How to Cook Smelt

Smelt is a family of small migratory fish often found in lakes in North America and Europe. They are known for their distinct smell, which is usually likened to cucumbers. Smelt is often eaten fried, but it can also be grilled, baked, or broiled.


Buying Smelt


Smelt, like any other fish, should look and smell fresh. The eyes must be moist, bright, and clear, as if the fish were alive. When you poke its body, it should be springy and firm. Smelt also tastes much better when bought fresh, so try to avoid the frozen variety as much as possible.




Smelt must be kept ice cold in the freezer or in an ice box to maintain its freshness. First, remove it from the packaging and rinse it thoroughly to remove excess juices. Fish should not sit in its own juices for too long as this would shorten its freezer life.

After rinsing, store the fish in a freezer filled with crushed ice. Make sure that the ice does not melt. Otherwise, the quality of the fish will deteriorate faster.


Preparing Smelt


Remove the bones by holding its backbone firmly, then twisting the head off and pulling the skeleton and the entrails out.

Since smelt is small, you can choose not to de-bone the fish. Smelt can be eaten with its bones, scales and fins intact, as they soften up rather quickly when cooked.


Frying Smelt


You’ll need a frying pan, some cooking oil, a re-sealable bag, white flour, and paper towels

Step 1. Place the smelt inside a re-sealable bag. Seal the bag and pound it with the frying pan. Don’t pound too hard though, just enough until the fish is flattened.

Step 2. Pat the smelt dry with some paper towels. Place some white flour in a bowl. Place the fish in the bowl and coat it evenly with the flour.

Step 3. Preheat the oil in the frying pan to over medium heat. Place the smelt a few at a time and let them fry. Turn the fish occasionally. Cook them until golden brown for at least 2 or 3 minutes.


Grilling Smelt


To grill smelt, you need a grill, aluminum foil, and a fork.

Step 1. Wrap the smelt in aluminum foil.

Step 2. With the fork, poke some holes in the aluminum foil.

Step 3. Place the foiled smelt over a greased grill.

Step 4. Let it cook for at least 3 to 6 minutes.

Step 5. Open the foil, remove the smelt, and serve.