Gravlax Recipe: The Simplest Way to Cure at Home

Photo by Bowery Bagels

Gravlax is a cured-salmon dish. It is different from Nova-style lox in that it isn’t smoked after curing, so it takes less time and equipment, and has a purer salmon flavor.


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ounce fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 fennel stalks, leaves only picked and chopped
  • One side or large fillet of fresh salmon, approx. 1.5 lbs. (A little thinner is better here, rather than extremely thick, to allow the cure to penetrate;Three-quarter to one inch thick is perfect)
  • 1 tablespoon aquavit (traditional) or vodka  (for a uniquely Northwest twist, I sometimes use Clear Creek Distillery’s Douglas Fir Brandy)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


1. To make the cure, blend brown sugar, salt, lemon zest, dill and fennel fronds in food processor for approximately 30 seconds, until blended well but not so much as to cause the sugar and salt to break down.

2. Make sure salmon is clean and all pin bones are removed.

3. Line bottom of a shallow pan large enough to fit the salmon with plastic wrap, then lay down a thin layer of cure in the shape of the fillet.

4. Place salmon on top of cure, flesh up and drizzle with liquor, pressing into the flesh as you pour.

5. Use the remainder of cure to entirely coat the flesh of the salmon, firmly patting down.

6. Place a layer of plastic over top of the now curing salmon, then place an approximately three-pound weight on top (perhaps another pan with cans on it, or dry beans in a plastic bag, anything that will act as a weight).

7. Depending on thickness of salmon, allow to cure between 4 and 6 hours.

8. After the salmon has cured, rinse under slow stream of water to remove cure from skin and flesh. Pat fish dry with clean paper towels.

9. Once clean, lay in new pan/plastic wrap setup, drizzle with olive oil, cover with plastic and again weight down, this time overnight or for approximately 8 hours.

10. Your gravlax is now ready for slicing and enjoying! Slice with a very sharp knife, almost parallel to your cutting board, in wide, thin slices.