I have prepared lox and gravlax in the past. In both instances, I have brined and lightly smoked the salmon; in the case of gravlax, I have then put finely snipped fresh dill on the flesh side of the salmon, put a bit of olive oil on the dill and pressed it into the fish and left it to age for several days in the refrigerator.

These techniques never seem to give me a product similar to those I have tried in restaurants and at commercial outlets.

It seems that I am doing something wrong, especially with the gravlax, which never seems to achieve the fine texture and flavor of the gravlax I can purchase.

I use about 3 tablespoons/50 ml of salt and about half as much sugar per pound/450 grammes for a dry brine, which is then put in the refrigerator for a day, before smoking.

Has anyone made this? Why isn't it coming out correctly?

  • 5
    Frankie, normally gravlax isn't smoked. It is only cured in salt, sugar and sometimes a little alcohol. Lox is, of course, smoked in a very cold smoke. What temperature are you smoking these at?
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 20, 2011 at 3:01
  • Cold smoking, just enough to get some color. This only works for me when it is cold at night, gets to warm in the summer time.
    – Frankie
    Sep 20, 2011 at 3:38
  • Thank you so much for asking this. I always assumed lox was just short for gravlox and they were the same thing.
    – Preston
    Dec 27, 2020 at 23:45

3 Answers 3


I'd say you probably brined the salmon for too long. Gravlax goes generally from 12 to 48 hours in a dry brine.

You have to know that

  • The longer the salmon is left in the brine the more it gets cooked and firm. Try shorter brine time (12-48h).
  • The more saltier the brine is, the firmer the salmon will end up. Try increasing the sugar ratio in your mix.

If the result is uneven, you should flip the fish each 12 or so hours. After the brining and removing all the salt under running water, let the fish rest (dry) for a few hours to let the flavors balance inside the fish.

For the smoking, you should take care of cold smoking it (fish temperature should be kept below 37°C [100°F]) as to maintain gravlax properties. However as it was mentioned in the comments, it should then be called smoked salmon instead of gravlax as the gravlax is generally not smoked. Inserting a thermometer in the fish is helpful to control temperature during the whole process.

A trick to maintain gravlax properties and confection, but to add some smoke flavor is to add some smoked tea to the brine.

  • So you think that less time or a weaker brining or more sugar will do the trick? What about the smoking bit? You didn't mention anything about that.
    – Frankie
    Sep 19, 2011 at 19:29
  • I've updated my answer to answer the smoking part. Sep 25, 2011 at 13:57
  • It is also often pressed with pans and weights, and re-seasoned half way through. It is also not commonly cured with oils in my experience, though I'm not sure if omitting oil is for curing, or for food safety. Aug 16, 2014 at 19:08

You can use liquid smoke from a butcher supplier and use the traditional method of not smoking.


Every cook has their own recipe. The Gold standard for Jewish deli Style Belly Lox is the ACME lox product. Folks gravitate toward NOVA these days, not lox, but smoked salmon product. Gravlax is never smoked. It is just brined. I make let my gravslax sit on the salt/sugar mixture 2-4 days (usually 3). Commercial makers use a ice water brine. For home we just use salt (lox) or 50/50 salt and sugar (gravlax). I think my belly lox is as good as the ACME product. The only ingredient they list on the label is salt.

  • Thanks for this answer. I'm craving that Jewish style lox and not the smoked salmon. Smoked salmon is too firm and flaky. May 3, 2019 at 19:56

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