Can you defrost and refreeze fish?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “can you defrost and freeze fish?” We will also discuss the safe defrosting methods by which fish can be refrozen and the correct ways to do so.

Can you defrost and refreeze the fish?

Yes, it is possible to defrost and refreeze the fish depending on the procedure of defrosting and various other conditions. The defrosting method is very important when determining if the fish can be refrozen or not. 

For example, the fish which has been defrosted using the microwave method or the cold water method needs to be cooked first and then can be refrozen as a cooked meal but cannot be refrozen without cooking. 

Can you refreeze uncooked fish without cooking it?

Yes, this is totally possible. Yes, it is safe to refreeze defrosted fish without cooking it but the most important thing to remember is the defrosting method involved. You can only refreeze uncooked fish that has been defrosted using the refrigerator method.

In the refrigeration method, the fish is defrosted at a steady temperature and is thawed completely and the bacterial build-up is not a concern since most bacteria do not grow at the refrigeration temperatures.

However, when the fish is defrosted by other methods like cold water, microwave, and hot water method it is highly advisable to cook the fish before refreezing it. Since in these methods, the fish is exposed to higher temperatures and handling the fish can also be an issue.

It is important to note that before refreezing the fish, it has to be cooled a bit and the fish cannot stay on the kitchen counter for more than 2 hours and has to be refrozen by cutting it into smaller pieces so that it can be frozen quicker.

What are the ill effects of defrosting and refreezing fish?

The ill effects of refreezing over and over again are that every time when the fish is being frozen the cells of the product get ruptured. 

The more times the fish is frozen, the cell rupturing of the fish also increases. This is not good as the quality of the fish is compromised.

Refreezing a couple of times also makes the fish lose a lot of the moisture content which might make the fish dry when used for cooking and the taste and the texture of the fish are lost.

This might also be one of the reasons why fresh products are more expensive than frozen ones. This is especially true in the case of meat and seafood.

The other big problem with freezing the fish several times is that the bacteria grow faster with every defrosting cycle. Once the ice particles on the fish start to defrost the bacteria start to grow rapidly. 

There are beliefs that once the fish is cooked there is no possibility of bacterial growth, however, this is not true as bacteria can grow on cooked fish/food as well. 

There is also the problem of freezer burn, which causes a change in the texture and thereby a change in the taste and flavor of the fish. It is not recommended for the fish/food to be frozen more than one time after cooking it. 

Freezing and defrosting/thawing are food safety concerns and there are legal restrictions by the government/food safety forums, especially with restaurants, supermarkets, and coffee shops and it is advised to follow the same regulations even in the house. 

The fish can be stored for up to 8 months in the freezer if the packaging condition and the defrosting method are used for the fish to defrost. It is also not advisable to refreeze fish more than once, as this might not compromise the taste and texture.

What is a freezer burn? How does it impact the fish?

Freezer burn occurs when the fish/food is not tightly sealed due to the air touching the fish’s surface. The best way to avoid freezer burn is to wrap the fish tightly using plastic wrap or tightly securing them in a ziplock cover.

Freezer burn is the result of oxidation on the surface of the fish, resulting in discoloration of the fish and making that part of the fish very dry and tasteless. However, it is still safe to eat fish or other food products having freezer burn.

The only problem with the fish having freezer burns is the discoloration and dryness which leads to unwanted taste and texture of the fish. The best way to consume fish with freezer burn is to remove the discolored parts and use the fish as quickly as possible.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “can you defrost and refreeze the fish?” We have also discussed the safe defrosting methods by which the fish can be refrozen and the correct ways to do so.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.