Smoked salmon canapés are a quick, easy and elegant appetizer with only 8 ingredients. And, you can make this delicious appetizer in only about 15 minutes!
This recipe for smoked salmon canapés is perfect when you need something beautiful and elegant to serve at a dinner party, but without making a huge fuss in the kitchen! If you're throwing a party, you have enough things to worry about already, right?
This easy appetizer only takes 8 ingredients and about 15 minutes to prep. You can even save time by making the flavored cream cheese a day or so ahead of time!
- Thin-sliced bread: I prefer thin-sliced rye bread for this canapé recipe, but you can use your favorite type of bread if you don't like rye. I talk more about bread selection in my Recipe FAQs section below!
- Fresh dill: if you are not a dill person, you can substitute a soft, leafy herb that you like better, such as tarragon, parsley, or chives.
- Red onion: if you don't have red onion on hand, feel free to use whatever type of onion you have, the recipe will still taste great!
Step by step photos
1. Before you do anything, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. This is just for toasting the bread squares. If you have a toaster oven, you can use that to toast the bread instead of the oven.
While the oven is preheating, we can prep the bread. I'm using a brand of bread called Mestemacher that doesn't have noticeable crusts, but if your bread does have crusts, cut them off. Then, cut the bread into 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) squares.
2. Place the bread squares on a small tray and bake them in the preheated oven for 2 - 3 minutes per side, or until the bread is toasted. With this darker bread it can be a little hard to see the browning, but the bread should feel a little drier and crispy around the edges.
Alternatively, place the squares on the rack of a toaster oven and toast them to your desired level of toasty-ness! Remove the toast squares to a platter and set aside for now.
3. Now mince the onion and fresh dill. Both should be quite fine so you don't get big chunks of onion and herb in the finished dish. Set these aside for now as well.
4. Place the softened cream cheese in a small bowl. Use a fork to break up the cream cheese until it's soft and smooth.
5. Add in the lemon juice, minced dill, and 2 tablespoons of the minced onion (we are saving 1 tablespoon of the onion as a garnish).
6. Again, use the fork to smash the cream cheese together with the lemon, onion and dill so everything is evenly combined.
7. Season the cream cheese with salt and pepper, to taste. Give the cream cheese mixture a taste, and add in a little more lemon juice, dill, salt and/or pepper if you like.
8. Now spread the cream cheese onto the squares of toast. I like to make a little swirly pattern using an offset spatula, but just spread it on however you like.
9. Next, grab the smoked salmon from the fridge. Open the package and tear off a little strip from one of the slices. Roll the strip of salmon into a little rose shape and place it on a piece of toast. Continue this process until all the toasts have a piece of salmon.
Of course, making the salmon into a little rose isn't totally necessary! You can also just fold it up however you like. The important part is making the salmon into a shape small enough to fit the piece of toast.
10. Now we are ready to garnish! Retrieve the reserved tablespoon of minced onion, and sprinkle just a few pieces on top of each toast.
11. Finally, add a small sprig of fresh dill to each canapé as a finishing touch.
Tips and tricks
- Feel free to experiment with other garnishes if you like. Here are some other garnish ideas you can try: minced capers, minced cucumber, minced tomato, cracked black pepper, edible flowers. Or, how about a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning?
- I used regular, full-fat cream cheese for this recipe. But, since we aren't cooking or baking with the cream cheese, if you prefer you can easily swap in low-fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese without affecting the texture of the recipe too much.
- Hate getting lemon seeds in your freshly-squeezed lemon juice? Do what I do: hold your other hand underneath the lemon to act like a sieve, catching any seeds before they fall into the juice. Just make sure you don't have any cuts on your hand first!
As I mentioned in the Ingredient notes section, I like using thin-sliced rye bread for the canapés.
The specific brand of rye bread I used here is called Mestemacher. It is a very thin, dense, and firm bread with hardly any crusts. This works well for canapés because although the bread is thin, it provides enough structure to hold the toppings well due to how firm and dense it is. And, because there are no crusts to cut off, you can use the entire piece of bread.
If you can't find or don't like Mestemacher rye bread, you can use any type of rye bread. Or, substitute pumpernickel, or your favorite type of bread. If you are using a different type of bread and want it to be a little thinner, you can gently roll the bread with a rolling pin to flatten it some before cutting the slices into squares. But, try not to completely flatten the bread paper-thin; you still want it to have enough structure to hold up the toppings.
You can definitely make the flavored cream cheese ahead of time! In fact, it tastes even more flavorful if you let it sit in the fridge for a while; at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
To store it in the fridge, just make sure it's tightly covered so it doesn't dry out. If the cream cheese has been in the fridge for over 1 hour, let it sit out at room temperature to soften for 30 minutes to 1 hour before using it.
And although the canapés taste the best when served right after assembling, if you need to, you can loosely cover the tray of finished canapés with plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge for 1 - 2 hours before serving. The bread may get slightly softer but if you're using Mestemacher bread (or other firm, dense bread), it should still hold up well because it's so hearty.
If you're using a very soft, tender bread (like white bread, for example), I recommend serving the canapés right away so the bread stays crisp.
I mentioned above that these smoked salmon canapés will taste best when served immediately after assembling. However, leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2 - 3 days.
Just make sure to tightly cover the canapés so they don't dry out or pick up off odors from the fridge. And, keep in mind that even though leftovers will still be good eating for 2 - 3 days (as long as they are stored properly in the fridge), the bread will soften and lose its crispness over time.
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These smoked salmon canapés are a quick, easy and elegant appetizer with only 8 ingredients. And, you can make them in only about 15 minutes!
- 2 - 3 pieces thin-sliced rye bread (see notes 1 - 2)
- 3 tablespoons minced red onion, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill, or more to taste, plus additional dill sprigs for garnish
- 4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 - 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces (113 g) smoked salmon
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). (This is only to toast the bread; you can use a toaster oven instead if desired.)
- Cut the bread slices into approximately 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) squares, removing the crusts first if needed (see notes 1 - 2). You will need a total of 16 squares; depending on the size of your bread slices, this should take between 2 - 3 slices of bread.
- Place the bread squares onto a small tray and bake in the preheated oven for 2 - 3 minutes, then flip the squares and bake for an additional 2 - 3 minutes, or until the squares of bread are toasted. (Alternatively, you can toast the squares of bread in a toaster oven.) Remove the toasted squares of bread to a platter, set aside.
- Mince the red onion and fresh dill, set aside.
- Place the room temperature cream cheese in a small bowl. Mash the cream cheese with a fork until it's smooth.
- To the bowl of cream cheese, add the minced dill and two tablespoons minced red onion (reserving the remaining tablespoon of red onion for garnish). Add in 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Use the fork to mash the ingredients together until evenly combined.
- Season the cream cheese mixture with salt and pepper, mix with the fork to combine. Taste the cream cheese and mix in more lemon juice, minced dill, salt and/or pepper if needed. (Optional: for better flavor, cover the cream cheese mixture and place in the fridge for 1 hour, or up to 2 days in advance. See note 4.)
- Spread the cream cheese on the toasted squares of bread.
- Carefully tear off a small strip of the smoked salmon, roll it into a rose shape, and place on top of one of the bread squares. Continue this process until all of the bread squares are topped with smoked salmon.
- Garnish each canapé with a few pieces of minced red onion and a small sprig of dill. For best results, serve immediately. Or, if needed, loosely cover the serving tray with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 - 2 hours before serving. (See note 5.)
The brand of rye bread I used is called Mestemacher. It is a very thin, dense, and firm bread with no crusts. This works well for canapés because although thin, it provides enough structure to hold the toppings well. And, because there are no crusts to cut off, you can use the entire piece of bread. If you can't find or don't like Mestemacher rye bread, you can use any type of rye bread. Or, substitute pumpernickel, or your favorite type of bread.
If you are using a different type of bread besides Mestemacher and want the bread to be thinner, you can gently roll the bread with a rolling pin to flatten it some before cutting the slices into squares. But, try not to completely flatten the bread paper-thin; you still want it to have enough structure to hold up the toppings.
If you don't like dill, feel free to substitute a different fresh herb. Some good substitutions are parsley, chives, or tarragon.
You can make the cream cheese mixture up to 2 days in advance, stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. If the cream cheese has been in the fridge for longer than 1 hour, allow the cream cheese to soften at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes before spreading on the toast squares.
Keeping the assembled canapés in the fridge for 1 - 2 hours before serving will work best if using a dense, firm bread like Mestemacher. Use your best judgement if using a soft, tender bread like white sandwich bread, because the bread will begin to soften and lose its crispness as it sits.
The nutrition information below is an estimate only, provided by an online nutrition calculator. The nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brand and exact amounts of ingredients used. This nutrition estimate should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: 1 canapé
- Calories: 44
- Sugar: 0.3 g
- Sodium: 196 mg
- Fat: 2.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 2.2 g
- Fiber: 0.3 g
- Protein: 2.2 g
- Cholesterol: 9 mg
Keywords: smoked salmon canapés, smoked salmon appetizer