Classic Lox Recipe

Classic lox sprinkled with dill and served open faced on bagel halves with cream cheese

The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Curing: 72 hrs
Total: 72 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
694 Calories
37g Fat
18g Carbs
67g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 694
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 48%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 191mg 64%
Sodium 3512mg 153%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 67g
Vitamin C 14mg 69%
Calcium 63mg 5%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 1211mg 26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lox and bagels are a classic New York brunch dish that's now enjoyed around the world. But in general, the fish sitting atop the bagel is actually smoked salmon, not true lox, which is seasoned, salted, and dill-cured salmon rather than smoked. The curing process of lox is easier and quicker because the salmon isn't smoked, and the result is a sweet, tasty, and tender slice of salmon.

Lox can be used in many dishes: sliced thickly and served alongside potatoes, dill and horseradish; on blini as canapés; or as the filling for a straightforward sandwich on rye bread

For a tastier and fattier lox, use squeaky fresh fish, and the thick belly section of the fish, rather than the thinner tail end. If you have any doubts about the freshness of the fish, buy a frozen piece or freeze it for 24 hours before curing it to ensure there are no parasites. If you're using a frozen piece of salmon, defrost it thoroughly before starting the recipe.

The lox will keep well in the refrigerator for five days. If you bought frozen salmon or froze it before curing, do not refreeze. 


Click Play to See This Classic Lox Recipe Come Together


  • 4 pounds salmon fillet, preferably the thick belly section

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground multi-color peppercorns

  • 3 juniper berries

  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh dill

  • Chili pepper flakes, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic lox recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  2. Cut the salmon in half across the fillet into two halves. 

    Salmon cut in half across the fillet into two halves

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  3. In a bowl, mix the sugar, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries, dill, and optional chili pepper flakes, if using.

    Sugar, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries, dill, and optional chili pepper flakes mixed together in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  4. Place one half of the salmon, skin side down, onto a long sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the flesh of the salmon with the sugar, salt, and pepper mix.

    Salmon covered with the sugar, salt, and pepper mix for curing

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  5. Place the second fillet flesh side down on top to create a "salmon sandwich." Wrap the fish pieces tightly in plastic wrap.

    Second salmon piece placed flesh side down and wrapped in plastic to cure

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  6. Put the "salmon sandwich" into a shallow baking dish, making sure the fish stands higher than the sides of the pan. Place a baking tray on top of the salmon and weigh it down with a heavy object such as canned beans, rice bags, or heavy books (covered in plastic wrap to avoid passing on fish smells).

    Salmon fillets wrapped in plastic in a baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  7. Put the fish into the refrigerator and leave it to cure for 3 to 4 days, turning the salmon twice a day or at least once every day. If there is any accumulated liquid, pour it out and change the plastic wrap.

    Salmon curing to become lox in a baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  8. When ready to serve, remove the wrap, pour away any liquid and wipe away most of the sugar, salt, and peppercorns, leaving a little on the edges for decoration. Slice as desired: thin for bagels, thick if it's meant to be the main course.

    Classic Lox in a baking dish with a knife scraping off the curing ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

Recipe Variations

Add some kick to your lox with these variations.

  • Add alcohol: Vodka, gin, pastis, or Pernod are delicious ingredients to add to your cure mix. One to 2 tablespoons will add a lovely back note of flavor.
  • Enhance the color: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw, finely grated beet to the cure mix. It will turn the salmon a glorious pinkish-red color, which is stunning on the plate.
  • Change the seasoning: Switch out the juniper for coriander seed, fennel (seed or fronds) or any other herb or spice you'd like. 

Why Is It Called Lox?

The name lox is a case of straightforward language translation. The word lox comes from the Yiddish word for salmon, lax, which in and of itself comes from the Germanic word for salmon—laks. Cured salmon in Scandinavian countries, for example, is known by different versions of the name gravlax, or gravad laks.