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How to Make Homemade Gravlax


Image of Gravlax


Photo © Molly Watson

Gravlax - or 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 Horseradish-Cured Salmon instead.

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.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Curing Time: 24 hours

Total Time: 24 hours, 30 minutes


  • 2 equal-sized fresh salmon filets, skin on
  • 1/4 cup aquavit or vodka
  • 1/3 cup fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill (optional)


  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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. Re-cover and weigh down the fish and return to the fridge. Let chill another 12 hours.
  6. The fish is now cured, but it will benefit from another 12 - 24 hours of being weighed down and chilled, so feel free to repeat these steps a second time around.
  7. When ready to eat, remove fish from wrapping, pat dry, and use a very sharp knife to slice the gravlax thinly against the grain.

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

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