How to Make Homemade Gravlax

Image of Gravlax
Gravlax. Photo © Molly Watson
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 to 2 pounds (24 servings)
Ratings (11)

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.

Note: 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. If the fish was previously frozen, this step isn't necessary.

What You'll Need

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

How to Make It

  1. Rinse the salmon filets and pat them thoroughly dry. Use tweezers or pliers to pull out any pin bones, if necessary. Drizzle the aquavit or vodka evenly over the flesh of each filet.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and pepper. Divide the mixture into three approximately even piles within the bowl. Put about half of one of the thirds of the curing mixture in a filet shape on a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan that is big enough to lay a filet flat on. Lay a filet skin-down on the mixture.
  1. Spread a third of the curing mixture on the flesh of that filet; spread the other third on the flesh side of the other filet. Sprinkle the dill, if using, over both filets. Lay the second filet flesh-to-flesh on the first filet. Sprinkle the remaining curing mixture over the skin of the top filet.
  2. Cover the filets 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.
  3. Let chill about 12 hours or overnight. Remove from the fridge, unwrap, discard the accumulated liquid in the pan, and turn the filets over so the bottom one is on top. Weigh down the fish again, recover it, and return to the fridge. Let chill another 12 hours.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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 sour cream and latkes.

Gravalax will keep, covered and chilled, for up to a week. It also freezes very nicely indeed.