Abstract The effects of raw material characteristics on the process yield and quality of cold-smoked farmed Atlantic salmon ( Salmo salar) fillets was investigated. In a study of 120 salmon, trimming loss increased and smoking loss decreased as the fat content (140–230 g kg −1) and estimated fat deposits (6–14%) increased. As a result, neither the raw material fat content nor the estimated fat deposits had any significant effect ( p≤0.05) on the total process yield when cold-smoking salmon. Smoking loss was related to the gutted weight and dry matter content of the fish. These factors explained 52% of the variation in the smoking loss of brine-injected fillets. Weight explained approximately 13% of the variation in total loss, with larger fish giving a higher process yield. In a sub-sample of 36 salmon, sensory characteristics of cold-smoked salmon (colour, consistency, odour and taste) were evaluated. Neither the fat content, which varied from 140 to 210 g kg −1, nor the estimated fat deposits (7–12%) affected significantly ( p≤0.05) sensory properties of smoked fillets.