Homemade Lox

May 28, 2014

My interest in traditional preservation methods like fermentation has recently extended into curing. There’s something just fascinating about the combination of time and science transforming food’s textures and flavors. I’m finding myself more and more motivated to experiment with techniques like fermenting and curing over cooking! Making lox is about as easy as it gets when it comes to curing meats. The process just involves packing a salmon filet in salt (and any other flavoring) and letting nature do its thing for about 5 days. Seriously, that’s it. For the sake of keeping this lox “homemade,” I took a shortcut and used liquid smoke which gave the salmon a very light smoked flavor. I also added a little brown sugar and pepper, but you could adjust the ratio to your preferences and add other flavors like dill or onion. Do not be intimidated by making homemade lox– the only skill you need to have is patience!

Homemade lox | HonestlyYUM

Start with a 2 pound salmon filet with skin on. Remove the pinbones with a pair of needle-nose pliers.


Make the smoked salt by combining the liquid smoke with the salt. The level of smokiness may vary from brand to brand. 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke resulted in a very light smokey flavor. If you like more, add a whole teaspoon. Add sugar and pepper.


Pack the top of the salmon with the salt mixture.

Salt lox

Wrap the filet in plastic wrap, leaving the ends unsealed and untucked so that liquid can drain out the ends as the salmon cures. Place the salmon on a wire rack and over a rimmed baking sheet to catch the liquid. Add another baking sheet over the salmon and weigh down the salmon with something heavy like a cast iron skillet.

Curing salmon

Wait 5 days. Check on the salmon every couple days to drain off any excess liquid collected in the baking sheet. Unwrap after about 5 days and remove excess salt. Lightly rinse the salt off and pat dry. Slice thinly against the grain.

Slicing lox

And that’s it!

Lox spread

I created this lox spread of my favorite toppings and condiments. Bagels, cream cheese, onions, and tomatoes are a must for me!

Bagels and lox



Lox platter | HonestlyYUM


  • 1/2 cup of sea or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper


  • Remove pinbones from salmon filet
  • Combine salt, sugar, pepper and liquid smoke
  • Pack the salt mixture over the surface of the salmon
  • Wrap the salmon in plastic wrap leaving the ends open
  • Place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and place another baking sheet over the salmon. Weigh the top with a cast iron skillet or something just as heavy
  • Cure in the refrigerator for 5 days. Check on the salmon after two days and drain off any excess liquid
  • Remove skin and thinly slice against the grain

(images by HonestlyYUM)


Have made this a couple of times and will make it again for Christmas. I put some dill on the salmon and also a few chilli flakes which turned out really well. Am thinking of grinding up some juniper berries when I try the next batch. Will update once I try it!

This process is good, except for a few things: First of all, the process is not intended as a means of preservation. Not these days. Thus, letting the fish “stew” in the brining liquid that develops, for 5 days, is way too much, as is draining off that liquid “every couple of days”. And, to simulate actual smoking, another step is needed. What I do is use half of the salt/sugar mixture, let it do its thing in a ziplock bag for a day, and then rinse of the filet, and the bag, and then repeat the process after painting on the liquid smoke. Personally, I think the pepper is a mistake. Lox, & all of its relatives, never have a hot/pepper flavor component. But, I do add allspice & dried dill weed to the salt/sugar mixture. And, after the two days brining, I paint the filet lightly with honey, and put in my dehydrator for an hour or two (lowest setting!) until the surface develops a “pellicle” (dry, shiny) exactly what cold smoking does. The result is a blend, I guess, of lox & gravlox (neither of which is smoked, by definition) and Scottish or Nova salmon, which are smoked. In any event, the result is wonderful, and I make a pound at least every two weeks!

Hi Karen! So glad I came across your recipe! What liquid smoke flavor works best for this? Hickory? Mesquite? Thanks in advance!

Curing was invented before the refrigerator, it was hows meat was kept longer. Cured meat will last 3 weeks in the fridge as long as it’s tightly wrapped in butcher or parchment paper. 3 months in the freezer, but cut into serving sizes so you dont need to refreeze anything.

I tried this lox recipe. Salt, pepper, liquid smoke, brown sugar. It came out awful, almost inedible. I even drained that liquid every day, washed it off completely before eating, yuck. I wish I know where I went wrong. I guess my expectation was for the lox you buy in the store and it was nothing like that. Can anyone help? I really want to make it like you get in the store!!

I think you are confused. This is lox-made in salt. What you have in the store is smoked cold. So you would need a smoker for that.

Michael, I think there is a compromise to not having to have a smoker. Go watch the latest Netflix “The Paleo Way”. The woman who wrote the specific carb diet shows how she cures salmon in 24 hours using lemon and a little dill and bay leaf. You could easily add a SMALL amount of liquid smoke to this or instead use a wood smoked salt instead of or in addition to the kosher salt. I have made this and it’s great. I am adding some liquid smoke next go around. The recipe here is superior because of the lemon cure which kills parasites. Salt doesn’t kill the parasites. This is a way to make cured and safe salmon that is moist, fast, and absolutely great. Check it out

This is lox, it’s delicious. You might not like it, but this recipe is correct.

Smoking salmon is also delicious but that is a totally different ball game, we do both.

I am here to correct my answer lol.
Lox is cold smoked slamon, this ia closer to gravlax, which is a dry brine.

We have made a couple of different versions of Lox, and yet simple, this is the best we have tried! Great post Karen! thanks

What is liquid smoke? I am not familiar with this.
Thank you for response.

Liquid smoke is simply smoke flavoring made by bubbling smoke thru water. It smell and tastes of, well, smoke! You’ll find it in any grocery store where the condiments like hot sauces are stocked. One common brand is Colgins, but I think it is weak. If you can find it, buy Wrights brand. This is available in regular and sometimes mesquite flavors. Stubbs also sells smoke flavoring, but I think it is expensive compared to the the others. Don’t overdue the use of smoke flavoring until you get the hand of it…you don’t want your food tasting like a “fire sale”.

I have a question, the recipe calls for 1/4 brown sugar. Is that teaspoons or cups. I have my salmon and am anxious to try this.

I did not have as simple a recipe as this one, but I made mine up last year, and froze them in individual packages. Having them semi frozen makes them easier to slice thinly.
I am going to try this recipe as soon as I get a few reds. Can’t wait.

I have this in my fridge right now. I left out the smoke flavour, I didn’t want to add it and I don’t use smoke flavour. I am excited to see how this turns out in a few days!!!

i have often made gravlax, but have never left the ends of the plastic wrap open. Does the fish not dry out after doing so?
Also, I was wondering if you have ever tried curing the salmon for less than 5 days, say 3 days?


Hi Karen,

Your display is GOR-ge-OUS!!! What size is your display board?

Thank you very much!


Looks so good. Thank you for making it so easy to do. I would really like to know, can I leave the sugar out or is that a must?

You can do it without the sugar since the salt is what cures it, but the sugar better flavor!

Oh my. I will not rest now until I make it 🙂 I think I could eat a pound of it all by myself. I wander if you can make it with other fish?

I also have the same question; how long does it stay fresh? Can you freeze it? Thanks for the recipe & beautiful pics.

Hi Amie I’m not sure how long it lasts but I kept mine for about 3/4 days in the fridge and it was just fine!

That looks wonderful! Do you need sashimi grade salmon to make the lox? Or is regular Salmon ok?

Regular salmon is ok.

I posting this some time after the other posts, but I’m sure my comments are still relevant for people who read them later. In regard to comments of: Should the salmon be sashimi grade, or what kind of salmon to use; and concerns about eating uncooked salmon and will the fish start to smell while it is curing….here are my responses:
First of all, yes, eating raw salmon can be dangerous. Any fish that spends all or part of its time in fresh water can harbor a type of tapeworm. Hence, “sashimi-grade” salmon is not necessarily referring to the quality of the fish but, rather, to salmon that has been commercially frozen to kill the parasites. This may seem to contradict the belief that all sashimi fish is the most fresh of fish, and never frozen. But that’s not the case with salmon. And, keep in mind that your zero-degree freezer will not “do the trick”. The freezer must get down to -20, or below. As to the type of salmon, I’ve made lox from all varieties and they all work well EXCEPT “Pink” (a/k/a “chum”) salmon. This variety is to soft…almost mushy…and tho it can be cooked, it make poor lox. Finally, though fish kept for 5 days would start to smell even in the refrigerator, the whole idea of the curing is to preserve it, and stop the unwanted aging processes the cause it to smell. The same salt that cures the fish is also prevent the aging process that causes fish to “smell like fish”. In fact. any fish that “smells fishy” is old. Even what we might think of as the strongest smelling fish, like mackerel, doesn’t smell of much of anything, except the sea, when fresh caught. I hope these comments are helpful.

Oh my goodness, SUCH a beautiful file of salmont! Love love love (and totally brave enough now to make my own-thanks!).

That main picture is such a beauty! Awesome photos.. great cooking!

Stunning! I remember when I made smoked salmon in culinary school–and thought, ‘HEY! Why the heck haven’t I done this before now?!” Thanks for the reminder! I think I’ll make this for my dad for Father’s Day 🙂

I am not much of a seafood eater but this is totally unique and so beautiful!

OMG–Seriously gorgeous and delicious. I had no idea it was so easy. I can’t wait to try this.

We make our own gravlax too, but it never looks as pretty as this! Just lovely!

lox are absolutely fantastic..i cant believe you made this at home – bravo

Love lox! And honestly I would never think to make it myself, but you make it sound so easy. This is on my list to try for parties.

Oh, lox are my favorite! When I lived in Scotland it is literally all I ate every morning with cucumber and dill and just a bit of cream cheese on a sunflower-cranberry-orange bread. I used to pick it up from the fish monger after rowing practice in the mornings. I haven’t found lox that I thoroughly enjoy here but been meaning to try it myself! Gosh and these photos are lovely! x

That spread looks fantastic! It seems so easy to make but my question is: doesn’t it get really smelly when it’s curing?

Not at all! The salmon is wrapped in plastic and consistently draining the liquid will help, but I couldn’t smell anything.

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