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Copycat Kirkland Smoked Salmon recipe (Dry Cured Salmon)

Lox is one of my favorite breakfasts, particularly when paired with a bagel and some cream cheese. If you haven’t made lox before, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is – it takes less than 24 hours and requires no special equipment.

If you are looking for more ways to enjoy salmon, I’ve got plenty of ideas! This Homemade Salmon Caviar Recipe is another favorite, particularly for parties. Plus, you’ve got to try my Aromatic Cured Salmon Recipe and these Salmon Asparagus Foil Packets.

Lox fanned on a blue plate with dill on top

What is lox?

If you are thinking, “okay, sounds good…but what IS lox?”, you aren’t alone. I actually had to do some research on this myself to figure it out! Thankfully it’s simple enough. The term “lox” refers to salmon that has been cured with brine (aka salt). Traditionally, lox was only made from the belly of the salmon, but now all the meat from the fish is included.

Is lox the same as smoked salmon?

Traditional lox, like the one in this recipe, is not smoked at all. Instead, it is cured in salt.  However, it does have a smokey flavor, thanks to the addition of liquid smoke. Smoked salmon refers to a fish that has actually smoked, in a smoker. However, the term “smoked salmon” is tossed around a lot, so some people call lox smoked salmon, even if that’s not technically correct.

If you would like to make actual SMOKED SALMON using a smoker, follow my recipe HERE. The instructions are clear, so if you have a smoker, you can make it yourself! The Smoked Salmon comes out juicy and very flavorful.

Lox Bagel: the Ultimate Brunch Staple

The other thing about lox is when you hear the phrase, you almost always think of a lox bagel. And for a good reason – there are few pairings I can think of that I love more than salty, sweet lox piled on top of a fluffy bagel. Add in a schmear of cream cheese and I’m in heaven! It’s truly delicious.

Other Ways to Eat Lox

However, don’t let your imagination be limited! There are so many other ways you can enjoy this salmon than solely a lox bagel. Here are a few ideas:

  • Lox on toast – a fun twist on the classic! It pairs very well with avocado too if you enjoy avocado toast.
  • Added to a salad – salmon pairs well with a simple summer salad where it can truly be the star of the show.
  • Make sushi – this would be so fun with rice, avocado, and some bagel seasoning.
  • Layered on top of cucumbers – for a quick, simple snack, layer cream cheese on cucumber slices and enjoy with the salmon.
  • Eaten with scrambled eggs – this high protein breakfast is a great way to start your day.
  • Added to cheese or a charcuterie board – if you want a fun way to elevate a cheese plate, add lox!

Lox bagel on a platter - fanned salmon slices and sliced bagels

Tips for Making Salmon Lox

  • Rinse with cold water, then pat dry. To give the salmon lox the purest flavor possible, make sure to rinse well and then gently pat dry.
  • Press the salt into the fish. After you cover with salt, make sure to press it firmly into the salmon on both sides.
  • Rinse with water if overly salty. If your fish is too salty for your liking after it’s done curing, just rinse the fish. If it’s not salty enough, keep it in the brine a bit longer.
  • Slice your salmon thin. To get those thin, even slices, make sure your fish is cold. I place it in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes before slicing for it to get slightly firm, then use a sharp knife to slice.

Recipe at a Glance: How to Make Lox

For detailed recipe instructions, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Rinse your salmon, then pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle one side of the fish with salt, pressing it into the meat with your hand. Then turn it over and do the same to the other side.
  • Mix together liquid smoke and water, then pour the mixture over the fridge.
  • Place the container in the fridge for about 24 hours.
  • Rinse the brine, pat dry, slice, and enjoy!

Scroll to the bottom for the full recipe with precise ingredient amounts

How to Make Lox (Dry Cured Salmon)

4.6 from 10 votes

This homemade lox recipe is made with salmon fillet, brine, and water. It is a simple and delicious salmon recipe that can be enjoyed over a bagel, on salad, or snacked on.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: smoked salmon
Calories: 215 kcal
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Rinse fish fillet under running water, pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle with coarse salt both sides of the fillet, pressing the salt into the fish.

  3. Mix liquid smoke & water. Pour on top of the fish.
  4. Allow the fish to cure in the fridge, overnight (24 hours). Depending on the thickness of your fish it might take more or less time.
  5. Rinse excess salt. Pat dry with paper towel. Slice thinly & serve.
  6. Store in closed container, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Recipe Notes

TIP: If the fish is overly salty after the brine, rinse it with water or soak it in water until it is desired saltiness.

If it is not salty enough, just keep in the salt a while longer.

Nutrition Facts
How to Make Lox (Dry Cured Salmon)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 215 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 83mg28%
Sodium 9502mg413%
Potassium 741mg21%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 60IU1%
Calcium 24mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Marina | Let the Baking Begin

Welcome to Let the Baking Begin! I'm Marina and my love and passion for eating only the most delicious foods drive me to share that love here on Let the Baking Begin (since 2009). With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, you know the recipes are tested and retested until perfect. I'm so happy to have you here. Enjoy! Read more...

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  • Olga

    Hi Marina,
    A few questions, do you cover the fish with plastic wrap when its marinating in fridge? And do they dell salmon without skin thafs frozen or just take off the skin from the frozen pieces once thawed and then salt it up.

    · Reply
  • Carolyn Turner

    I bought a bunch of frozen salmon to cook for my SO who looooves Salmon. I myself am not a fan, tho I do love smoked salmon and sushi salmon. I tried this with one of the frozen fillets and I’m eating it in my lunch right now!

    Flipping it was a must, and it stayed in the fridge an extra day because I forgot to flip it sooner, but the flavor is SO good.

    · Reply
  • Tlc

    I really wanted this recipe to work. Unfortunately for me it did not have enough smoke flavor. I’m not going to give up on it but next time I think I will mix the liquid smoke with the salt and then packet on the fish. Maybe I should’ve flipped the fish a few times like some of the other reviewer’s. I am not giving up though because I want a smoked salmon that is easy and quick. If anyone knows what I may have done wrong feel free to respond. Thanks

    · Reply
    • Hi Tlc,
      I think the smokiness might depend on the type of liquid smoke you use. But you’re definitely on the right track with your ideas.

      · Reply
  • Anthony

    Can I still do this without liquid smoke?

    · Reply
  • wayne

    Wow Incredible Now Ill keep allthe trout and salmon ive been giving away

    · Reply
  • Nick

    OK… I must admit that I was just a tad skeptical about this recipe but thought I would give it a try. I had an 8 oz. piece of Alaskan salmon and adjusted the salt, water, liquid smoke accordingly. I put it in my refrigerator for exactly 24 hours and flipped the salmon a few times during this period. Wa-la… my skepticism flew out the window when I pulled out this beautiful piece of smoked salmon and rinsed it. I took out my bagel, put some Philly cream cheese with chives, sliced the lox and placed on the sliced red onion and capers. Please note that I sliced quite a bit of lox on the bagel. I put the other piece of bagel on top, closed my eyes and went to heaven. I’ve tried several lox recipes with varying degrees of success. Today, I deleted the others since this on is the keeper.

    Kind regards,

    Nick

    · Reply
  • Janet Paula

    I’ve been making this recipe for about a year now. My daughter can’t stop eating it. It is delicious. My daughter and I think it is tastier than any store-bought lox that we have tried, and healthier too.

    I use pink Hymalayin thick salt and liquid smoke when preparing and never seem to use more than 1/2 cup of salt for all the recipe.
    I only use whole fresh salmon. After the initial 24 hours of soaking, I usually freeze the salmon in portions and then take it out of the freezer as needed and slice it on a mandolin when semi-frozen in order to get it as thin as possible.
    Thanks so much.

    · Reply
    • Oh my thanks so much for your comment and star review!

      When you say “whole salmon” do you mean actual whole salmon, or the salmon fillet? I wonder how you go about the skin and bones of the salmon. Do you salt it just inside? Do you cut pieces of fillet and then debone it before slicing it?

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      Marina

      · Reply
  • Joan Brock

    I just made a batch and it is really delicious. Thanks for the tip on Freezing any parasites away. Also Slicing the fish after freezing lightly.

    · Reply
  • Leya bowen

    Your recipes are great,easy to fallow and very healty
    Thank you

    · Reply
  • Thomas

    Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 d2usx

    · Reply
  • Elizabeth

    This is so simple yet so delicious. For a salmon lover like me, this recipe comes right to the point. Thank you Marina!

    · Reply
  • Tyler-Rose

    While this recipe sounds totally yummy, I’m a commercial salmon fisherman’s wife and you really shouldn’t use fresh fish for raw or lightly cured recipes since it’s possible to get some pretty unpleasant parasites from undercooked fresh fish. You need to use commercially frozen fish or deep freeze the fresh stuff for more than 72 hours to kill all the creepy crawlies 0.0

    · Reply
    • Thank you Tyler-Rose! I’ll update my recipe to include that important tip!

      · Reply
    • Jim

      I was wondering about this as well. I have a lot of commercially frozen Sockeye in the freezer. Thanks for this comment!

      · Reply
  • Mark

    Trying this again. Rinse salt sooner as you suggested. Found solution to too salty salmon last time. I fried some potato rounds and did not salt them but instead spread the salmon spread I made on the chips.

    · Reply
  • katzpawz

    This Costco “smoked” salmon recipe is a huge hit with me! Thanks so much for sharing it!!!

    · Reply
  • Allen

    I read that you can put in the freezer for about an hour and slicing thin will be even easier.

    · Reply
  • Bill

    I followed the recipe, but the salmon still seems raw? How can I tell if the curing happened? How can I tell if it didn’t happen? Thanks…

    · Reply
    • Hi Bill,
      The curing is done when the salmon is thoroughly salted and does not have the raw taste. Sometimes if the salmon fillet is very thick it takes longer for the salt to penetrate. Turn the fillet to make sure that it’s all covered in salt and give it another day. If you want to, you can split the salmon horizontally into two thinner fillets for quicker curing.

      · Reply
      • Ceci

        Does it have to be sushi grade salmon or any salmon will do?

        · Reply
        • I guess that would be best. But I used fresh caught salmon for this.

          · Reply
  • Seth

    I noticed the difference between the recipe from Mom’s Dish and this one. Mom’s Dish has sugar, so that may be the reason some find this recipe too salty. Liquid Smoke is relatively salty as well.

    · Reply
    • You’re right Seth, mine doesn’t have any sugar. The addition of sugar might cut down the saltiness, but cutting down the amount of time the fish stays in the brine might help with that as well. Also, my liquid smoke has no salt at all, so may be it depends on the brand? Thanks for your comment!

      · Reply
  • rs

    This is called gravlax. Google that for better recipes.

    · Reply
    • After posting the recipe I have found that some people call it that. This is replica of my favorite salmon from Costco, and they called it ‘Smoked Salmon’ and that is why I called it that 🙂

      · Reply
  • Evie

    I’m the only one in my family that eats ‘raw’ fish. Appreciate knowing how to change recipe for 1 lb of salmon, not 2 lbs. Thanks

    · Reply
    • Just use half of the ingredients listed. So if it says 1/2 cup salt, use only 1/4 salt for 1 lb fish.

      · Reply
  • Vera

    this looks so delicious. I love smoked fish. We don’t have salmon at my house right now but we have a lot of seledka. Do you think this recipe will work for seledka?

    · Reply
    • I think with herring you need to use a water based brine with the addition of vinegar and sugar because salt alone will not kill the ‘fresh fish’ smell, my sister tried just a salt brine and the fish still had a very strong fresh fish smell.

      · Reply
  • krista

    Are you wrapping the salmon in plastic wrap?? I have been doing homework on this and most recipes I have seen they wrap it up for 24/48 hours. Also, the process of curing is supposed to take the moisture out of the salmon, but with your recipe you are adding the liquid smoke with water and pouring on top of the salmon. I guess I am a little confused?!

    · Reply
    • The salt does draw the moisture out even if you add that additional liquid. I have done it two different ways, by rubbing it with salt and then dropping a couple if drops straight on the fillet and them rubbing it in with your hands (no plastic wrap, just in a container) and deluting the smoke with water and pouring it on top of the salted fish, both ways work the same way and work just fine. Hope this helps 🙂

      · Reply
  • Bagelman

    My supermarket had liquid smoke, two different choices. I just mixed it up, and the salmon is soaking now. I can’t wait for tomorrow, this is the first I’ve ever made Lox.

    · Reply
    • I myself just recently found the recipe and made it for the first time myself, now I can’t believe that I didn’t know about such easy way to make my favorite salmon! Let me know how you like it once you try yours! Also, depending on your fillet thickness, you might need more time for the salt to go all the way to the middle, so just try it after 24 hours and if it’s still not salty enough, leave it in the fridge until it’s salted to your liking 🙂

      · Reply
      • Bagelman

        The texture and smoke flavor was perfect after the second day. A bit too salty, so I soaked it in fresh water for one more day and it had the exact right taste. An interesting experiment.

        · Reply
        • Yes, you really have to rinse it with water well, or just like you did, soak it in water to bring it to the level of saltiness you want.

          · Reply
  • Adi

    Wow! This looks amazing… I’ve missed the Costco smoked salmon ever since I moved away. The next time I get salmon will be for this!

    · Reply
    • Yeah, their salmon is great, but if you can make the same thing at home, why not, yeah? Especially if you can make 3 times the amount of salmon, for their price.

      · Reply
      • Adi

        Yep, cause three is more than one! (So happy I’m a Computer Science student, it comes in so handy to know all this math).

        · Reply
        • Haha yeap, going to school definitely helps when you’re working with numbers lol

          · Reply
  • zhanna filovets

    Where can u get liquid smoke?

    · Reply
    • I got mine at Sur la Table, but you can make it without the smoke and it will be just as delicious.

      · Reply

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