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Close up of gravlax on a white platter with dill and lemons.

Homemade Gravlax (Easy Cured Salmon Recipe)

Silky smooth in texture and perfectly flavored with aquavit, dill and white pepper, this traditional gravlax is delicious and surprisingly easy to make at home.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: appetizers, Main Course
Cuisine: Nordic, Nordic Scandinavian, Norwegian, Swedish
Keyword: easy cured salmon recipe, homemade gravlax recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Curing Time: 2 days 12 hours
Servings: 8
Calories: 217kcal
Author: Kristi

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon white peppercorns
  • cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 2- pound skin on salmon filet sushi-grade, pin bones removed
  • 3 tablespoons aquavit or gin, vodka or brandy
  • To serve:
  • Thinly sliced rye bread or crispbread
  • Small lemon wedges
  • Fresh dill sprigs
  • Mustard and Dill Sauce for Gravlax (Gravlaxsås) (optional)

Instructions

  • Crush the peppercorns with the bottom of a small heavy skillet, the side of a chef’s knife, a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Combine the brown sugar, kosher salt and crushed peppercorns in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Pat the salmon dry and lay skin side down in a 9x13 glass baking dish. Drizzle with the aquavit and rub it into the surface of the salmon with your fingers. Sprinkle the salmon with the salt, pepper and sugar mixture and rub to coat the surface evenly, making sure it is completely covered. Top with an even layer of chopped dill.
  • Tightly wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap. Place a cutting board, smaller baking dish or something else that is about the same size as the piece of salmon on top of the fish. Stack a few cans or jars of vegetables or beans on top to weigh the salmon down. Transfer everything to the refrigerator and let the salmon cure for 12 hours or overnight.
  • Take the salmon out of the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap, cutting board and weights. Drizzle the top of the salmon with some of the accumulated juices from the bottom of the dish and pour off and discard any remaining juices at the bottom of the pan. Flip the salmon over so that it is now skin side up. Wrap with a new piece of plastic wrap and top again with the cutting board and weights. Place it back in the refrigerator for another 12 hours.
  • Repeat the process above one more time, flipping the salmon so that it is now skin side down again. Rewrap with fresh plastic wrap and replace the board and weights. Back to the refrigerator for 12 more hours.
  • Take the salmon out of the refrigerator (the total cure time should be about 36 hours) and remove the plastic wrap, cutting board and weights. Using a paper towel, wipe the dill and any remaining rub from the top of the salmon.
  • Transfer to a platter or cutting board and slice on the bias against the grain of the fish into very thin slices, leaving the skin behind. Serve with rye bread and/or crispbread, mustard dill sauce, lemon wedges and/ or dill sprigs.

Notes

Buy only the best, freshest sushi grade skin-on salmon you can find (preferably a center cut) for best results.
DO NOT SUBSTITUTE REGULAR TABLE SALT FOR THE KOSHER SALT.  The resulting dish will be much too salty.
The easiest way to remove pin bones from salmon (other than to ask the fish monger to do it for you) is to lay the piece of salmon over the top of a large overturned bowl. This helps any remaining pin bones to protrude from the flesh and makes them easier to find and remove. I like to use a clean pair of tweezers to remove them. A small, clean pair of pliers works well, too.
Once the salmon is cured and the rub and dill has been removed, you can wrap the unsliced gravlax tightly in plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. It's best to slice the gravlax just before serving. Gravlax will keep tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
Using a very sharp knife will help slice the gravlax into thin slices for serving. Be on the lookout for pin bones you might have missed as you are slicing the salmon and remove them as you go (I always find a few).
To freeze gravlax, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap in serving size portions and lay the portions flat inside a larger freezer bag. Seal tightly Defrost in the refrigerator before serving. Frozen gravlax will keep well for a couple of months if tightly wrapped.
There is no way of knowing how much salt is absorbed during the curing process so please be aware that the sodium numbers in the nutrition information may not be accurate.  The calculation is based on the amount of salt in the cure itself.

Nutrition

Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 3593mg | Potassium: 613mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 499IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg