How Long Can Smoked Salmon Sit Out (Answered)

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Have you ever had food poisoning? Generally, many of us aim to refrigerate our leftover cooked salmon, or any type of meat, rather, once it has reached the appropriate temperature. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with hot smoked salmon leftovers, then chances are you may need to pay close attention to it, storing them appropriately so that the smoked salmon lasts. If you’re wondering how long smoked salmon lasts and how to store your smoked salmon, then here are some answers.

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How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?

Like all types of pre-packed meat, unopened smoked salmon comes with a sell-by or use-by date printed on the label. This is normally around 2 to 3 weeks from the moment the package was sealed. This date gives a rough idea of how long the salmon will preserve its freshness, and of course, it should remain fresh for a couple of days after the dates outlined on the package, but anything after that you should throw away. Once you’ve ripped open the package of smoked salmon, the fish will remain fresh for no more than a week if stored appropriately.

How Long Can Raw Smoked Salmon Sit out?

A general rule of thumb is to avoid leaving your salmon out for more than two hours. However, raw smoked salmon is different from other types of fish meat as it will remain safe to eat longer as long as it’s in good condition. Some of these conditions include cooler weather, good smoking techniques as well as the use of wild-caught salmon in place of farm-grown salmon.

How Long Can Salmon Sit Out to Defrost?

If you’re wondering how long you can leave salmon to defrost, then the easiest and safest solution is to place your fish in the refrigerator overnight. You can, however, defrost your salmon in the microwave, but you have to watch out and pay attention to it so that it doesn’t end up cooking in the microwave!

Once it’s defrosted, you can store the uncooked fish for up to two days in the fridge, but never let the fish reach room temperature as it will become harmful to consume.

How Long Can Smoked Salmon Sit Out (answered)

Types of Smoked Salmon

Smoking salmon is one of the many methods of preparing salmon. It provides your fish with a brilliant saltiness and smoky aroma without overpowering the natural salmon flavor. Using the smoking method, a salmon-filled will first get cured and then smoked. There are two kinds of smoked salmon:

  • Hot smoked
  • Cold Smoked

Hot Smoked Salmon

Much like its name implies, hot smoked salmon is smoked at high temperatures (120F). Before smoking the salmon, you have to cure it in a saltwater solution, then cover it in a layer of black pepper, teriyaki sauce, or maple syrup.

Doing this will ensure that your salmon produces a rich, smoky flavor that you can go ahead and enjoy with soups, quiches, and egg dishes.

Cold Smoked Salmon

Cold smoked salmon is dry-cured overnight to get rid of the moisture, then slow smoked at 90F without any additional coating. Therefore cold smoked salmon produces more of a salmon flavor as opposed to hot smoked salmon and tastes much silkier in comparison.

How to Store Smoked Salmon?

There are some simple storage methods that’ll help retain the brilliant flavors of your smoked salmon, and these include storing your smoked salmon at:

  • Room Temperature
  • In the Fridge
  • In the Freezer

Room Temperature

If some brands have claimed that their smoked salmon can retain quality without being refrigerated, then it’s safe to trust them and leave your fish resting at room temperature. Though you should ensure that your smoked salmon is stored in the cool, dry part of your kitchen cupboard or shelf, away from direct sunlight.

Apart from unique smoked salmon, other types of cooked salmon should be stored in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Though they won’t spoil if they had remained at room temperature for a couple of hours, though don’t leave them out for an extended period because they can become a victim of harmful bacteria.

In the Fridge

Refrigerating is the most common form of storage for smoked salmon, whether it is in a vacuum-sealed package or not. You must wrap your salmon carefully in a plastic wrap to protect your fish from other food’s odor, as well as your fridge from the distinct fish smell.

In the Freezer

If you’re looking to buy more than a couple of packs of salmon and keep it for longer so that you can remove and cook salmon whenever you wish, it’s time to make some more use of the freezer. Here you can read if you have to wash salmon before cooking. You can leave your smoked salmon in its vacuum-sealed packaging and pop it into the freezer. You’ll find that with proper storage comes preserved quality, so your salmon can remain frozen for up to three months as well as retain quality.

Though if you’re looking to use your smoked salmon a few pieces at a time, then the best thing to do is divide your salmon into separate portions and wrap them individually. You can use freezer bags for this method or vacuum sealed packaging for best results, ensuring nothing touches your smoked fish.

Can You Freeze Smoked Salmon?

Frozen salmon is always good for future meal preparation, especially if you’ve accidentally splurged on a fish sale! Smoked salmon is usually vacuum-packed, which is also convenient for freezing. You don’t need additional packaging to wrap around these fish; simply pop them into a plastic container, plop them into the freezer and you’re all set.

For leftover smoked salmon, wrap the fish properly using plastic wrap or a freezer bag, then place it in the freezer. The best way to ensure salmon will retain quality is by storing it at freezing temperatures where it can remain frozen for up to six months, enabling you to cook with it whenever you wish.

How to Tell if Smoked Salmon is Bad?

The first way to identify whether your smoked salmon has gone bad is to check the dates labeled on the packaging. If an opened package of smoked salmon is sitting in the fridge, but the use-by date has already passed, you should throw it away. Similarly, with an unopened and vacuum-sealed pack of smoked salmon, once the use-by date has passed, don’t assume that the salmon will be safe to eat because of its elaborate packaging and simply throw it away.

How Long Can Smoked Salmon Sit Out (answered)

On the other hand, if the use-by date was a couple of days before, then it’s pretty reasonable, and you can conduct a few checks before determining the status of your smoked salmon. If the fish has developed a slimy texture, its color becomes dull, or emits a sour smell, these are clear indications of food gone bad and should be disposed of.

Moreover, if the appearance, texture, and smell appear completely fine, then it’s safe to eat. Here is our article on how long sushi with salmon can sit out.

Ways to Identify Bad Smoked Salmon

Understanding the shelf life of your smoked salmon can help you distinguish between fresh salmon and bad salmon, from the moment you ventured out and bought smoked salmon to when you plan to cook it. Additionally, to leave salmon on the kitchen counter might not create much of a disaster, but to accidentally forget about it for even an hour where it can be exposed to direct sunlight might not work in your favor. Let’s figure out how to identify bad-smoked salmon.

The Date on the Label

Like many meat products, it’s best to check the usage date before determining whether the fish is appropriate to eat longer. Many believe that an unopened package of fish is better than an opened package since more bacteria would have had extended access to the exposed fish. However, this is a misconception. If the fish has been stored for longer than its use by date, then it needs to be disposed of immediately.


Once you’ve confirmed the date, you need to take a look at the fish’s appearance and watch out for a few clear signs that can indicate whether your salmon has gone bad or not.


If the package is unopened and refrigerated, mold can still make an appearance on your salmon.

Change of Color

The most alarming sign for many is the color change of their fish, ranging from grey to green. Though any signs of minimal discoloration isn’t a cause for concern, simply discard those areas and cook the rest as your salmon is still safe to eat.


It can be quite tricky to determine whether your salmon has become considerably slimier. You can try touching the fish, and if you find that your fish has a thick glop of slime, it’s time to throw it away.


The most accurate way to identify spoiled food is probably by smelling it. If your nose can detect an odd and unfamiliar odor, then the fish is deemed inedible.

How Long is Vacuum Packed Raw Salmon Good For?

If you’re dealing with vacuum-sealed raw salmon, it should last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. You can check for signs of spoilage if you’re unsure by taking a look at the salmon’s appearance, smell, and texture. Vacuum-sealed salmon should last longer when frozen and can be safe to consume for up to six months after the use-by date.

Remember to thaw your raw salmon in the refrigerator overnight before you plan to cook with it. This will ensure that your salmon is cooked evenly.

How Long Can Smoked Salmon Sit Out (answered)

Can Harmful Bacteria Grow in Vacuum Sealed Bags?

Bacteria can grow in vacuum-sealed bags, though the lack of oxygen can prevent the bacteria from multiplying considerably. Moreover, the cooler conditions of the refrigerator help diminish the rapid growth of bacteria, which is why it’s best to keep your fish vacuum sealed rather than exposed for bacteria to thrive.

How Long Can Vacuum Sealed Smoked Salmon Sit at Room Temperature?

According to the USDA, vacuum-packed smoked salmon can sit out at room temperature for a maximum of two hours. Any longer than this can cause food poisoning because bacteria multiply at temperatures between 40F and 140F.

What Happens if You Eat Rotten Smoked Salmon?

Eating all sorts of rotten foods doesn’t end well for many, and this doesn’t exclude rotten smoked salmon. Consuming rotten fish can lead to stomach aches and vomiting, which are all symptoms of food poisoning. This is because you are consuming food that has been contaminated, and though the contamination levels in salmon can be relatively low, it increases after stages of preparation such as salting, skinning, and slicing.

Bottom Line

Generally, smoked salmon shouldn’t sit out for even an hour because you’re permitting the chance of bacteria to multiply, and what may seem perfectly okay for consumption may already be harmful and cause discomfort. Remember to refrigerate all types of salmon, hot smoked, cold smoked, raw, and cooked, allowing you to make the best use of this fish for many days to come. The appropriate storage method will allow you to use your salmon all the way up to the use-by date (and a couple of days after that) as long as the appearance, smell, and texture don’t change!


Can Smoked Salmon be Kept at Room Temperature?

Smoked salmon won’t spoil if it sits at room temperature for 30 minutes or even an hour. Aside from this, it’s highly unrecommended and can begin to host some harmful bacteria if forgotten about. That being said, some producers sell their smoked salmon unrefrigerated.

How Long Does Smoked Fish Last Unrefrigerated?

Unrefrigerated smoked salmon will easily remain edible for 3 days, even in warmer conditions. This is because of the special processes used to preserve the smoked fish through salting, smoked, and vacuum packing.

How Do You Know if Smoked Salmon Has Gone Bad?

The best way to determine whether an opened package of smoked salmon has gone bad is to smell it, touch it and take a look at its color. If there’s a major sign of discoloration, you should throw it away immediately.