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This smoked salmon pasta is easy and irresistibly tasty, pairing the smoky fish with a creamy sauce, lemon and fresh dill.

Smoked salmon pasta

It’s hard to tire of the rich, buttery goodness of smoked salmon: it’s ideal for pairing with everything from bagels to dip to appetizers. Here’s the newest way we’ve fallen hard for it: Smoked Salmon Pasta! Chewy al dente pasta is bathed with a creamy sauce punctuated by lemon zest, herbaceous dill, and smoked salmon. It’s hard not to be head over heels about this one! It’s extremely versatile: try it as an easy dinner, a fun brunch idea or picnic pasta salad.

Ingredients in this smoked salmon pasta

This smoked salmon pasta is designed as fast and easy meal, using a protein that’s totally no cook: smoked salmon! It makes it simple to throw into the pasta after you cook it, using cream cheese to make a quick and creamy sauce. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Protein: Cold-smoked salmon (aka lox, with a soft texture) or hot-smoked salmon (flaky and more like cooked fish)
  • Staples: Short cut pasta like penne, rigatoni, or farfalle, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
  • Dairy: Cream cheese, grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ingredients: Lemon zest, dill
Smoked salmon pasta

Tips for smoked salmon pasta

This recipe is as easy as they come: boil the pasta, add the sauce ingredients, stir it up and add smoked salmon! There are a few things to note about the method and what to expect. Here’s what to know:

  • Make sure to cook the pasta to al dente. This means “to the bite” in Italian: ideally when it’s tender with a small white speck inside when you bite into a piece. Boil it a few minutes less than the package instructions indicate, and start taste testing early!
  • Save the pasta water! This ingredient will be used to make a creamy sauce. It’s easy to forget (been there), so my mom shared a tip with us. Place a liquid measuring cup inside your strainer. When you go to dump the pasta, you’ll remember to remove the liquid!
  • The texture is best when served immediately. This smoked salmon pasta is best when the pasta is freshly cooked and it’s warm: especially since you use the pasta water to help create the sauce. You can eat it later, but it does get drier in texture. More on that below!
Smoked salmon pasta

Using hot vs cold smoked salmon

What’s the difference between hot smoked and cold smoked salmon? Hot smoking flavors the salmon and cooks it at the same time, whereas cold smoking imparts flavors without fully cooking it. Cold smoked salmon (lox) has a buttery, smooth texture, whereas hot smoked salmon is flaky and cooked through.

You can use either type of salmon in this pasta recipe. Cold smoked has a very strong, smoky flavor. But hot smoked salmon works great here with its flaky texture! You can also make homemade hot smoked salmon if you have an outdoor smoker: which really takes this fish to the next level.

Leftovers and storage instructions

Want to save this smoked salmon pasta for later, or make it in advance? Here’s what to know:

  • Make ahead tip: The best way to prep in advance? Measure out all your sauce ingredients and place them in a covered container in the fridge. Then cook the pasta and dump them in when you’re ready to serve.
  • Leftovers become dry with refrigeration. They store up to 3 days refrigerated, but you’ll notice the texture becomes drier. You can reheat the pasta with a splash of water on the stovetop, and revive the flavors with a pinch or two of salt.

And that’s it! We hope you love this smoked salmon pasta as much as we do. It disappeared very quickly at a dinner we made for my parents recently!

More smoked salmon recipes

Smoked salmon is ideal for quick and easy meals because it’s a healthy protein that requires no cooking! Here are some of our top smoked salmon recipes:

This smoked salmon pasta recipe is…

Pescatarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Smoked salmon pasta

Smoked Salmon Pasta

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x


This smoked salmon pasta is easy and irresistibly tasty, pairing the smoky fish with a creamy sauce, lemon and fresh dill.


  • 12 ounces penne (or other short-cut pasta like rigatoni, farfalle, etc.)
  • ½ cup cream cheese (1/2 8-ounce block)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 ounces smoked salmon*, flaked into pieces with a fork
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill


  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, testing a few minutes before the package instructions indicate. Using a glass liquid measuring cup, reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  2. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the cream cheese (broken into dollops), olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt and a few grinds black pepper. Pour in ½ cup of the pasta water and toss until a creamy sauce forms; adding a splash of additional water as necessary to come to a creamy consistency.
  3. Add the smoked salmon (flaked into pieces with a fork), lemon zest, and fresh dill. Gently mix, adding another splash of pasta water so that it’s creamy. Serve immediately. (Leftovers store up to 3 days refrigerated, but you’ll notice the texture becomes drier. You can reheat the pasta with a splash of water on the stovetop, and revive the flavors with a pinch or two of salt.)


*Use either cold-smoked salmon (aka lox, with a soft texture) or hot-smoked (which is flaky and more like cooked fish).

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta

Keywords: Smoked salmon pasta

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. Hi, I made this with some very good smoked wild salmon. Followed recipe exactly. I think it is kind of a waste of good smoked salmon. This is a pass for me.

  2. This is SOOOO good!!! So creamy and the smoked salmon compliments the cream cheese so well! All of your recipes are knocking it out of the park with my family!

  3. I made this for dinner tonight and the recipe was so easy and awesome. I substituted lime for the lemon and added the fresh squeezed lime juice. I used fresh roasted garlic instead of garlic powder and added fresh cilantro. This is definitely a keeper for making again. I made my own cold smoked salmon for this and my husband loved the flavor. I think next time I will add fresh chives and green onion too. Thank you for sharing your recipe. This dish is so full of flavor.