Subscribe to our Mailing List

Get the news right in your inbox!

How to Make Cold Cured Salmon (Gravlax) at Home

devon No Comments

This post contains affiliate links meaning that I may make a small commission based off of your purchase at no additional cost to you.

cold cured salmon gravlax

How to Make Cold Cured Salmon (Gravlax) at Home

Devon No Comments

Making your own cold cured salmon, also known as gravlax, at home is simple and easy, providing you with a rich, flavorful, and dare I say impressive treat!

One of the greatest things about living in the Pacific Northwest is, well, the Pacific Ocean – and all the things that come with proximity to it.  Wild food is abundant in all shape, sizes, and forms.  From a massive elk to the tiniest huckleberry, the PNW provides.  Perhaps it is Chinook salmon, though, that uniquely identifies as our most infamous regional fare.

chinook salmon

I was blessed very recently when my husband was invited fishing on the Columbia River, near the mouth into the Pacific.  There were a number of nervous texts exchanged in the early morning hours as their poles were decidedly, stubbornly still.  The bites were few and far between.  Alas, I finally received this wonderful picture message early afternoon.

fresh caught salmon

Although federally speaking Chinook salmon are considered a threatened species, in my state, Oregon, they are not.  Conservation efforts for Lower Columbia Chinook salmon have maintained the sustainability of the fishery with the introduction of hatchery salmon. These fish are released into the wild, preserving the personal and commercial fishery, and, more importantly, the native species.  In the wake of the recently FDA approval of GMO Atlantic salmon for human consumption, I feel very fortunate to live in a state that has preserved the status of its native fish, while also encouraging the fishery in such a way.  As such, a wild caught treat like salmon makes me most especially grateful.

Upon my husband’s arrival home, half of one delicious fillet was promptly consumed for dinner.  I prepared the other fillet into two large sections for the freezer, leaving me with the slightly smaller tail end of the first fillet.  My plan: a cold cured salmon, otherwise known as gravlax, of course.

Just to be perfectly clear here – cold cured salmon, or gravlax, is not technically cooked.  It is salt cured.  But to cover all the bases here is your raw and undercook foods disclosure:

Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.

gravlax seasoning blend

That said, cold cured salmon is a real treat and a fairly simple process.  It is one of my favorite treats, but a treat it usually remains due to the rather premium price a few mere ounces of the stuff sells for.  Making cold cured salmon at home allows me to tailor the flavors to my preference.  This particular recipe is considered gravlax as it includes herbs and spices to the seasoning blend. In addition to sugar, salt, and pepper, I include hickory smoked salt, coriander seeds and fennel seeds to my curing rub.

gravlax salmon

The results are nothing short of spectacularly impressive – shiny, almost translucent slices of moist, briny salmon with notes of citrus, anise, and smoke.  Perfect for spiraling atop cream cheese on a bagel, substituting in for a PNW inspired eggs Benedict, or creating an amazing spread – cold cured salmon is a rich and flavorful treat that boasts the beauty of this favorite NW fare.  Want a beverage pairing?  Try this ginger coriander ale!

cold cured salmon gravlaxcold cured salmon gravlax

Cold Cured Salmon: Gravlax Recipe

Cold Cured Salmon (Gravlax)

Cold cured salmon, otherwise known as gravlax, is an easy and delicious treat that you can make at home with freshly caught salmon!


  • 1.5-2 lb salmon fillet skin on
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • 1 tablespoon hickory smoked salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper crushed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds crushed


  • Rinse and pat dry salmon fillet.  Remove any pin bones with dedicated, clean needle nose pliers.
  • Combine sugar, salt, and seasonings in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
  • Lay out two layers of plastic wrap, slightly overlapped.  Season the skin side of the salmon with half the seasoning blend.  Place skin side down on plastic wrap.  With the remaining seasoning blend, coat the entire surface of the salmon including sides.
  • Loosely, but completely wrap the coated salmon.  The salmon should be well covered, but with room to drain away fluids leached out during the curing process.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet.  You will need to place a weight on the fish like a cast iron pan, or I have found half of a wrapped watermelon to be an effective weight too.  Refrigerate.
  • Cold cure the salmon for 3-5 days depending on the thickness of fillet, flipping and drained fluids daily.  The salmon is done when it somewhat translucent, darkened, and fairly firm to the touch.
  • When curing is complete, rinse the fillet adequately, removing all traces of seasoning blend.  Pat dry. With a very sharp knife, cut a portion for immediate use if desired, wrapping the rest in double layers of plastic to freeze for later use. 
  • To serve, use a very sharp fillet knife to carefully slice the cold cured salmon, cutting away the skin as you go.  Gravlax will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and in the freezer for a year.

How to cold cure salmon (gravlax)


Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, will be published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of can be seen at,,, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, as yet untitled will be published Fall 2019.

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

About Me

About Me

Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More



Subscribe to our Mailing List

Get the news right in your inbox!

Popular Links


  • Pearly everlasting is one of my favorite medicinal wildflowers to forage for during summer.  It ticks so many therapeutic actions boxes and is just an all around useful botanical.
It grows abundantly in the coastal mountain range a few miles from my home so it gives me great excuse to abandon my home and work responsibilities and get outside, far away from modern distractions.
All new post on the blog extolling the many virtues of this wonderful plant!
Tap link in bio for link to post.
#pearlyeverlasting #anaphalis #anaphalismargaritacea #herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #herbalism #medicinalherbs #wildflower
  • This summer has been an absolute flurry of activity.  A veritable whirlwind.  A non stop GO. 
My intended lazy, restful summer has been anything but. 
I’ve been so busy that I kinda forgot about my second book.  After the final edits were made, the photos taken - I just bid it farewell, and settled into “life after book.”
Well, life after bookS because I wrote this book immediately after finishing The Backyard Herbal Apothecary. 
When the UPS truck started down our long gravel road I paused for moment wondering what I had ordered.  And then it occurred to me — The Herbalist’s Healing Kitchen is HERE!
Now, she doesn’t officially publish until October 29th and I am still a few weeks out from promotion, but I can’t help myself - it’s just so exciting to have this book in print.
This book turns a thoughtful eye towards the food we eat and rethinks our daily meals and special treats so that we are maximizing the benefits of those foods!  I will show you how to use flavor to inform better eating decisions to cook your way to better health!
#herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #herbalism #author #cookbook #everydayfoods #foodismedicine #foodenergetics #eatingforhealth
  • Last weekend, I spent a really wonderful day hiking and foraging with my husband and the youngest of our kids.  One of the many highlights was the red huckleberries that were in full splendor in the coastal mountains.
Naturally, we foraged.
So, naturally, I wrote you all a new post.
Learn to identify red huckleberries and make a fabulous syrup with your harvest!
Tap link in bio for link to recipe and post.
#redhuckleberry #pnw #pacificnorthwest #huckleberry #vacciniumparvifolium #wildfood #wildfoodlove #foragedfood #foraging #forager #foraged #wildfood
  • Today marks the first day of August - a month of warmth and sunshine throughout much of the northern hemisphere.  August 1st also mark the ancient feast day and celebration of Lammas.
In reverence to old world tradition, I have create a humble loaf of sourdough bread, braided and studded with calendula petals and sunflower seeds.
It is a delicious and enchanting way to celebrate the abundance of the season and the grain harvest.
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#lammas #bread #sourdough #baking #traditionalfoods #baker #baking #homemade #herbs
  • My property is full of plums -- beautiful old trees and young feral saplings.  I cannot wait to get a few batches of this yummy plum butter going this summer.
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#plums #plumbutter #recipe #foodpreservation #canningseason #homestead #homesteader #homesteading
  • I confessed my love of Lady's Mantle the other day and shared a monograph extolling the virtues of this very virtuous plant.
Perhaps one of my favorite uses for lady's mantle is in the landscape.  She is a simple stunner.  Elegant in every way!
Tap link in bio for link to post on how to grow lady's mantle with this new post!
#ladysmantle #alchemilla #alchemillamollis #herbgarden garden #gardening #gardener #herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #medicinegarden
  • We went for a hike in the coastal range yesterday.  Some much needed change of scenery and a chance to stretch our muscles and relax our minds.  Our seven year old chattered incessantly and adorably about the fairy world that was hiding under every fern and fallen log, while big brother ran ahead reminding me that I am a little out of condition, ahem... 😑
There were many highlights of this journey through the cool and damp woods, but this specimen stopped me in my tracks. An Indian Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), maybe a bit past her prime (I can relate), but still such a remarkable example of nature.  A parasitic plant, ghost pipe grows in only certain conditions and is fairly rare.  Due to her rarity, we just observed the plant and talked about it’s uses and habitat - I had no intention of harvest.  Instead, this is a plant that teaches me restraint and  appreciation.  Look but no touch.  I hope it taught my kids a lesson, to observe mama being so excited about something but making no move to call it my own. 
Sometimes the best plant medicine isn’t ever consumed, just absorbed.
#indianghostpipe #ghostpipe #monotropa #monotropauniflora #herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #medicinalherbs #pnw #pacificnorthwest #oregon
  • Confession:
I have a plant crush.  On Lady's Mantle.
Alchemilla mollis.
She even sounds lovely...
Folks, she is simple beauty, and moreover she is one of the most incredibly useful herbs in the home apothecary.
Tap link in bio for link to my new herbal monograph.
#ladysmantle #alchemilla #alchemillamollis #alchemillavulgaris #herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #medicinalherbs
  • 🍑 Is it peach season in your neck of the woods? 🍑
We are just coming up on it in the Pacific NW and I am DEFINITELY making a batch (or two or three) of this delicious peach butter with vanilla!
Give it a try!
Tap link in bio then click on this photo for link.
#peach #peaches #peachbutter #fruitbutter #jam #foodpreservation #foodpreserving #homestead #homesteader #homesteading

Follow @nittygrittymama