Smoked whitefish dip is an appetizer hero packed with flaky smoked fish in a super creamy base. Spread it on Ritz crackers for the best summer starter ever!!
If you’ve ever lived on the coast of new England, Maryland, Louisiana, or Florida, you’ve probably had more than a few memorable fish dips in your life. Once you try smoked fish it kind of gets under your skin and you can’t stop thinking about it. It’s one of those foods that can quickly turn to an obsession, and I’m definitely under its spell. Now that we’re living in Wisconsin, we’ve discovered smoked whitefish from Lake Superior, and this smoked whitefish dip just had to happen.
If you’ve been hanging with me for any amount of time you’ve probably noticed I have a thing for smoked fish…
- Smoked Trout Dip
- Very similar to today’s dip, but with, well, trout. Just about any smoked fish, including salmon, will work.
- Smoked Salmon Mac and Cheese
- This is what I call a sleeper recipe. It’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had, but it just didn’t get the attention it deserved when it came on the scene. If you’re smart you’ll check it out.
- Smoked Salmon Platter
- A delicious brunch idea and very impressive for practically no work!
- Smoked Salmon Chowder
- The perfect example of how the smokiness of the fish permeates the whole dish and makes it so much better than an average chowder.
- Smoked Salmon Salad
- Level up your tuna sandwich ~ or this makes the perfect girl dinner, just spread it on Saltines!
- 7 Layer Smoked Salmon Dip Recipe
- A fun terrine style dip with colorful layers.
- Savory Smoked Salmon ‘Cheesecake’
- The way to share smoked fish with your holiday crowd.
what belongs in smoked whitefish dip
- smoked whitefish
- whitefish is a term that can refer to several different species of fish that are typically light-colored and have a mild flavor. I used Lake Superior whitefish, which compares to other mild and flaky fish varieties like cod, haddock, or halibut.
- cream cheese
- brick style cream cheese gives this dip its thick spreadable consistency. If you’d like a more dippable dip you can use whipped cream cheese for a lighter consistency.
- sour cream
- creamed horseradish
- gives this fish dip just the right kick.
- because everything needs a touch of acidity.
- fresh or dried.
- onion powder
some people (not me) might add…
Garlic, mustard, capers, minced celery, or onion.
I associate smoked fish and smoked fish dips with specific parts of the US. I’m sure there are other spots where this delicacy is popular, but these are the areas that have longstanding relationships with it:
- Pacific Northwest
- You guys love your smoked salmon dip made with local fish.
- Great Lakes region
- Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota are all known for smoked fish, particularly whitefish and lake trout. The fish are caught fresh from the lakes and smoked using a variety of aromatic woods, including hickory and applewood. Here in Madison you can find several types of smoked fish dip in the regular grocery stores, which inspired my homemade Smoked Trout Dip.
- New England
- Smoked fish has a long history in coastal New England going back to Native Americans and the early settlers. Smoked cod, mackerel, herring, and haddock are all common, and appear in chowders, fish cakes, etc. The inspiration for my Smoked Salmon Chowder and my Smoked Salmon Mac and Cheese came from our coastal New Hampshire days.
- New York City
- Known for smoked salmon, whitefish, and sturgeon which are staples of Jewish cuisine (often served on bagels with cream cheese.) Smoked whitefish salad or dip is a staple of Jewish delis. I’m born and raised in New York and this stuff is in my blood!
- Southern coastal states
- In Florida smoked fish dips are an obsession. My dad retired to the coast of Florida and I’ve spend many happy hours oceanside with a mojito in one hand and scooping up some amazing smoked mahi mahi dip with the other.
how to make easy smoked whitefish dip: step by step
step 1. Separate the smoked fish from the skin and bones
Make sure you remove all skin and small pin bones from your smoked fish. Set aside.
step 2. Blend dip base
Blend the base ingredients for your dip ~ I find this is easiest in a food processor, especially if your cream cheese is cold.
step 3. Fold in the smoked fish
I like to hand fold the smoked fish into my dip base. This gives the dip nice texture and you can see bits of fish in it. If you want a completely smooth texture you could blend the fish with the dip in step 2.
how to serve your smoked whitefish dip
- I suggest serving it with Ritz or Saltine crackers. This is how you’d most likely enjoy it if you were sitting on the patio of a seafood shack in the Florida Keys 🙂
- Personally? I love to eat this dip with Fritos® Scoops.
- A lower carb option is to serve with crisp veggie sticks for dipping.
- Toasted bread, toasted pita chips, or tortilla chips can also be used.
- For brunch whitefish dip is amazing spread on a toasted bagel (with red onion and capers.)
where to buy smoked fish
If you live on or near the coast, or in the Great Lakes region you’ll likely find smoked fish in the seafood area of your supermarket.
Otherwise there are lots of great resources online, just search for smoked fish. Mine is from Northern Waters Smokhaus.
Whitefish Dip Recipe
- 8 ounces cream cheese. I use brick style cream cheese, but you can use whipped if you prefer.
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup fresh dill
- 1 Tbsp creamed horseradish, or more to taste.
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 8 ounces smoked whitefish, skin and bones removed.
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Use a food processor to blend the cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, dill, horseradish, onion powder, and lemon juice. Pulse/process until there are no more lumps of cream cheese and everything looks smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Blend again and then scrape the dip into a bowl.
- I like to hand fold the smoked fish into my dip base. This gives the dip nice texture and you can see bits of fish in it. Break the fish into large chunks as you add it. Then give it a gentle stir to combine. If you want a completely smooth texture you could blend the fish with the dip in step 1, above.
- Chill the dip until ready to serve.