This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
This Easy Cold Smoked Salmon Dip brings elegant flavors together in one simple 15-minute snack. So creamy, vibrant, and light, it’s an impressive appetizer for any occasion!
Everything you love about a fancy brunch, but in a creamy dip
Thinking about hosting a brunch party for friends and family? Make sure you have the quiche and mimosas paired with easy brunch appetizers, like this Easy Cold Smoked Salmon Dip. It’s a fresh and creamy treat that’s simple to make!
This cold cream cheese-based dip is best served chilled and surrounded with dippables, like sliced cucumber, crackers, and homemade crostini. It’s one of my favorite cold party appetizers (along with my Cold Artichoke Jalapeño Dip) because it:
- Can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and pulled out of the fridge right before brunching or whenever you’re craving a light salty snack.
- Is easy to make in 15 minutes with a handful of ingredients.
- Tastes just like a salmon and cream cheese bagel with capers and dill!
Treat yourself and your guests to this impressive, yet simple snack. Everyone will love it!
Cold smoked salmon vs. hot smoked salmon vs. lox
These are the three kinds of smoked salmon commonly found in well-stocked grocery stores. But which one is best for a creamy salmon dip?
- Cold smoked salmon: This is the best kind of smoked salmon for a smoked salmon spread. According to Bon Appétit, cold smoked salmon is salt cured before smoking and never smoked above 80ºF. This gives it a buttery soft texture and a very light smoky flavor. It also has a beautiful orange-red color, which pops in the white creamy dip!
- Hot smoked salmon: Smoked above 120ºF, hot smoked salmon has a somewhat dry and flaky texture and a stronger smoky flavor.
- Lox: Since lox is just cured and not smoked at all, it’ll make the dip turn out completely different. Instead, save the lox salmon for cream cheese bagels, cheese and meat boards, or on crostini appetizers.
Ingredients you need
You don’t need much to make this fancy salmon dip! Just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients:
Cold smoked salmon is light, smooth, soft, and not excessively smoky. It’s chopped into small pieces to help it blend beautifully into the creamy and vibrant base.
You can usually find packaged smoked salmon in the seafood or deli section at most major grocery stores. It isn’t the most budget-friendly option but worth splurging on every now and then, especially if you’re serving salmon dip at special events. Don’t worry about the extras going to waste - you can use them to make my Smoked Salmon Appetizer Crostini.
Hot smoked salmon can be used as a substitute. It’s a rich and flaky alternative, adding more smoke and complexity to the dip. Any leftovers will last for up to 1 week in the fridge and can be used as a topping on salads, grain bowls, and scrambled eggs, or served on an extravagant meat and cheese board.
Cream cheese and sour cream
Yes, you need both the cream cheese and sour cream to make salmon dip. They both play very important parts:
- Cream cheese acts as the sturdy base. The flavor is tangy and indulgent, while the thick texture helps the consistency firm up in the fridge. I love the results it provides, which is why it’s my go-to base in plenty of other dip recipes, like my Creamy Green Olive Dip.
- Sour cream is a tangy, creamy, and bright finisher that smooths out the texture. Without it, the consistency of the dip would be too firm and the flavor unbalanced. Feel free to use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It works just the same, as proven in my Jalapeño Greek Yogurt Dip.
Not heavy in the slightest, the salmon and dairy together end up in a happy marriage of bright and elevated flavors.
These are the same toppings you’d find on a lox and bagel brunch board! This smoked salmon dip is given a boost with capers, fresh dill, chives, and lemon juice. They’re the secret to a well-rounded and brightened-up snack.
How to make easy cold smoked salmon dip
Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to make creamy salmon dip from scratch:
Step 1: Finely chop the smoked salmon.
Step 2: Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until it's light and fluffy. Then add the sour cream and beat until smooth.
Step 3: Add all of the ingredients into the whipped sour cream and cream cheese.
Step 4: Thoroughly stir everything together, then cover and chill the dip for at least 1 hour.
Make the best dip by following these helpful tips:
Chill the salmon first
Keep the salmon in the fridge until right before you chop it up and mix it into the dip. It’s easier to chop into small pieces when it’s cold and firm.
Soften the cream cheese
Take the cream cheese out of the fridge 1 hour before whipping. This way, it softens and is easier to mix with the other ingredients. Skip this step and you could risk having chunks of cream cheese throughout the dip!
Use an electric mixer
If you don’t have a mixer, you can make this dip using a whisk or a silicone spatula and some elbow grease.
A lot of quick smoked salmon dip recipes are made using a food processor. I tried this and didn’t like the texture at all! I achieved the ideal texture by hand-chopping the ingredients and including actual chunks of salmon rather than crushing it.
Give it time to chill
Once it’s ready, the dip needs to chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Have patience - this extra time is worth it! Over the hour, all of the flavors come together and the texture thickens up into a spreadable masterpiece.
Customize the flavor
While the flavors here are already beautifully balanced and bright, use these suggestions to play around with the ingredients and find your favorite customizations:
- Extra herby: Add more fresh herbs, like green onion or parsley.
- Savory: Stir a finely minced shallot into the dip.
- Instead of sour cream: Use crème fraîche. Made by whipping heavy cream and buttermilk together, it’s a creamier alternative that will give the dip an even richer consistency.
- If you don’t have smoked salmon: Use canned tuna or the leftover cooked salmon in your fridge instead.
What to serve with salmon dip
Surround the bowl of dip with all kinds of goodies for dipping! It’s fantastic with homemade crostini, as well as chopped celery, carrots, cucumber slices, radishes, and crackers.
Make ahead and storing
Save plenty of time by making this dip up to 3 days in advance. Just keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
To store, keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the dairy can become gritty upon thawing.
It's time to cook!
Okay, friend! It's your turn to make a batch of this delish dip. When you do, leave a comment below so I can hear your thoughts!
Easy Cold Smoked Salmon Dip
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup sour cream
- 4 ounces cold smoked salmon, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- salt to taste
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add sour cream and beat until smooth.
- Add remaining ingredients and thoroughly stir to combine.
- Cover and chill for at least one hour.
- Serve with veggies and crackers.
- This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.