Gravlax Recipe — Swedish Cured Salmon

gravlax recipe

When I was in New Zealand some decade or so ago, wwoofing*, occasionally I would be allowed to work some of my wwoof-hours in the restaurant kitchen. The chef there made gravlax. It seemed so easy and tasted so delicious, I’d since then always intended to try making it myself, but never got around to it until I had the brainiac idea to do this Christmas Around the World thingy and came upon a recipe for gravlax while researching Sweden. Though gravlax is not just made in Sweden (obviously it’s made in New Zealand and Texas now, too!) IKEA sure has made it synonymous with Sweden. And if that puts you off at all, keep in mind that I have written out clear instructions for assembly of the gravlax with nary a pictogram nor tiny wrench in sight.


Gravlax translates to “grave salmon” or “trench salmon” though I like the imagery of “grave salmon” because it gives you full permission to serve this for a Halloween party. Originally, it described salmon that was preserved by burying it in the sand and allowing it to ferment. Now, it’s more like you just bury the salmon in a grave made out of a baking dish and a bunch of salt and sugar and then put it in the fridge. It’s not cooked exactly, but it is cured, sort of like ceviche.

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten. I leave mine to cure in the fridge for four days and it was perfect. To store it longer, drain the brine and wrap it up tightly and refrigerate up to seven days.

Serve thin slices (cut away the skin) on dark rye bread or rye crackers with sour cream or cream cheese, capers, lemon, fresh dill, mustard or horseradish … any of those things are great. It would also be good tossed in a pasta salad or in a crepe or an omelet.


Gravlax — Norwegian Cured Salmon

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4.8 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 72 hours
  • Total Time: 72 hours
  • Yield: 8 1x


  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet, boned, skin-on
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


  1. Cut the salmon in half cross-wise to get two square-ish pieces.
  2. Mix sugar, salt, fennel and pepper together. Rinse and dry dill sprigs, leaving them intact.
  3. Lay one skin-side-down into a glass loaf pan or other non-reactive dish at least 2″ deep.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with half the salt mix, spread the dill sprigs over, sprinkle with remaining salt.
  5. Lay the other piece of salmon on top, skin-side-up to make a “sandwich”.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and fit a tupperware or other container inside the loaf pan. Fill it with a heavy can or jar to weigh the fish down.
  7. Refrigerate 3-4 days, turning the “salmon sandwich” every 12 hours or so. Every 16 hours is okay, too. After only the first day, there will be quite a bit of brine accumulated in the dish. Leave it there until serving time.
  8. Eat after 3-4 days and store leftover gravlax sans brine in an airtight container.


I served with the following sauce:
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon horseradish
salt and pepper

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*That stands for “world wide opportunities on organic farms”. Basically, you show up on a farm (in my case, it was a large garden that supplied a lodge restaurant that was located in a national forest accessible only by boat) and work in the dirt in exchange for food and lodging. It was an absolutely wonderful experience and I highly recommend it to anyone.

gravlax recipe


  1. Jill Patterson on April 27, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    I tried this for a dinner party and it was delicious! Thanks for the clear directions and photos. I’d like to see a photo of the salmon when you put it together to cure it. And I’m trying to figure out how you got such nice wide slices. Mine were thin strips.

    • Hilah on April 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Hey Jill!
      I’m not sure about the slicing issue. Were you cutting against the grain? That’s how I cut it.

    • Patrick on January 26, 2019 at 11:46 am

      slice it on a diagonal

  2. Gina McDonald on September 25, 2020 at 5:29 am

    I found a recipe that calls for using a whole boneless 8lb salmon. Can you see that working? I think it is for presentation on a buffet to be left whole. It also called for 2/3 c salt, 1/2 c sugar. Does that seem like enough?

    • Hilah on September 26, 2020 at 12:22 pm

      I guess it would work the same way, sandwiching the curing mixture inside. I really don’t know about the amounts you are talking about though. It doesn’t seen like enough salt or sugar for 8 lb of salmon but I am not an expert and haven’t ever done a whole salmon.

      • Lowell Jonsson on December 29, 2023 at 2:51 pm

        I make smaller slices since large wide slices require an expensive fish-slicing knife (very sharp). I will ask for one next Christmas. With small slices it’s easier to put on a number or varied-sized items (Ritz Crackers, round or odd-sized Knäckebröd, rye bread and so forth). Try some on poached eggs like Eggs Benedict. Also, take a full Round of Swedish Knäckebröd, paint lightly with butter, then dill-onion cream cheese, add chopped onions, then a layer of Gravlox, topped with capers, dill, och Gravloxsås; using a very sharp knife cut into pizza-like pieces. We call it a Norwegian or Swedish Pizza. Yum! Serve with cold beer (øl) och Aquavit. Sköl! (Don’t forget buttering the Knäckebdöd or the cream cheese alone will make the Knäckebröd soggy in relatively short time.

  3. Rose on November 28, 2020 at 5:26 am

    After four days don’t you rinse the salmon off Or do you eat it with a dill?

    • Hilah on November 29, 2020 at 8:11 am

      I just drain it, don’t rinse it

  4. Lee Montgomery on December 22, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Can I use salmon filet that has no skin.

    • Hilah on December 23, 2020 at 5:28 am

      I think you could, but I haven’t tried it

  5. Kitty on September 24, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    Your recipe sounds reasonable. I used to do lox with more salt as most recipes calls for but then it comes out really dry and hard. I will try yours.

    Slicing into wide strips is not difficult.. for whoever asked about this..:

    you need to get your knife very horizontal and parallels to the surface you are cutting as the more perpendicular you hold your knife’s blade the smaller strips you will get..
    it is pretty much the same idea as slicing smoked salmon.
    if you have a good deli near you where they have actual full smoked fillets that
    they slice for you to order then you can watch how they do it.
    If you don’t next best thing is youtube. I found for you a video that shows exactly
    how you hold the knife to cut it. While this is shown on full fillet the same
    you can do on much smaller piece, just always hold the knife blade flat and
    go thin.

    • Hilah on September 27, 2022 at 7:23 pm

      Thank you Kitty!

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