What Is Lox?

What is lox and what’s the difference between smoked salmon and lox? We have the answers and we keep them secure in our lox box. Read on for the key.

September 01, 2021

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Homemade smoked salmon on wooden cutting board over light gray background viewed from above, copy space

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Homemade smoked salmon on wooden cutting board over light gray background viewed from above, copy space

Photo by: istetiana/Getty Images

istetiana/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

Lox and smoked salmon are the heart and soul of a brunch platter that features bagels, onion, cream cheese, tomato, capers dill and lemon. But is it really lox? Or is it smoked salmon? Is there a difference? Yes. The story isn’t complicated, and in the end you’ll know exactly what to order when you’re at the deli.

Bagels and lox platter for breakfast with vegetables and cream cheese

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Bagels and lox platter for breakfast with vegetables and cream cheese

Photo by: VeselovaElena/Getty Images

VeselovaElena/Getty Images

What Is Lox?

Lox is a salmon fillet that has been salt cured. That’s it. Curing meats and fish in salt is how they were preserved in the days before refrigeration. The fillets are packed in salt a until the fish absorbs the salt and releases some moisture. It is then rinsed and allowed to dry before it can be sliced.

Are Lox And Smoked Salmon The Same Thing?

Lox and smoked salmon are not the same thing. True lox is cured in salt and it is not smoked. Lox, or belly lox as it is sometimes called, is kept in the salt cure for several days and is extremely salty. Smoked salmon is kept in the cure for less than a day, and then it is dried and cold smoked. Cold smoking means that the smoke comes from a smoker where it’s hot and wood is smoldering to produce the smoke. The smoke leaves the smoker and is cooled before it reaches the salmon. Smoked salmon retains its silky texture because it isn’t cooked. Some salmon is hot smoked, and it’s flaky like any other fully cooked salmon. Neither lox or cold smoked salmon are cooked.

Fish monger cuts thin slices of smoked salmon (lox).

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Fish monger cuts thin slices of smoked salmon (lox).

Photo by: RASimon/Getty Images

RASimon/Getty Images

What Does Lox Taste Like?

True lox tastes a little like smoked salmon, but not much because the sensation is your taste buds being overpowered by salt. Smoked salmon does taste a bit salty, but neither the salt nor the smoke overwhelm the flavor of the fish itself.

Why Is Smoked Salmon Called Lox?

The German, Yiddish and Swedish words for salmon all sound very similar to the word lox. The Swedish version of lox is gravlax, the difference being gravlax is cured with salt, sugar and herbs, so the salt doesn’t take over and crowd out all the other flavors.

Smoked marinated salmon and ingredients on the kitchen table

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Smoked marinated salmon and ingredients on the kitchen table

Photo by: angelsimon/Getty Images

angelsimon/Getty Images

How Do You Make Lox?

When you look anywhere for recipes to make lox, what you’re going to end up with is a recipe for making gravlax. It’s delicious, and we’ve got a great recipe for it.

Gravlax With the Works

It’s really easy to make gravlax at home. Buy the freshest salmon you can find, being sure it’s still on the skin. You make the cure with a blend of salt, sugar, spices and dill, rub it all over the fish, refrigerate and wait. The works could also include bagels.

What Is Lox Spread?

Lox spread is also called lox cream cheese. It is small pieces of smoked salmon mixed into plain cream cheese, typically spread on a bagel. Lox spread is a way for the leftover scraps of smoked salmon to be used so the deli doesn’t lose money, and it’s a more economical way for a customer to get smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel.

Recipes With Smoked Salmon

FNK Development;
Holiday Apps; 
Salmon Puffs

FNK Development;Holiday Apps; Salmon Puffs,FNK Development; Holiday Apps; Salmon Puffs

Photo by: Armando Rafael ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Armando Rafael, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Probably a good idea to always have a package of puff pastry and smoked salmon in the freezer. Always a good idea to have one thing you can count on in case someone just drops by.

Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen

Full Recipe Name: 20-Minute Grilled Pizza with Smoked Salmon, and Mixed Greens

Talent Recipe: 

FNK Recipe: Food Network Kitchenâ  s 20-Minute Grilled Pizza with Smoked Salmon, and Mixed Greens, as seen on Foodnetwork.com

Project: Foodnetwork.com, SUMMER/APPETIZERS/PASTA

Show Name: 

Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

FNK_20MinuteGrilledPizzaWithSmokedSalmonAndMixedGreens_H

Chef Name: Food Network KitchenFull Recipe Name: 20-Minute Grilled Pizza with Smoked Salmon, and Mixed GreensTalent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Network Kitchen’s 20-Minute Grilled Pizza with Smoked Salmon, and Mixed Greens, as seen on Foodnetwork.comProject: Foodnetwork.com, SUMMER/APPETIZERS/PASTAShow Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network,Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen Full Recipe Name: 20-Minute Grilled Pizza with Smoked Salmon, and Mixed Greens Talent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Network Kitchen’s 20-Minute Grilled Pizza with Smoked Salmon, and Mixed Greens, as seen on Foodnetwork.com Project: Foodnetwork.com, SUMMER/APPETIZERS/PASTA Show Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Grilled pizza with dough from the store is a lifesaver when you need a quick dinner, and way better than delivery.

Food Network Kitchen’s Smoked Salmon Dip.

Food Network Kitchen’s Smoked Salmon Dip.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

You’re 15 minutes away from a smoked salmon dip that is great with veggies, rye bread or everything bagel chips.

Crispy crust? Check. Herb cheese? Check. Crunchy radish and luscious salmon? Check. Easiest impressive dish for brunch or cocktails? Check. Check. Check.

Some may call these sushi rolls fusion cuisine. We call them yummy.

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