Can you eat smoked salmon without cooking it?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat smoked salmon without cooking it?” We will look at the 2 ways of smoking salmon and their differences. We will also  briefly discuss the risks associated with consumption of smoked salmon.

Can you eat smoked salmon without cooking it?

Yes, smoked salmon is safe to eat without cooking irregardless of the type of smoking done. Care should however be taken when eating cold smoked salmon because there is always a risk of food poisoning as bacteria can always grow on cold smoked salmon if it is

 not well stored and handled.

How do you smoke salmon?

Salmon can be smoked in two very different ways; salmon can either be cold smoked or hot smoked and both ways are different and also have their health concerns. Cold smoked salmon is widely considered to be unsafe for consumption.

Let us dig into the different types of smoking:

Cold smoking salmon

Cold smoking salmon is usually done in conjunction with curing and it makes use of low temperatures of about 80 degrees fahrenheit and 90 degrees fahrenheit. As evident, such low temperatures do very little if any to destroy food borne pathogens.

Curing salmon makes use of a mixture that has salt, sugar and other ingredients such as alcohol. The cure functions to draw out moisture from the salmon as well as infuse some flavor depending on the other ingredients used.

Curing is done overnight and afterwards the salmon can be cold smoked using a smoker, however as you can see the salmon is unpasteurized and can result in food borne diseases. Cold smoked salmon can thus easily spoil and therefore should be refrigerated.

It can last 1 to 2 weeks in a refrigerator  and upto a month in a freezer, so always ensure you either freezer or refrigerate it to minimize the risk of bacteria growing on it such as listeria.

Hot smoking salmon

Hot smoking salmon on the other hand makes use of high temperatures which thoroughly cook the salmon to the required temperatures. In hot smoking the salmon is first left in salty water or wet brine overnight.

It is also essential to use some good wood chips such as oak, applewood and hickory so as to infuse some good flavor into your salmon. Smoke your salmon using temperatures of between 120 degrees fahrenheit and 225 degrees fahrenheit or slightly higher.

These temperatures serve to kill any harmful bacteria which can put you at risk of getting food borne pathogens. Hot smoked salmon therefore is fully cooked and has a longer shelf life such that it does not need to be refrigerated as long as it is well sealed.

Do you require cooking smoked salmon?

As mentioned, cold smoked salmon is raw and hot smoked salmon is fully cooked. Either way you can consume both cold and hot smoked salmon. As earlier mentioned you just need to ensure that the cold smoked salmon has been well handled and preserved.

Why is it safe to eat smoked salmon?

Salmon whether it has been hot smoked or cold smoked undergoes the curing process. Curing the salmon ensures that it is ridded of any harmful pathogens thus making it safe to eat.

However cold smoked salmon should be avoided by persons who have a compromised immune system, the elderly, young kids and women who are pregnant because of the risks that can come with consuming it. Hot smoked salmon on the other hand can be consumed by anyone.

Commercially made salmon whether hot or cold smoked undergoes thorough procedures that makes sure that any pathogens that might be present are destroyed. Commercially prepared salmon is safe to consume in all forms of smoking.

What are the risks of eating smoked salmon?

May put you at risk of cancer

Smoked salmon can put you at risk of getting certain types of cancers such as colorectal cancer. This is because during the smoking process there can be formation of cancerous compounds and also the nitrates used as preservatives can be carcinogenic.

May raise blood pressure

Smoked salmon is usually cured in salt solutions and this makes it absorb a lot of sodium. If you consume just a 100g serving of salmon you can get over half of your Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) and this can potentially result in high blood pressure.

May increase risk of Listeriosis

Listeriosis is a food borne illness caused by a bacteria known as Listeria. Listeria usually grows at temperatures of 34 degrees Fahrenheit and 113 degrees Fahrenheit  (1°C to 45°C) 

Other FAQs about Smoked Salmon that you may be interested in.

Can dogs eat smoked salmon?

Can you eat cold-smoked salmon without cooking it?

How to can smoked salmon

Does smoked salmon go bad?


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat smoked salmon without cooking it?” We have looked at the 2 ways of smoking salmon and their differences. We have also  briefly discussed the risks associated with consumption of smoked salmon.