How to Cook Kippers Without the Smell

Kippers no smell

The smoky taste of kippers can be a culinary delight! However, the intense aroma that accompanies the cooking process can be a deterrent, especially for those in shared living spaces or with sensitive noses.

Kippers are most often eaten for breakfast in the UK, and the smell of fish first thing in the morning is even more of a drawback.

If you want to eat kippers without stinking out your house, you’re in the right place. Here, we have a complete guide on how to cook kippers without the smell.

From outdoor grilling to strategic seasoning, here are six tips for enjoying this delicious fish without the unwanted odours.

How Do You Cook Kippers So They Don’t Smell?

Cooking kippers without the smell can be a bit challenging! The strong fishy aroma is inherent to this smoked fish, and it can make your kitchen and home smell unpleasant. However, there are a few tips you can follow to minimise the smell:

1. Cook kippers outdoors

Although not always possible with unpredictable UK weather, cook the kippers outdoors on a grill or barbecue if you can.

This will help disperse the smell more effectively than cooking indoors, and the smell can naturally drift off in the air. Plus, it adds a deliciously smokey flavour to the fish.

Here is how you can cook your kippers outdoors on a BBQ:

  1. Preheat your barbecue grill to medium-high heat. Make sure the grates are clean and lightly oiled before you begin cooking to prevent the fish from sticking.
  2. Brush both sides of the kippers with olive oil or melted butter to further help prevent them from sticking to the grill and add flavour. Sprinkle the kippers with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings. Fresh herbs like dill or parsley work well with fish.
  3. Place the kippers on the preheated BBQ grill. If your kippers have skin, place them skin-side down first. Grill the kippers for 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. The goal is to cook the kippers until they are opaque and flake easily with a fork.
  4. Use a fork to gently check the thickest part of the kipper. If it flakes easily and is opaque throughout, it’s done. Serve the barbecued kippers hot off the grill with your favourite side dishes or accompaniments.

Top Tip: Remember that cooking times can vary depending on the heat of your grill and the thickness of the kippers. It’s essential to monitor the fish closely to avoid overcooking.

2. Ensure good kitchen ventilation

Angled cooker hood in kitchen

If you must cook your kipper indoors, ensure your kitchen is well-ventilated. Here are some tips to enhance kitchen ventilation:

  • Install a cooker hood: Invest in a powerful cooker hood that is appropriately sized for your stove. It’s essential to make sure the range hood has sufficient airflow capacity to handle the size of your kitchen to effectively remove the smell of kippers as you cook.
  • Position the cooker hood correctly: Install the cooker hood at the correct height above the cooking surface. Typically, you should fit your cooker hood between 24 and 30 inches above the stove. Position the hood slightly higher to capture rising heat if you have a gas stove.
  • Use the cooker hood properly: Turn on the hood before you start cooking to capture fishy odours and particles from the beginning. Keep the hood running for a few minutes after you finish cooking to clear any remaining kipper smells.
  • Open windows and doors: Open windows and doors to create cross-ventilation, allowing fresh air to enter and cooking odours to exit. Alternatively, consider installing a ducted ventilation system that extracts and deposits air outside your home.
  • Use an air purifier: For extra extraction power, consider using an air purifier to help remove the smell of kippers from the air. The top-of-the-range air purifiers contain true HEPA filters and can effectively remove all odour-causing particles from the air.

3. Use a well-sealed cooking method

When cooking indoors, try methods that keep the kipper sealed, such as baking the fish in foil or baking paper. This can help contain the smell, as well as keep the fish moist and delicious.

You can find a recipe for baking kippers below:


  • Fresh or thawed kippers
  • Olive oil or melted butter
  • Lemon slices
  • Fresh herbs (optional, such as dill or parsley)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C.
  2. If your kippers have skin, place them skin-side down on a clean work surface. Brush both sides with olive oil or melted butter. Season the kippers with salt, pepper, and any desired herbs. Lay a few lemon slices on top for added flavour.
  3. Place each kipper on a piece of foil or baking paper (also known as parchment paper). Fold the foil or parchment over the fish and seal the edges to create a packet. Leave a bit of room inside for steam to circulate.
  4. Arrange the foil or parchment packets on a baking tray, leaving some space between them. Place the tray in the oven and bake the kippers for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. The kippers should easily flake with a fork when done.
  5. Carefully open one of the packets and check the thickest part of the kipper. If it flakes easily and is opaque, it’s ready to serve. Transfer the kippers to serving plates and drizzle with any juices from the packet before tucking in.

4. Cook with aromatic ingredients

Kippers have a strong smell, so another option is to cook with other strong-smelling ingredients to help mask it.

This won’t eliminate the kipper smell, but it can help to make it more pleasant. Besides, these ingredients add extra flavour to your meal and partner perfectly with the fish.

Here are aromatic ingredients you can use in your kipper recipes:

  • Herbs such as dill, parsley, chives, coriander, and tarragon
  • Fresh lemon slices or lemon juice
  • Garlic or garlic salt
  • Flavorful spices like smoked paprika

5. Pan-sear for quick cooking

Kipper in pan

Cooking the kippers quickly can minimise the time the fishy smell has to spread around your kitchen or home.

The quickest way to cook kippers is by pan-searing them briefly. This cooking method also imparts a nice crust while preserving the natural smokiness of the fish.

However, a strong aroma can result from pan-searing kippers, so good ventilation in your kitchen is essential for this method to reduce the smell. Here’s a simple guide to pan-searing kippers:

  1. Pat the kippers dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture, then season both sides of the kippers with salt and pepper. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice for extra flavour.
  2. Heat a griddle pan or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of olive oil or butter to coat the pan, then place the kippers in the hot pan (skin side down if they have skin).
  3. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on each side or until the fish is opaque and easily flakes with a fork.

Let the kippers sear for an additional minute on each side if you prefer a slightly crispy edge. This adds a lovely texture to the fish.

  • Transfer the seared kippers to a serving plate. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and garnish with fresh herbs such as dill or parsley for added flavour, freshness, and presentation.

6. Clean up promptly after cooking

After cooking the kippers, clean up the cooking area promptly. Any remaining fish juices in the packaging, pans, or utensils you used can release the characteristic fishy odour into your kitchen, even if you cooked using our above tips. Make sure you:

  • Dispose of any leftover packaging immediately, ideally in an outside dustbin.
  • Wash dishes and utensils that came into contact with the kippers to reduce lingering odours.
  • Wipe all surfaces in your kitchen to mop up any splashes from cooking.
  • Clean the hob, grill, or oven (depending on your chosen cooking method) to get rid of the oils.