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How Long Can Salmon Sit Out?

Posted in Food Safety on April 29, 2022

Updated April 9, 2024

Fresh salmon can sit out at room temperature for about two hours before it begins to break down. In warmer temperatures, salmon should be cooked or discarded within an even shorter period of time.

Why Can Salmon Only Sit Out for Two Hours?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends “the 2-Hour Rule” to ensure food remains safe to consume. When perishable foods sit out longer than two hours, they begin to spoil, but harmful bacteria also begin to grow. If salmon is left in the temperature “danger zone,” between 40 °F and 140 °F, bacteria can double in as little as 20 minutes. When bacteria, such as Staph, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter reach dangerous levels, they can cause foodborne illness. If a restaurant or manufacturer was responsible for causing your foodborne illness, you may be able to recover compensation with the help of a food safety lawyer.

How Long is Salmon Good For in the Fridge?

Raw seafood rarely lasts very long in the refrigerator. Raw salmon can be safely stored in the fridge for two days. Place the salmon in a sealable plastic bag and remove as much air as possible. Ideally, salmon should be stored at 32°F, but most fridges sit around 38°F. To make it last as long as possible, place the salmon on top of a bed of ice. Once salmon is cooked, it will last another three to four days in the fridge.

How Long Will Frozen Salmon Be Good in the Freezer?

Frozen salmon can last indefinitely, but it is best to use it within three months. After that, it begins to diminish in quality. To freeze raw salmon, rinse it, pat it dry, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place it in a sealable bag or airtight container before putting it in the freezer. Cooked salmon will last six months in the freezer before losing its optimum quality.

How Do You Thaw Frozen Salmon?

To thaw frozen salmon, the safest method is to place it in the refrigerator overnight; then it can be safely consumed in the next two days. Salmon can also be defrosted in the microwave, but you need to know the weight of the salmon, so it doesn’t begin to cook. Frozen salmon should never be thawed in hot water, but you can put the sealed bag under cold running water in a pinch.

How to Tell if Salmon Is Spoiled

To tell if salmon has gone bad, check for the following:

Off Smell

The smell is typically the first sign salmon has spoiled. It is a common misconception that fish smells fishy, but fresh salmon should have a neutral odor. If you open it and it has a strong fishy, sour, rancid, or rotten smell, it should be discarded.

Unpleasant Texture

Gently press a finger into the fillet. If it feels firm and moist, the flesh should spring back after lifting your finger. If it feels like it will break when you press into it or feels slimy or sticky, the salmon has gone bad and should be thrown out.


Salmon should have a bright pink-orange color with shiny, silver skin. The salmon is likely not fresh if the skin looks dull or the fillet has turned a faded gray. Any milky-white residue, dark spots, or discoloration are definitive indications of spoilage.