Easy Salmon Gravlax Recipe

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
January 31, 2023 | Updated on March 17, 2023

This easy salmon gravlax recipe is a savory indulgence of epic proportions; fresh, flavorful salt and sugar-cured salmon is cut into thin delectable slices. After tasting one slice of this Swedish delicacy, you’ll want to gobble up the rest! Impress family and friends when you serve this at your next brunch or gathering.

Craving more sushi-grade fish recipes? Then you have to try my Hamachi Crudo, Smoked Salmon Tartare, and Tuna Poke Bowl next!

Bagels topped with cream cheese and gravlax

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Gravlax is a luxurious meal of mouthwatering, thinly sliced cured salmon. This homemade cured salmon gravlax recipe is perfect because it’s a perfect balance of flavors. If you’re new to curing fish, this recipe is a great introduction. Learn how to cure salmon at home with this easy gravlax recipe!

Why This Gravlax Recipe Works

  • An Easy Way to Preserve Fish – The process is fairly simple and takes minimal effort. After seasoning the salmon, you just flip it twice a day for 1 – 3 days.
  • Great for Parties – This appetizer is a guaranteed way to impress your friends and family. Serve it on a platter as an hors-d’œuvre at your next brunch or dinner party.
  • Versatile – Season gravlax however you’d like and this can suit any occasion, holiday, or season.
  • Affordable – Purchase your own salmon and the cost per serving is far less than it would be in a restaurant.

What is Gravlax?

Gravlax is a popular staple in Scandavanian cuisine. Fresh salmon is cold-cured in salt, sugar, and plenty of dill, for approximately two days. The salt draws out the moisture (which is what causes it to go bad quickly) so it is safe to consume.

What is the difference between gravlax and lox?

Lox is cured or brined, and sometimes smoked. It also has a predominately salty flavor because it is less seasoned than gravlax. Alternatively, gravlax is thoroughly seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs and never smoked. Gravlax tastes like a cross between sashimi and smoked salmon.

How is gravlax different from smoked salmon?

Although they have similar textures and flavors, cured salmon gravlax and smoked salmon use different techniques. Smoked salmon is brined and smoked. Whereas gravlax is seasoned, tightly wrapped, and then refrigerated.

Sugar and Salt Ratio in this Gravlax Recipe

The biggest issue when making gravlax is that many come out too salty. But this gravlax recipe has the perfect proportion of salt to sugar.

The best way to balance the flavor is to use equal parts salt and sugar. To get an accurate weight of both, simply multiply the weight of salmon in grams times 15%. The combined measured amount of sugar and salt results in the perfect amount needed.

But don’t worry, I’ve taken care the math so that are you have to do is follow the recipe to a T and you’re good to go.

Close up of gravlax on a bagel

Tools You’ll Need

Ingredients You Will Need for this Gravlax Recipe

This section explains how to choose the best ingredients, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.

  • Salmon – You can use a filet or a whole slab of salmon; it can be Atlantic, king, or sockeye. Just ensure that it is sushi grade, skin on, and about 1¼ inches thick. You will need a total of 1¼ pounds.
  • Kosher salt – I use the Diamond Crystal brand. It’s essential to use a coarse salt when making gravlax as table salt is too fine.
  • Light brown sugar – The sugar helps to break down the fibers in the fish so it has a more delicate texture.
  • Freshly cracked black pepper – Sometimes this ingredient is excluded but I love the flavor it adds to the dish. A small amount is added so as not to strip the fish of its delicate flavor.
  • Red chili flakes – Adds a bit of spice.
  • Smoked salt – For a slightly smoky flavor.
  • Dill – Roughly torn, long stems discarded. Aside from sugar and salt, this is the one ingredient that is essential for a traditional gravlax recipe.

How To Make Gravlax

This gravlax recipe is easy to follow and requires minimal effort. Get ready to enjoy the best gravlax! This section shows how to make gravlax; providing step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.

Season Salmon

Combine salt, sugar, black pepper, chili flakes, and smoked salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

salt mixture for cured salmon

Then pat dry the salmon to rid of excess moisture. Place two long pieces of saran wrap on a clean working surface, overlapping each one like a cross. Spread ⅓ of the mixture onto the wrap, about the same shape as the salmon. Top with ½ on the torn dill.

Place the salmon–skin side down–on top of the mixture, then pour the remaining salt mixture on top. Top with remaining dill.

raw salmon on top of seasonings
seasoned salmon on a foil lined baking sheet

Wrap and Refrigerate (Cure Salmon)

Wrap tightly, making sure there are no air pockets. Then place in a ¼ baking sheet or casserole dish. Carefully top with heavy cans or if you have, ankle weights because this will encourage the release of moisture.

salmon gravlax process

Place in the refrigerator for 1-3 days (depending on the thickness of the salmon), flipping every twelve hours. The salmon pictured is about 1¼ inches thick and I cured it for 48 hours. If your salmon fillet is thicker, then you will want to cure it for longer, but for no longer than 3 days.

If you notice liquid pooling in the baking sheet, that’s to be expected in this gravlax recipe.

gravlax recipe after fish has been cured

Slice and Serve

Remove the saran wrap and rinse cured salmon. Pat dry. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice against the grain and at a 45° angle.

cured salmon

Finally, serve with a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese.

Place leftover gravlax in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use good quality salmon. Aside from the seasonings, this is your only ingredient. Make it count.
  • Be sure the salmon fillet is 1¼ inches thick. A thinner fillet will result in saltier gravlax.
  • Do not remove the salmon skin until the fish has cured. It makes it easier to cut the salmon into thin slices.
  • Use a sharp knife. Gravlax is rather delicate and a requires a sharp knife to achieve thin slices.
  • Slice against the grain. This makes the fish easier to chew.
  • Gravlax is cured but the shelf life is short. Consume within 4 days of slicing.
sliced gravlax on a plate

Variations

  • Vodka Gravlax – Add 2 tablespoons of vodka to your seasoning. Many gravlax cures include alcohol because it enriches the fish. You can also use gin or aquavit.
  • Lemon Thyme – Make this a citrus gravlax recipe by adding lemon zest. Thyme would complement the lemony flavor.
  • Beet Gravlax – Place beetroot and your preferred seasonings in a food processor then follow the recipe instructions.
  • Mustard – Make a mustard and dill gravlax sauce to marinate the salmon in.
  • Fish – Not a fan of salmon? You can make tuna gravlax or trout gravlax instead.

What to Serve With This Gravlax Recipe

  • Bagel – A common way to serve gravlax is on a bagel with cream cheese.
  • Bread – Traditional gravlax is served with rye or pumpernickel bread.
  • Crackers – Serve it with toasted baguette slices.
  • Vegetables – Freshly sliced veggies pair so well with gravlax. I suggest using cucumbers and radishes.
  • Salad – Place this protein on top of a bed of lettuce for a delicious salad. Pair it with kale, spinach, or arugula.
gravlax salmon on bagels with cream cheese

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will homemade gravlax keep?

Sliced gravlax will last up to 4 days when properly stored in the refrigerator.

Can you cure gravlax too long?

Yes. Do not cure gravlax for more than 72 hours. Otherwise, the fish turn jerky-like.

Can this gravlax recipe be made with frozen salmon?

Yes. But do not use vacuum-sealed packs. Buy fresh sushi-grade salmon from a fishmonger or market and then freeze it. Thaw before using.

Looking for More Salmon Recipes

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gravlax-recipe

Gravlax Recipe

This gravlax recipe creates a salty, savory indulgence of epic proportions; fresh, flavorful salt and sugar-cured salmon is cut into thin delectable slices. After tasting one slice of this Swedish delicacy, you'll want to gobble up the rest! Impress family and friends when you serve this at your next brunch or gathering.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Curing time 2 days
Total Time 2 days 15 minutes
Servings 5 people
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Lunch
Cuisine Seafood

Equipment

  • saran wrap
  • ¼ baking sheet, or casserole dish

Ingredients

  • pounds salmon, sushi grade, skin on about 1¼ inches thick
  • ½ cup kosher salt, Diamond Crystal brand
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • tablespoons smoked salt
  • ½ bunch dill, roughly torn, long stems discarded

Instructions

  • Combine salt, sugar, black pepper, chili flakes, and smoked salt to a bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Pat dry salmon to rid of excess moisture. Place two long pieces of saran wrap on a clean working surface, overlapping each one another like a cross. Spread ⅓ of the mixture onto the wrap, about the same shape as the salmon. Top with ½ on the torn dill.
  • Place the salmon–skin side down–on top of the mixture, then pour the remaining salt mixture on top. Top with remaining dill.
  • Wrap tightly, making sure there are no air pockets. Place in a ¼ baking sheet or casserole dish. Carefully top with heavy cans or if you have, ankle weights as this will encourage release of moisture.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 1-3 days (depending on the thickness of the salmon), flipping every twelve hours. The salmon pictured is about 1¼ inches thick and I cured it for 48 hours. If your salmon fillet is thicker, then you will want to cure it for longer, but for no longer than 3 days.
  • If you notice liquid pooling in the baking sheet, that's to be expected.
  • Remove the saran wrap and rinse cured salmon. Pat dry. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice against the grain and at a 45° angle.
  • Serve with a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese.
  • Place leftover gravlax in a airtight container for up to 4 days.
Keywords best gravlax recipe, gravlax, gravlax recipe, swedish gravlax recipe, the difference between gravlax and lox, the difference between gravlax and smoked salmon, traditional gravlax recipe, what is gravlax
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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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