How long can you freeze salmon?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you freeze salmon?”, and discuss what is the shelf life of frozen salmon, the risks of keeping salmon frozen for too long, as well as how to know if the salmon is spoiled.

How long can you freeze salmon?

You can freeze salmon for 2 to 3 months when uncooked, while cooked salmon can be kept frozen for 1 to 2 months (2). 

Freezing can significantly affect the protein structure of the salmon tissue and lead to changes in the texture and loss of water holding capacity. After thawing, the fish tends to lose water, resulting in a lower size and weight (3).

What are the effects of freezing in the salmon?

The effects of freezing in the salmon are many, including (1,3,4):

  • Freezing reduces the rates in which chemical reactions occur. Enzymatic and chemical reactions in food lead to lipid and protein degradations, as well as to negative changes in the texture. These reactions are slowed down upon the storage at 0°F (-18°F) or below, leading to an improved shelf life
  • Freezing halts the growth of microorganisms. While frozen storage is not able to kill bacterias or other microorganisms, it can prevent it from spreading in the food. However, once the temperature is favorable again, the microorganisms can continue to grow
  • Some parasites are killed during frozen storage. In this way, eating frozen-thawed fish is safer than eating fish that has not been frozen
  • By freezing, the texture of salmon is severely damaged due to the water crystal growth. The slower is the freezing process, the greater the damage to the protein tissue of salmon, leading to great water loss after thawing

What is the shelf life of salmon?

The following table shows the estimated shelf-life of different types of salmon (2):

ProductIn the pantryIn the fridgeIn the freezer
Smoked salmon air packedNot recommended14 – 45 days 9 – 12 months
Smoked salmon vacuum packedNot recommended14 – 45 days6 – 12 months
Canned salmon2 – 5 years3 – 4 daysNot recommended
Frozen salmonNot recommended1-2 days2-3 months
Cooked salmonNot recommended3-4 days1-2 months

How to freeze salmon?

To freeze salmon, follow the instructions (4,5):

  1. First of all, rinse and wash the salmon thoroughly.
  2. Pat dry the flesh using a paper towel. Do not rub the towel, the fibers will contaminate the meat.
  3. Put the salmon in a freezer bag or a vacuum-seal bag. If you do not have these, you can wrap a plastic sheet tightly around the salmon and store it in the freezer.
  4. Do not forget to label the bag and squeeze out the air if you are using a freezer bag. 
  5. Store for up to 3 months. In the case of cooked salmon, consume it within 2 months.

How to defrost frozen salmon?

To defrost frozen salmon, place it in the refrigerator overnight. Never thaw any meat product including salmon on the counter. It allows the bacteria to grow to unsafe levels and the meat does not remain safe for consumption (4,5).

As an alternative, you can defrost the salmon by immersing the fish filet in cold water in a big container for 30 minutes or in the microwave using the defrost function. In this case, the salmon should be cooked immediately.

How to know if the salmon is spoiled?

To know if salmon is spoiled, you should be able to identify the possible signs of spoilage in salmon, which are (1,3,4):

  • Generation of off-odors, such as rancid. Lipid oxidation occur as a result of autoxidation and hydrolysis from enzymatic action generating degradation compound, such as aldehydes and ketones which characterize off-odors 
  • Generation of off-odors, such as fishy, ammoniacal or sulfurous. These off-odors are sign of microbial deterioration
  • Changes in the color of the salmon. Discoloration, such as darkening or yellowish or brownish colors can indicate microbial action or result of enzymatic degradation
  • Changes in the texture. Intense softening of the muscle tissue can be a result of microbial degradation or chemical / enzymatic deterioration

Is it safe to eat spoiled salmon?

No, it is not safe to eat spoiled salmon. The consumption of spoiled salmon can cause foodborne illnesses, as salmon is susceptible to be contaminated by many pathogens and parasites.

The possible symptoms of foodborne illnesses are vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and flu-like symptoms (4).

Other FAQs about Salmon that you may be interested in.

How long can fresh salmon stay in the fridge?

Can you eat salmon 2 days after the use-by date?

Can you freeze baked salmon?


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you freeze salmon?”, and discussed what is the shelf life of frozen salmon, the risks of keeping salmon frozen for too long, as well as how to know if the salmon is spoiled.


  1. Duarte, Ana M., et al. Quality Assessment of Chilled and Frozen Fish—Mini Review. Foods, 2020, 9, 1739. 
  2. Food Keeper Data. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  3. Dawson, Paul, Wesam Al-Jeddawi, and Nanne Remington. Effect of freezing on the shelf life of salmon. Int J Food Sci, 2018.
  4. Selecting and Serving Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely. United States Department of Agriculture.
  5. Freezing and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture.

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