Simple, Homemade Salmon Gravlax

Simple homemade gravlax recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Curing Time: 24 hrs
Total: 24 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
238 Calories
12g Fat
3g Carbs
27g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 238
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 1639mg 71%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 27g
Calcium 28mg 2%
*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.)

Gravlax is the Scandinavian-style cold-cured salmon appetizer served thinly sliced with a mustard-dill sauce drizzled on top. Although it may seem like a complex process, gravlax is surprisingly easy to make at home with this recipe. The curing mix, which includes salt, sugar, and pepper, is enough for 4 to 6 pounds of salmon. You can reduce or increase the quantities for smaller or larger fillets. For a bit of a kick, try adding 2 tablespoons of freshly grated horseradish to the mix.

Because of certain parasites found in fresh salmon, it is important to buy sushi-grade salmon or purchase commercially frozen salmon and thaw before use, as freezing for several days will kill any microorganisms present in the fish. You can also freeze the completed gravlax at no higher than -10 F (-23 C) for seven days.

Ingredients

  • 2 salmon fillets (2 to 3 pounds each, skin on)
  • 1/4 cup aquavit (or vodka)
  • 1/3 cup fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 cup chopped dill

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for simple homemade gravlax recipe
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Rinse the salmon fillets and pat them dry thoroughly.

    Pat salmon dry
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Use tweezers or pliers to pull out any pin bones, if necessary.

    Use tweezers to pull out pin bones
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Drizzle the aquavit or vodka evenly over the flesh of each fillet.

    Drizzle the aquavit over the flesh of the salmon
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and pepper.

    Combine sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. Divide the mixture into 3 even piles within the bowl.

    Divide mixture into three even piles
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. Divide one of the thirds of curing mix in half and place on a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan in the shape of one of the fillets.

    Some of the curing mix in the bottom of a pan
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  8. Lay a fillet skin-side down on the mixture. Spread a third of the curing mixture on the flesh of that fillet.

    Season salmon with curing mix
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  9. Spread the remaining third of the curing mixture on the flesh side of the other fillet. Sprinkle the dill, if using, over both fillets.

    Salmon on pan sprinkled with chopped dill
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  10. Lay the second fillet flesh to flesh on the first fillet. Sprinkle the remaining curing mixture over the skin of the top fillet.

    Lay second fillet on first, flesh to flesh
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  11. Cover the fillets and baking sheet or pan with foil or plastic wrap. Place a cutting board or second baking sheet on top of the covered fish and top it with something heavy (cans, pots, or pans) to weigh the fish down. Place it all in the fridge and let chill for about 12 hours or overnight.

    Fillets covered with plastic wrap, heavy cutting board and pan
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  12. Remove from the fridge, unwrap, and discard the accumulated liquid in the pan. Turn over the fillets so the bottom one is on top.

    Discarding the fish drippings from the pan
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  13. Cover the pan, weigh down the fish again, and return to the refrigerator. Let chill another 12 hours.

    Both fillets flipped over to be weighed down again
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  14. The fish is now cured and ready to serve, but it will continue to benefit from another 12 to 24 hours of being weighed down and chilled, so feel free to repeat these steps a second time around.

    Fillets in the pan
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  15. When ready to eat, pat dry, and thinly slice the gravlax against the grain using a very sharp knife.

    Slicing the finished gravlax into thin slices
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  16. Serve and enjoy.

    Homemade gravlax on a sesame bagel with cream cheese
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Do You Need to Rinse Before Serving?

Unlike other foods that are cured or brined, gravlax does not need to be rinsed before slicing. Serve as is or gently scrape off the cure mixture first.

How to Serve and Store Gravlax

  • Gravlax is traditionally served with a drizzle of mustard sauce and some fresh dill, and it's often served with thinly sliced hearty rye bread or crisp rye crackers.
  • It's also good anywhere you would use lox—with cream cheese on bagels or bialys, as well as with sour cream and latkes or blinis.
  • Gravlax will keep, covered and chilled, for up to a week. It also freezes very nicely.

What's the Difference Between Gravlax and Smoked Salmon?

What distinguishes these two types of salmon is the method used to prepare it. While gravlax is ready once it's left to cure in a salt and sugar mixture, smoked salmon is first cured and then slowly cooked in a smoker, resulting in its distinctive flavor.