Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cucumbers, Red Onion and Acovado

This recipe is definitely on the other end of the scale from “simple”, however it still qualifies for “awesome”.  Think of these Smoked Salmon Rolls as a dinner party plate – since the prep and planning required disqualifies them from the “easy weeknight dinner” category.

Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Cucumber Rolls
Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Cucumber Rolls

The long description, as if you are presenting these to your guests, is: Smoked Salmon Rolls with Avocado, Cucumber and Red Onions and a Lemon-Chive Butter.  That’s a little longer than the title field for a blog post, however.

So how did this little dish originate?  Well, we were pulling together a nice post-holiday dinner recently that would need to be largely fish and vegetables, as one of the attendees is a vegetarian.  One of my go-to books for ideas in this area is Charlie Trotter’s The Kitchen Sessions.  His section on salmon gave me some great ideas for this plate.

This is a dish that you can, and should, make ahead of time.  The rolls need time to set and flavors need time to develop.  In fact, the butter, oil and pickles could all be done at least a day ahead of time.

Now let’s dig into the key components before we move on to assembling the final product.

Everything you’ll read here makes about 6 rolls, each of which I was about to slice off 2 nice sized pieces.  That meant 3 plates of 4 pieces.  If you’re serving a party of 6, double up. The trim on the ends that didn’t hold together was chopped up and made a nice dip with crackers the next day.


Compound Butter

I don’t cook a lot with butter, but when I do, I love a rich and flavorful compound butter.  My favorite compound butters are made with strong herbs and lots of garlic….but that’s not really the best match for this dish.  The butter is a great vehicle for bringing some extra flavor to the rolls.  Putting the lemon in the butter keeps it from going directly on the salmon and “cooking” it.
This is simple to prepare….mix all of these ingredients together, cover and place in the fridge.
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chives (chopped)
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Shallot (minced)
Compound butters, with different herbs & flavors, are also fantastic with grilled meats.  Think of a garlic & parsley butter on top of a grilled sirloin.

Garlic & Chive Oil

Passing the Garlic & Chive Oil through a cheesecloth
Strained Garlic & Chive Oil

This isn’t a required part of the dish, but it makes great presentation, and it’s pretty tasty on the salmon.  Put these ingredients in your food processor (or mini-chopper) and process for about 20-30 seconds.  The longer you let the chives steep in the oil, the darker it will be.  Let this mixture sit in the fridge as long as possible.  Sometime before you plate the dish, pass this through a cheesecloth to extract just the colored oil. I took what you see in the measuring cup and poured it into a small squirt bottle (like the kind you’d fill with mustard for a picnic) to make it easy to put on the plate

Garlic and Chive Oil Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup XVOO
Keep a few chives separate for garnishing your dish

Pickled Cucumber and Red Onion

This isn’t a full-on pickle like my refrigerator quick pickles, but there’s enough acidity that it’s an acceptable adjective to use.  You also get some sweet and some hot here, which is really helpful to cut through all of the rich, fatty flavors in the dish.


  • Half of one red onion, thinly sliced
  • One small japanese cucumber, seeds scraped out, chopped into slices

Pickling Marinade Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cilantro
  • Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
  • Splash of Soy Sauce

Put all of the ingredients into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly along the way.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Once the mixture has cooled, pour into a separate dish and marinade the vegetables.

Preparing the Smoked Salmon Rolls

Here’s where it really gets fun.  This is another one of those things you’ll want to do a few hours ahead of time as the rolls need time in the fridge to “set” before you try to slice them.

Making the Smoked Salmon Rolls
Making the Smoked Salmon Rolls

I started with an 8oz package of smoked salmon.  In my head, I was visualizing that I’d open the package and there would be nice long strips ready to roll….not so much.  Each piece was about 2″ wide and 5″ in length, about half of what I needed to do the rolls.  As you can see in the picture, I pressed a few pieces on top of each other to get a strip that was about 9″ – 11″ in length.

Smoked Salmon Roll Ingredients

  • 8oz package of smoked salmon (avoid anything flavored)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Cucumber pieces from the previous step
  • Red Onion slices from the previous step


  1. On top of the salmon roll, take a small amount of the compound butter and gently spread it on with your hands.  You’ll want it nice and soft, so take it out of the fridge at least a half an hour before you start
  2. Place a chunk of avocado, a piece of cucumber and a few red onion slices on top of the butter and carefully roll it forward to make something like you see in the glass dish on the left.
  3. Once you’ve done all of them, cover the dish and store it in the refrigerator for 4+ hours
  4. With any remaining cucumbers, onions and chives – give them all a fine chop and place in individual pinch cups for later garnishing
  5. Right before you’re ready to plate, remove the salmon and use a serrated knife to slice the rolls into individual pieces
  6. At this point, let your creativity run wild.  Between the chopped garnish, chive oil and whatever else you have on, you’re ready to put them on a plate and go.
Featured on HellaWella, April 2013 – 15 Irresistible Recipes for the Avocado Obsessed


  1. I die for sushi! I'be had salmon rolls before but with cream cheese and never with compound butter…must try!

  2. I'm ready to roll my sleeves up and put some time in the kitchen! I love smoked salmon and these rolls sound amazing!

  3. I love that every component of this dish is flavorized (I couldn't think of the appropriate word, so I just made one up). This is sooo much easier than rolling sushi!

  4. Usually, I prefer dishing something easy to makes but the thought you've put into making each aspect of the recipe appetizing, has made me want to try it out myself!

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