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How to Cure Salmon - Lox Recipe

Make your own lox (smoked salmon) with this easy lox recipe. You will never go back to store-bought lox!

Curing lox is easy, and homemade lox is so much fresher, tastier, and healthier than store-bought lox. Serve lox for breakfast or brunch on a toasted bagel with cream cheese, or with slices of cucumber for a keto-friendly option.

How to cure salmon - lox recipe

Lox for breakfast

One of my favorite weekend breakfasts is a toasted English muffin or a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese and slices of lox.

This habit can get expensive, so we often make our own lox that rivals any bagel shop lox.

sliced lox

Related article: Lox Appetizer Platter

What is lox?

If you've never had lox, it is cured smoked salmon. Lox is a popular bagel topping in NYC. But it seems that many people from other parts of the country have never heard of it. And this is so sad, because salty smoky lox with cream cheese on a bagel is just so so good!

Related recipe: 15 Amazing Lox Recipes

What's the difference between Lox and Smoked Salmon?

Good question! They are both raw salmon that is cured with salt. However, smoked salmon is also smoked after it is cured. Lox is just cured salmon. So smoked salmon has an extra layer of flavor from the smoke. The cool thing is you can give homemade lox the smokey flavor just by using smoked sea salt. You don't have to bother with any smokers but you still get the tasty smoked salmon flavor! (Although if you do have a smoker, then by all means make some smoked salmon, or give this smoked brisket a try!)

This recipe below recommends using smoked salt (you can get smoked sea salt on Amazon, this bag will last you a while!), but if you don't have that on hand you can definitely use regular old sea salt.

And if you are planning on using this homemade lox in any recipes, you can use lox and smoked salmon interchangeably in recipes!

There's a detailed explanation about the difference between smoked salmon and lox on The Kitchn, if you are interested in learning more.

Related recipe: Blackened Salmon with Black Bean Mango Salsa

Homemade lox??

Yes! You can easily make lox at home. 

If you've ever had lox, then you know how expensive it is - around $25 - $30 per pound. That's nuts. So you can imagine my excitement when when I learned you can make lox at home.

Another bonus is that homemade lox turns out so silky soft and tender. It practically melts in your mouth!

Is making lox safe?

Curing salmon to make lox is safe and easy. The salt seeps into the salmon and kills any bacteria during the 2-3 days of salt curing. That's the whole point of curing salmon - to preserve it longer!

Related recipe: Pan-Fried Salmon with Fresh Apricot Relish

What type of salmon to use for lox

The official recommendation is to use only sushi grade wild salmon filets to make lox. I've made lox with non-sushi grade salmon many times and everyone was fine, however please use your judgement and make sure you use a quality sushi from a reputable seller.

I prefer using a fatty salmon to make lox because I find that the texture is much with those little streaks of fat in between the salmon meat. Think of it like steak - you want it to be nicely marbled for the most tender, delicious steak.

How to cure salmon - lox recipe

Related recipe: Air Fryer Salmon Bites

Plan ahead - it takes 2-3 days to cure

Lox is so easy to make, and only takes a few minutes of hands-on time. The salmon does take 2-3 days to cure (depending on how salty you want it), so you do have to plan ahead if you want to enjoy it for breakfast.

This recipe is so worth waiting for. Fresh salmon fillets are so much cheaper than buying small packages of prepared lox.

And home cured salmon doesn't have any nitrites or other preservatives added to it (other than salt, obviously).

Homemade lox also tastes fresher. You can bite through it like a hot knife through butter, while store-bought lox is usually chewier.

lox recipe - homemade smoked salmon

Is lox keto?

Yes! Lox is keto. It is low carb and rich in healthy omega-3s and healthy fatty acids, just like regular salmon. Lox makes a GREAT option for keto breakfast or an easy keto snack if served with cucumber slices or on a low carb tortilla or bread with cream cheese.

Here are 11 Low Carb Smoked Salmon Recipe Ideas.

keto lox cucumber bites

Flavored lox

The awesome thing about making your own lox is that you can experiment with different flavors of salt, herbs, and seasonings. Try a chili lime version with some lime juice and chili powder, or add some dried herbs for a Mediterranean flavor.

Once you make your own cured salmon, you can use it on so many ways!

More salmon fillet recipes to try: Mayo Baked Whole Salmon Fillet

How to use leftover lox

One of my favorite ways to use lox is for this Lox Appetizer Platter that I've put together. This platter consists of several different lox appetizers:  a Greek Yogurt Lox dip, Lox Bagel Bites, and Cucumber-Lox bites.

Or try one of these other lox recipes. This list has ideas for breakfast lox, brunch, dinner, and lox appetizers. Definitely check it out if you are a fan of lox or have lots left over after making your own!

Chopped lox would also be amazing in these easy Mini Quiches instead of sausage.

Can lox be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze lox after making it! The texture might change a little, but it is still perfectly edible, especially if you plan on using it in some kind of recipe instead of simply putting it on a bagel.

How to freeze lox: The best way to freeze lox is by slicing it thinly and spreading it in a thin layer in a zip lock bag or in a vacuum-sealer bag, such as these. We use this vacuum sealer to freeze food and keep it extra fresh, without all the freezer burn. 

But it's very rare that we have leftover lox left to freeze, we usually eat it all VERY quickly. 🙂

So are you convinced yet that making your own Lox is a GOOD IDEA?

Excellent. Keep reading then.

A nice fatty thick piece of salmon that is similar thickness all throughout is best for making lox. It's OK if it has skin on it - you will cure the salmon with the skin on and then slice pieces of salmon meat off the skin. Make sure you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to read about what to do with the leftover salmon skin!

salmon fillet for making lox

What you'll need to cure salmon:

For this recipe I recommend using smoked sea salt, to give the lox that nice smoky smoked salmon flavor. If you don't have smoked sea salt, you can definitely use plain kosher salt.

If using kosher salt, you can add a few drops of liquid smoke flavoring to the salt mixture to give the lox that nice smoky flavor. Another optional flavor is a little bit of fresh lemon zest mixed into the salt.

I also add a bit of brown sugar to the curing mix, just to cut some of that salt flavor. This is totally optional - skip this for a keto-friendly lox recipe. Don't worry, the lox won't taste sweet, you won't even notice that there is a bit of sugar added. Light or dark brown sugar will work.

As for equipment, you'll need an airtight container and plastic wrap.

How long does homemade lox last?

It only lasts a day or two in my house! Haha that's because we finish it all. If you store it in the fridge in a sealed container, it will last 3-5 days.

How should you serve lox?

There are so many ways to enjoy lox!  It's not just for breakfast - lox is great for many lunch and dinner recipes. Here are some of my favorite ways to serve lox:

  • On a toasted bagel, English muffin, or toast smeared with cream cheese
  • On cottage cheese toast
  • Try adding capers, fresh dill, or fresh parsley to the above breakfast
  • Make an open-faced sandwich with lox and a poached egg
  • Avocado toast with lox
  • On savory breakfast bowls
  • Add thin slices to these zucchini tortillas for breakfast
  • Baked potato topped with sour cream, lox, and capers (see my baked potato bar ideas!)
  • Make buttermilk crepes and add some whipped cream cheese and lox to them.
  • In this delicious lox appetizer platter- the platter contains a recipe for Greek yogurt-smoked salmon dip, as well as refreshing Cucumber & Lox bites. Dare I say it is a healthy appetizer platter that tastes like a million bucks?
  • Toss sliced lox with your favorite Alfredo pasta recipe
  • Enjoy lox on a salad of greens and a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil as your dressing
  • In any of these lox recipes

What to do with leftover salmon skin

Oh, and what do you do with the salted skin when you finished all the salmon, you ask? Well this might seem totally weird, but fry it like bacon.

Make sure all the meaty parts are removed from the skin, and place it in a pan non-skin side down and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes, or until each side is nice and crispy. Place on a paper towel to drain the excess fat (although it's healthy salmon fat, so you can eat it as is!). It will get even crispier as it cools down. You'll have a salty delicious piece of fried salmon skin.

This is actually one of my favorite parts about cooking salmon - I always save the skin and fry it into crispy salmon-bacon - it is so good!

P.S. If you love lox, you will probably also love these delicious little Red Caviar Toasts with Salmon Roe

If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave me a comment and a star rating below and let me know! And don't forget to share it on Facebook and Pinterest.

lox recipe
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4.64 from 74 votes

Smoked Salmon - Lox Recipe

Make your own lox (smoked salmon) with this easy lox recipe. You will never go back to store-bought lox! Homemade lox is so much fresher, tastier, and healthier than store-bought lox. Serve lox for breakfast or brunch on a toasted bagel with cream cheese.
Prep Time10 minutes
Curing time2 days
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: American, Scandinavian
Diet: Gluten Free, Kosher
Servings: 5
Author: Kate
Cost: $12


  • 1 lb lb salmon fillet
  • ¼ cup smoked sea salt - or any Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar - or white sugar if you don't have brown sugar (skip for keto lox)
  • Optional: A pinch of freshly ground black pepper or dried herbs such as dill or parsley


  • Rinse the salmon and pat it dry with a paper towel. If it has skin, leave the skin on. If you feel any bones in the salmon while you are doing this, remove them - tweezers are useful for this.
  • Combine the salt and sugar (and pepper and herbs, if using), and rub the seasoning all over the salmon. You might have some extra seasoning that you haven't used up - if so, just place it on top of the salmon.  
  • Get a large piece of plastic wrap. Place the salmon skin-side down. Wrap the salmon tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a container that has a lid. Cover with a lid and place in the fridge. 
  • After 2-3 days, rinse the whole salmon under cold water. Thinly slice the salmon. Serve immediately, or transfer to a clean container, cover, and store refrigerated until serving.  


  • Homemade lox will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
  • It's best to use a piece of salmon that is the same thickness all around. But it's OK if you can't find a piece like that - just use what you find.
  • You can cure the salmon for 2 or 3 days - there is some wiggle room here. However, it is best to stop curing and rinse off the extra salt just prior to serving the lox so that it is super fresh. The prepared lox will keep in the fridge for about 3 days in an air-tight container.
  • Oh, and what to do with that salted cured skin?? Fry salmon skin like bacon!! It will turn crispy on both sides and will be SO DELICIOUS. Just watch out because it will splatter while cooking just like bacon does.
  • Skip the sugar for a keto-friendly version of this recipe. Serve with slices of cucumber and generous smears of cream cheese.
  • Please note the actual nutrition will depend on how fatty your salmon fillet is. The sodium in the nutrition facts is just an estimate - a lot of the salt is rinsed off after curing the salmon. However, this is definitely not a low-sodium food!


Calories: 147kcal (7%) | Carbohydrates: 5g (2%) | Protein: 18g (36%) | Fat: 6g (9%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (5%) | Cholesterol: 50mg (17%) | Sodium: 2000mg (83%) | Potassium: 445mg (13%) | Sugar: 5g (6%) | Vitamin A: 36IU (1%) | Calcium: 18mg (2%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

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Denise Myers

Monday 6th of November 2023

can i freeze it


Monday 27th of November 2023

Yes! I answered this question in the blog post: "Yes, you can freeze lox after making it! The texture might change a little, but it is still perfectly edible, especially if you plan on using it in some kind of recipe instead of simply putting it on a bagel. How to freeze lox: The best way to freeze lox is by slicing it thinly and spreading it in a thin layer in a zip lock bag or in a vacuum-sealer bag, such as these. We use this vacuum sealer to freeze food and keep it extra fresh, without all the freezer burn."

Earl Binder

Monday 16th of October 2023

What you describe is gravlax - if you truly want Nova Lox (aka smoked lox), you need to use regular kosher salt, pepper, dill, and brown sugar to cure the salmon, then put it on a smoker with NO HEAT. Any grill (without heat) using a fully filled smoke tube with pellets lit on 1 end smoking overnight when the temperature outside is 40F or below will work. I have made Nova Lox on my Ninja Woodfire Grill using the Smoke setting with the temperature set at no heat for about an hour.

Gravlax or Nova Lox can be frozen between layers of parchment paper in an air-tight container for months. Just take some out and put it in a ziplock bag or air-tight container in the refrigerator to thaw.

West Coast Trawlers

Monday 1st of January 2024

@Earl Binder, what's the address link for YOUR food blog... the one where you tell us how to do it properly your way, rather than your short 'you're doing it wrong' you've posted here?

Especially the recipe where you tell your avid followers how they can make cured salmon without having anything like your Ninja Woodfire Grill and a smoke tube - just a container with a lid and their refrigerator?

I want to see your food blog just so I can insure that YOU'RE doing it right - our commercial smoker measures 12'x12' and everything from the smoke boxes to the fans and intake/exhaust fans are controlled by PIDs for temperature and humidity, so I want to ensure you're doing it right with you little Ninja Woodfire Grill as compared to how we do it.

Meanwhile, I have respect for a home cook who can reach back to come up with a method and a recipe similar to times where they couldn't drive an SUV out to buy a Ninja Woodfire Grill - even if they had the spare cash to buy either.

There's another one out there that shows how they cold smoke using cardboard boxes about to be recycled, a cookie tin, and an $11 Harbour Freight soldering iron... no 'Ninja Woodfire Grill complete with smoker tube' purchase required.


Thursday 14th of July 2022

Great recipe and so easy. I let it cure 3 days and I felt it was great but too salty. Going to try 2 days next. I found some flavored salts I’m going to try as well. We eat so much smoked salmon that I’m happy I found this recipe! Now I know what’s in my food and I can make it fresh.


Thursday 14th of July 2022

Try tasting it after 2 days (rinse it first) and see if that's less salty. Enjoy!!


Wednesday 1st of December 2021

Thank you! This was the best smoked salmon lox I’ve ever eaten! Tender, delicious! 👍👍👍


Thursday 2nd of December 2021

Woohoo!! Thanks for letting me know!


Monday 25th of October 2021

This stuff is *horrid*. I don't have a big enough container to do a lb at a time so I did 1/2 lb. First time I used the quantities for salt and sugar as in the recipe and it was terribly salty. Next time I reduced salt and sugar by half. Still terribly salty plus it just tasted terrible! What am I doing wrong? I left it in the fridge for 3 days.


Monday 27th of June 2022

@Steve, I’m just curious, what are you accustomed to in other lox you’ve eaten.


Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

@Steve, make sure you use kosher salt - not table salt. And try only two days of curing.

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