smoked Atlantic Salmon
Costco Atlantic Smoked Salmon Product Information
Costco will sell 24 ounces of the Kirkland Signature Smoked Atlantic Salmon for $19.99. The Costco smoked salmon comes in two 12-ounce packages and breaks down to a price of $13.33 per pound.
Costco's Atlantic Smoked Salmon Is Imported From Norway
This salmon will actually be Atlantic Salmon imported from Norway (Norwegian Salmon). The salmon is harvested only when it meets the Kirkland Signature standards of size, color, muscle tone, and fat content.
The salmon is cold-smoked over a unique blend of hardwoods (Beechwood and European Oak) over an extended period of time.
Atlantic Smoked Salmon Taste
The Kirkland Signature Norway Smoked Salmon is wonderfully smoky with a mild salmon flavor. Norway Salmon is already known for its light “salmon” flavor, which remains true even when it is smoked.
Regardless, this Costco smoked salmon is still extremely delicious, and I have a hard time with portion control when I am around this salmon.
Versatile With Great Texture
The texture of the salmon is fantastic. It is cold smoked salmon, so the texture is reminiscent of raw salmon but maybe slightly firmer.
While it lacks a bit of the traditional salmon taste, smoked salmon still goes great in various meals, including bagels and cream cheese, toast, and with scrambled eggs.
Costco Atlantic Cold Smoked Salmon Is A Bargain
The Kirkland Signature Cold Smoked Atlantic Salmon brings a ton of value to the table. This type of smoked salmon can easily go for $20+ at other grocery stores, especially considering the quality.
It’s a very tasty smoked salmon, and when combined with its price, the value will be hard to beat.
Verdict: Best Value
Costco Wild Sockeye Smoked Salmon Product Information and Cost
Costco sells 16 ounces of Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon for $21.99.
This, of course, is a price of $21.99 a pound and is quite a bit higher priced than the other Costco smoked salmon options.
The Only Costco Smoked Salmon To Be Crafted With Wild Sockeye Salmon
Compared to the rest of the Costco smoked salmon field, the differentiator is that this is Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon rather than farm-raised Atlantic salmon.
The smoked wild sockeye salmon will have a darker red hue and will be packed with salmon flavor.
This Kirkland Signature smoked sockeye salmon will be crafted with minimal ingredients, only using salt, brown sugar, and natural wood smoke.
Costco Wild Sockeye Salmon Has Superb Flavor
Costco smoked sockeye salmon is my favorite of the Costco salmon options. The Wild Sockeye salmon has a great flavor with just the right amount of saltiness and smokiness.
The sockeye salmon flavor sticks out even amongst the smokiness and can really elevate any dish the salmon is combined with.
I’ve had it with bagels and cream cheese, eggs, pasta, and even a salad, and the smoked salmon was the star of the show every time.
This is the best tasting smoked salmon and will turn any mundane meal into a delicious feast.
Best Overall Smoked Salmon At Costco
Costco Sockeye smoked salmon is by far the best tasting option they carry. The smoky flavors we all know and love are there as well as the strong traditional salmon flavors.
Verdict: Best Tasting
Foppen Norwegian Smoked SalmonProduct Information and Cost
Foppen’s 12 ounces of smoked salmon slices and honey mustard dill sauce sell for $10.99. This includes 3 different flavors such as traditional, dill, and pepper, as well as a nearly 2-ounce packet of sweet honey mustard dill sauce.
The package contains 10.2 ounces of smoked salmon and is sold at a per-pound price of $14.65.
This Costco smoked salmon comes pre-sliced in 2×2 squares and is designed to make easy and delicious appetizers for any occasion.
The three different flavors will provide options for guests, and the honey mustard dipping sauce is a great add-on.
Smoked Salmon Slices Taste Test
This Costco smoked salmon is made from Norwegian salmon, which is an Atlantic salmon. The Atlantic Salmon is known for its milder taste, and it shows with these Foppen Smoked Salmon slices.
The smoke flavor is fantastic, but the actual salmon flavor can be a little lacking.
The Flavored Crust Provides Nice Versatility
Foppen does make up for this with the dill and pepper-flavored salmon pieces. The two additional flavors are a nice touch that add a lot to the overall flavor and provide great variety.
The honey mustard sauce that comes with the smoked salmon is definitely on the sweet end. It is so sweet that it will overpower most of the other flavors besides the smokiness.
The Best Smoked Salmon For Parties And Events
Foppen’s sliced smoked salmon is in the mid-price range for smoked salmon, but the convenience of having the salmon pre-sliced and flavored is worth it.
These are exceptional for parties and will surely be a hit. This is my favorite Costco smoked salmon option when I have guests over.
Verdict: Best For Parties
Costco Smoked Salmon Recap
Each Costco smoked salmon options serve a purpose and have their own niche at Costco. To Recap:
Best for Parties: Foppen Norwegian Salmon Slices
Best Tasting: Kirkland Signature Wild Sockeye Salmon
Best Value: Kirkland Signature Atlantic
Most Smoky: Kirkland Signature Hot Smoked Salmon
Check out my Costco Salmon Guide if you want to learn more about Costco’s fresh and frozen salmon options.
Greg Larkin is the founder and managing editor of Costco Food Database, the premiere site for honest takes on all things Costco food. A self-proclaimed Costco super-fan since childhood, Greg turned his obsession in a mission to properly rate and review all of Costco’s delicious buys. When he’s not busy navigating Costco aisles, you can find Greg smoking Kirkland Signature meats, meal prepping, or perfecting his homemade jerky recipes.