Freezing Cooked Salmon (Tips for Types of Salmon + Expiration)

Rich, flavorful, and a popular superfood. Salmon is a fantastic dish that should never go to waste! Those who love to bake, pan-fry, and grill this healthy protein source may be wondering “can you freeze salmon after cooking”?  We have the details to keep you from floundering with your cooked salmon leftovers!

To freeze raw salmon, the best way is to rinse it, dab it dry with a paper towel, and wrap it securely with plastic wrap. Then, you want to place it in an airtight container, like Tupperware or a Ziploc bag, and freeze it. Frozen raw salmon can last up to 3 months.

To freeze cooked salmon, cut it up into smaller pieces, wrap each piece individually in parchment paper or any wrapping that will not remove the moisture, and place the wrapped pieces in an airtight container or sealed bag before storing in the freezer. Frozen cooked salmon can last from 4 to 6 months.

Proper Storage Guidelines

Storage guidelines for fatty fish, like salmon, dictate that it should only be frozen for a maximum of three months. Otherwise, the meat will experience drastic changes in color, texture, flavor, and smell.

The optimal method for packaging is to vacuum seal individual portions of the cooked salmon. This allows for rapid freeze times and it removes instances of oxygen and moisture, which can both cause the product to spoil.

However, you can also apply a tight layer of freezer plastic wrap, followed by a tight layer of aluminum foil to the portions of the leftover cooked salmon.

Place them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and remove the excess air. Finally, always thaw the fish in the refrigerator and NEVER reheat the cooked salmon in the microwave. 

Fridge And Freezer Storage Recommendations For Cooked Salmon

Refrigerator Storage

Cooked salmon will only last three to four days in the refrigerator. If you do not intend to eat it in this time frame, then it is imperative that you freeze the salmon after cooking and before surpassing this time frame. 

Freezer Storage

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “any frozen fish or shellfish will be safe indefinitely; however, the flavor and texture will lessen after lengthy storage.” Therefore, it is recommended that you keep your cooked salmon in cold storage for no longer than three months. This same rule applies to raw salmon as well.

However, if you choose to purchase smoked salmon, this will not last quite as long. It is only recommended to be kept in cold storage for two months. Similarly, salmon cakes and salmon patties include a plethora of other ingredients so these will also not be far as long, lasting one to two months in the freezer.

Salmon en croute and salmon wellington will also only last for a month in cold storage. Lastly, salmon pasta is not recommended for freezing. 

Limit Cold Storage Time For Fatty Fish

While other sources will tell you that fish can span up to six months in the freezer, this advice only applies to lean species of fish. Salmon, on the other hand, is known for being rich in heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations notes that “the fat of fish may become unpleasantly altered during cold storage. Fish oils readily combine with oxygen, and some of the enzymes normally present in fish muscle, particularly those in the red strip of muscle just under the skin of fatty fish, assist this reaction.”

This causes unpleasant odors and flavors, gooey textures, and undesirable changes in the color of this normally vibrant fish. Clearly, you want to avoid this, so make sure to follow these guidelines when you freeze salmon after cooking!

Steps For Freezing Cooked Salmon

Step 1: Allow The Salmon To FULLY Cool After Cooking

When it comes to freezing any type of cooked food, the most imperative step is to allow the dish to cool. If you were to place a hot piece of salmon in the freezer, the exterior of the fish would freeze more rapidly than the interior.

This can lead to the formation of large ice crystals on the fish. Why does this matter?

This would cause two issues — changes in the meat’s texture and a higher risk of freezer burn, which would alter the color, flavor, and consistency of the meat. Thus, after cooking the salmon, allow your leftovers to cool before you freeze them.


This can be done on the counter at room temperature, as long as the fish does not sit out for more than two hours. If the fish needs more time, simply transfer it to the refrigerator.

Step 2: Portion Out Your Salmon After Cooking To Freeze

The best way to store leftover cooked salmon is to slice up the remainder of the fish into individual portions. This will limit food waste and diminish the time it takes to defrost the meat at a later date.

Step 3: Package And Freeze Your Salmon After Cooking

Vacuum Packing

The optimal method of packaging cooked salmon for freezer storage involves using a vacuum seal machine. This will remove the instance of oxygen and moisture that can quickly cause the fish to spoil. It also prevents freezer burn!

For that reason, individually seal each slice of salmon after cooking, label it with the date, and freeze. Lastly, keep the meat at a consistent zero degrees Fahrenheit. 

Plastic Wrap & Freezer Safe Plastic Bags

Alternatively, if you do not have access to this convenient food storage machine, then wrap each individual slice of cooked salmon fillets in a tight layer of freezer-safe plastic wrap. While aluminum foil seems like a great alternative, this product is not recommended for freezing fish.

This is due to the fact that this flaky fish will break apart more readily if the fish is not fully defrosted when you unwrap the meat. Moreover, the flesh of fish is more likely to absorb some of the favors of this metal wrap. 

Plastic Wrap & Freezer Safe Plastic Bags

However, if you want to limit the cooked salmon’s exposure to light, consider applying a second tight layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the plastic freezer wrap. Finally, place the wrapped salmon in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Remove as much of the air as possible and seal and then label with the date and freeze.

How To Prepare Your Frozen Cooked Salmon

Step 1: Thaw The Cooked Salmon In The Fridge

In order to thaw your main dish, simply pull out the number of portions that you want to serve and place them in the refrigerator the day before you intend to reheat the fish. If you did not vacuum seal the salmon, make sure to place the wrapped sections of fish on a plate to prevent any messes from occurring. 


If you are in a hurry, the alternative is to leave the salmon in the vacuum-sealed bag or the sealed plastic freezer bag and place the salmon in a cold water bath. Switch out the water every 30 minutes until the fish has thawed.

Step 2: Reheat The Cooked Salmon

In order to revive this delectable dish, you have two options for reheating it. The first is to pour a small amount of olive oil into a skillet and saute the salmon over medium heat. However, for larger amounts of meat, you can always bake the salmon.

If you choose the latter method, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, place the slices of fish in a baking dish.

Your main concern is going to be retaining the moisture of the salmon. When you freeze salmon after cooking it will have gone through two rounds of extreme temperatures — first the baking and then the freezing.

Both of those processes will have an effect on the moisture in the meat. Therefore, depending on your initial method of preparation, add a dash of olive oil to the bottom of the tray, a splash of lemon, or reapply your signature sauce.

Finally, cover the baking dish in a layer of aluminum foil. This will further help to keep the fish juicy! Bake for approximately 15 minutes, checking on the fish about halfway through the cooking time. Remember that patience is a virtue. Low and slow is always the best way to reheat any dish!

IMPORTANT NOTE: NEVER use the microwave. Unless you want dried out fish and a colossal mess! In case you didn’t know, salmon is 69% water. This means that this portion of the flesh will heat rapidly, creating steam. Due to the flaky consistency of the meat, this combination of factors will cause the food to burst in this type of environment.

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon should be used by the date on the package. Leave it in its original package until ready to use. The packaging is useful for trapping the strong smell of the fish and protecting it from freezer burn if you plan on freezing it directly from the store. Once it is opened, make sure to handle and store it properly, whether in the original package or in plastic wrap. 

To freeze it, cover the salmon slices completely from the air to prevent dryness. You can freeze smoked salmon for 4-6 months; after 6 months the salmon will start to lose texture and taste.

Freezing Other Types Of Salmon

Salmon Patties

Salmon patties are an easy way to use fresh or canned salmon as well as sneak in some vegetables to your dinner.

  • Mix the patty mixture according to your recipe and shape the patties.
  • Place the patties on a baking sheet or cutting board lined with parchment paper.
  • Freeze for about 2 hours. It helps to set a timer so you don’t forget about them.
  • Once the patties are frozen, wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag.
  • Label the bag with the current date and contents and place them in the freezer.
  • Salmon patties can be kept for up to 2 months in the freezer. To thaw the patties, slow thaw them in the fridge.

Salmon cakes

Salmon cakes are just like salmon patties.  Usually freezing uncooked cakes are best, but you can freeze fully cooked salmon cakes as well, although they won’t last as long in the freezer.

  • Mix the salmon cake mixture according to your recipe and shape the them tinto the desired size.
  • Place the cakes on a baking sheet or cutting board lined with parchment paper and freeze for about 2 hours. It helps to set a timer so you don’t forget about them.
  • Once the salmon cakes are frozen, wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag.
  • Label the bag with the current date and contents and place them in the freezer.
  • Salmon cakes can be kept for up to 3 months in the freezer. To thaw the cakes, slow thaw them in the fridge.


Salmon Croquettes

Salmon croquettes are only slightly different from salmon patties and cakes, since they use breadcrumbs instead of flour on the outside. However, you can freeze them in nearly the same way. 

  • Mix the croquette mixture according to your recipe and shape them into croquettes.
  • Place the uncooked croquettes on a baking tray or cutting board lined with parchment paper, until firm, which usually takes about 2 hours.
  • For best results wrap each croquette individually in plastic wrap and transfer them to a freezer bag. 
  • To thaw, you can put them in the fridge overnight, or cook them from frozen by adding an extra 15 minutes to the cooking time.

Salmon Roe

Salmon roe is one of many caviars that can last in the freezer. If done properly, the roe will last up to a year in the freezer.  If the roe is fresh, it helps to freeze it on the first or second day after purchase; if canned it must be frozen no more than three or four days after opening. 

  • For the best results, it helps to fill it to the very top and freeze caviar in an air-tight container.  
  • Before you freeze it, place the roe in a colander and rinse it, letting the excess liquid drain.
  • Then gently spoon the roe into small, clean, dry glass jars (about 50-100 grams, add about 1 tsp of vegetable oil/ 50 grams of roe.
  • Gently shake the jars to distribute the oil, which will help protect the eggs during the freezing process.
  •  Seal them and put the containers in the freezer and set to “fast freeze” mode. 

Salmon roe frozen in this way will retain its appearance, structure, and taste.


To freeze salmon for sushi, clean the fish by rinsing it with cold water. Make sure to take care that you don’t cross-contaminate your food or preparation station.

  • Cut it into pieces according to your preference, usually into fillets, since this is easier to make into sushi or sashimi after defrosting.
  • Wrap the salmon in plastic wrap. You can use multiple layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
  • For sushi, freeze the salmon for at least seven days before you serve it raw to destroy any parasites or bacteria. 

In order to serve fish safely, the FDA recommends freezing storing the salmon to kill any parasites in these ways:

  1. Freeze and keep at – 4°F (-20°C) for 7 days (168 hours).
  2. Freeze and keep at -31°F (- 35°C) until solid and then hold at that temperature for at least 15 hours.
  3. Freeze  at -31°F (- 35°C) until solid and then hold at – 4°F (-20°C) temperature for at least 24 hours.

Salmon Sashimi

Sashimi is slightly different from sushi, in that sushi is strictly fish and seafood, while sashimi can be any raw meat that is thinly sliced. If you are talking about going out food a sashimi dinner, then no, you cannot freeze your leftovers.

The fish has already been frozen already (if properly prepared) and refreezing it will damage the texture and turn it into a mushy mess. However, if you are going to prepare your own sashimi, you can do so by preparing your freezer.

Since most home freezers are not set at a low enough temperature to kill off any bacteria or parasites in the fish, it helps to lower the temperature to at least -4°F and freeze your fish for a minimum of 7 days before eating it as sashimi.

  • To prepare the fish, thoroughly clean the fish, especially if it is fresh-caught (including descaling, deboning, and removing the fins). 
  • Depending on how big the fish is, cut it into large steaks or fillets for freezing. (You may need to buy a true sushi/sashimi knife to get the cuts just right.) 
  • Pretreat your fish (such as using a glaze or brine) to protect against any texture changes.
  • Freeze the fish by placing it unwrapped, in a single layer, in the freezer for 30 minutes until it is frozen solid.
  • You may also use the optional ice glaze at this point as well to further help preserve the fish.
  • Then place the fillets into a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible, or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and put them into an airtight container.

Salmon Terrine

Terrine is usually made in the shape of a loaf pan, which gives it its signature shape. Terrine is an easy dish to prepare ahead of time and freeze to save time later.

  • Prepare your terrine according to your recipe.
  • Wrap it well with plastic wrap.
  • Freeze it in a suitable container or freezer bag. It might be helpful to freeze it in the original loaf pan until it is solid and transfer it to a freezer bag.

Just remember not to freeze the cucumber or dressing that might be used in your recipe and allow yourself plenty of time to defrost the terrine slowly in the fridge to avoid too much change in the texture.

Canned Salmon

Canned salmon is very shelf stable and can be stored in your pantry at room temperature for about 3 years. Always check the best by date on the can. However, you can freeze canned salmon; once opened, store the salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How Long Does Salmon Lasts

ShelfN/AN/AN/A3 years
Fridge1-2 days1- 3 weeks3-4 days3-4 days
Freezer3 months4-6 months3-4 months3 months

Can salmon be refrozen?

If the salmon has been partially thawed, do not refreeze it. Once the fish has been exposed to oxygen after freezing, bacteria could have already begun to grow.  It is also best not to refreeze cooked salmon after defrosting and reheating, since this allows the potential for bateria growth as well.

However, to safely refreeze previously frozen salmon, there are some warnings and conditions in order to do so. Make sure that the fish has been properly thawed after the first time it was frozen.  

Once you properly thaw the fish in the fridge, it is safe to refreeze without cooking it. However, there might be a loss of quality or texture due to losing some moisture in the thaw.   To maintain freshness, you want to refreeze the fish within a few days of thawing.

If the fish is left out of the fridge for longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F, do not refreeze the fish, since this allows the possibility for bacteria to form and make your guests sick.

Final Thoughts

The last part of ensuring that your cooked salmon bodes well in the freezer is selecting a superior cut of fish before you cook it! The term ‘fresh salmon’ implies that it has never been frozen, but that is not always the case. Moreover, there is a major improvement in the quality of the meat when you purchase wild salmon and this means that the fish were not raised on a farm.

Instead, they are leaner, and therefore, have fewer calories and fat. Additionally, they are higher in minerals like iron and calcium. Finally, always check the date before preparing your food. Cook raw salmon within two days of purchase. Otherwise, spoilage may occur.

Then, after cooking, it is a simple process to freeze salmon and have a meal on hand for a later date. Finally, remember to always look for changes in your food prior to consumption. When in doubt, always throw it out!

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