Smoked Salmon Spread
What is the difference between a spread and a dip? In my book, a spread should be thicker (not runny) and a dip should be able to be scooped up and eaten with a chip or a delicate cracker. You don’t want your spread dripping through your bread and making it soggy and you don’t want your chip to get stuck mid dip – like a tire in the mud. This smoked salmon and cream cheese spread is meant to slather on toast or a bagel for a simple but delicious breakfast. But, I will say, that I did turn my leftover spread into a dip when I had a friend over and needed a little something to serve in a pinch. I just added some mayonnaise and sour cream to the spread to make it creamier and easier to serve with veggies and crackers. I love transforming one dish to the next.
But getting back to this recipe it is so easy to make and saves for several days in the fridge (if you don’t eat it all). My daughter is a big fan of smoked salmon so I made it with her in mind. For adults with a palette for spice I like to add a little prepared horseradish to the spread for a kick. But that’s entirely optional. And this recipe calls for fresh dill but if you can’t find that or just want to use what’s in your pantry dried dill is fine, too. Just cut the amount by about half. Also, this is one of those recipes that easily ramps up if you are feeding a crowd. If that’s the case then use a larger food processor (not a blender) or make it in batches in a small food processor to ensure consistency.
As a cook’s note smoked salmon is what this dish is all about and it comes two ways – hot smoked and cold smoked. This recipe calls for hot smoked which is actually cooked and not cured. The brand we love the most is sold at Trader Joe’s in our neck of the woods and it’s a sockeye hot smoked salmon that is seasoned with peppercorns. The type of salmon you buy will make a difference in the overall flavor of the spread. Some come seasoned with different flavors so make sure you pick something you like. Also, if you find one that is more plain and just smoked salmon you will need to add some seasoning to the final spread (salt and pepper).
To serve a crowd or as a self-serve brunch place the smoked salmon spread in a bowl at the center of a tray and surround it with all the fixins like sliced tomatoes, a dish of capers, sliced red onions and sliced avocado. Get creative! Garnish with leftover fresh dill. Then also have a basket of toasted assorted sliced bagels to complete the buffet.
Ingredients for Smoked Salmon Spread
Step by Step
In a food processor add the softened cream cheese. Break it up evenly with your fingers to help get it going easier in the food processor once you start pulsing.
Add in the smoked salmon. Break it apart into even chunks over the cream cheese.
Then add in the chopped fresh dill. (if using horseradish this would be where to add a teaspoon or so).
Add the lemon juice and pulse to combine.
Taste the salmon spread and adjust as needed by adding more lemon juice (if too thick) or salt and pepper if needs more seasoning.
- 3 oz hot smoked salmon (Trader Joe's sockeye with peppercorn recommended)
- 3 oz cream cheese at room temp
- 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
- Lemon juice (1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons) or to taste
- Salt and pepper (as needed)
- Bagels or toast
- Sliced tomatoes (optional alongside)
- Sliced red onions (optional alongside)
- Caper berries (optional alongside)
- Add softened cream cheese to food processor in even chunks. Top with pieces of smoked salmon and fresh dill.
- Pulse to combine. Add squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Test for flavor and add more lemon juice and/or salt and pepper if desired.
- Place in a bowl and top with a few sprigs of fresh dill. Cover and chill until needed.