Charter fishing for Salmon in Chicagoland can provide for some excellent salmon catches and plenty of fish for multiple recipes. Now that we’ve been filling the freezers with fresh Lake Michigan salmon, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite recipes with you. 
Chicagoland Salmon Fishing Recipes
Salmon Salad

Salmon fishing in Chicagoland can provide for some excellent salmon catches and plenty of fish for multiple recipes. Now that we’ve been filling the freezers with fresh Lake Michigan salmon, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite recipes with you. 

Some recipes are smoked so if you don’t have access to a smoker; many meat shops will smoke your salmon for you. If you fished with us or in the NE Illinois area we recommend Orchard Prime Meats to take your fish. If you’re coming from Chicago, we recommend Hagan’s. Both usually require 10 pounds minimum to smoke for you. 

Simple Dry Cure Hot Smoked Salmon

What’s Needed: 

  • 6-10 Salmon Fillets
  • 2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Black Pepper

Mix the brown sugar, kosher salt, garlic, and black pepper in a bowl. 

  1. Place a layer of salmon fillets on a cookie sheet or in a foil pan.
  2. Rub the dry cure mix on the salmon fillets and cover with foil or wax paper
  3. Place the next layer of salmon fillets and do the same covering with foil until all fillets are equally covered with the dry rub
  4. Refrigerate overnight or 12 hours
  5. Rinse the excess rub from the fillets and let sit in the refrigerator or a cool indoor space on open wire racks with good air flow until the pellicle forms (thin sticky film that forms as the surface dries).
  6. Once the pellicle is formed on the surface place in a smoker at 225 degrees. Time to smoke will vary based on the thickness of the fillet. Typically 1.5 - 4.0 hours or until the core temperature is 140 degrees. 

Optional - Before smoking sprinkle a seasoning of choice on them. We’d stay away from salty spice blends and opt for something sweeter. Another option is to baste the salmon while smoking with maple syrup or honey. 

Smoked Fish Spread

This one works with any fish, but is especially good with salmon or trout. It’s lip smacking good and you’ll be the hit of the party if you show up with this one. This is one of our favorite Chicagoland Salmon Fishing Recipes for a party favor.

What is needed:

  • 1 LB smoked fish (skin and bones removed)
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil Mayo or Regular Mayo
  • 1 - 2 oz. Chopped fresh chive or green onion
  • 1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp. Paprika or smoked paprika

Place all ingredients in a bowl and use a electric mixer to thoroughly mix all ingredients until it is smooth enough to spread. We prefer spending onto water crackers, but any will do. 

Optional - Rather than chopped chive or green onion, try it with fresh chopped poblano or jalapeño peppers. 

Salmon Gravlax 

Courtesy of:

PREP TIME 15 mins


TOTAL TIME 48 hrs 15 mins


  • 2 center-cut pieces (1 pound each) skin-on boneless salmon, both cut from the wide, thick end of a fillet
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh dill sprigs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped, to garnish
  • 1/4 cup capers, to garnish
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to garnish
  • Extra dill, to garnish


  • Remove any pin bones from the salmon: 
  • Place the salmon flesh side up on a cutting board. With your fingertips, feel along the flesh to see if there are any fine pin bones. Use tweezers, a strawberry huller, or another pincher to gently pull them out.

Mix the curing mixture:

In a bowl, combine the salt, brown and granulated sugar, and fennel seeds. Mix well.

Sprinkle half salmon with half curing mixture:
Sprinkle some of the curing mixture down the middle of a 12-inch glass or ceramic baking dish and sprinkle some of the dill on top. Set one of the pieces of salmon, skin side down, on top of the salt mixture. Sprinkle half the remaining salt mixture and half of the remaining dill over the flesh of the fish. Press lightly so the mixture sticks.

Set the other piece of salmon, skin side up, on top of the first piece:
Lay the second piece so that the thicker part of the top piece sits on the thinner part of the bottom piece, forming flat, even rectangle. Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture and dill over the top.

Cover and press the salmon:
Cover the whole dish with plastic wrap. Set another, smaller baking dish on top of the salmon and weight it down with two heavy cans, a garden brick, or any other heavy weight.
Refrigerate and cure for 2 days:
Flip the fish after 24 hours, so that the top piece is now on the bottom. This helps the fish cure evenly.

Rinse the curing mixture off the gravlax:
When ready to serve, remove the fish from the baking dish. Some liquid will have collected on the bottom; this is normal. Rinse the fish well with cold water, rubbing off the curing mixture with your fingers. Dry the fish well with paper towels.

Slice the gravlax:
Set one of the pieces of fish, skin side down, on a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, slice the fish as thinly as you possibly can while holding the blade at an extreme diagonal. Do the same with the other piece of fish.

Serve the gravlax:
Arrange the slices overlapping on a platter, curling them as you set them down. Sprinkle with red onion, capers, and remaining dill, and garnish with lemon. Leftovers will keep for about a week.

Coconut Coho Salmon

This is a simply excellent way to try something new with coho salmon. It doesn't work as well with store bought salmon as it is farm raised and contains too much fat. However, wild caught Lake Michigan Coho Salmon is perfect.

What’s needed - Fresh Coho Salmon, Milk, Eggs, Panko Coconut Breading, Sweet Chili Sauce, and a pan or deep frier with peanut oil or other cooking oil. 

  • Debone, skin off, and cut the coho into 3-4” pieces.
  • Follow the directions on the Panko package to prepare the salmon chunks.
  • Deep fry at 350 for 5 minutes.
  • Dip in Sweet Chili sauce for the perfect combo with the coconut salmon.

Salmon Salad 

This one comes from an old book “The Freshwater Angler Cleaning and Cooking Fish”. It is a great alternative to hot meals using some of the wonderful Chicagoland caught salmon.


  • 1 cup uncooked small shell macaron Salmon Salad
  • 2 cups flaked cook salmon deboned
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green or poblano pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon grated onion
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Two pinches of black pepper
  • Lettuce (optional)

Prepare macaroni as directed on package. Rinse under cold water and drain. In a medium bowl, combine macaroni, salmon, olives, green pepper, and onion. In a small bowl, blend oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the salad, tossing to coat. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Personally, I’ll serve this over a bed of lettuce.

For more Chicagoland Salmon Fishing Recipes click here

Featured image courtesy of [The Freshwater Angler Cleaning and Cooking Fish] Creative Publishing International

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Frequently called the "Best Chicago Fishing Charters" in Chicagoland and proudly serving the Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois areas for over 40 years, Captain Jerry Nied has been chartering the finest of fishing trips. Spendthrift Charters is one of the largest fishing charter fishing vessels available on Lake Michigan today. We currently have three 39-ft Tiara ships to satisfy every fishing need, no matter the size of the group. Captain Jerry is a full time U.S. Coast Guard and licensed captain. Fishing charters are available 7 days a week. Call now for the next available Chicago fishing charter departure time!

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