Simple, Homemade Salmon Gravlax

Simple homemade gravlax recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Curing Time: 24 hrs
  • Yield: 1 to 2 pounds (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: 1 to 2 pounds (24 servings)
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, Scandinavian-style cold-cured salmon, is surprisingly easy to make at home with this recipe. The amount of curing mix is good for 4 to 6 pounds total of salmon. You can reduce or increase it for smaller or larger filets. For a bit of a kick, try adding 2 tablespoons of freshly grated horseradish to the mix.

In Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy to find and purchase fresh salmon straight off the fishing boats on the day of catch. However, unless you know that the salmon you’ll be using for this recipe is sushi-grade, you will need to either:

  • Purchase commercially frozen salmon and thaw before use, or
  • Wait and freeze the completed gravlax at no higher than -10 F (-23 C) for 7 days. This will kill any microorganisms present in the fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 salmon filets (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 dill (chopped)

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 thoroughly dry.

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

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

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

    Combine sugar and salt
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. Divide the mixture into three approximately even piles within the bowl.

    Divide mixture
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. Put about half of one of the thirds of curing mixture in a fillet shape on a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan that is big enough to lay a fillet flat on.

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

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

    Salmon on pan
    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 filet.

    Lay second fillet on first
    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, top it with cans or pots or other heavy things to weigh the fish down, and find a place to put the whole thing in the fridge. Let chill about 12 hours or overnight.

    Cover the fillets
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  12. Remove from the fridge, unwrap, discard the accumulated liquid in the pan, and turn the fillets over so the bottom one is on top.

    Drippings
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  13. Weigh down the fish again, recover it, and return to the fridge. Let chill another 12 hours.

    Weigh down
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  14. The fish is now cured and you can serve it, 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
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  15. When ready to eat, remove the fish from wrapping, pat dry, and use a very sharp knife to thinly slice the gravlax against the grain.

    Cut salmon
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  16. Serve and enjoy!

    Homemade gravlax recipe
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Warning

Due to a parasite found in some Pacific salmon, be sure to briefly freeze (for about 30 minutes) any Pacific salmon you plan to serve raw. This will kill off any potential parasites.

Tips

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