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What is the Difference Between Lox and Smoked Salmon

April 03, 2020

smoked salmon

Lox vs. Smoked Salmon – What is the Difference? 

Lox and smoked salmon taste equally good with a warm crusty bagel, but are they the same? Not really. While the terms lox and smoked salmon are often used interchangeably, they are two different things. Lox is thinly sliced fillets of brined or cured salmon. On the other hand, to make smoked salmon, the fish is first cured or brined before being put through a final cold smoking or hot smoking process.


The word “lox” comes from the word “laks,” which is Yiddish for salmon. Earlier, lox was always made from the succulent and fatty belly of the salmon. Today, other parts of the fish are also used to make lox. The brining process, which involves treating the food with salt or brine to preserve and season it, gives lox its unique salty taste. Also, since lox is not technically “cooked,” the fish retains its smooth and silky texture.

Gravlax, which is lox made Scandinavian-style, involves curing the salmon with a mix of salt, sugar, liquor (vodka), a lot of dill, and some other ingredients like juniper berry or horseradish. The fish is weighed down during the curing process to remove moisture and infuse flavors. Traditionally, lox is never smoked, but Nova lox is regular lox that has been cold-smoked.


While different species of salmon, including Atlantic, sockeye salmon, coho salmon, and king salmon are commonly used to make lox, each product will taste different because of the inherent difference in the fat content of each species.                                                                  

In this article, we will discuss how lox is made, the nutritional value of lox and smoked salmon, how to eat lox, and some easy recipes using lox and Seattle smoked salmon.

A Brief History of Lox and its Evolution in America 

Today, a lox and bagels sandwich is a breakfast staple in many American households, but it wasn’t always so. Lox is believed to have originated in Scandinavia, where the people mastered the art of using saltwater brine to preserve fish for a long time. However, back home, Native Americans also smoked and dried fish and used it for trade and food.


Brining salmon was also popular among Jews in Eastern Europe. When they immigrated to the U.S., they also brought with them a penchant for smoking and curing fish. Later, the Transcontinental Railroad played an important role in making lox popular here in the U.S. Trains carried salted salmon from the Pacific Northwest to several parts of the country. In areas like New York, which had a huge immigrant population, the salted salmon was especially popular.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lox and Smoked Salmon

Here is a quick roundup of most frequently asked questions about lox and its cousin, smoked salmon.

How Should You Store Lox and Smoked Salmon

If you keep lox tightly wrapped in the refrigerator, it will stay good for 5-8 days from the date of purchase. Lox can also be stored in the freezer for a couple of months. You can simply thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before using it.

If you just bought some smoked salmon, store it on the bottommost shelf of your refrigerator, where it is the coldest. An unopened packet will stay good for up to two weeks. If you open it, use it within a week. You can still store it in the original package, but make sure you tightly wrap it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

Is Lox Healthy?

Fatty fish like salmon is low in carbohydrates and provide many benefits like improved heart health, lowered blood pressure, and lowered risk of depression and cancer.

The average lox nutrition information for a three-ounce serving is given below.

  • Carbohydrates - 0 g
  • Fat – 3.7 g
  • Cholesterol – 20 mg
  • Sodium – 1. 7 g
  • Potassium – 149 mg
  • Vitamin A – 77 mg
  • Calcium - 9 mg

How Many Calories in Lox

If you want to eat lox as part of a healthy diet, you’ll be relieved to know that there are only 99 calories in lox in a three-ounce serving.

Can You Eat Lox When Pregnant?

Eating lox while pregnant, or for that matter, any raw or uncooked seafood is generally not recommended. You can, however, eat lox while pregnant if it is used as an ingredient in a fully cooked dish such as a casserole.

Where to Buy Lox

When you buy lox or smoked salmon, always make sure that the fish has been properly refrigerated, looks fresh, and has a vibrant hue. If you prefer buying from the comfort of your home, Global Seafoods has some of the best wild sockeye salmon lox available online. Here, every fillet is dry-cured by hand and Kof-K Kosher certified. You may also find lox at your local grocery store.

How is Smoked Salmon Made?

Smoked sockeye salmon has a distinct smoky flavor and a somewhat tougher texture because of the smoking process, especially hot-smoked sockeye salmon. While hot-smoked sockeye salmon is flaky and comparable to barbecued or baked salmon, cold-smoked salmon is still silky like lox. Hot-smoking is usually done at a temperature of about 145 F for eight hours. Cold-smoking fish is done at a lower temperature of about 70-75 F for a longer time – about 18 hours.

How Many Calories in Smoked Salmon

With 18 grams of protein and 117 calories, smoked salmon (100 grams) is a low-calorie, high-protein food. Smoked salmon also contains sodium, phosphorous, copper, selenium, and many vitamins like Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. Since the sodium content is typically on the higher end in such foods, we recommend choosing low sodium smoked salmon for maximum health benefits.

Can You Eat Smoked Salmon Raw?

Pregnant women and people with a compromised immune system should avoid having raw smoked salmon or any other uncooked seafood. Always make sure that your smoked salmon or lox comes from a reputable seller who follows safe food handling practices.

Recipes Using Lox and Seattle Smoked Salmon

Lox is used in a variety of dishes from lox salad to lox dips, lox devilled eggs, and more. Here are a few recipes for you to try.

Lox Sandwich

Everyone knows that lox tastes best with bagels. The lox sandwich at the Lox, Stock and Bagel restaurant in Greensboro, NC, is worth its weight in gold. If you are looking for a simple and easy lox sandwich recipe that works well for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we’ve got you covered!


You’ll need:

  • 2 bagels, cut in half
  • Cream cheese spread
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 4-6 ounces of lox
  • Black pepper



Apply cream cheese on the bagels. Top with slices of tomato, lox, and cucumber. Add pepper. If you are in a mood to experiment, you can swap the cream cheese for hummus and add more toppings like lettuce and slices of roasted red pepper or onion.  The exact calorific value of this dish will depend on things like the size of your bagel and the toppings you use, but in general, you can expect lox bagel calories to be around 500.

Lox, Eggs, and Onions

If you think lox and eggs are a great combo and like having lox omelettes or lox Benedict on a lazy weekend morning, you are going to fall in love with this lox, eggs, and onions preparation, which is a staple breakfast item at many Jewish delicatessens. Here’s how to make it.


You’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon
  • Eggs, 3
  • Two tablespoons of large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 ounces of lox, chopped
  • Fresh dill, chopped
  • Crème fraiche
  • Black pepper, a pinch
  • Kosher salt, to taste



Heat butter in a large frying pan. Add onion and sauté until light brown. Lightly whisk the eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the egg mixture to the pan, and continue stirring until the eggs are done. Mix in the chopped lox. Garnish with fresh dill and crème fraiche and serve.

Smoked Salmon Seattle Chowder

Did your friend send you a smoked salmon gift box as a holiday gift? We recommend making this nutritious and comforting Seattle smoked salmon chowder.


You’ll need:

  • Seattle smoked salmon, 10 ounces
  • Butter, 2 tablespoons
  • All purpose flour, 2 tablespoons
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • Cauliflower, 1 cup, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • Frozen corn, 1 cup
  • Minced garlic, 1 teaspoon
  • Cooking wine, ½ cup
  • Heavy cream, 2 cups
  • Chicken or seafood broth, 5 cups
  • Thyme, 1 teaspoon
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste



Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan or stockpot. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and sauté for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Add flour, and mix well. Saute for one more minute before deglazing the pan with the white wine. Add the corn, cauliflower, potatoes, broth, salt, and thyme, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and cover and cook until the potatoes are done. Stir in the heavy cream and salmon. Add black pepper and salt to taste, and let the soup simmer for about five minutes.

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