Mark Bittman's Gravlax Recipe (2024)



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Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by simply packing the fish, dill, and salt mix into a nonreactive pan (I used a 2 qt pyrex). Stretch the plastic wrap over the top and weights on top of that. The pan will catch all the liquid pulled out of the fish, the weights will keep it submerged, and you won't need to fuss with unwrapping messy gloppy cling film.

Andree Abramoff

I make my gravlax with just 1/3 to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 2-3 tsps. salt in a similar manner, plus the chopped dill of course.
I fail to imagine how 2 WHOLE CUPS of brown sugar, let alone 1 CUP of salt, would affect the taste of such an exquisige delicacy.


My father's recipe was equal parts salt, sugar and enough liquid smoke to make a paste. Schmear on both sides of salmon and put the whole think in the Sunday NYT bag and tie it up tight. Flip daily for 7 days. No need to baste or weigh it down. I leave the skin on, well, because he did. I freeze in chunks, also because he did. Just pull out the night before and and allow to defrost in the fridge. Nothing better with everything bagels, cream cheese, capers and thinly sliced red onion.


If using two full King Salmon sides, the weight of the fish could be as much as 3 to 5 kilo, in which case you may need MORE salt and sugar. The curative reaction you are trying to achieve requires an excess of both.


David Avila 2 days agoThis is not gravlax the way you do it. Swedish gravlax is two parts sugar to one of salt, pepper, and no smoke, liquid or otherwise, and no liquor. Norwegian gravadlaks reverses the proportions of salt and sugar and does use the liquor. Both pour off the liquid that comes out of the fish when you flip it. Pressing with weight helps the liquid to emerge.

Joe Zahner

I don't recommend using sockeye as it is way too lean. Always go for King as it has a much higher fat content. No need to turn it either. Just weight it down and wait three days. Also I don't see the purpose of leaving the skin on. You will get a better cure without it. Sprinkle with a small amount of liquid smoke.

brian kerr

I've made this a couple of times, I've really enjoyed the results. I pack the fillets with the sugar, dill, and salt and marry the fish fillets together. I place them in a perforated pan over another pan to catch the juices. I put another pan on top of the fish and weight it with heavy cans. I skip the basting but I turn the fish over every day for 3 days. I then rinse, pat dry, and slice thinly.


NOT weighted down will give you more tender, less dense fish. It doesn't change the curing property, which as a commenter noted, is better with a 1 to 1 ratio of salt to sugar. If you don't weight down, you can slice off some small chunks, quick pickle some thinly sliced onion with a bit of the cured dill, then toss the onion with the salmon chunks, a bit of the brine - and sour cream. Voila - pickled salmon in cream sauce. Keeps a scant week in the fridge. If not gobbled up sooner.


Half a case of beer was summoned to duty weighting down my salmon. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!


Sue 2 months agoMy dad's recipe was equal parts salt, sugar & enough liquid smoke to make a paste. Smear on both sides of salmon & put the whole thing in the Sunday NYT bag and tie it up tight. Flip daily for 7 days. No need to baste or weigh it down. I leave the skin on, because he did. I freeze in chunks, because he did. Just pull out the night before & allow to defrost in the fridge. Nothing better with everything bagels, cream cheese, capers & thinly sliced red onion.


I do just one fillet, equal amounts of Diamond kosh salt and white sugar, white pepper and lots of dill wrapped tight with plastic wrap. I punch holes in the wrap for the brine to drain, weight it and turn twice a day Doris 2.5- 3 days (depending on thickness) for Atlantic salmon, 2 days for king and 1.5 for sockeye. Perfect every time.


Placing salmon in a Ziplock bag and then in a dish, weights on top – makes it easy to rotate.


We now wrap ours tightly in plastic film wrap and put a brick on it in the fridge. When you're turning it you're basting it We turn twice daily. 2 ½ days is ideal (for us).




I use a rectangular plastic (Chinese takeaway) container with lid and forego putting a weight on it. Very little difference in the final density and thickness. I also prefer 50/50 mix ratio with dry dill, white pepper, and bourbon.

Claudia White

This is my go to recipe for gravlax. It is easy and delicious.

Monica H.

If you have a food vacuum sealer, which I do, seal everything in a bag. Turn over per the schedule in the recipe. Much less fuss.

Greta Wade

We caught Russian River red and after smoking a few, I decided to give this a try. Not sure why I haven’t tried this before. I followed the recipe and it was perfectly dense, flavorful, and maintained its brilliant color. Just do what Mark says and you will be glad you did.


My Hungarian aunt buries it in the yard for three days. Is this not the traditional way?! I’m not seeing it in any recipes


Mine unfortunately came out really dry. I think curing the salmon for a shorter amount of time would be better.

Michael Mays

The Time is 48-72 hours in the recipe not 24 as shown in the Time header.

Colin Lewis

Why is my Gravlax so oily and fishy ?


11/2021 I've made this almost exactly as described. It's the one meal our daughter and French son-in-law always ask for when visiting.I use skinless, fresh, farmed salmon, for its fat content. COSTCO is the best source. Serve with capers, more dill & thin lemon slices for a great presentation. Also, of course, fresh bagels!!NOTE:Put the sandwiched fillets in a large zip loc (weighted with cans or bottes on top-so easy!), and just turn it every 12 hours for 3 days. Rinse very well, then slice


I made the Gravlax for an lavish diner, but it turned out very salty. Even though I faithfully followed the recipe. Any ideas what could have gone wrong?


It's important to rinse the fish extremely well after it brines. Also, we've done it with a bit less salt, tho always 1:1 ratio with the sugar. It doesn't really need a full cup of each.Try it again. You'll be glad you did.


The liquid produced from curing the fish is great for pickling sliced onions.


Take a hint from the Scandinavians: No spirits and absolutely NO weight on top, it makes the gravlax dry and compacted. Use North Atlantic salmon for nice fatty, silky slices and top with mustard sauce, yum! Then cut up the skin in pieces 1x5 cm and fry them until crispy.1 kg salmon (preferably 2 middle pieces)6 tbs coarse kosher salt3 tbs sugar2 tsp crushed white pepperLots of dill

Jeanette Harris

I make this for holidays. Have for years. My recipe is very similar, just not as much sugar. I'm using gin right now, on the fish and in me. :-)


I make it the same as Mr. Bittman, but prefer salmon with no skin. Easier cleanup. I use COSTCO salmon but get the one with no antibiotic feed used.I like the suggestion below of just using a glass bake pan for the fish to cure in. But I also put it into ziploc bags.The touches of bourbon. whiskey, a bit of brown sugar, really kicks it up.Serve at a party, plated with lemon, capers, cucumber slices..Or save it for a yummy brunch with warm, soft bagels "n cream cheese.


What kind of salt is recommended? Does it matter?


I use plain Morton's salt. I find the crunchy Kosher salt makes it too salty.But basically the salt to sugar ration is always 1:1


Just made this as appetizer for Super Bowl party. Had a 1/2 pound of farmed salmon so cut back to 1/3 cup salt and white sugar, 1/4 cup vodka and a teaspoon of cracked black pepper plus lots of dill. Marinated it for 2-1/2 days. Served it on small slices of home made New York Times no-kneed bread spread with cream cheese. Was a big hit.

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Mark Bittman's Gravlax Recipe (2024)


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