freeze salmon

Can You Freeze Salmon?

Salmon is delicious and enjoyed by many people worldwide. It is also a popular source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

If salmon is your favorite fish, you may want to purchase it when on sale to enjoy throughout the year. Sadly, raw salmon has a limited shelf life.

You might be asking: can I freeze salmon? Does freezing salmon ruin it? Can you freeze smoked salmon?

Let me brighten up your day with the good news: yes, you can freeze salmon!

Keep reading to find useful tips for freezing, thawing salmon, and everything in between. Are you ready to take notes? Read on!

The Best Ways To Freeze Salmon

You can get fresh salmon from your local supermarket or a fishmonger. Fresh salmon only keeps for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator. If you buy packaged salmon, please refer to the use-by date.

Luckily, salmon freezes pretty well. Whether you have leftovers or a few extra packages, you can always freeze them!

Keep in mind that you should freeze raw salmon immediately before it turns bad. So, if you can’t finish this fatty fish within two days or before the use-by date, consider freezing it.

Let’s get down to multiple ways of freezing raw, cooked, and smoked salmon.

How to Freeze Unopened Pack of Raw Salmon

Unopened packs of fresh salmon are the easiest to handle. You only need three steps to do it.

  1. Leave salmon in its original packaging.
  2. For extra protection against freezer burn, wrap it in a heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. You can also place it in a freezer bag, squeeze as much air as possible (this step is optional).
  3. Place it in the freezer.

frozen salmon slice

How to Freeze Raw Salmon

If you buy salmon from the market, you will need a few more steps to freeze it.

  1. With a sharp knife, cut salmon into portion meal size. You can leave the skin on if you’d like.
  2. Wrap individual slices in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  3. Place them in a vacuum-sealed bag or a freezer bag.
  4. Squeeze as much air as possible if using a freezer bag.
  5. Label the bag with a freezing date.
  6. Place it in the freezer.

cooked salmon

How to Freeze Cooked Salmon

Whenever you have leftover cooked salmon, or you want to cook in a big batch for later, you can also freeze the dish. When kept refrigerated, cooked salmon only keeps for 3 to 4 days. So, freezing is definitely an option to extend the shelf life.

If possible, freeze cooked salmon as soon as possible after cooking. At least, make sure that the dish is still okay and not spoiled.

Here are the steps to freeze cooked salmon:

  1. Let the salmon cool down after cooking.
  2. Divide into a portion size for easier thawing.
  3. Transfer the dish into a shallow airtight container.
  4. Seal the container tightly.
  5. Label it with freezing date, name, and portion sizes (if necessary).
  6. Place it in the freezer.

How to Freeze Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon is not only tasty but also versatile to use in many recipes. If you have leftover smoked salmon, freezing helps to preserve it.

  1. Cut smoked salmon into slices or pieces depending on your preferences, and how you plan to use it.
  2. Wrap each portion size in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to protect from freezer burn.
  3. Place the wrapped salmon in a freezer bag.
  4. Squeeze as much air as possible and seal the bag.
  5. Label the bag with a freezing date or a use-by date.
  6. Transfer into the freezer.

How To Defrost Frozen Salmon

Just like other fish and seafood, salmon is a perishable food. It spoils quickly when left out at a warm temperature for more than 2 hours.

As a general rule, never thaw frozen salmon at room temperature. This condition allows bacteria to grow and multiply quickly.

You can safely thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. For cooked salmon, you can reheat it in the microwave right away. (*)

Thawing in the refrigerator

Thawing frozen foods in the refrigerator is the safest among other methods. If you have leftover defrosted salmon, you can refreeze it without cooking it.

The only drawback is the process can be lengthy. If you want to cook the fish tomorrow, you can simply place it overnight in the fridge.

In cold water

For quicker thawing, this method is an option. Soak a pack of frozen salmon in a bowl of cold water. Seal the bag tightly. If it leaks, bacteria can contaminate, and the fish might be unsafe to eat.

Change the cold water every few minutes until the fish thaws completely. Cook the fish immediately after thawing.

In the microwave

Microwave thawing is the easiest and fastest method. But you need to pay extra attention to the process. Use the defrost mode or the lowest power setting with short increments of 15 seconds (depending on the quantity).

Be careful since defrosting can turn into cooking in a blink of an eye. Quickly remove the fish once it is already pliable. Cook the fish immediately after thawing.

How Long Can You Keep Salmon Refrigerated and Frozen?

If salmon is adequately frozen, it remains safe indefinitely. However, prolonged freezing may affect texture and flavor. Frozen salmon is best to use for 2 to 3 months after freezing. (*) (*)

Salmon should be cooked immediately after thawing, mainly if it is thawed in cold water or microwave. If it’s thawed in the refrigerator, you can keep the fish for 1 to 2 days in the fridge.

Salmon typesRefrigeratorFreezer
Fresh salmon1  to 2 days2 to 3 months
Packaged fresh salmonUse-by date2 to 3 months
Cooked salmon3 to 4 days2 to 3 months
Smoked salmon2 to 6 weeks9 to 12 months

Can You Safely Refreeze Salmon?

If frozen salmon is defrosted in the refrigerator, you can refreeze salmon within 1 to 2 days maximum without cooking it.

There are some conditions when refreezing fresh salmon is not recommended:

– Frozen salmon is thawed in cold water or in the microwave.

– Salmon is left out longer than 2 hours or 1 hour in temperature above 90 °F (32 °C).

If you cook a dish from frozen salmon, you can also freeze the dish. Follow the steps in the previous section.

One thing to point out, repeated freezing and thawing may increase bacterial contamination. So, whenever in doubt, do not refreeze the fish.


Does salmon have parasites?

Yes, raw salmon may be contaminated with helminths or worm-like parasites, mainly Anisakis nematodes. These parasites can be killed with adequate freezing or cooking. To avoid food-borne illnesses, fish should be cooked thoroughly until the flesh is clear and separates easily with a fork. (*)

Does freezing salmon kill bacteria?

No, freezing salmon doesn’t kill all harmful bacteria. The safest way to enjoy salmon is by cooking it.

Can you refreeze previously frozen salmon?

Yes, you can refreeze your previously frozen salmon. However, there are a few things you should consider before refreezing it. First, make sure the salmon is still fresh and has been thawed properly the first time it was frozen. Second, it should not have been left out for too long enough for bacteria to grow.


Salmon is a healthy and tasty fish. Raw, fresh salmon has a minimal shelf life. Freezing works well in preserving this fatty fish. Cooked and smoked salmon also freeze pretty well.

To safely thaw frozen salmon, you can do it in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Never leave it at room temperature to prevent bacterial contamination. Don’t use the fish if you see spoilage symptoms.

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