New Zealand-Inspired 5-Minute Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Dip & Spread

This 5-minute smoked salmon dip easily transforms into a spread. Customize this dip with a few substitutions to make it your own. It’s a simple and refreshing dip for friends and family on no-cook summer days. Whip up this quick dish for garden picnics! Since it uses smoked salmon, it’s available all year round, so you’ll love it for winter potluck parties too.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese dip in green bowl with broccoli and green beansPin

When I’m home in New Zealand, I can’t get enough of the ocean and salmon. We are spoiled by the abundance of fresh seafood, especially green-lipped mussels that are very cheap and fresh king salmon that’s rich and buttery.

That’s why when I miss home, I make this smoked salmon dip. It reminds me of zesty summers full of possibility and salty ocean sprays. You’ll love this smoked salmon dip/spread recipe because it’s flexible. You can skip the garlic and green onion if you don’t like herbs in your dips. You can skip lemon if you don’t like salmon + lemon. You can substitute the smoked salmon with leftover grilled, pan-fried, or steamed salmon! And you can blend or chop (or both) the smoked salmon.

RELATED: Check out this similar 5-Minute Garlic Herb Dip

Salmon Spread vs. Dip: The Difference

Dips are made for dipping into, like salsa, cheese dip, veggie dip, and peanut sauce. Spreads are for spreading with a knife, such as herb butter, jams, marmite, and honey, on top of a surface like bread, crackers, or bagels.

With this smoked salmon recipe, you can design your dip or spread however you like, based on how chunky you want it.

If you’re aiming for a salmon dip, I recommend blending it fully because it’s hard to pick up chunks of salmon with a green bean. If you are making a smoked salmon spread and want chunky pieces of salmon on top of your toasted bagel, then chop up more salmon and blend the rest.

It’s up to you to customize your ratio of blended vs. chopped salmon.

Side-by-side comparison of blended smoked salmon and cream cheese spread next to smoked salmon and cream cheese dipPin

Can Smoked Salmon Dip be Frozen?

Smoked salmon dip lasts in the fridge for a week. But if you’re planning on making it ahead of time and keeping it longer than a week or if you have leftover salmon dip, you can freeze it in a plastic container.

I defrosted the frozen dip in the fridge. Alex told me it tasted better after freezing than on the first day when I initially served it. Woohoo! Maybe the flavors got a chance to blend to taste better?

Frozen smoked salmon and cream cheese spread in plastic containerPin

What Goes Well With Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese?

Even though dips and spreads tend to be appetizers, potluck dishes, or snacks, we routinely enjoy dips as though they are the main for lunch or dinner. It’s quick to make, and it makes eating a lot of vegetables easy. Plus, with the amount of cream cheese and salmon, you essentially have a full meal once you add vegetables and crackers. In fact, it’s a great beginning to a lox and cream cheese bagel sandwich!

Here are foods we like to serve with our smoked salmon cream cheese dips and spreads.

Salmon Dip Ideas

  • Green beans (blanched)
  • Broccoli florets (blanched)
  • Carrot spears (blanched)
  • Asparagus (blanched)
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Corn chips
  • Crackers

Salmon Spread Ideas

  • Crackers or mini toasts (like canapés)
  • Bagels (toasted)
  • Bread (sliced and toasted)
  • Pita bread and chips
  • Inside an omelet
  • Spread on cucumber slices
  • With rice and seaweed like a deconstructed sushi roll
  • Inside a wrap

5-Minute Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Dip With Lemon Zest

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This simple and refreshing dip is perfect for no-cook summer days and fall picnics. Make a dip or spread and double or triple the recipe so you can freeze the leftovers.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: Kiwi
Keyword: 10 ingredients or less, 5-minute recipe, family-friendly, no-cook, party, refreshing, summer
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 193kcal
Author: Anna Rider
Cost: $10


  • Knife
  • Chopping Board
  • Grater
  • Citrus Juicer
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula
  • Food Processor


  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 4 oz. sour cream
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled, optional
  • 3 sprigs Green onion, optional
  • Black pepper, freshly cracked pepper


  • Gather the ingredients.
    Ingredients for smoked salmon dip recipePin
  • If you want to make a chunky spread, roughly chop half the smoked salmon into pieces. If you want to garnish the dip with a few chunks of smoked salmon, cut a few slivers of smoked salmon for later.
    Chopped smoked salmon on bamboo cutting boardPin
  • Use a zester or a fine-toothed grater to remove the zest from half a lemon. Juice the lemon to collect 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
    Grated and squeezed lemon zest and juice using grater and juicerPin
  • In a food processor, blend the sour cream, cream cheese, lemon zest, and peeled garlic clove. If you don't have a blender or food processor, combine by hand until mixed. You will need to use a garlic press to crush the garlic (or skip it) if you are mixing by hand.
    Blocks of cream cheese in a blender with lemon zestPin
  • Add the smoked salmon and green onion to the cream cheese mixture. Blend until smooth.
    Blocks of cream cheese in a blender with salmon and green onionsPin
  • If you're making a chunky dip, mix the remaining chopped smoked salmon into the blended salmon spread.
    Blended salmon and cream cheese dip in a mini food processorPin
  • Garnish the salmon spread with the remaining chopped salmon and lemon zest. Serve with the freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy your salmon dip and spread!
    Smoked salmon and cream cheese dip in green bowl with broccoli and green beansPin


Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 286mg | Potassium: 141mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 702IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1mg
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About Anna Rider

Hi! I'm Anna, a food writer who documents kitchen experiments on with the help of my physicist and taste-testing husband, Alex. I have an insatiable appetite for noodles 🍜 and believe in "improv cooking".

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