Annabel Epstein loves the ease and drama of this simple gravlax. Here’s why she thinks this simple homemade cured salmon is the perfect dish to make this Hanukkah. 

homemade gravlax
Chef Annabelle Epstein’s homemade gravlax

Curing fish yourself may seem intimidating, but it is actually one of the easiest ways to prepare salmon. With just a little bit of work, this dish will impress your family and provide delicious breakfasts and fish platters for days.

Dill is my favorite herb. My family is of Russian-Jewish heritage, and this herb will always remind me of the dill-laden borscht, potatoes, and smoked fish platters my family serves over the holidays. I used it here to add an herbal note to the salmon.

Homemade Gravlax Recipe

Serves 12, Active cook time: 30 minutes

Total cook time: 3 days


  • 1 bunch of dill, reserving a few sprigs for serving
  • 5 citrus fruit (a mix of lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and blood oranges is lovely here) 
  • 1¼ cups kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand, otherwise the amount will be off and the fish will be very salty)
  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cracked black peppercorns
  • 3-lb. boneless side of salmon (try to get a thick, even cut so the whole fillet cures at the same time)
  • For serving: pumpernickel or rye bread, cream cheese, sliced red onion, capers, and/or lemon wedges (for serving; optional)


  1. Make the curing mixture: Place the dill in a food processor (or finely chop by hand and transfer to a large bowl). Using the small side of a box grater or a zester, finely grate the zest of the citrus into the food processor or large bowl of chopped dill. Add the salt, sugar, and peppercorns. Process or stir until thoroughly combined.
  2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on a large rimmed baking sheet and pour ⅓ of the curing mixture down the center of the plastic wrap. Lay the fish, skin side down, on top of the mixture. Spread remaining mixture onto the flesh side of the fish in an even layer. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, making sure it is completely wrapped and sealed on every side. Place another large baking sheet on top of the wrapped fish, then place a heavy pot or pan on top to weigh the fish down. Refrigerate for 3 days.
  3. Unpack fish and wipe off the salt mixture with a damp paper towel (do not rinse). While the fish is still cold, use a sharp knife to thinly slice crosswise at a 45 degree angle to get thin, wide pieces of fish. Arrange sliced fish on a platter; garnish with the reserved dill sprigs. Serve with pumpernickel or rye bread, cream cheese or European cultured butter, sliced red onion, capers, and/or lemon wedges. Enjoy!