Simple, Homemade Salmon Gravlax

Homemade Gravlax

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Curing Time: 24 hrs
Total: 24 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
250 Calories
14g Fat
3g Carbs
25g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 250
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 1625mg 71%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 4mg 21%
Calcium 19mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 440mg 9%
*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.

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.

"This homemade gravlax is both easy and economical. I used Alaskan sockeye salmon that had been flash-frozen on the fishing boat. Dill is optional but I found that its flavor was integral to how much we enjoyed the salmon. After curing, I removed the skin from the fillets to make slicing and serving easier." —Danielle Centoni

Simple, Homemade Salmon Gravlax Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 (2- to 3- pound) skin-on salmon fillets

  • 1/4 cup aquavit, or vodka

  • 1/3 cup fine sea salt

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make homemade gravlax

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Rinse the salmon fillets and pat them dry thoroughly.

    A hand holding a paper towel, drying a piece of salmon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Use tweezers or pliers to pull out any pin bones, if necessary.

    A hand removing a bone from a piece of salmon with tweezers

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Drizzle the aquavit or vodka evenly over the flesh of each fillet.

    A hand drizzling vodka over two pieces of salmon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and pepper.

    A small bowl of salt, sugar, and pepper

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Divide the mixture into 3 even piles within the bowl.

    A bowl with 3 small piles of salt, sugar, and pepper mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  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.

    A baking tray with salt-sugar mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Lay a fillet skin-side down on the mixture. Spread a third of the curing mixture on the flesh of that fillet.

    A piece of salmon skin-side down on a baking sheet, topped with the sugar-salt mixutre

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  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.

    Two baking sheets with salmon topped with sugar-salt mixture and dill

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Lay the second fillet flesh to flesh on the first fillet. Sprinkle the remaining curing mixture over the skin of the top fillet.

    A baking sheet with two pieces of salmon layered on top of each other

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  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.

    Cast iron pans pressing down on the stacked salmon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  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.

    Two pieces of salmon on a baking sheet with a small bowl of liquid

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  13. Cover the pan, weigh down the fish again, and return to the refrigerator. Let chill another 12 hours.

    Cast iron skillets pressing down on the stacked salmon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  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.

    A baking sheet with two stacked pieces of cured salmon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  15. When ready to eat, pat dry, and thinly slice the gravlax against the grain using a very sharp knife. Serve and enjoy.

    A platter of sliced homemade gravlax

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

How to Serve 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.

Recipe Variations

  • This recipe makes enough gravlax for a large gathering but is easy to cut in half if you want to make a smaller amount.
  • For a bit of a kick, try adding 2 tablespoons of freshly grated horseradish to the curing mix.
  • With its juniper, citrus, and botanical notes, gin would also work well in place of aquavit or vodka.

How to Store

  • Gravlax will keep, covered and chilled, for up to a week.
  • It also freezes very nicely, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for about a month; let defrost in the refrigerator.

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.

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.