Skip to Content

Can you freeze fresh salmon fillets?

Salmon is a popular and healthy fish that is enjoyed by many. Fresh salmon fillets can be purchased from the grocery store or fish market. With its bright orange-red colored flesh, salmon makes for an appetizing meal. However, fresh salmon is perishable and will only last for a couple days in the refrigerator. This leads many home cooks to wonder, can you freeze fresh salmon fillets?

Can You Freeze Raw Salmon?

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely freeze raw salmon fillets. Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of fresh salmon. When frozen properly, raw salmon fillets can last in the freezer for up to 9 months.

Freezing raw salmon locks in moisture and freshness. It pauses the growth of bacteria that causes spoilage. Frozen salmon will still retain its flavor, texture, and nutrients when thawed correctly and cooked. So freezing gives you the flexibility to enjoy fresh-tasting salmon even when it’s out of season.

How to Prepare Salmon for Freezing

Follow these steps for freezing raw salmon fillets:

  1. Make sure the salmon is sushi-grade or very fresh. Use within 2 days of purchasing.
  2. Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Cut the fillets into individual portions, if desired. Even sizes will freeze and thaw easier.
  4. Place salmon portions in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers.
  6. Remove as much air as possible and seal the container.
  7. Label package with name and freeze-by date (3 months from freezing date).
  8. Store frozen salmon in the coldest part of the freezer at 0°F or below.

Freezing salmon in portion sizes makes for easy weeknight meals. Thaw only what you need and the rest stays fresh in the freezer.

Tips for Freezing Salmon

Follow these tips for best frozen salmon quality:

  • Freeze salmon within 1-2 days of purchasing for optimal freshness.
  • Use high quality, sushi-grade salmon if possible.
  • Rinse salmon and pat dry before freezing to prevent ice crystals.
  • Use freezer bags, plastic wrap, or airtight containers to protect against freezer burn.
  • Squeeze out excess air from packages to prevent freezer burn.
  • Lay fish flat in a single layer while freezing to keep its shape.
  • Store frozen salmon below 0°F for longest shelf life.
  • Label packages with type of fish and date frozen.
  • Use frozen salmon within 3 months for best quality and taste.

How Long Does Frozen Salmon Last?

Frozen salmon that is properly packaged and stored at 0°F will retain optimal taste and texture for:

Frozen Salmon Type Freezer Storage Life
Raw salmon fillets 9 months
Smoked salmon 2-3 months
Precooked salmon 4-6 months

The freezer storage life depends on the salmon quality, freezing method, and freezer temperature. Use frozen salmon within the recommended timeframe for best flavor, texture, and safety.

How to Thaw Frozen Salmon

Always thaw frozen salmon fillets properly before cooking. There are a few methods to safely thaw salmon:

Refrigerator Thawing

For slowly thawing in the refrigerator, leave salmon in its airtight packaging and place on a plate or pan to catch drips. Thaw overnight in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Larger fillets may take over 24 hours to thaw.

Cold Water Thawing

For quicker thawing, seal salmon in a watertight plastic bag. Submerge in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Thawing small fillets may only take an hour, while big fillets may take up to 3 hours.

Microwave Thawing

Microwave thawing is quick but can sometimes cook salmon edges. Thaw fillets in the microwave at 30% power, stopping to check every few minutes. Thaw times range from 3-6 minutes depending on thickness.

Once thawed, cook raw salmon within 1-2 days. Do not refreeze thawed salmon without cooking.

How to Cook Thawed Salmon

Thawed salmon can be cooked in almost any way that fresh salmon can be prepared. Here are some healthy cooking methods and easy salmon recipes to try:

Baked Salmon

One of the most popular ways to cook salmon is to bake it in the oven. Brush thawed fillets with oil or butter, season with salt, pepper, herbs, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Bake at 400°F for 10-15 minutes until opaque and flakes easily.

Grilled Salmon

Thawed salmon fillets can also be tossed on the grill for delicious flavor. Oil the grill grates then cook salmon over direct high heat for 3-5 minutes per side. Baste with a glaze or marinade for added flavor.

Pan-Seared Salmon

For pan-seared salmon, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear thawed salmon fillets skin-side down first, then flip and cook until opaque throughout, about 5-6 minutes total. The sear adds a lovely crisp crust.

Poached Salmon

Poaching gently cooks delicate salmon in simmering liquid. Heat broth, wine or a marinade mixture to gentle simmer. Add salmon fillets and poach at a bare simmer for 7-10 minutes until cooked through.

Canned Salmon Recipes

Thawed salmon fillets also work great in seafood pasta dishes, salmon cakes, salmon burgers, salmon salad, sushi bowls and more! Get creative with healthy recipes using your frozen stash of salmon.

Can You Refreeze Salmon?

Previously frozen raw salmon can be safely refrozen if it was thawed correctly. Refreezing thawed cooked salmon is not recommended for food safety and quality reasons.

Follow these guidelines for refreezing salmon:

  • Only refreeze raw salmon that was properly thawed in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave.
  • Do not refreeze salmon left out at room temperature or thawed improperly.
  • Cook thawed salmon before refreezing for best quality. Freeze cooked salmon in an airtight container.
  • Freeze thawed salmon within 1-2 days for best quality.
  • Use refrozen salmon within 3 months.

Refreezing thawed salmon can degrade texture slightly. For best results, cook salmon before refreezing or consume within a couple days.

Storing Thawed Salmon

Properly thawed salmon can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before cooking. To store thawed raw salmon:

  • Keep thawed salmon in original packaging or place in a container.
  • Store on bottom shelf of fridge at 40°F or below.
  • Use thawed salmon within 1-2 days for safety and quality.
  • Do not refreeze thawed salmon without cooking first.

Make sure to cook or refreeze thawed salmon promptly within the recommended 1-2 days for food safety.


Freezing fresh salmon fillets is a great way to enjoy salmon year-round. Freeze raw salmon within 1-2 days of purchasing for best quality. Thaw frozen salmon fillets safely in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Cook thawed salmon within 1-2 days and use proper storage. With proper freezing and thawing techniques, you can enjoy fresh-tasting salmon even when buying it fresh is not an option.