How long can defrosted salmon stay in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long can defrosted salmon stay in the fridge” and discuss the proper way to freeze and thaw salmon, as well as the risks related to improper defrosting or handling salmon.

How long can defrosted salmon stay in the fridge?

The raw salmon that has been defrosted in the fridge can stay good for about 1-2 days before cooking it (1).

On the other hand, if you have defrosted salmon in a bowl of cold water or the microwave then it is recommended to cook the salmon immediately (2).

It is important to place the defrosted salmon in an airtight container and maintain it refrigerated all times at 40°F (4°C) or below. 

Fish is a very perishable product and, although bacteria do not develop during frozen storage, they start growing as soon as the conditions are favorable, that is, during the thawing process (3).

Why should you not store defrosted salmon for long in the fridge?

You should not store defrosted salmon for long in the fridge because of the increased risks of spoilage. The risks of a long storage after thawing or improper defrosting conditions of the frozen salmon is the rapid development of microorganisms in the fish.

Fish is a host of bacteria, yeasts, and protozoa. The ingestion of contaminated fish can lead to foodborne illnesses, with possible symptoms being diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms (2).

Some of the common pathogens found in raw chilled fish are Shewanella putrefaciens, Photobacterium, Pseudomonas spp. and Vibrionaceae, which lead to degradation and production of undesirable compounds (3), including biogenic amines, which have toxicological effect when consumed in large quantities (4).

In addition, not only microbial spoilage occurs in the fish during storage, but enzymatic reactions and chemical reactions which result in the deterioration of the nutrients, changes in the odor, flavor and nutritional properties of the fish.

When should you not consume defrosted salmon?

You should not consume defrosted fish when you notice any sign of spoilage, such as (2,3,5):

  • Bad odor: off-odors such as sour, rancid, putrid, strong “fishy” and ammonia-like
  • Formation of slime on the surface
  • Changes in the texture, extreme softening
  • Discoloration, darkening, pale color

How to freeze and thaw salmon safely?

To safely freeze and thaw salmon, follow the recommendations (2,6).

Freezing salmon

If you intend to freeze salmon, freeze it immediately after purchase. Always choose fresh fish with no signs of spoilage. To safely freeze vacuum packed salmon, maintain it in the original packaging. In the case of loose salmon, wrap the salmon in foil or place in freezer bags, label and freeze.

You can also place the salmon in a shallow metal, foil or plastic pan; cover with water and freeze. Wrap the container in freezer paper or wrap it using a foil after it is frozen, label and freeze. Salmon, being a fatty fish, can be stored frozen for 3 months (7).

Thawing salmon

In the fridge

The recommended way to thaw the frozen salmon is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight and let it thaw there. The salmon thawed this way can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days before cooking and eating it (2).

In a bowl of cold water

You can thaw the frozen salmon in a bowl of cold water but you should cook it immediately after thawing. 

In microwave

Moreover, if you are thawing the salmon in the oven or microwave it is recommended to cook it immediately. 

The reason behind cooking the salmon immediately after thawing it in a cold water bowl or microwave is that when you warm the salmon using these methods, the temperature at the surface of the salmon gets higher than that of 40°F before the core temperature can become 40°F and it can thaw completely and that’s when the bacteria can start to grow on the surface rapidly (1).

Therefore it is advised to cook such thawed salmon immediately until its internal temperature reaches 155°F, till the flesh is clear and separates easily with a fork (2). 

Different ways to thaw salmon

When it comes to thawing salmon, there are a couple of ways to do so and you can choose any of them depending upon your choice.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long can defrosted salmon stay in the fridge” and discussed the proper way to freeze and thaw salmon, as well as the risks related to improper defrosting or handling salmon.


  1. The big thaw. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  2. Selecting and Serving Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely. US Food and Drug Administration. 
  3. Abbas, K. A., et al. The relationship between water activity and fish spoilage during cold storage: A review. J. Food Agric. Environ, 2009, 7, 86-90. 
  4. Mohan, C. O., et al. Biogenic amines and nucleotide breakdown products of sodium acetate, sodium lactate, and sodium citrate treated seer fish (Scomberomorus commerson) during iced storage. J Food Saf, 2019, 39, e12633.
  5. Lakshmanan, P. T. Fish spoilage and quality assessment. Society of Fisheries Technologists (India), Cochin, 2000.
  6. Andress, E. Fish – Freezing. National Center for Home Food Preservation. 
  7. Foodkeeper. United States Department of Agriculture.

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