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How Long Does Salmon Last in the Fridge? Your Questions Answered

Being one of the healthiest foods you can eat, salmon is packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Best of all, it’s a very tasty fish that can be cooked in a variety of ways from baked to smoked.

However, how long does this savory fish last? We will tackle this along with several other questions you may have on how to store this healthy protein so you can enjoy in future meals.

Close up of grilled salmon garnished with herbs and lemon.
Jacek Chabraszewski / Shutterstock

How Long Can Salmon Sit Out on the Counter?

Slab of raw salmon on the counter with herbs, salt and pepper.  Salmon shouldn't be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
tab62 / Shutterstock

Whether cooked or raw, you shouldn’t leave your salmon out at room temperature for more than two hours. After that time, you risk harmful bacteria growth that can cause you to get sick and your salmon to rot.

If the temperature is above 90 degrees, you shouldn’t leave salmon out for more than one hour before eating it or putting it in the fridge.

However, salmon or salmon candy can sit out at room temperature for to up to 3 to 5 days. Though, I would still refrigerate and keep in a sealed container to be on the safe side as it can vary widely depending on how it’s prepared.

How Long Does Salmon Last in the Refrigerator?

Raw salmon slices with shrimp, pomegranate, thyme and lemon.  Raw salmon is good in the fridge for up to two days.
Olga52 / Shutterstock

This answer depends on whether salmon is cooked or raw. Cooked salmon should last 3-4 days in the fridge provided it is stored in an air-tight container.

Raw salmon on the other hand will only be good for up to two days. Be sure to rinse it in the sink and remove from its original packaging before putting in the fridge. Storing in an air-tight container will ensure the longest life for your salmon in the fridge.

The fridge life of smoked salmon varies widely depending on how it was prepared and packaged. If you purchased smoked salmon from a store and left it unopened, it will have an expiration date that you can go by. If store bought and opened, it will last anywhere from 2 to 5 days in the fridge provided it is stored in a sealed container. If you lightly smoke the salmon yourself, I would follow the same rules as you would for cooked salmon only storing in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in a sealed container.

Heavier smoked salmon, such as candied salmon or salmon jerky, can last longer. Provided it is properly stored, you may be able to store your candied salmon up to two weeks in the fridge. Again, this widely varies depending on how it is prepared so use your judgement.

The sooner you eat your salmon, the better.

Can You Freeze Cooked Salmon?

Cooked salmon on a cutting board with herbs and lemon in the background.  Salmon can be stored in the freezer.
Elena Veselova / Shutterstock

Yes. Raw, cooked, smoked, salmon jerky and candied salmon all store well in the freezer. In fact, this is the preferred long term storage technique for all types of salmon.

How Long Does Salmon Last in the Freezer?

Raw salmon frozen in vacuum sealed bags.  Salmon is good in the freezer for up to 3 months without any degradation of quality.
Linda Hughes Photography / Shutterstock

Raw salmon can be frozen for up to three months and still provide you with very similar taste and texture that you would have if fresh, provided you freeze and thaw correctly. If you aren’t able to use it by then, you can safely freeze for an additional few months but the taste and texture may start to suffer. However, I wouldn’t eat raw salmon that has been in the freezer for more than six months.

I would follow the same guidelines for cooked salmon as well. However, when it comes to smoked, jerky or candied salmon, the results can vary widely depending on preparation and storage methods. In general, if you lightly smoke salmon to the point where the salmon has a similar texture to raw or baked salmon, I would follow the same guidelines as freezing raw salmon. However, if you smoke salmon for longer periods, causing it to dry out and have more of the texture of a jerky, it can last up to a year in the freezer.

Freeze in a vacuum sealed freezer bag or normal freezer bags with the air pushed out to maximize the life of your frozen salmon.

As a general rule, I would strive to eat your salmon on the lower end of the freezing range to ensure no degradation of taste or texture.

How to Thaw Frozen Salmon

Slabs of raw salmon on a cutting board with a bowl of lemons and limes.
Yuliya Gontar / Shutterstock

The best way to thaw frozen salmon is by placing it in the fridge overnight. Be sure to put your salmon on a plate or bowl when putting in the fridge to avoid a puddle of salmon juice in your fridge. If you have larger cuts of salmon, it may take up to 24 hours to thaw completely. Once thawed, your salmon should be good for 2-3 days in the fridge.

If you are in more of a hurry, you can place your wrapped salmon in a bowl of cold water, making sure to replace the water every 30 minutes or so. Depending on the size of your cut, you can expect it to take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours to thaw.

A quicker way yet would be to place the wrapped salmon under a running faucet of cold water. This can cut your thaw time in half.

The quickest way to thaw salmon is in the microwave. To do this, use the microwave defrost function and enter the weight of the salmon you are trying to thaw, checking every minute or so. I like this method least because I usually notice an impact in texture when thawing this way.

How to Tell if Salmon has Gone Bad

Raw salmon on ice with a sprig of thyme.  I would use your senses when trying to determine if salmon has gone bad.
LightField Studios / Shutterstock

When salmon starts to go bad, it usually exhibits obvious signs that make it look, smell, feel and taste unappetizing. If you notice a dulling in color, it is likely going bad. You may also see a white of filmy residue on it that is also a sign it is going bad.

If you notice any kind of bad smell, throw it out.

Also, if you notice the texture has turned slimy or mushy, I would throw it out. It won’t firm up when cooking if it is bad.

If you are eating candied salmon or jerky made from salmon, you will likely notice that it has a stale and tougher texture when it starts to go bad. You may also notice discoloration as well.

Finally, if you taste your salmon and notice something is off, don’t finish. As I always say, when in doubt, throw it out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you refreeze salmon?

If you thaw raw salmon and cook, you can refreeze your leftover cooked salmon. You can also refreeze salmon that has been thawed in the fridge, provided it was never brought above 40 degrees. However, I would discourage you from refreezing if you can avoid it as it can affect the texture and taste the more salmon is refrozen.

Is salmon good for you?

Yes. In fact, salmon is one of of the healthiest foods you can eat. It is packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients such as vitamin D.

How long can thawed salmon stay in the fridge?

Once thawed, both raw and cooked salmon can be kept in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Final Thoughts About How Long Salmon is Good in the Fridge?

Knowing how to safely store this healthy fish is very useful. I love having salmon on hand in the freezer as it can be used in a wide range of dishes. A family favorite of ours is smoked salmon. No matter what your favorite salmon recipe may be, I hope you have found this information useful so you can enjoy your leftovers for future meals. Happy cooking!

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