How Long Is Cooked Salmon Good For?

Seafood dishes are so versatile and can fit in with any type of cooking or meal planning. Salmon is among the most popular seafood readily available, and often we get asked the question: “How long is cooked salmon good for before it starts to spoil?” In this article, we will be going over how long cooked salmon will last.

As with any food, there is a shelf life associated with cooked salmon and a window of time that you can easily reheat it or consume it before it has gone bad. It is a concern of many people who have leftovers of a delicious salmon dish and may want to have it again in a few days. How long does cooked salmon last? Read on to find out.

How Long is Fresh Salmon Good For in the Fridge?

Although it will keep it from spoiling, storing salmon in the fridge is not exactly ideal from a freshness standpoint. When refrigerated, salmon and other fatty fish will only stay fresh for up to 2 days. If you are lucky and your fridge is colder than others, you may be able to get away by keeping salmon in the fridge for 3 days without it going bad or spoiling.

To maintain the freshness of salmon for an extended period, it is highly recommended to store it in the freezer. This will allow you to reheat the salmon with quality freshness for up to 9 months after it has frozen. That said, for best results and peak freshness, you may want to try to consume it before it has reached 3 months. A good way to do this is by placing the salmon into an airtight bag and marking 3 months from the date that you put it into the freezer.

As relates to the sell-by date, it is fine if you cook and consume the salmon past this date, as long as it has been stored properly in the freezer. However, for this reason, it would still be a good idea to make your date and mark it on the salmon to ensure that it is fresh and full of flavor. As with other fish, storing salmon at room temperature should never be done. While you can defrost it at room temperature, as soon as it is ready you should store it in the fridge.

This is because bacteria love a warm environment to survive and grow. It can grow at temperatures of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have left out salmon (or other fish) at room temperature for more than 2 hours, I would highly recommend throwing it out. It can be tricky to defrost salmon because of this because you want to make sure that you don’t leave it sitting out on the counter for too long to reduce the chance of spoilage.


How Long Is Cooked Salmon Good For in the Fridge?

Cooked salmon can last a little longer than raw or fresh salmon; although not too much longer. Cooked salmon is safe for each when stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Any longer, and you can risk getting sick from consuming it due to it not having a long shelf life. That said, the fresher the salmon is when it is cooked, the longer it will last in the refrigerator.

However, it is recommended that you don’t wait to consume the salmon for three days, especially if you ordered it from a restaurant and brought it home. This is because you don’t know how they prepared the salmon, how long it was left in their cooling fridge, or how fresh it was when they bought it. As an additional precaution, leftover salmon should be consumed within 2 days of bringing it home with you.

And although I do recommend freezing salmon instead of storing it in the fridge, it is also not the best idea to cook salmon and then freeze it more than once, as this can change the overall texture and make it dry. Reheated salmon is a quick way to have some great protein, but you will want to make sure to reheat it properly. (More on this listed below.)

Canned salmon is a completely different story, however, much like with any type of canned meat or seafood. While it remains unopened, canned salmon can be stored in the pantry and fridge for up to 8 months. You can increase this further by freezing it, making it safe to consume for up to 12 months. Canned salmon is similar to canned tuna this way, however, you will want to make sure that the can is unopened and stored in the pantry or the fridge.

How to Make Sure Your Salmon Won’t Spoil Quickly?

Before you even start to cook your salmon, there is a method that you can use to ensure it will remain fresher for longer after being cooked. If done correctly, you can extend the shelf life of your cooked salmon by a whole day, or even longer in some cases. Firstly, you want to make sure to cook the salmon at its peak freshness.

Buying fresh salmon and cooking it immediately is the best way to ensure that it will remain fresh for longer after being cooked. While frozen salmon does last longer, if defrosted quickly it will begin to decrease in freshness and you won’t be able to keep it stored in the fridge for as long.


As we touched on, the exception to this rule is canned salmon. It can last for up to a year because of the way it is prepared before being canned. However, regardless of how great the quality of canned salmon is, there is simply no comparison to the fresh varieties. Another important aspect of the freshness of salmon is to make sure that it is not close to expiring when you buy it or cook it. The closer it is to the sell-by date, the shorter it will be fresh after cooking.

To be safe, if you purchased salmon that was close to the sell-by date, it is highly recommended that you don’t keep the leftovers after you cook it. Try to eat what you cook, and throw the rest out. More likely than not, the leftovers won’t stay fresh for longer than a couple of hours after you cook it anyway. Usually, I would say to cook the salmon around 3-5 days before the sell-by date, if at all possible. The best practice here would be to buy the salmon on the day that you are wanting to cook it or freeze it that same day.

How do you Know That Salmon is Spoiled?


Like most cooked foods, the best and most reliable way to tell if salmon has gone bad is by smelling it. While it is true that salmon (and other fish) will carry that fishy smell, it should not smell bad. Salmon that has spoiled will have more of a sour smell, and if your salmon smells like this, you should not consume it as it has either spoiled or has begun to spoil. If your salmon has a sour smell, it is best just to toss it into the trash to be safe.

Another sure sign that your salmon has started to go bad is the texture of the fish. If it has spoiled, it will have a sticky substance on the outside, particularly around the gills. Other more apparent signs of spoilage will be molds and sliminess. Fresh salmon will have a pink color on the flesh, and should not look discolored or dry.

Going along with the texture, you can test the salmon by pressing it gently with your fingers. If you press into the salmon and there remains a depression, it is probably safe to say that the salmon has gone bad. Before you ask, you should never even consider cooking salmon that has gone bad. It contains a bunch of mold and bacteria that can make you sick. Again, the best way to ensure the freshness of your salmon is to freeze it.

How to Properly Store Cooked Salmon?

To store salmon properly, there are a few steps that you will want to follow. In this section, we will go over these steps to ensure that your cooked salmon is stored in the right way to remain fresh for consumption.

1. Allow the salmon to cool after cooking before you store it; making sure not to wait longer than 2 hours. If you leave the fish out for longer than this 2-hour window, bacteria can start to grow and may make you sick to eat later. I would recommend leaving the fish to cool down for around 20-30 minutes and then immediately store the leftovers for later. The reason behind letting it cool is that when it is still hot, moisture can remain in the airtight container used and the salmon won’t stay as fresh for long.

2. Either wrap the salmon in foil or plastic wrap or place it into an airtight container with a lid. While I would highly recommend using a container, you can use plastic wrap and foil. If you don’t have a container, you can wrap the salmon twice with plastic wrap and then again with foil, and this should keep well. If you do have a container, I would still recommend wrapping the salmon in plastic wrap before you place it into the container.

This is especially true for smoked salmon, which can carry a very potent scent of fish. You may consider wrapping it more than you usually would avoid your fridge picking up the smell.

3. Label the container that you are using with the cooked date, as well as the date that it should be consumed by. If you have a container that you don’t want to mark on, you can use freezer tape that easily comes off and use a marker on the side facing up. Additionally, you can also mark what is inside the container so that you don’t forget it is the cooked salmon inside. If you plan on using the leftovers in another dish, you can also add another note to the packaging of what seasonings you used for the salmon.

4. Refrigerate the salmon for a maximum of 3 days. If three days have passed, it would probably be a good idea to just throw out the salmon to avoid getting sick from consuming it. When it comes to reheating, I would not use the microwave as this can change the texture of the salmon and make it tougher. I would recommend reheating it in the oven at a lower temperature. You can always leave it cold depending on your dish. For instance, you can flake the salmon and toss it into a salad for a healthy lunch or dinner.

If you forgot to add a label to the container of salmon and you are unsure of when it was cooked, I would be safe and throw it away. However, you can use the methods listed above to determine if the salmon is still safe for consumption or not. Again, if you are storing salmon from a restaurant you will want to reduce the consumption date by one, for a max of 2 days.


Final Thoughts

Salmon is a very delicious and healthy source of protein that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is popular for this reason, although it is prone to spoiling quickly, like most fish. Remember you can store salmon in the fridge for a maximum of three days, and in the freezer for a maximum of 9 months.

We hope this article was helpful and informative, and you learned that you can easily store cooked salmon for eating later. The most important thing to remember is to check to make sure it has not spoiled, and to reheat it properly. Additionally, proper storage of the salmon is key and it may be a good idea to make sure that you have a container to store it properly in the fridge or freezer.