Cured Citrus Salmon Gravlax

Cured with salt and sugar this citrus salmon gravlax is a perfect for appetizers or on top of a bagel with cream cheese. The fresh peppercorns add just a hint of spice. 

If I could I would eat cured salmon for breakfast every morning. What I love about this recipe is that it is very flavorful and very easy to make. The only thing that this recipe takes is patience. What makes this such a great recipe is although it could be perfect for breakfast or brunch, gravlax makes for delicious appetizers. Since you are the one that makes it you get to control the sweetness or saltiness of the salmon. 

In this recipe

The star of the show is the salmon. However there are a few other ingredients that you might want to be aware of. 

Rock salt: You will want to use rock salt (ice cream salt) when you cure the salmon. The larger grain keeps the salmon from becoming too salty.

Sugar: Just like salt you don’t want to have a really fine sugar. Regular granulated sugar is good or even better a coarse ground sugar. However avoid using ultra fine sugar to cure. 

Lemon/Lime/Grapefruit zest: You can use any combination of zest you want. 

PeppercornsWhen these are crushed they release oils that will soak into the skin helping to flavor the salmon. 

Citrus salmon gravlax ingredients on a wooden cutting board
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Gravlax vs Lox vs Smoked Salmon

There isn’t much of a difference between gravlax and lox. The biggest difference is that lox is cured with only salt. Gravlax is cured with salt, sugar and any other additional flavors that you would like to add to the salmon. There are even recipes that will cure salmon with beets that turns it is a lovely purple color. Smoked salmon that you will find at the store will have the same kind of texture that lox and gravlax have. The only difference it is cold smoked so that the fish absorbs those wonderful smokey flavors. 

a bowl of citrus salt mixture
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Mixed citrus salt
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Salt mixture on cling film
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salmon flesh side down on salt
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wrapped salmon coated in salt
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cure salmon on a sheet pan
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Food safety concerns

Whenever I cure salmon I make sure that I do a hard cure. This is salmon that has been cured for long enough to draw out a majority of the water in the fish. When you hard cure fish it will remove the food safety concerns like parasites. If the salmon isn’t cured long enough then there is a risk that the food borne illness and parasites may still be present. Depending on the size of the filet it takes 2-3 days for a hard cure. You will see lots of fluid in the bottom of the sheet pan for a hard cure. 

close up of sliced salmon
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Why should I cure my salmon

The first and biggest reason is that is considerably cheaper than buying it at the store. Another reason to do it is that you can control the flavor and the saltiness and sweetness of the salmon. This allows you to tailor the salmon flavors to any dish that you would like to use it in. I have even used everything bagel spice blend when curing the salmon. There have even been time where adding just a few tablespoons of bourbon, tequila, or rye whiskey will add an additional depth of flavor that you cannot find at the store. 

sliced salmon on a bagel with cream cheese
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How do I store it?

Since it is a hard cure you can keep it in the refrigerator for about 5 days after you are done curing. In order to preserve it longer if you are not going to finish it is to freeze it. However you will want to freeze the portion you are not planning on eating as soon as it is first sliced. The reason for this is more for food safety than texture. Since it will have been in contact with many different surfaces it could pick up bacteria. If that has happened then the bacteria will slowly grow in the freezer. Since this is not cooked there will not be a way to kill that bacteria. 

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Looking for other salmon recipes?

Sliced citrus salmon gravlax on a slate board
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Cured Citrus Salmon Gravlax

A salmon filet cured with salt, sugar, and zest from lemon, limes, and grapefruit. Perfect for lox and bagels.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Curing time 3 days 1 hour
Total Time 3 days 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine Sweden
Servings 12 servings
Calories 180 kcal


  • 2 Sheet pan
  • Cling film
  • Mixing Bowl


  • 3 pounds salmon filet
  • 12 ounces rock salt
  • 12 ounces sugar
  • 4 tablespoons grapefruit zest about 2 large grapefruits
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns ground


  • Spread out 2 sheets of cling film that slightly overlap.
  • In a bowl combine all of the ingredients with the exception of the salmon in a bowl. Mix until well combined.
  • Spread ⅔ of the the salt mixture onto the cling film in the shape of the salmon. Place the salmon flesh side down on the salt mixture. Spread the remaining ⅓over the skin of the salmon.
  • Fold up the short ends of the cling film over the salmon then tightly wrap the longer ends around the salmon. Place the salmon on a sheet pan and place the other sheet pan on top. Set a few canned goods on top of the sheet pan to weight it down.
  • Refrigerate for 3 days.
  • Remove the cling film and rinse off the salt and sugar. Pat completely dry. Place in the refrigerator for another hour to finish drying but you can slice immediately after drying if you would like.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 180kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 23gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 508mgPotassium: 565mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 56IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 26mgIron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer*
Keyword Bagels, Citrus, Cured, Lox
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Citrus salmon gravlax pinterest pin
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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