Have you ever wondered how long that leftover cooked salmon will last in the fridge? Salmon is one of my favorite proteins to meal prep with throughout the week. However, there’s nothing worse than accidentally consuming spoiled salmon and getting sick.
In this article, I’ll provide a complete breakdown of how long cooked salmon lasts in the refrigerator. You’ll also learn the signs of spoiled salmon and the best practices for safe storage. With these tips, you can safely enjoy leftover salmon for a few days without worry.
How Many Days Does Cooked Salmon Last in the Fridge?
Cooked salmon will typically last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator when stored properly. To maximize freshness, I recommend eating or freezing any uneaten portions of cooked salmon within this 3 to 4 day timeframe.
Here’s a quick overview of how long cooked salmon lasts in the fridge:
- Freshly cooked salmon: 3 to 4 days
- Leftover cooked salmon: 3 to 4 days
- Home-canned salmon: 1 to 2 weeks once opened
- Store-bought canned salmon: 3 to 4 days once opened
The shelf life of cooked salmon depends largely on how it’s prepared, stored, and handled. Follow my tips below for maximizing freshness and eating salmon safely.
How to Store Cooked Salmon in the Fridge
Proper storage is crucial for keeping cooked salmon fresh in the refrigerator. Here are my top tips:
- Refrigerate cooked salmon within 2 hours of cooking. Leaving salmon out at room temperature promotes bacteria growth.
- Store salmon in an airtight container to prevent fridge odors from seeping in.
- Make sure your refrigerator is below 40°F. Monitor the temperature if needed.
- Use shallow containers to allow for rapid cooling in the fridge.
- Separate larger portions into smaller containers for quick chilling.
- Remove stuffing or dressing from stuffed salmon before storage.
- Avoid overcrowding the fridge, as this reduces airflow.
Following these tips will limit bacteria growth and keep your cooked salmon fresher for 3 to 4 days.
How to Tell If Cooked Salmon Has Gone Bad
Cooked salmon that’s gone bad will show obvious signs of spoilage. Check for these when assessing leftovers:
- Change in color from pink to gray, green, or brown
- Slime formation on the flesh, giving it a glossy sheen
- Fishy, rancid, or ammonia-like smell
- Slimy texture instead of firm, flaky flesh
- Mold growth – especially fuzzy white, green, or black spots
- Discoloration of the flesh and/or liquid in the packaging
Never eat salmon with these signs of spoilage, even if it’s only been in the fridge a short time. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to seafood safety.
How Long Does Cooked Salmon Last in the Freezer?
The freezer is ideal for preserving cooked salmon longer term. Here’s how long it lasts frozen:
- Cooked salmon pieces: 2 to 3 months
- Leftover salmon casserole: 1 to 2 months
- Homemade salmon patties: 1 to 2 months
For best quality, use your frozen salmon within 2 months. Portion salmon into airtight bags or containers before freezing. This prevents freezer burn.
Thaw frozen cooked salmon overnight in the fridge before using. You can also thaw sealed bags under cold running water.
Can You Refreeze Previously Frozen Salmon?
You can safely refreeze cooked salmon, but quality will decline with each thaw cycle.
Follow these tips for refreezing salmon properly:
- Only refreeze salmon that was kept frozen consistently at 0°F or below.
- Thaw the salmon in the refrigerator before refreezing, not at room temperature.
- Refreeze salmon in an airtight freezer bag or sealed container.
- Use refrozen salmon within 3 to 4 months for best quality.
- Avoid refreezing salmon more than 1 to 2 additional times.
Refreezing will intensify the fishy flavors in salmon. You may notice more frost and condensation as well.
Storing Thawed Salmon in the Fridge
If you defrost frozen salmon in the refrigerator, you can store it for an additional 1 to 2 days in the fridge after thawing. Make sure to keep it very cold, below 40°F.
However, refreeze or cook thawed salmon immediately if it was defrosted any other way besides the fridge, like cold water or the microwave. Room temperature thawing can accelerate bacteria growth.
Monitor thawed salmon closely for signs of spoilage and cook it ASAP. The texture and flavor will decline quickly.
How to Safely Thaw Frozen Salmon
To safely thaw frozen salmon, use one of these methods:
- Refrigerator thawing: Thaw overnight in the fridge in an airtight bag. This is the safest method.
- Cold water thawing: Submerge the bagged salmon in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
- Microwave thawing: Defrost at 30% power in short 2-minute intervals. Rotate and break up the fish between intervals.
Avoid thawing salmon at room temperature. This puts it directly in the food danger zone between 40°F to 140°F where bacteria multiply quickly.
Tips for Cooking and Reheating Salmon
- Cook salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F. Use a meat thermometer to check the thickest part.
- Avoid overcooking, as this can dry salmon out. Cook just until the flesh turns opaque.
- Reheat cooked salmon gently either on the stovetop or in the oven at 300 to 350°F.
- Add a splash of milk, broth, or sauce when reheating to keep the salmon moist. Foil tents also prevent drying.
- Only reheat salmon once for food safety. Discard any uneaten reheated salmon.
How Long Can Salmon Sit Out at Room Temperature?
Raw or cooked salmon should never sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours total. After 1 to 2 hours, bacteria multiple rapidly and increase your risk of food poisoning.
If the room or ambient temperature is above 90°F, cut this time down to just 1 hour max.
On hot days, pack cooked salmon in an insulated cooler, not just a lunch bag. Keep plenty of ice packs on hand if you’ll be out of the fridge.
When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t take risks with seafood that could have been left out too long.
Choosing Fresh Salmon and Proper Handling
Picking out high-quality salmon is key to safely storing it in the fridge. Here’s what to look for:
- Bright, glossy eyes
- Firm, elastic flesh that springs back when touched
- Clean red gills without slime or odor
- Fresh seaweed smell, not fishy or ammonia
Once home, store fresh raw salmon immediately in the coldest part of the refrigerator in an airtight bag. Use within 2 days.
Wash hands, prep tools, and surfaces thoroughly before and after handling raw salmon. This prevents cross contamination with cooked foods.
Common Questions About Cooked Salmon Storage
How can you tell if thawed salmon has gone bad?
Thawed salmon has likely spoiled if it has an off smell, tacky or mushy texture, or dull graying flesh. Discard any salmon with these signs of spoilage.
Can salmon go bad in the fridge?
Yes, salmon can spoil in the fridge if stored past its use-by date. Signs of spoiled cooked salmon include off odors, sliminess, and discoloration.
Is it safe to eat cooked salmon after 5 days in the fridge?
No, it is not recommended to eat refrigerated cooked salmon beyond 3 to 4 days, even if properly stored. Discard salmon that is 5 or more days old.
Can cooked salmon be left out overnight?
No, you should never leave cooked salmon out at room temperature overnight. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours and discard any salmon left out longer.
How many times can you reheat cooked salmon?
For food safety, only reheat cooked salmon once after the initial cooking. Discard any uneaten reheated salmon, as bacteria multiples quickly on the second reheat.
The Takeaway on Cooked Salmon Storage
I hope this guide gave you a better understanding of how long cooked salmon lasts in the fridge. The key storage guidelines include:
- Refrigerating leftovers within 2 hours of cooking
- Storing cooked salmon in airtight containers
- Keeping the fridge below 40°F
- Using cooked salmon within 3 to 4 days
Properly stored, cooked salmon will retain its flavor and texture for several delicious weekday lunches or dinners. Just be diligent about watching for any signs of spoilage.
With these simple storage tips, you can safely enjoy your favorite salmon recipes without having to worry about foodborne illness. Feel free to bookmark this guide and share it the next time your friends ask how long salmon lasts in the fridge!