How Long Is Cooked Salmon Good For? Salmon, not unlike chicken, is an extraordinary dinner food that can be prepared in a number of ways with different sides, sauces, and marinades.
The seafood staple works well with rice, potatoes, and vegetables, such as asparagus, green beans, and spinach. It can be smoked, fried, baked, or sautéed, and served with a hickory barbecue sauce, dripped with butter and herbs, or tinged with a lemon cream. It is just so versatile!
Regardless of how it is prepared, salmon cooks thoroughly quickly, which is great for those on the go, and it is healthy, low in fat and carbs, and filled with healthy vitamins and minerals. The fish’s abundance of protein is also a great source of energy and strength.
As such, salmon is a great meal choice, especially for those that meal prep ahead of time. But, how long will the rose-colored fish stay good enough to eat after cooking?
Well, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, or the USDA, as it is commonly referred to, prepped meals with salmon or salmon leftovers are likely to last for only three to four days in the refrigerator. However, there are other factors to take into consideration, as well as other ways to preserve the fish. Here are some things to think about:
The Freshness Of The Salmon When It Was Cooked
You may have dazzled your family last night with a fantastic salmon dish, or you could have gone out with some friends and brought back more than your share of salmon leftovers. Either way, you are left with an inordinate amount of cooked salmon that will be impossible to eat all in one sitting. However, you can’t bear to throw any of it away!
According to what the USDA stated, it is still safe to eat on the third day, and even the day after, but its freshness when it was actually cooked has a lot to do with whether or not you should eat it after that long. This is because the fresher it was at that time determines how long it will last afterwards.
This means that if the salmon was in peak condition right before it was prepared, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Freshness before preparation means that it contained no odors, had firm skin, and no trace of ammonia, all of which indicates that it will stay good throughout the entire three to four-day window.
That said, when we go out to eat and bring home leftovers, we cannot be 100% sure about how fresh the salmon was at the time it was prepared. In cases like this, it is much better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, you should probably only eat the fish within 48 hours of going out and no later than that.
The Conditions Under Which The Salmon Was Stored
- It is always best to refrigerate your salmon within a two-hour window of cooking it. This is because bacteria that may cause disease can grow quite rapidly at room temperature, which is usually approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And, the actual danger zone is even broader than that, as it includes any temperature between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You will also easily maximize your salmon’s shelf life for both safety and taste quality by storing it in an airtight container immediately before refrigerating it.
- Tupperware, and similar plastic containers, such as the disposable types sold in grocery stores, work well to seal the fish inside. In a pinch, the newer plastic containers that Chinese food is packaged in work perfectly. You can even try aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or sandwich bags for storage, though the first two options do not provide an airtight seal.
How Willing You Are To Sacrifice Taste And Texture
Some naysayers disagree with those that stick by the three to four day timeline. Most agencies which advise people about foodborne illnesses, such as the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, will begrudgingly admit that most leftover food remains edible for up to seven days after it was cooked, in the refrigerator, and this even applies to poultry and fish, including salmon.
There is a trade-off, however, that should be noted. You will not only be marginally compromising your safety, you will also experience a difference in texture from your salmon being in storage for so long. It may also begin to lose its regular flavor as well as become a bit oily.
The Option Of Freezing Your Salmon
If you really don’t have any plans to eat your salmon for a while, such as when having a business lunch and a dinner date the day after you made your dish, then it may be in your best interest to freeze it. For best results, do this within the first two hours after you cooked it, or within four days of it being refrigerated.
- Simply place your fish in a freezer bag, an airtight plastic container, or double wrap it tightly in aluminum foil for freshness. Remember, this is important for keeping the salmon full of taste, and it is also pertinent for keeping everything else in the freezer from smelling like fish.
- If it is kept in a freezer properly maintained below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, your salmon should sustain its quality for up to two or three months. This is only for best quality results, however. The optimal temperature for salmon is zero degrees Fahrenheit, and at that setting it should remain safe to eat beyond a few months. It could last a very long time, perhaps indefinitely, just as cooked products do throughout shipping and in grocery stores and restaurants.
- If you take your cooked salmon out of the freezer and thaw it in the refrigerator, you should be able keep it for the typical three to four-day period, just like when you put it away in fridge within two hours of cooking. However, if you thaw the salmon in water or by using the defrosting function of your microwave oven, you will need to eat it right away, since it will not keep.
To Throw It Out When In Doubt
Doctors still warn that keeping leftovers past a whole week is taking a huge risk, regardless of how it was prepared or stored. You may contract the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which thrives at moderate temperatures and has been known to multiply to dangerous levels on fish like salmon. That said, it is not the only threat to worry about. Many bacteria can live and breed on salmon specifically, and mold forms on any moist surfaces given the perfect conditions for its growth along with an ample amount of time.
The best method to prevent such disasters from happening is to label all leftovers placed in your refrigerator. This is especially important if you live with other adults and you are unsure of how old the food they cooked or purchased may be. Use labels to let everyone in the home know when an item was cooked and for how long it can be eaten safely. This way it is sure to be eaten before it has a chance to spoil.
If you are unsure of the age of the salmon in your refrigerator, there are a few ways to judge whether or not it is suitable for eating. You can check for mold or discoloration on the outside of the piece, and smell it thoroughly, checking for any noxious or sour smells. Also, another sign of bad salmon is a slimy glaze over the top of the fish. If you notice any or all of these signs, discard the dish immediately. Never taste test it first. You can assume it is bad without risking your health and well-being.
Conclusion – How Long Is Cooked Salmon Good For?
In conclusion, remember that it is always best to eat leftovers, including salmon, as soon as possible. That way you can be sure that they are fresher, tastier, and, most importantly, safer. Foodborne illnesses are quite serious and require common sense and due diligence to prevent.
If you feel that your salmon could possibly be a bit past its sell-by date, do not take a chance by eating it. The cost to your body could be so much more than the mere cost of replacing your lunch. If you do get sick, you will have to pay for doctors’ visits, medicine, and you will lose income if you miss work. It is best not to chance it. When you have a doubt, throw it out.