Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball


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This smoked salmon cheese ball is always a party favorite. It’s a simple mix of smoked salmon, cream cheese, sour cream, red onion, and lemon pepper, then rolled in chopped pecans and herbs. It’s soft, creamy, savory, smokey and highly addictive! Your guests will love it.

Salmon cheese ball on a plate surrounded by crackers.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram stories, you might have gotten a sneak peek of my mom’s famous smoked salmon cheese ball. She whips up this appetizer every holiday, and I gotta say, this salmon recipe never fails. It’s the perfect dip that is a blend of savory, creamy, and crunchy ingredients.

Just layer crackers or veggie sticks around the ball and you’ve got one beautiful looking dish to serve at your next holiday party!

What Type Of Salmon To Use

For this recipe, you can use either fresh or canned salmon. I prefer fresh salmon as I feel it has a better texture and flavor. But, if you’re looking for a simple and quick alternative, then canned salmon is the way to go.

Normally, my mom uses homemade smoked salmon that comes straight from Alaska – thanks to my aunt. But if you don’t have smoked salmon you can easily create your own. Just add one teaspoon of liquid smoke to the mixture.

Salmon cheese ball ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball Ingredients

Throw this scrumptious ball together with a few easy ingredients.

  • Cream Cheese: This is a good chunk of the recipe that creates a thick creamy texture – perfect for dipping!
  • Smoked Salmon: The smokiness adds a depth of flavor.
  • Sour Cream: Makes the mixture extra creamy and softer to scoop.
  • Red Onion: Pairs nicely with the smoked salmon.
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning: Helps brighten up the flavor with a little zing.
  • Pecans: Creates the perfect crunchy outer layer.
  • Fresh Herbs: Adds freshness to the entire dish. You can never go wrong with more herbs right?
Salmon cheese ball ingredients all mixed together in bowl.

How To Make Smoked Salmon Cheeseball

The best thing about this recipe is that it comes together in just 10 minutes! Simply mix together the ingredients and roll them into ball. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, salmon, red onion, and lemon pepper to a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix everything together with your hands, or a stand mixer on a low setting.
  3. Form the cheese mixture into a ball with your hands. Note that the cheese will be soft at first, but will firm up once it’s been chilled.
  4. Mix together your chopped pecans and herbs. Then place them in a single layer on a plate or cutting board.
  5. Roll the cheese ball into the pecan mixture, until the entire outside is coated.
  6. Serve immediately with crackers or veggie slices, or refrigerate until desired.

Note: Make sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the canned salmon so that there won’t be excess liquid.

Smoked salmon cheese ball rolled in pecans and herbs.

Get Creative With The Outer Layer

Aside from using a layer of pecans, you can also add chopped almonds or walnuts. If you want to switch up the herbs, parsley and dill taste great paired with smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon cheese ball with crackers.

More Salmon Recipes

If this appetizer got you hooked onto salmon, here’s a few other healthy salmon recipes to make this season.

Salmon cheese ball rolled in pecans.

Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball

5 from 31 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This smoked salmon cheese ball recipe is always a party favorite! It's a highly addictive, creamy appetizer recipe everyone will love.


  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 ounces smoked salmon, or regular salmon plus 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (see notes above)
  • 2 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs (chives, parsley, dill, etc), chopped


  • Add the cream cheese, sour cream, salmon, red onion, and lemon pepper to a mixing bowl.
  • Use your hands to mix everything together. Alternatively, you could use a stand mixer.
  • Form the cheese mixture into a ball with your hands. The cheese will be soft, but it will firm up once chilled. If you feel it's too soft to make a ball, you can chill it for 30 minutes.
  • Mix together your chopped pecans and fresh herbs. Place them in a single layer on a plate or cutting board.
  • Roll the cheese ball into the pecans, until the entire outside is coated.
  • Serve immediately with crackers or veggie slices or refrigerate the cheese ball, until desired. The flavor becomes more intensified the longer the ball sits in the fridge. So you can certainly make this the day before it's needed.

Lisa’s Tips

  • I’ve tried several brands of liquid smoke and this one is far and away my favorite.
  • You can also make this dairy-free by using a vegan cream cheese spread.


Calories: 227kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 346mg | Potassium: 152mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 606IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cheese Ball, Cream Cheese Ball, Salmon Cheese Ball, Smoke Salmon Cheese Ball
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Wow! Just made half a batch. I used homemade freshly canned fish & liquid smoke! The mixture was soft even after leaving in fridge. (I’m thinking the fish had too much moisture.) I still managed to roll in nuts & chives & shape on a plate to serve w my appetizers! Wow! Yum! I’ll be making this again & again!5 stars

  2. Hi Lisa

    I want to make your smoked salmon ball and will require some liquid smoke. I followed your link for the liquid smoke which shows 2 bottles, but I only need one. Problem is, your link shows 2 different smoke flavors – Hickory and Mesquite. If I’m only purchasing one, which flavor do you recommend? Thanks in advance….and I will write my review as soon as I make this delicious cheese ball for New Years Eve celebrations!

    1. The flavor is really personal preference, but I probably opt for the hickory one more often. Enjoy the recipe!

  3. I now have made this recipe on three occasions and it was a hit every time. I enjoy checking out what you share with us and have shared your website with many people. The last time I shared the Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball I took several copies of the recipe with me. All the copies were taken and those who did said they were going to try this also. Thanks so much for your time and effort.5 stars

    1. So happy you love this recipe, Wendell! And thank you for sharing the Downshiftology love with your family and friends. That means so much!

  4. Made this for a Thanksgiving app and it was a huge hit. My mom texted me the next day while she was snacking on the leftovers of it and said it was her favorite thing of yesterday’s meal! It is so flavorful, pretty, and easy to make! I used whipped cream cheese for ease of mixing without having to let the cream cheese soften and it worked perfectly. Also used the wild Nova Scotia smoked salmon from Trader Joe’s and it worked perfectly. Another amazing recipe!5 stars

  5. This is my favorite recipe for smoked salmon. It works with commercially available and home made smoked salmon…and other smoked fish as well. My midwestern family is not excited about eating smoked salmon by itself, but enthusiastic about this recipe! I love the way it can be scaled within the recipe, so I am not having to do the math myself. I know that Lisa has done the experimenting and I can rely upon her results to make successful dishes. This one is absolutely a celebration of our iconic Alaskan product. It is the most requested recipe after a pot luck. Thanks so much!5 stars

  6. Love the recipe first time doing it for Christmas and everyone in my family was raving about it!!! It was very delicious!!! Going to do it again for sure :) 5 stars

    1. Lisa is this recipe made with salmon from the can? The link shows one salmon and photo pictures the canned one?!?
      Thank you and Happy Holidays!!

      1. Hi Marijana – yes, it is. Though you can use either canned salmon (plus smoke flavoring) or a package of already smoked salmon (then you wouldn’t need the smoke flavoring). Happy Holidays!

  7. Looks super yummy! Can I use can salmon ? It would be one of my appetizers for New Years. 

    Thank you for sharing this yumminess 5 stars

  8. Worked out great! I didn’t have red onions or chive but thinly chopped green onion to the same volume. I’m not a fan of nuts but coated the outside with dry dill weed. It was a hit! Thanks for the guidance.  I cured and hot smoked my Salmond, pulled it apart and mixed it all up. Yum5 stars

  9. Thanks for the recipe!  I plan to make it Christmas Eve but my son can’t have the nuts. Any suggestions for a crust alternative?

  10. I don’t see anywhere in the recipe where it states how to prep/treat the salmon. Surely it must either be put through a meat grinder or pulverized in a food processor. I have leftover homemade both smoked salmon AND gravlox.

    1. Hi Gregory – you can see in the process photo above that the cooked smoked salmon is just placed in the bowl with the other ingredients. It flakes apart and into small pieces when you mix everything together. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  11. I love smoke salmon, sound delicious made into a cheeseball, this will be my go 2 snack for the new year, Thank you.5 stars

  12. Thanks for recipe Lisa! Will try for Christmas. If using fresh salmon and recipe calls for 12oz, exactly how much salmon should I buy? 1/2 pound? Or less? 

    1. Hi Dana – a half a pound of salmon would be 8 ounces, so you’d need a bit more. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  13. The absolute best appetizer for holidays, wine and cheese nights, etc! So easy and so delicious, have made for two thanksgivings now and everyone LOVES! 5 stars

  14. Love this recipe, I’ve just made a simplified version! By that I mean I mixed salmon with cream cheese and ate it straight out of the bowl. Most expensive depression meal I’ve ever had, 10/105 stars

  15. This turnes out AMAZING! I used slightly less salmon than what was called for and it still turned out yummy. It stayed fresh for a few days, too. Great appetizer!5 stars

  16. I made this for watching my college football games and it was OUTSTANDING! I didn’t roll it in a ball but just kept it in the container. I used every bit of it during the weekend and didn’t feel guilty about not taking it to my family event!So darn good!5 stars

  17. We had it for New Year’s Eve and it was easy to make and so delicious and impressive! We halved the recipe and it was the perfect amount. Thanks for uncomplicated, tasty recipes!5 stars

    1. Hi Sacha – If you don’t have access to liquid smoke, that is perfectly fine! You can do with out it – just will have a regular salmon slavor instead of a smokey one.

  18. I am making this for a Christmas party on Sunday. Can I make it two days before?  Also, I can’t find the video where your mother was making it. 

    1. Hi Glenda – Yes! You can store this in the fridge for a few days :) Unfortunately I don’t have an official video of my mother making it. It was an Instagram story I had featured awhile back!

  19. I am in love. I cut the recipe in half and I used kite hill cream cheese to make it dairy free. I added more lemon pepper than the recipe called for, but that is just my taste. So delish and so easy. I have to stop myself from eating it all in one sitting 🤣 I had nothing special to make this for, but I couldn’t stop thinking about since I saw it posted. LoL5 stars

    1. Hi Nicolette – I wanted to finish the whole thing myself too! I’m glad you enjoyed this special recipe :)

    1. Hi Debora – You can definitely try, but it will change the taste of the cheese ball! If you try it, do let me know how it ends up. I’m curious :)

  20. OMG! A Salmon Cheese Ball? Now this is speaking my language! What a perfect appetizer for any gathering, especially during the Holidays!5 stars

    1. Hi Katie – Yay! Glad to hear you and the family loved this recipe. Great to keep on hand for the holidays :)

  21. This is delicious, and using the same inner mix, I can create so many different outer layers. Such a simple and versatile cheese ball recipe. :)5 stars

  22. I just made this smoked salmon cheese ball and it is FANTASTIC! It was quick and easy to assemble, and looks absolutely beautiful. This recipe’s a keeper!5 stars

    1. Hi Denay – I’m so glad to hear you loved this recipe! I enjoy it every holiday, but I’m thinking I need to make it more often :)