Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cucumbers, Red Onion and Avocado

Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cucumber, Red Onions, Avocado and a Compound Butter

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.

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.


Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cucumber, Red Onions, Avocado and a Compound Butter

Lemon and Chive 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 smoked salmon rolls and “cooking” them.
This is simple to prepare….mix the butter, chives, lemon juice and shallots together, cover and place in the fridge.
Compound butters, with different herbs & flavors, are also fantastic with grilled meats.  One of my favorites is to make Chimichurri Butter and serve on top of grilled steaks.

Garlic & Chive Oil

Garlic and 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

Keep a few chives separate for garnishing your dish

Pickled Cucumbers and Red Onions

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.

I’t made by putting rice wine vinegar, sugar, cilantro and splash of soy into a small sauce pan and bringing it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Once the mixture has cooled, pour into a separate dish and marinade the cucumbers and red onions.  You’ll want to do this for at least 30 minutes to properly “quick pickle” 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.


Preparing Smoked Salmon Rolls with Compound Butter


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 7″ – 10″ in length.

Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cucumber, Red Onions, Avocado and a Compound Butter

Featured on: HellaWella, April 2013 – 15 Irresistible Recipes for the Avocado Obsessed

Smoked Salmon Rolls with Cucumber, Red Onion and Avocado Recipe
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
5 hrs

Make carb-free Smoked Salmon Rolls with an herbed compound butter, pickled red onions, cucumber and avocado. 

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Seafood
Servings: 12 Rolls
Author: Tony Bailey
Compound Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter Room Temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon Chives Chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Shallots Finely Minced
Garlic and Chive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Chives Chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pickled Red Onion and Cucumbers
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cilantro
  • 1 Pinch Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 Small Japanese Seedless Cucumber
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion Thinly Sliced
Smoked Salmon Rolls
  • 8 Ounce Package of Smoked Salmon No Flavorings
  • 1 Avocado Sliced
Compound Butter
  1. Mash the softened room temperature butter with a fork and fold in the chives, lemon juice and shallots.

Garlic and Chive Oil
  1. Pour the Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a food processor along with the garlic and chives.  Process for 20-30 seconds

  2. Place this off to the side.  The longer it rests, the stronger the flavors will be.  Just before using, strain through a cheesecloth

Pickled Red Onion and Cucumbers
  1. Put the Rice Wine Vinegar, Sugar, Cilantro, Crushed Red Pepper and Soy Sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly

  2. As soon as it boils, reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour to a separate dish and allow it to cool

  3. Cut the cucumber into slices that are about 3 inches long

  4. When it has cooled, marinate the cucumber and red onion for at least 30 minutes before using

Smoked Salmon Rolls
  1. Press a few pieces of the smoked salmon together to form a long strip that's 7 to 10 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide

  2. Gently spread about 1 tablespoon of the compound butter with your fingers along the length of the salmon piece

  3. Near the bottom, place a slice of avocado, a few slices of red onion and a few strips of cucumber and then carefully roll it forward

  4. Put each roll onto a plate, cover and let them rest in the refrigerator for about 4 hours before serving to let them set.

  5. When you are ready to serve, finely chop the remaining cucumber and red onions for a plate garnish and drizzle with the chive oil


  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!

  5. How can this have no carbs when there is sugar in it???

    • Tony Bailey

      That’s a fair point. The no carb position is because copious amounts of rice would typically be used. If you need to get to zero on the sugar, then clearly the best solution is to not pickle the cucumber and red onion. This would be a very minor variation.

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