How Long Does Cooked Salmon Last: Barbara Answers The Burning Question!

If you’ve ever wondered how long does cooked salmon last in the fridge and if it’s a health hazard, today I’ll answer that question for you and more.

Salmon is delicious, and my boys love it – it also goes well with almost anything, so it's easy to cook with it. However, salmon is also quite filling, and they can't always eat everything I make. Even if it's delicious smoked salmon, it's not healthy to eat too much of it in one go. 

So, the question arose – what to do with leftovers? Throwing them away seemed like such a waste but keeping them in the fridge even for one day might be a health risk.

Well, today I'll puzzle this out for you – I'll tell you just how long cooked salmon lasts and how to keep it to ensure that it stays good.

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

Before you even start cooking salmon, there are ways to ensure that it will last for a long time after being cooked. If you do it right, you might extend the shelf life of the leftovers by a whole day or even more.

  • The first important thing to consider is to cook salmon while it's as fresh as possible. Buying fresh salmon and cooking it straight away is the best way to ensure that it will last for a long time after being cooked.
  • Cooking salmon after defrosting it, especially if you defrosted it quickly, will lower its shelf life, and you won't be able to keep it for as long.
  • Of course, canned cooked salmon is the exception here, and it will last for up to a year since it's made to have a long shelf-life. However, even the best canned salmon can’t compare to the fresh kind.
  • Another important thing to keeping salmon from spoiling is making sure it's not close to the expiry date when you buy it. The closer it is, the shorter it will last when cooked. Again, freshness is the key.

Caution: If the salmon you bought was close to the expiry date, don't keep any leftovers after you cook it – throw them straight away. They likely won't stay edible for more than a few hours.

How Long Does Salmon Last at Room Temperature?

It might seem unwise to leave food to just sit on the counter, at room temperature, but some foods actually keep better that way than in the fridge. Because of that, it's always an option worth exploring – you don't want your fridge to be overstuffed and full of strange smells.

In the case of salmon, however, keeping it at room temperature is not a wise option. This is the best environment for the development of harmful bacteria in the meat and should be avoided – put it in the fridge as soon as possible.

At most, cooked salmon will be good for a few hours at room temperature. You can keep it in a sealed container to ensure that it lasts a bit longer, but you should throw it away if it's been sitting for more than 4 hours.

How Long Does it Last in the Fridge?

Keeping your salmon in the fridge is a good option, one that will make sure your cooked salmon lasts long enough for you to have one or two more meals with it.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to keeping salmon in the fridge is that it will stay good for up to 3 days at most. However, that also depends on various factors, so 2 days is a safer bet, especially if it's salmon from a restaurant.

  • Caution: Make sure to refrigerate your salmon as soon as possible after cooking. At most, two hours. This will increase its shelf life after refrigeration. Otherwise, you risk it spoiling within less than a day.

Of course, the way you store salmon in the fridge is also important. If you store it the right way, it's much less likely to go bad.

One good way to store cooked salmon is in a shallow and airtight container, which should keep it relatively fresh for a few days. Make sure it's in there with no liquids! No sauces or stuff like that either – John always makes that mistake, and I have to correct him every time. 

If you don't have an adequate container, wrapping it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap should also be completely fine. Never put salmon in the fridge without covering it up in some way, since this will drastically increase the chance of bacteria forming and possibly spreading to other foods.

Can You Put it In the Freezer?

When you talk about storing cooked salmon, most people instantly think about putting it in the fridge – but the freezer is also a viable option. Yes, putting it in the freezer is possible, and if stored properly it can last for up to 6 months, though it's safer to eat it within the first 2 to 3 months, since that's when it will retain the best possible taste and texture.

  • Pro Tip: If kept at a constant temperature of 0 degrees F, cooked salmon can stay safe to eat indefinitely. The taste will surely suffer, but it won't spoil.

Of course, it has to be stored properly to stay good. Freezer bags are a good solution, but freezer/airtight containers also work. If you have to, you can also store it in aluminum foil or freezer wrap though I wouldn't recommend that.

When thawed, the salmon can still stay in the fridge for around 2 or 3 days, but only if it has been thawed in the fridge. If thawed in water or at room temperature it should be eaten straight away.

Storing cooked salmon in smaller pieces is also a good idea since it will allow you to take out and thaw only as much as you want to eat and not everything at once.

Recognizing Salmon That’s Gone Bad

Once you decide to eat that cooked salmon you stored, you have to make sure it’s still good. Doing that is not too tricky. I’ve described it in more detail before, but I’ll also give you a quick rundown here. 

  • One of the best indicators is the smell. If it is starting to smell sour, you should probably throw it away instead of eating it.
  • Sometimes, the smell is not the most accurate indicator, especially if you made your salmon with some strong spices like lemongrass. In those cases you should also check the texture – if the salmon seems slimy and is leaking a lot of liquid, it’s probably gone bad.
  • The most obvious sign of spoilage, however, is the look of the meat. If it has some milky-white residue or black spots, it’s surely spoiled. Throw it away immediately, before it contaminates your other food.

Conclusion

As you can see, storing cooked salmon in many different ways is completely viable, and you can still eat it afterward with no problems. Just make sure to check for spoilage before putting it in your mouth, and you’ll be fine.

If you have anything to add or any questions, please comment below, and other members of the Kitchen Byte team or I will be happy to answer you!

I hope this article helped you at least a little bit and, until next time, have fun with your cooking! 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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