5-Ingredient Smoked Fish Dip

With smoky flavor & savory top notes, Smoked Fish Dip is an easy & tasty appetizer.  Perfect for events from picnic to brunch to cocktail party. 

Smoked Fish Dip with crackers and beer

Is there any food course that can contend with dessert for fun? If there is, I’d say it’s the appetizer! And this Smoked Fish Dip Appetizer is not just fun, it’s a crowd pleaser. Set out a tray with some crackers and watch the guests gather round!

And did I mention it’s easy–with only five ingredients? 

Even better, this dip is perfect for a wide variety of occasions from picnic to cocktail party. I make mine with Lake Michigan Whitefish, which I can buy locally, but it should work with almost any smoked fish.

Smoked Fish Dip with crackers

Why You’ll Love This!

Flavorful. Even though this recipe is simple, it packs a big taste punch. Already tasty smoked fish rises to new heights with a few simple additions.

Easy. With just five ingredients (six if you count pepper) and simple instructions, this dish is quick and easy. The only thing at all challenging is deboning the fish.

Versatile. This recipe is perfect for so many occasions from picnic to cocktail hour! We’ve even eaten it for a quick dinner (shhh).

Smoked Fish-dip-ingredients

Dip Ingredients

What You’ll Need

Ingredient Notes

  • Cream Cheese.  This adds creamy richness and holds everything together. I prefer to use a name brand since I’ve sometimes had poorer results with off brands.. Lite cream cheese is fine.
  • Dried Dill.  Adds flavor.  Fresh is fine if you have it.  For fresh herbs, the standard substitution is to use three times the amount of dried.
  • Lemon Juice.  Balances the flavors.
  • Chopped Onion. Adds flavor.  If you’re in a hurry you can use a tablespoon of dried minced onion.
  • Black Pepper.  Adds flavor.
  • Smoked Whitefish.  This is your main flavor ingredient!  Other flakey smoked fish can be substituted.

Special Tools

  • No special tools are needed.

Step by Step Directions

Mix cream cheese until smooth, then add remaining ingredients except fish.  Mix until well combined.

Add dill to creamed cream cheese

Stir in smoked fish by hand.

Stir in fish by hand

Transfer to serving dish and serve with crackers or other dippers.

Two pieces of smoked fish

What type of smoked fish is best for dip?

Almost any type of smoked fish will be good in this, though I prefer a white fish. I have heard of people making walleye dip, smoked trout dip, maceral dip, mullet dip (I don’t even know what a mullet is!) and more. If it’s fish and it flakes, you can use it! You can even make smoked salmon dip, although that would change the flavor slightly.

The one caution I’ll share on choice of fish is to be aware of any advisories associated with your selection. Per the State of Michigan bulletin, Lake Michigan Whitefish is currently recommended for consumption no more than 6 times a year (12 for Lake Superior sourced whitefish). It’s sad that we’ve compromised such a wonderful resource as the Great Lakes. A smoked salt water fish is likely to fare better.

Removing the fat on the fish will reduce many (but not all) types of contaminants and reduce any fishy flavor.

Remove fat from fish

How to Serve

As I mentioned, one of the benefits of this recipe is that it’s so versatile.

I’d add it to almost any brunch or buffet table. It’s classy enough to go elegant and folksy enough to be at home for a casual event. Picnic or potluck? Set the dip container in ice if it will be out for long. It’s also perfect for appetizers before dinner.

Just doing cocktail hour without dinner? This works very well since it’s hearty enough to balance out the drinks! No drinking on an empty stomach here!

We’ve even been known to simply have fish dip on crackers and a salad for a quick dinner on a busy evening or lunch time. It would also be lovely rolled into a tortilla with some chopped lettuce and tomatoes for a unique smoked fish wrap sandwich.

Smoked Fish Dip with crackers


This is probably most commonly served with crackers—take out your favorite! It has enough flavor to stand up to a whole grain cracker which means it’s a good opportunity to go healthier. If you may be serving someone who is gluten intolerant, don’t forget to include some gluten free crackers. Pita chip and sturdy vegetables are other good dippers.

A favorite cracker alternative of mine is toasted sliced French bread (crostini). Tired of paying $5 for a little box of crackers? Give it a try!


Want to shake things up a little? I also have a smoked fish chevre that uses goat cheese!

And if you prefer your fish unsmoked, I have a tasty salmon spread that uses canned salmon. It’s even good on cucumber slices.

I love that this dip is super flavorful despite its simplicity. But feel free to add some chopped veggies if the spirit moves you.  I’d never shoot down an add-a-veggie impulse!

slice up cream cheese blocks to soften faster

Tips & FAQs

If you’ve forgotten to soften the cream cheese, I have a new way to do this quiekly (’cause guess how often I forget!) that I think works better than the microwave. I slice it into narrow strips, then let them sit out for 30 minutes to an hour (sometimes I’ll debone the fish while I wait). It reduces the softening time dramatically!

The only thing about this recipe that might be challenging is deboning the fish. Did you know that fish bones come in patterns that vary by type of fish? This means that once you do some initial analysis, the rest will be easier! 

Smoked Fish Dip served with beer

Friday #DairyMonth Recipes

Smoked fish dip with crackers

Smoked Fish Dip

With smoky flavor & savory notes, Smoked Fish Dip is an easy & tasty appetizer.  Perfect for events from picnic to brunch to cocktail party. 
Author: Inger
4.60 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Additional Time (De-boning fish) 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 159 kcal


  • 16 ounces cream cheese 2 8-ounce packages
  • 1 Tablespoon dried dill
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup onion finely chopped, or 1 T dried minced onion if you are short on time
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked whitefish about two 6 to 8-inch pieces, with skin and bones removed
  • crackers or other dippers of your choice


  • Blend the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Mix in the remaining ingredients except the fish.
  • Stir in the fish by hand.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with crackers (or veggies or other dipper of your choice).


The "additional time" is an allocation for deboning the fish.


Calories: 159kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 11gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 121mgPotassium: 241mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 443IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 0.3mg
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Originally published Jul 8, 2012


Tagged on:

28 thoughts on “5-Ingredient Smoked Fish Dip

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks. And if it’s too hard to find, you can just go with the salmon Christie!

  1. Kevin

    Not sure if you’re still blogging here but we made your salmon spread again this year for the 4th of July family get together in Door County. We loved it (as always) and shared it with friends who thought I was a chef or something.

    We always think of you and your family whenever we make it. Hope you all are doing well. We would love to get together in DC some time.

  2. Jolene

    What a perfect dish for get togethers! Love how easy it is and you always give the best tips and tricks!

    1. Inger Wilkerson

      I have a sandwich recipe with sardines that is supposed to help with weight loss. Your sardine post actually gave me the nerve to buy the sardines for this (though I admit I still haven’t tried it 😉 )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating