How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last? A Complete Guide

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How long does smoked salmon last? I often get this question because this is one of my favorite foods to make on a smoker.

A man, making  smoked salmon.

If you’re wondering, “How long is smoked salmon good for?” It depends on how you keep it. In the fridge, it’s good for about a week. If it’s still in its sealed package, it can last up to 2 weeks. But if you freeze it, smoked salmon can be stored for up to 6 months!

Ultimately, the length of time smoked salmon stays good depends on a handful of important elements. These include the way it’s packaged and stored and the smoking process it undergoes. Read on, and I’ll explain it to you in more detail.

What is smoked salmon?

Smoked salmon, along with delicious seared scallops along with salmon in the air fryer, are some of my favorite seafood dishes. I have my sister, Chef Kat, to thank for my love of fish dinners. She makes it better than anyone I know. Fun fact: She claims to have been a sea otter in a previous life. True story.

Where to buy the Best Salmon

You can buy salmon and other seafood from the Wild Alaskan Company. We love the quality of their products, which are delivered to your front door. With no preservatives and packaged in dry ice, this seafood is about as fresh as you can get without catching it yourself!

You may have seen smoked salmon at the grocery store or enjoyed its rich, smoky flavor at a brunch or family gathering. But have you ever wondered how long does smoked salmon last? The answer to this question depends on several factors. But first, let’s talk about what smoked salmon is.

A tray of hot-smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon is a type of fish that has gone through a smoking process. This process involves exposing the salmon to smoke from burning wood, giving it its unique flavor.

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There are two main types of smoked salmon: hot-smoked salmon and cold-smoked salmon. Hot smoked salmon is smoked at higher temperatures and ends up with a flaky, cooked texture. On the other hand, cold smoked salmon is smoked at lower temperatures and retains a silky, raw texture.

Understanding smoked salmon’s shelf life

Cold-Smoked vs. Hot-SmokedCold-Smoked SalmonHot-Smoked Salmon
In the Fridge (Unopened)Up to 1 week past the printed dateUp to 2 weeks past the printed date
In the Fridge (Opened)4-7 days4-7 days
In the FreezerUp to 6 monthsUp to 6 months

For Home-Smoked Salmon: According to the FDA, if you make your own smoked salmon at home, you can expect it to last in the fridge for up to 14 days. If you choose to freeze it, it should remain good for up to 2 months.

The length of time that smoked salmon lasts depends on whether it’s hot smoked salmon or cold smoked salmon. If you’ve purchased high-quality smoked salmon from a reputable source (like Sea Bear, known for its delicious smoked fish products), you can expect your hot smoked salmon to have a longer shelf life than cold smoked salmon.

Why? Cold-smoked salmon doesn’t last very long. If you put it in the fridge, it will only be good for one to two weeks. But if you put it in the freezer, it can last up to a month. This is because of some bad bugs called Listeria that can still grow even when it’s cold.

On the other hand, hot-smoked salmon stays good for a longer time. This is because it is cooked at a higher temperature, which kills more bacteria. Plus, it is usually brined in salt which makes it harder for bacteria to grow.  Because of this, hot-smoked salmon can be kept for a longer time.

Using a vacuum sealer is a great way to store homemade hot-smoked salmon. Just make sure it is completely cooled before sealing.

When stored properly in the fridge, unopened hot-smoked salmon can last up to two weeks beyond its printed date — this could be the sell-by date, use-by date, or expiration date. Cold smoked salmon can last up to a week beyond its sell-by date if kept in the fridge. If you open the package, aim to finish it within seven days for the best results.

In terms of how long smoked salmon lasts, the expiration date, sell-by date, or use-by date printed on the package are good indicators, but remember that these dates refer to the product’s maximum freshness in its unopened package. 

If you plan on keeping your salmon for longer, freezing is a great way to extend the salmon’s storage life. By storing the salmon in a freezer bag, freezer burn is minimized, and the salmon can last up to six months in the freezer!

Best way to store smoked salmon

To make your smoked salmon keep its best quality, you should leave it in the original package from the grocery store until you are ready to eat it. This package could be plastic wrap or a special sealed package that sucks all the air out. These types of packaging help to stop bad tiny creatures called bacteria from making the salmon go bad.

When you open the salmon package, you can wrap what’s left in strong aluminum foil or put it in a container with a seal. These containers can be Tupperware or ziplock bags. It’s important to squeeze out as much air as you can to make sure the salmon stays fresh. Always store the salmon in a cool and dry spot, away from light and heat. This is very important for cold-smoked salmon. For hot-smoked salmon, let it cool down first then put it in a container that can be sealed tight.

The best place to store your unopened package of smoked salmon is in the refrigerator. The fridge provides the ideal storage conditions for smoked salmon because it keeps it cold without freezing it, which could potentially affect its quality.

Be sure to keep your salmon package in a part of the refrigerator where it will not be exposed to too much air or direct sunlight, as these factors can also lead to spoilage.

Food director of Good Housekeeping, Susan Westmoreland, recommends placing it on the lowest shelf in your refrigerator, which is the coolest spot. (I do the same thing with my milk, for the same reason.)

Checking for signs of spoilage

Even with proper storage, smoked salmon can go bad. It’s essential to check for signs of spoilage before eating. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Smell: Bad salmon might have a sour smell or a pungent odor that’s different from the smoky smell it should have.
  2. Color: Look for minimal discolorations or changes in color. While some color variations can be normal (especially in wild salmon), a significant change might indicate spoilage.
  3. Texture: If the salmon feels slimy, it’s probably not safe to eat.

Remember, pregnant women and people with weaker immune systems should err on the side of caution and avoid eating any smoked salmon that might be past its prime.

Consuming spoiled salmon can lead to foodborne illness, with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you experience these symptoms after eating salmon, seek medical attention.

Always perform a sniff test before eating — good salmon should not carry a sour smell. In this case, it’s always better to be on the safe side.

Freezing smoked salmon: the right way

When freezing smoked salmon, divide it into small portions or thin strips, suitable for one meal. This way, you only defrost a small amount that you will use at one time. Defrosting and refreezing multiple times can lead to a shorter shelf life and potentially the growth of harmful bacteria. 

To freeze your salmon, put it in a freezer bag. Just like when you put it in a container, get as much air out as you can. This will stop freezer burn and help keep the salmon’s high quality.

Freezing Your Smoked Salmon: Step by Step

Here’s the best way to freeze smoked salmon for maximum freshness:

  1. Divide the salmon into small portions. You can slice the salmon into thin strips or small pieces, depending on your preference.
  2. Wrap each portion of salmon in plastic wrap. Make sure to cover the entire piece of salmon to prevent freezer burn.
  3. Place the wrapped salmon pieces into a ziplock bag. Try to get as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it.
  4. Write the date on the bag. This will help you keep track of how long the salmon has been in the freezer.
  5. Put the bag in the freezer. Try to keep it away from items with strong odors, as salmon can easily absorb these odors.

To thaw frozen salmon, place it in your refrigerator for 24 hours, or if you need it quicker, immerse the sealed container or freezer bag in cold water until it’s defrosted. Never defrost salmon or any fish product at room temperature as this can encourage bacteria to grow.

Extra tips for handling smoked salmon

Remember, smoked salmon is a perishable food, so handle it with care. When shopping, pick up your salmon last to ensure it stays as cool as possible on the trip home. Check the package before purchasing – it should be vacuum-sealed with no signs of damage or discoloration. The salmon itself should look vibrant, with minimal discolorations. If the package is puffy or bloated, do not buy it.

Enjoying your smoked salmon

Once you’ve ensured your smoked salmon is in good condition, it’s time to put it to good use.

A plate of smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers.

You can enjoy smoked salmon in so many ways! Eat it straight from the packet, add it to salads, put it on a bagel with cream cheese, or mix it into a pasta dish. It’s a delicious and healthy food that’s worth savoring, as long as it’s stored properly.

Common questions

How long is smoked salmon good for?

Check the date on the package. But usually, it’s best to eat it within a few days after opening.

Can pregnant ladies eat smoked salmon?

They should be careful because smoked salmon can have bacteria that can make them sick. Always ask your doctor first.

How can I tell if smoked salmon is bad?

If it smells bad, feels slimy, or changes color, it’s time to throw it out. Better safe than sorry!

Final thoughts on smoked salmon’s shelf life

Smoked salmon lasts for varying lengths depending on the salmon type, storage method, and whether or not the package has been opened.

  • Smoked salmon lasts for varying lengths of time depending on the type of salmon, storage method, and whether or not the package has been opened.
  • Always pay attention to the quality of the smoked salmon, looking out for any signs of spoilage, and store it properly to ensure its longevity.
  • Remember, the dates printed on the package (such as sell-by, use-by, or expiry dates) are there as a guide. They can give you an idea of when the salmon is at its best quality. But the actual shelf life can vary depending on storage conditions.
  • If the salmon package hasn’t been opened, it will stay fresh for two weeks; once opened, it should be consumed within a week.
  • Keep the opened salmon in its original packaging and wrap it with plastic wrap or put it in a ziplock bag to stop it from drying out. If any parts do dry out, you can cut them off with scissors.
  • Whether you’re a fan of hot-smoked salmon’s flaky texture or prefer the silky smoothness of cold-smoked salmon, proper storage will ensure you can enjoy your salmon at its best. And the good news is, if you follow these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious, high-quality smoked salmon for an extended period of time!
  • While smoked salmon can be a delicious addition to various meals, it should be enjoyed in moderation due to its high salt content.

When stored correctly and consumed within its shelf life, smoked salmon can be a healthy and delicious choice. So the next time you purchase some, remember the storage tips shared above to enjoy your smoked salmon at its best.

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Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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