Is salmon good after 5 days in the fridge?

Salmon is one of the most popular and nutritious types of fish. It’s loaded with healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. However, like any type of fish, salmon is perishable and has a relatively short shelf life.

Many people wonder if leftover salmon is still safe to eat after sitting in the fridge for several days. This article provides a detailed look at how long salmon lasts in the fridge and examines the signs that indicate spoiled salmon.

How Long Does Salmon Last in the Fridge?

Fresh salmon that has been continuously refrigerated will keep for 3 to 4 days after purchasing. If properly frozen, salmon may last for up to 2–3 months in the freezer. Once thawed and refrigerated, it will keep for another 3 to 4 days.

So if fresh salmon has already been refrigerated for a few days, it should be safe stored in the fridge for up to 5 days from the purchase date. However, it will start tasting less fresh around the 4-day mark.

Here are some general guidelines for salmon fridge life:

  • Fresh raw salmon: 3 to 4 days
  • Smoked salmon: 5 to 7 days
  • Frozen salmon: 2 to 3 months (in freezer), 3 to 4 days (after thawing in fridge)
  • Canned salmon: 3 to 4 days (after opening)

The shelf life of salmon depends on several factors, including:

  • Freshness level at time of purchase
  • Proper storage temperature — salmon should be kept at 40°F (4°C) or below
  • Handling and hygiene — clean hands and utensils prevent cross-contamination
  • Exposure to air — minced or chopped salmon will deteriorate faster

How to Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

Although properly stored salmon can stay fresh for 4–5 days, there are some clear signs that indicate spoiled fish:

  • Appearance — the flesh looks dull, mushy or slimy; blood on the surface; discolored brown or yellow areas
  • Smell — unpleasant “fishy,” sour, ammonia-like odor
  • Texture — flesh feels overly soft or slippery
  • Taste — acidic, bitter or unpleasant flavor

Always rely on your senses — if salmon doesn’t look, smell or feel right when you inspect it, it’s best to throw it out. As the saying goes, when in doubt, throw it out.

How to Store Salmon Properly

To get the longest shelf life and optimize food safety, salmon should be stored properly. Here are some tips:

  • Keep raw salmon very cold — store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator (35–38°F or 2–3°C).
  • Place the salmon in an airtight container or sealed bag.
  • If storing for more than 2 days, place a piece of wax paper directly on the salmon flesh to block exposure to air.
  • Minimize temperature changes — avoid letting refrigerated salmon sit at room temp more than 1–2 hours.
  • Once thawed, never refreeze raw salmon.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate foods — keep raw salmon separate from other items.
  • Check use-by dates and follow “use-within” recommendations.

Proper refrigeration and minimizing temperature changes will help prevent spoilage and bacterial growth, keeping your salmon fresher for longer.

Can Spoiled Salmon Make You Sick?

Eating spoiled, raw salmon can potentially make you very ill. Spoilage bacteria like psychrotrophs can produce toxins that cause food poisoning symptoms.

However, two of the biggest disease risks from raw salmon are pathogens like salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Although relatively rare, they can lead to severe foodborne illnesses.

Here are some common symptoms of food poisoning from spoiled fish:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills and fever
  • Headaches
  • Weakness and fatigue

Symptoms tend to develop within 12–72 hours after eating contaminated salmon. Make sure to report food poisoning cases to your doctor.

At-risk groups like pregnant women, elderly people, infants and those with weak immune systems should avoid spoiled salmon due to the heightened risk of infection.

Tips to Safely Handle Salmon

You can reduce your risk of foodborne illness by handling salmon carefully:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap before and after handling raw salmon.
  • Avoid cross-contamination — keep salmon separate from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw salmon.
  • Thaw frozen salmon in the fridge, not on the counter.
  • Marinate salmon in the fridge.
  • Cook salmon thoroughly until opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly in shallow covered containers.

Following proper storage, handling and cooking guidelines will help protect you against foodborne pathogens like salmonella.

How to Tell If Cooked Salmon Has Gone Bad

The signs of spoiled cooked salmon are similar to raw salmon, only more accelerated. Watch for these indicators:

  • Unpleasant sour, rancid smell
  • Dry, stringy flesh
  • Slimy, sticky texture
  • Discolored gray, brownish areas
  • Off tastes that make you want to spit it out

If your leftover cooked salmon shows any of those signs, it’s best to discard it. Most food safety experts recommend throwing out cooked salmon after 3–4 days in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Salmon?

Freezing is a great way to significantly extend the shelf life of your salmon. Fresh salmon that is blast-frozen at sea can keep for 2–3 months in the freezer.

Follow these tips for freezing salmon at home:

  • Freeze before the expiration date.
  • Portion the salmon into meal-size pieces.
  • Use moisture-proof wrap or bags.
  • Press out all air and seal tightly.
  • Label with contents and date.
  • Freeze at 0°F (-18°C) or below.
  • Once thawed, use within 3–4 days.
  • Avoid refreezing raw salmon once thawed.

Proper freezing preserves texture and locks in the flavor. Thaw frozen salmon overnight in the fridge before use.

How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last in the Fridge?

Smoked salmon that has been vacuum-packed can keep refrigerated for quite some time. Follow these guidelines:

  • Unopened package — up to 2 weeks
  • After opening — 3 to 4 days

Since the smoking process tends to dry out the fish, smoked salmon lasts longer than fresh raw salmon. But once exposed to air, it will eventually spoil and should be discarded after 4–5 days.

Does Canned Salmon Go Bad?

Commercially canned salmon has a shelf life of 3 to 5 years if unopened. Once you open a can, the leftovers should be moved to an airtight container and stored in the fridge.

Sealed cans prevent exposure to microbes and slow down chemical reactions that cause spoilage.

Properly stored opened canned salmon will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Discard any remaining canned salmon after that time. Reheating leftovers is recommended.

Does Cooking Salmon Kill Bacteria?

Proper cooking is necessary to destroy any potential foodborne pathogens like salmonella present in raw salmon.

According to food safety experts, salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C). At this heat, bacteria and viruses cannot survive.

It’s best to cook fish to a safe recommended temperature rather than by appearance and flakiness, which can be misleading. Use a tip-sensitive food thermometer to check for doneness.

Remember that normal refrigeration does not kill existing bacteria — it only slows their growth. Thorough cooking is required to eliminate microscopic pathogens.

Can You Eat Pink Salmon?

It’s perfectly safe to eat salmon with a slightly translucent pink center. This means the interior proteins have denatured but there are still moist areas with color.

As long as the thickest portion has reached 145°F (63°C) for at least 15 seconds, your salmon is fully cooked and safe to eat. A pinkish tinge is normal with thick cuts of salmon.

However, if the fish still has large translucent areas after cooking, it may be underdone. Salmon flesh should turn opaque white when fully cooked through.

How Long Is Sushi Salmon Good For?

Sushi and sashimi must be prepared with incredibly fresh, raw salmon. Sushi fish is typically flash-frozen shortly after catching to kill parasites.

Once thawed, sushi salmon is kept chilled but not refrozen. It’s usually consumed within 24 hours due to the highly perishable nature of raw seafood.

Sushi restaurants go through their fresh fish inventory very quickly. Any remaining sushi salmon should be discarded daily.

As a rule, only eat raw salmon/sushi from reputable restaurants, not sitting for longer than a day post-thaw.


  • Fresh salmon lasts 3 to 4 days in the fridge after purchasing.
  • Don’t eat salmon that’s been refrigerated for more than 5 days.
  • Signs of spoiled salmon include an unpleasant odor, mushy texture, dull color and sliminess.
  • Eat cooked leftover salmon within 3 to 4 days and toss after that.
  • Freezing extends the shelf life for 2 to 3 months when frozen properly at 0°F (-18°C).
  • Smoked salmon keeps for 5 to 7 days refrigerated. Canned salmon keeps for 3 to 5 years.
  • Cook salmon thoroughly to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to kill bacteria.
  • When in doubt, remember the old adage “If it smells bad, don’t eat it!”

The Bottom Line

Salmon that has been continuously refrigerated is safe to eat up to 4–5 days after purchasing. However, it’s best quality within just 2-3 days.

Signs of spoiled salmon include an unpleasant odor, sticky or mushy flesh, dull color, and unappealing appearance. Always discard salmon with an off smell or appearance.

For optimal safety and quality, store salmon in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Use within a few days and don’t leave sitting out for more than 1–2 hours. Following proper handling and cooking guidelines will help prevent foodborne illness.

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