Arbroath Smokies – How To Make Them

Arbroath smokies originate in Arbroath – a town on the East coast of Scotland just north of Dundee. It's not the only thing that Arbroath is famous for, there's also the Declaration of Arbroath. Drawn up on April 6th 1320 and signed by 38 Scots lords it was a plea to the Pope to take Scottish independence from England seriously and the Pope duly accepted.

Here endeth the History lesson and now back to the smokies and what makes an Arbroath smokie?

The fish isn't anything special, you can use either haddock or whiting, what is special however is the way that the fish is prepared and the smoking process.

The fish is gutted and the head removed but the bellies and tail remains intact so that the two sides of the fish can be tied by the tail and suspended over rods for smoking.

If your smoker has rods or provision for hooks for cold smoking then lucky you. If not (and you're interested in doing more cold or warm smoking) then you could do worse than build your own smoker. With easy to follow homemade BBQ smoker plans all you need are some basic woodworking skills and you could be up and running in a couple of weeks.

So you've had the history lesson and here endeth the sales pitch!

Traditionally the smoking was done in barrels and the final product had a dark tarry appearance but this is really impossible to replicate without making the inside of your smoker dark and tarry too.


Both haddock and whiting have lean flesh so the brining need not take that long (compared with mackerel for example), just 30- 40 minutes in a 80% brine is enough for thorough salt penetration.

Click here to learn more about brining and how to make a brine of a certain concentration.

Brine Solution Concentrations

After brining the fish should be hung to dry for 2-4 hours


The smoking process can be broken down into three stages:-

  1. Cool smoke (86°F or 30°C) for 30 minutes – I do this with an electric element in my home made smoker.
  2. Warm smoke (160°F or 71°C) for a further hour – to maintain this temperature I use the frying pan over the gas burner.
  3. Add fresh sawdust and smoke for a further hour

It's this third stage that produces the really dense smoke and the deep color and at the end of the hour your Arbroath Smokies are ready.

Eat them warm or cold.

See Also:-

Hot Smoked Salmon
Hot Smoked Mackerel
Smoked Haddock Recipe For Fishcakes
Smoked Salmon Pasta Recipe
Smoked Trout Paté

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