How Long Does Smoked & Cooked Salmon Last?

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Fish is one of the most popular kinds of seafood to eat and salmon is the healthiest. Salmon is a great source of proteins, minerals, and healthy fats and is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. It is good for the heart and promotes cardiovascular health. It is good for the brain, helps in the proper functioning of the thyroid, and boosts skin and eye health among so many other benefits.

Salmon is the third most popularly consumed fish in the USA. Close to 1/3 of the wild-caught salmon in the world comes from the US. Norway, Canada, and Chile are other big exporters of salmon. There are a variety of salmon like sockeye, Atlantic, and Chinook to name a few.

An added bonus of salmon is that there are so many ways to cook it, to serve different palates, tastes, and lifestyles. While pan-seared salmon is the most popular way to cook salmon, you can also grill, poach, roast, or bake it. Salmon can be had plain salted, with a glaze, spices, and herbs, and accompanied by an assortment of sides from grilled green veggies to rice and pasta. But, how long does cooked salmon last? How best to store it and when to toss it out? Let’s explore and learn more about cooked salmon.

How Long Does Cooked Salmon Last?

  • Fish already has a pretty tenuous shelf life compared to other kinds of meats. And cooked salmon does not have a long shelf life.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture or the USDA recommends not storing cooked salmon for longer than 3 or 4 days. While technically, salmon will last in your fridge for closer to a week, it might not retain the flavor or quality.
  • Salmon, both cooked and uncooked, cannot be left outside for more than 2 hours. Once you have cooked salmon, it is best to refrigerate it within two hours.
  • If you have whipped up a big batch of salmon that is going to be impossible to consume within 4 days or even a week, freezing it is always an option.
  • Of course, cooked salmon fillets are going to be the easiest to freeze. But salmon that has been cooked with a lot of ingredients or sauces can be frozen, but the final thawed product might not have the texture or flavor that you enjoy.
  • Cooked salmon will last in the freezer for 6 to 9 months. They will taste the best within the first three months but will still be good at the end of 9 months if stored properly.
  • Once thawed, the salmon will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
  • Smoked salmon on the other hand when bought from the store pre-packaged will be good in the fridge for about a week after opening.
  • If you haven’t opened it, and it is still in its original, commercially sealed packaging, the smoked salmon will be good for 2-3 days past its expiry date. The expiry date is the date when the product is expected to either spoil or be unviable for eating.
Type of salmonPantryFridgeFreezer
Cooked salmon2 hours3-4 days6-9 months
Smoked salmon, unopened2 hoursExpiry date + 2-3 days6-9 months
Smoked salmon, opened2 hours5-7 days6-9 months
Thawed salmon
3 days

The above table is an estimate. The actual shelf life of cooked salmon depends predominantly on the storage conditions. The quality of the product and the date of manufacturing are also essentials to predict the life span of cooked salmon more accurately.

How Best To Store Cooked Salmon?

  • For something that is so delicate and flavorful, not to mention healthy, you have to take a lot of care when storing cooked salmon.
  • If your cooked salmon is in the form of dried fillets, it is best to first wrap the fillet in aluminum foil along with all the flavorings, be it whole spices, herbs, or a sauce. Then place the wrapped fillet in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. Your salmon will be fine for close to 7 days, although it is best to consume it as soon as possible as salmon tastes the best when it is fresh.
  • If your salmon has a lot of liquid or is cooked along with carbs or has gravy, transfer the cooked salmon dish into an airtight container and store it in the fridge. The reason the container has to be airtight is that otherwise, your fridge is going to be smelling of fish.
  • If you are planning to freeze your cooked salmon, you can either cut your salmon up into smaller chunks, so that it freezes more evenly. Then wrap it in aluminum foil and then place in an airtight, freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer.
  • When you decide to eat your frozen salmon, the first thing to do is to thaw it in the fridge. This will take anything from 12-24 hours, so the best thing to do is to let your frozen salmon thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Cooked salmon that has been frozen and thawed is already going to have altered texture and taste. The salmon is not going to be as tender or as flavorsome as fresh salmon. Instead of being light and flaky, the salmon might be dry or mushy. The best way to reheat the salmon is in the oven, although you can also reheat it over the stove on low heat. The microwave will dry it out.
  • Once you have reheated the frozen salmon, it will stay good in the fridge for no more than 2-3 days. Do not refreeze it, this will seriously compromise the quality of your salmon.
  • Always store your salmon in an airtight container. Packing it tightly in aluminum foil helps retain moisture.
  • Place your cooked salmon in the part of the freezer where it will be exposed to minimum temperature fluctuation. So, right at the back or bottom is best, where it will remain in a more stable environment.

How To Tell If Your Cooked Salmon Has Spoiled?

  • The most obvious indication of spoilage in cooked salmon is the smell. If your salmon has an overwhelmingly bad or funky smell, toss it, because it has gone bad.
  • If you notice any kind of growth or dark spots on the salmon, then it has spoiled.
  • While discoloration is normal, your fresh salmon will be a nice, healthy pink while older salmon will have a duller look. But if your salmon is gray or green, then it needs to be gotten rid of.
  • If you can’t tell by the smell or the look of your salmon, you can do a small taste test. If it tastes even a little off, throw it away.
  • Consuming spoiled fish is extremely dangerous, your symptoms can range from vomiting and abdominal cramps to diarrhea, numbness, headaches, and muscle weakness.

If you have a hankering for salmon but are not sure if yours is good enough, do a quick checklist. If it is past its expiry date, throw it, even if it shows no signs. It is better to be safe than risk food poisoning.

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