Homemade Gravlax

Stéphane Gabart has beautiful photograph on his blog My French Heaven, and the recipes he shares with us are both simple and delicious. His post on gravlax inspired me to try this for myself. Gravlax or gravad laks is salmon cured with salt and sugar. This used to be a method to preserve salmon, and nowadays it is still prepared for its nice flavor. The name actually means “buried salmon” in Scandiavian languages, as the salmon used to be buried on the beach to preserve it.

Gravad lax tastes similar to smoked salmon, except that it’s not smoked. It is very easy to make your own, which will certainly impress your friends. All you need is sushi grade salmon and some patience.

The curing process will draw a lot of liquid out of the salmon and will make it firm, allowing you to slice it thinly. But before slicing it, it is marinated first with olive oil, lemon juice, and dill. For both the curing stage and the marinating stage you can add other herbs and spices, but for my first try I decided to keep it simple.

As with any dish you make yourself from scratch, you can tweak it to suit your own tastes. I started too late and didn’t have enough time wanted to keep some of the salmon flavor, so I decided to marinate the salmon only for  a few hours.


For 4 to 6 servings

450 grams (1 lb) sushi grade salmon fillet with skin

100 grams (1/2 cup) coarse grey sea salt

100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

10 grams freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade

fresh dill

extra virgin olive oil

freshly squeezed lemon juice

For serving

fresh dill


slices of lemon


Combine the sugar, salt, and pepper in a shallow container and stir until homogeneous.

Arrange the salmon in the container with a layer of the curing mixture underneath and a layer of the mixture on top.

Cover the salmon with plastic wrap and put a weight on it.

Refrigerate for 48 hours to cure.

The salmon will have firmed up, will have darkened in color, and will have released a lot of liquid.

Rinse the salmon under cold running water to remove the curing mixture. Pat dry with paper towels.

Put the salmon in a clean shallow dish, skin side down, and add freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Add extra virgin olive oil as well.

And finally add chopped fresh dill.

Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours, skin side up.

You can leave the dill on…

…or wipe it off.

Slice the gravlax crosswise, thinly and diagonally with a sharp long knife. Slicing diagonally will give you wider slices.

Serve the graxlax with capers, dill, and lemon. If you like you can add some freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil as well.

Wine pairing

Gravlax pairs best with a dry sauvignon blanc, especially Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé.


26 thoughts on “Homemade Gravlax

      1. I believe liquid smoke is just made by smoking wood chips, pressurizing the resulting air to get a liquid, and filtering or centrifuging out carcinogens.


      2. I gather they just burn wood and pipe the smoke into a condenser… so it is all the chemicals you would get in smoke by using a smoker. Not terribly healthy one imagines, but no worse than doing it naturally. It comes in little bottles… smells like creosote but adds nice flavor if used very sparingly. I must do a post on it sometime…


  1. My Norwegian sister will have a view on this. A very positive view, I’m sure. A friend tried it last Christmas but over weighted the salmon during the curing. Very thin slices!


  2. To put it simply ~ if I had to pick my favourite dish from any of the cuisines anywhere in the world, this would be it. It was also the first dish in the making of which I was allowed to ‘participate’ as a kneehigh grasshopper 🙂 ! Please ALWAYS keep it simple – the vodka and the spices [perhaps a couple of allspice] and Lord knows what else just gild the lily! I like to buy a whole salmon and use the sugar/salt/dill [HAS to be there!!] as a ‘stuffing’ – that is how it was and is always made in Estonia.


    1. In recent years the definitive chef who has cooked more pure classic gravlax than anyone in the world it is said [and she concurs] is Viveka from Sweden. Yes she is a purist both with the gravlax and the sweet mustard sauce, but I have a huge respect for her way of thinking!


  3. Fabulous! I love gravlax and My French Heaven! There are as many many recipes for gravlax, all slightly different. You can infinitely vary the aromatics and “cooking” medium. As well as the sugar and salt, I use an Alice Water inspired combo of lemon zest, citrus vodka and lemon thyme, a friend uses whiskey and dill.


  4. We eat this for christmas breakfast or brunch in Norway. I don’t add any olive oil to it, but add some Aquavit instead. Delicious with some finely chopped charlotte onion and sweet mustard sause.


  5. Stefan – Isn’t My French Heaven inspirational? Your gravlax looks fantastic – especially with the marrying of dill and lemon with the fresh salmon. Well-done, as always! Salmon is one of my favorite foods – I could eat this gravlax each day. Have a lovely weekend – Shanna


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