Lox vs. Smoked Salmon: What Is the Difference?

smoked salmon on wooden board

Lox vs. Smoked Salmon: What Is the Difference?

Many people often use the terms “Lox” and “smoked salmon” interchangeably. However, there are notable differences between these two types of salmon. We will examine the key differences between Lox and smoked salmon, including the curing process, texture, and flavor. Additionally, we will also take a look at the nutritional profiles of Lox and smoked salmon and see how they compare.

Lox vs Smoked Salmon

What Is Lox?

Lox is a salmon fillet that is cured in a brine made of salt, sugar, and other seasonings. Unlike smoked salmon, Lox does not undergo a smoking process, which allows the natural flavors of the fish to come through. The brining process gives the salmon a delicate, smooth texture and a pale pink color. It is popular on bagels with cream cheese, capers, and red onions.

Furthermore, Lox is a traditional Jewish cuisine, usually enjoyed as a breakfast or brunch food. In fact, the word “Lox” comes from the Yiddish word “laks,” which means salmon. Although Lox originated in Scandinavia, it was also a popular food among Eastern European Jews, who later introduced it to the United States where it remains a popular delicacy. Moreover, Gravlax is the name for the Scandinavian recipe for Lox, which is when salmon is coated in dill, juniper berries, salt, sugar, and other spices.

Lox - Everything bagel with smoked salmon, spinach, red onions, avocado and cream cheese over a rustic wood table background. Selective focus with blurred background.
A Lox bagel is a classic New York City breakfast food.

What Is Smoked Salmon?

Smoked salmon undergoes either curing or brining before smoking. The process of smoking salmon has two methods, namely cold-smoking and hot-smoking. In cold smoking, smoke partially cooks the salmon for a few days. However, in hot-smoking, the salmon cooks completely, like other smoked meats. Smoked salmon has a different taste and texture when compared to Lox, and it is more similar to baked or grilled salmon. People commonly use smoked salmon as a topping for bagels, just like Lox.

Lox vs Smoked Salmon: Key Differences

Here's a quick overview of the main differences between Lox and smoked salmon.

LoxSmoked Salmon
AppearanceLox is typically a glossy pink color.Smoked salmon is usually a darker shade of pink or orange.
FlavorLox has a mild salty flavor due to the brining. The flavor is less intense than smoked salmon.Smoked salmon has a stronger smoky flavor and smell. 
TextureLox is softer and silkier than smoked salmon due to the brining process, which results in a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth texture.The smoking process gives smoked salmon a firmer, flakier texture.
Culinary UsesLox is primarily paired with bagels. A lox bagel is a classic NYC breakfast or brunch staple.Smoked salmon is a versatile food that appears in salads and sandwiches. It is sometimes even an appetizer.
Table comparing the differences between Lox vs. Smoked Salmon
Salad with smoked salmon, onion and pomegranate seeds, on a blue plate, close-up, selective focus. Light, healthy lunch with vegetables and fish, served with bread.
Smoked salmon is more versatile, commonly appearing on salads and sandwiches.

Lox vs. Smoked Salmon: Nutritional Breakdown

The nutritional value of Lox and smoked salmon is quite similar. Both contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for maintaining a healthy heart. Moreover, they are an excellent source of essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. However, the brining and smoking processes used in preparing these fish can lead to a higher concentration of sodium, which is something to consider if you are trying to limit your salt intake. Here is the nutritional breakdown of Lox and smoked salmon.

Lox vs Smoked Salmon Nutritional Facts

When eating either Lox or smoked salmon, how you eat it greatly influences how healthy it is for you. For example, since Lox typically appears on bagels with cream cheese, it may sometimes be a less healthy option than eating smoked salmon on a fresh salad.

Nonetheless, both types of salmon are highly nutritious and offer several health benefits, such as protein, essential vitamins like A and B, selenium, and potassium. They also contain antioxidants, and the omega-3 present in both of them is beneficial for the heart and helps improve brain function.

Animal and vegetable sources of omega-3 acids as salmon, avocado, linseed, eggs, butter, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, parsley leaves and rapeseed oil
Both Lox and smoked salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids that aid in brain and heart health.

In Summary

Lox and smoked salmon are often mistaken for each other, but they are distinct types of salmon. Lox is a traditional Jewish dish, commonly served on bagels, made by salt-curing a salmon fillet. It does not undergo a smoking process. On the other hand, salmon is smoked after brining, which results in a flakier fish with a richer taste and texture. Smoked salmon is usually dark pink or orange in appearance. Lox typically has a smoother texture and pale pink color. Smoked salmon is more versatile because it appears in a variety of dishes like salads and sandwiches.

Lox and smoked salmon have almost identical nutritional profiles and offer many health benefits like omega-3, vitamins, and minerals. If you are watching your salt intake, both types of salmon may have higher amounts of sodium than other fish. However, both Lox and smoked salmon are nutritious and delicious options for a well-rounded and nutritious diet.

Recipe Card

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Smoked Salmon Dip.selective focus

Spicy Smoked Salmon Dip

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com


Units Scale
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 Tablespoon dried dill
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • fresh dill, for garnish
  • crackers or breadsticks, for serving


  1. Puree the cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, and Tabasco in a food processor.
  2. Add the scallions, capers, salmon, chopped dill, and pepper, and pulse to blend.
  3. Garnish with the dill and serve chilled with crackers. 
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