That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Gravlax on crackers on a small white plate with a red handle knife

How to Make Gravlax

Home ยป 75+ Seafood Recipes ยป How to Make Gravlax

Gravlax, or Scandanavian cured salmon, is truly a breeze to make. Simply cured with salt and sugar, patience is the hardest step! The salmon must sit in the refrigerator for 3-4 days until it’s ready to slice. It’s definitely worth the wait.

You’ll definitely impress your guests when you reveal that this beautiful, sliced dry brine salmon was made in your own kitchen. It’s truly a luxury item you can make at home! Check out how to make gravlax for your next breakfast or brunch guests.

A slice of gravlax on a cracker on a square white plate

How to Make Gravlax

Our 4th of July menu was anything but classic Americana fare: Brazilian cocktails, Scandinavian cured salmon, grasshopper pie, plus something to throw on the grill. Certainly a mish-mash of recipes from across the globe. But I had my reasons for such a menu. We gather with our neighbors each Independence Day for a pitch-in dinner and fireworks.

It’s the perfect time to test out some recipes for the blog, like this gravlax. My friends, unlike my family, will eat anything and they are so proficient at giving me quotable reviews. This is definitely an improvement over the “good stuff” or “you don’t have to make this again” that I get from my crew. Plus they are actually interested in HOW to make gravlax, not just eating it!

Cured salmon on a white platter before slicing

Cured Salmon

The first gravlax recipe goes back to the Middle Ages when fishermen salted salmon and buried it in the sand to ferment. Nowadays, salmon fillets are coated with a salt and sugar mixture then topped with dill sprigs. Mine received a sprinkle of Cognac before hanging out in the fridge for half a week. The fillets were weighted down (I used two cast iron popover pans), then flipped every 12 hours…and the salmon is eventually cured via osmosis.

Gravlax on cucumber rounds on a white appetizer plate

Tips for Making Gravlax

Minimal ingredients plus an easy recipe make this a must-make dish! The only requirement is patience as it will be 3 days before you can dig in!

  • Use high-quality salmon. I go to my fishmonger instead of the grocery store for the best, freshest salmon available. I find some grocery store salmon can be mushy and you do not want those results.
  • Don’t overdo the dill. A subtle flavor is nice, but it shouldn’t dominate the seafood flavor. Other herbs and spices used are fennel, anise, coriander, caraway, and citrus.
  • PRO-Tip: Adding alcohol, like Cognac, is optional. It adds a complexity to the flavor. Alcohol, like salt, is a flavor enhancer. Also used are vodka, gin, whiskey, and most notable, aquavit.
  • Be patient. The salt mixture needs time to penetrate the seafood and draw out the moisture, thus preserving it. It is worth waiting for!
  • PRO-Tip: Put reminders on your calendar or phone to flip your salmon every 12 hours. I often place mine in a basement refrigerator and can forget when it’s out of sight.
  • Use whatever you’d like to weight down the salmon, bricks, a cast-iron skillet, even books. The pressure helps keep the salt and sugar mixture in close contact with the fish.
  • Slice as thin as you can from long end to long end at a slight angle. Use a very sharp knife for the best results. My slices weren’t as thin as I like.

I knew I had a winner when one of my guests commented, “Great smoked salmon,” with Bill chiming in, “I hope there’s more of this.” Yes, Mr. Picky Pants was eating raw, cured salmon…whoa. Maybe he will eat fennel again one day…or mint…or nuts…or pineapple. I can dream, can’t I? I’ve also made terrific canapes with Dorie Greenspan’s gravlax recipe.

Questions About Making Gravlax at Home:

What Is Gravlax?

Gravlax is a Swedish raw salmon dish that is cured for a few days in a salt, sugar, and dill mixture. It’s then sliced paper-thin to serve. The name of the dish comes from the Swedish words for to dig (grav) and salmon (lax). Early gravlax was made by burying the fish in the sand and allowing it to cure by fermentation.

Gravlax Vs Lox

Lox is fresh salmon that has been cold smoked or hot smoked. Cold smoking takes days, where hot smoking takes hours. Gravlax is salt-cured fresh salmon.

How to Make Gravlax

Top the salmon with the salt and sugar mixture, then the fresh dill. Place it on a rimmed, plastic-lined baking sheet, then top with another layer of plastic wrap, and a second baking sheet (flat side down).

Weight it down by pacing a heavy skillet or cans on the top baking sheet. Refrigerate, turning every 12 hours for 3-4 days. Scrape off the dry brine before slicing and serving.

How to Eat Gravlax

Served for breakfast, brunch, or part of a smorgasbord, it’s often paired with dark bread and a mustard dill sauce. On a bagel, it’s delicious with a smear of cream cheese, diced red onions, and capers.

How Do You Store Gravlax

Freshly cured gravlax stays fresh, covered in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days.

More of the Best Salmon Recipes:

Gravlax on crackers on a small white plate with a red handle knife

The Recipe: Gravlax

How to cure salmon with salt and sugar!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 20 servings


  • 4 pounds boned salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 bunches fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac


  1. Wrap baking sheet in plastic wrap, then line with parchment. Place fillets baking sheet, skin side down. Remove any bones.
  2. Mix together pepper, sugar and salt. Sprinkle over fillets. Place dill over salmon, then drizzle with Cognac.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap, then top with another baking sheet. Place a heavy object on top of the second baking sheet (I used cast iron popover pans).
  4. Every 12 hours, flip the salmon pieces and cover with new plastic wrap. Continue for a total of 3-4 days.
  5. To serve, scrape off dill and spices. Pat dry. Slice thin pieces on the diagonal.


Inspired by recipes from Emeril and Julia Child

Total time is 3-4 days for curing.

Feel free to use half the amount of salmon and half the rest of the ingredients. Curing time will remain the same.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 1470mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 20g


Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

40 comments on “How to Make Gravlax”

  1. I made this many years ago and loved it. I haven’t made it since but this would be a nice dish to make for an upcoming holiday. I haven’t seen this recipe but it sounds delicious and looks perfect. This would be a huge hit with my family – the one I grew up with. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be sure to save this and surprise everyone with it.

  2. Did you say Brazilian cocktails!?!?!? I can think of nothing better ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. This is incredible, Liz! I’m drooling over those beautiful colors, and that dill. I’m making this the next time I see my Pop. He grew up on this stuff, and I’m sure it will make him so happy! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. We buy this and my family adds it to their sandwiches a lot. It looks easy, I need to try it at home someday..

  5. I’ve never made gravlax, and really need to someday. It’s such good stuff! Yours looks terrific, and you’ve inspired me. It’s not going to happen this year, but maybe next! Really nice – thanks.

  6. This was a complete weakness of mine growing up – if it was on a buffet I’d hoover it like nobody’s business!

  7. Oh yeah! This is right up my alley. I can imagine this tossed in a salad, covering my cream cheese bagel, with some capers and oh my! Just fantastic!

  8. I still need to try my hand at making this.

  9. This sounds like a winner to me! Beautiful presentation. lol My Husband is a Mr. Picky Pants too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.