Gravlax is a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon which has been cured in salt, sugar and flavoured with dill. It’s popular all over Scandinavia and traditionally served with dark bread and a sweet mustard sauce as a starter or as part of a buffet, which they call a smorgasbord.

When we were posted to Copenhagen we ate a lot of gravlax and I acquired the recipe. It’s very easy to make, cheaper than the bought version and can be made ahead and kept in the freezer. Perfect to whip out as needed and serve to guests over the holiday season. Serve as an alternative to smoked salmon, with bagels and cream cheese or in canapes.

My original recipe said to use salmon fillets with the skin on, which is what I have always done. However, I found some very nice fillets in Costco, with the skin and pin bones all removed and decided to see how they would work. They were perfect, with no waste. Removing pin bones is a pain in the neck so all I can say is good old Costco as there are absolutely no bones. If you buy fillets with the skin on that’s fine. People love the sauce so I usually double the recipe. Any left over also goes well with smoked salmon, ham, cold roast beef or chicken.

If two fillets is too much just do one, cut in half, and sandwiched with half the salt, sugar and dill mixture.


¼ cup salt
¼ cup sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 whole salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed, each weighing 800-1200g
1 large bunch dill, finely chopped in food processor or by hand, including stalks
freshly ground black pepper

Mix salt, sugar, pepper and dill. Place about a third in a large ceramic or glass dish about the size of the salmon fillets and spread out evenly. Then place one fillet on top. Sprinkle with another third of the salt/sugar mixture, then place the second fillet on top. Sprinkle with remaining mixture, pressing it into the fish. Cover with plastic, place a small chopping board and a weight such as a brick on top then refrigerate for 4-6 days to “cure” the fish. Each day turn the salmon over.

Remove fillets and rinse off salt/sugar/dill mixture under the tap. Pat dry with paper towels. Wrap each fillet in plastic wrap and freeze until needed. I usually cut each fillet into 3 and wrap each piece individually before freezing, but a whole fillet looks more spectacular on a buffet table. Remove gravlax from the freezer and thaw a bit. Slice thinly on the diagonal while still slightly frozen, which makes it easier. Garnish with fresh dill and lemon wedges. Some people like to serve it with a few capers and slices of red onion. If liked serve with dark pumpernickel or rye bread and Sweet Mustard Sauce.

Sweet Mustard Sauce

¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp hot English mustard (powder or ready made)
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs white wine or cider vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
3 Tbs chopped fresh dill

Place all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously to emulsify. Keep a few fronds of dill for garnish.

8 thoughts on “Gravlax

  1. The Scandinavians all use a variation of a sweet mustard sauce – give it a try. Yours sounds nice too and will appeal to those who don’t like sweet sauces with savoury food.

  2. Hi Linda. Loved making and eating the Gravlax. I used fresh salmon steaks without skins. Ric and I really enjoyed it.. especially the mustard sauce dressing.
    I think next time I need to leave it longer so it ‘cures’ ?? more or weight it down more. Any suggestions?
    Do you serve it on one presentation dish or individually presented?

    • Glad you enjoyed it. I usually do two whole salmon fillets, i.e. sides. It needs to cure for 3-4 days and it’s good to turn it once halfway through. The weights are important. You can always leave it longer. I serve it on one plate for a buffet style meal but individual plates are nice. You can make the fish into a sort of rose in the middle and drizzle the sauce around the outside.

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