How long can salmon last in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How long can salmon last in the fridge?” and will discuss signs of salmon spoilage.

How long can salmon last in the fridge?

Salmon can last up to 4-5 days in the fridge with proper handling, although the recommendations of the USDA is to consume fatty fishes, such as salmon, within 1 to 2 days (1). There are better ways to keep salmon fresh than keeping it in the fridge. Salmon (and other fatty fishes like mackerel and sardines) can only be kept refrigerated for a few days at a time. Salmon’s freshness may persist for up to three days in the refrigerator if you’re fortunate. 

Studies indicate that the maximum shelf life for iced whole salmon is about 20 days and for salmon steaks/filets under modified atmosphere packaging at chilled temperatures (2–4 C), shelf lives of 14–21 days have been observed, which means the entire period of fishing, processing, transporting and commercializing the products. However, this can be drastically decreased, if there is temperature abuse or improper handling (2). Another study determined a shelf life of 10 days for salmon filets stored at 0°C (3).

Refrigeration or freezing is the best technique to keep salmon fresh. The fish would be safe to consume for up to nine months beyond its sell-by date if this were done. However, if prepared three months beyond its sell-by date, it may not be in its finest condition or flavor. Fish are spoiled due to the growth and activity of bacteria, such as Pseudomonas spp. and Shewanella putrefaciens, causing the important chemical changes. These bacteria produce metabolites causing off flavors or off-odors and consequently originate consumer food rejection. Sulfurous, ammoniacal, or fishy odors are some of the main organoleptic changes taking place during spoilage development (3). 

No worries if you want to prepare salmon beyond the sell-by date on the box. Salmon is safe to eat even if it has beyond its sell-by date if it has been properly preserved. 

Salmon should not be stored at room temperature. When the temperature is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria may proliferate swiftly. Salmon that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown out, according to my recommendation.

When refrigerated, how long does cooked salmon last?

Cooked salmon may be stored for a longer period than uncooked salmon. It is safe to eat for up to three days after cooking if it is kept in the refrigerator. When it comes to refrigerated salmon, the fresher it is when it is cooked, the longer it will stay. The USDA recommends a storage period of 3 to 4 days for cooked fish in the refrigerator (1).

Even yet, it doesn’t imply that you should wait three days to consume the fish you purchased from a restaurant’s freezer. Why? Because you don’t know how fresh the fish was at the time of cooking. Use up any restaurant leftover salmon within two days to be on the safe side.

Microorganisms are the major cause of spoilage of most fish products. Lactic acid bacteria can reach effective populations to spoil the cooked fish during its refrigerated storage, producing sour off-flavors and off-odors and slimy milky exudates. The presence of oxygen could permit the growth of molds and yeasts. Cooking inactivates the proteases and lipases which are able to spoil cooked fish, but residual enzymatic activity can continue during refrigerated storage. Lipid oxidation is intense in fatty fish due to their high polyunsaturated fatty acids content (4). Therefore, cooked fish has a limited shelf life and depends on the initial microbial contamination, the cooking method and temperature, the exposure to oxygen and other factors.

Canned salmon, on the other hand, is a whole other beast. For six to eight months, it may be kept in the pantry and refrigerator, when unopened. For up to a year beyond its sell-by date, it may be safely stored in the freezer. The UDSA accepts a shelf life of 2 to 5 years for unopened canned fish, when stored in a cool dark room and a shelf life of 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, when it is opened (1).

How long can you keep uncooked salmon at room temperature?

At temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria multiply fast, and salmon should be thrown out if left out for more than two hours. This temperature range is called the danger zone temperature and should be avoided.

To prolong the shelf life of raw salmon even further, freeze; when freezing, put fish in the freezer before the number of days specified for refrigerator storage has gone; this will ensure that the salmon is preserved. Cover leftovers, wrap them in airtight packaging, or seal them in storage containers. These practices help keep bacteria out, retain moisture, and prevent leftovers from picking up odors from other food in the refrigerator. 

Overwrapping the original retail packaging with airtight heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper or putting the product inside a heavy-duty freezer bag will extend the shelf life of salmon in the freezer by preventing freezer burn

Do you know how to tell whether your salmon is spoiled?

The smell is the best way to detect whether a piece of salmon is rotten. A fishy scent is to be expected, but salmon shouldn’t smell awful. The scent of sourness is a good indication that the salmon should be discarded.

Studies show that there is a good correlation between bacteria counts and total volatiles, such as trimethylamine, released by fish during storage. These volatile compounds are usually used to control the quality of fish and its freshness. Sulfurous, ammoniacal, or fishy odors are some of the main organoleptic changes taking place during microbial spoilage development (3).

Lipid degradation compounds and their secondary compounds also strongly contribute to cooked fish taste and aroma. Nitrogenous low-molecular weight components, such as free amino acids, organic bases, guanidine compounds, opines, nucleotides and their related components, and peptides, are closely related to the palatability of fish, influencing basic taste. Texture parameters are also affected by storage time. There is a decrease in texture, which becomes softer, less chewy and less juicy (4).

As a last resort, it’s best to throw away salmon that has a sticky residue around its gills. Molds and slimy residue are further signs of deterioration. In fresh salmon, the hue ranges from pale pink to salmon-yellow. None of the above is acceptable.

You may also use your fingers to push the salmon. If your hands leave a dent or depression in the flesh, then the salmon you have is rotten. Stolen fish should never be cooked. Mold and bacteria may be found in rotten fish.

The easiest method to preserve salmon is to put it in the freezer, as I indicated previously. You can maintain it at zero degrees by wrapping it with aluminum foil. This should last for at least nine months, if not longer.

Salmon’s health benefits

One of the reasons salmon is so popular is because of its high nutritional content.

The source of essential fatty acid Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in abundance in salmon. This may help you remember things better. It has also been shown to minimize the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure and cancer. Salmon contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been demonstrated to lessen the severity of joint discomfort. Skin-friendly selenium may also be found in it. Selenium is very good for your hair and bones, as well. In addition, polyunsaturated fatty acids selenium have been suggested as effective anti-inflammatory agents (5).

Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system

Salmon is a notable source of vitamin D since it is one of just a few food sources. Immune system health is aided by this vitamin, which we may get naturally from the sun. The recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 400IU, which may be found in a single 120-grams dish of salmon. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin B12, vitamin A and E an taurine (5).

Even if you keep salmon in the refrigerator, it doesn’t have a long shelf-life.

Other FAQs about Salmon that you may be interested in.

Can you eat pink salmon?

Can you eat the bones in canned salmon?

Can you eat cooked salmon cold?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How long can salmon last in the fridge?” and discussed signs of salmon spoilage.


  1. Food Keeper Data. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  2. Dondero, Marta, et al. Changes in quality of vacuum-packed cold-smoked salmon (Salmo salar) as a function of storage temperature. Food chem, 2004, 87, 543-550.  
  3. Hozbor, M. C., et al. Microbiological changes and its correlation with quality indices during aerobic iced storage of sea salmon (Pseudopercis semifasciata). LWT-Food Sci Technol, 2006, 39, 99-104.
  4. Díaz P, Garrido MD, Bañón S. Spoilage of Sous Vide Cooked Salmon (Salmo salar) Stored Under Refrigeration. Food Sci Technol Int, 2011, 17, 31-37.
  5. Lund, Elizabeth K. Health benefits of seafood; is it just the fatty acids?. Food chem, 2013, 140, 413-420.