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Is defrosting salmon in the microwave safe?

Defrosting salmon in the microwave is a quick and convenient way to thaw frozen fish. However, there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind when microwaving salmon to avoid potential foodborne illnesses.

How to Defrost Salmon in the Microwave

Here are some tips for safely defrosting salmon in the microwave:

  • Place the frozen salmon in a microwave-safe dish. Glass, ceramic, or plastic containers all work well.
  • Do not remove the salmon from its original packaging. This helps prevent surface drying.
  • Microwave the salmon using the defrost setting at 30% power. If your microwave does not have a defrost setting, cook at 10-15% power.
  • Microwave for short 2-3 minute intervals, flipping the salmon halfway through. Check frequently to prevent cooking.
  • Allow the salmon to sit for 1-2 minutes before handling so it can finish thawing.

Always defrost salmon in the refrigerator if you have time. Microwaving should only be used for last minute defrosting. Salmon should be cooked immediately after microwaving and never refrozen.

Is Microwaved Salmon Safe to Eat?

Safely microwaved salmon is fine to eat. However, there are some risks associated with improper microwave defrosting:

  • Partially cooked areas – Microwaving can start cooking the outer areas of the salmon before the inside has fully defrosted. This means the inside could still be frozen while the outside is warm. Fully cook microwaved salmon before eating.
  • Bacteria growth – Microwaving does not kill bacteria like cooking does. Defrosting for too long at warm temperatures could allow bacteria like salmonella to grow to unsafe levels.
  • Uneven heating – Microwaves heat unevenly which can lead to cold spots where bacteria survive.

As long as the salmon is promptly and thoroughly cooked after microwaving, it should be safe to eat. Cook fish to an internal temperature of at least 145°F to kill any bacteria.

Proper Food Handling

Practicing proper food safety is important when defrosting salmon in the microwave:

  • Wash hands and sanitize any prep surfaces before and after handling raw salmon.
  • Never refreeze salmon after microwaving. Refreezing allows bacteria to multiply.
  • Cook microwaved salmon immediately, within 1-2 hours maximum.
  • Use a food thermometer to verify salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
  • Discard any salmon that smells bad or looks questionable after defrosting.

Is it Better to Defrost Salmon in Water?

Defrosting in cold water is a faster and more even method than the microwave. To defrost salmon in water:

  • Place the frozen salmon in a leak-proof bag or container.
  • Submerge in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  • Allow about 1 hour per pound of salmon to defrost.
  • Cook immediately, do not refreeze.

The cold temperature inhibits bacteria growth while the water thaws the salmon evenly. This is the quickest way to safely defrost salmon aside from the refrigerator method.

Defrosting Salmon in the Fridge

For best results, defrost salmon in the refrigerator when possible. To defrost in the fridge:

  • Place frozen salmon in a container or on a plate.
  • Defrost in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours per pound.
  • Flip salmon at least once during defrosting.
  • Cook within 1-2 days.

While slow, fridge defrosting is very safe. The cold air surrounds the salmon evenly at a temperature cold enough to prevent bacteria growth.

How Long Does Salmon Last After Defrosting?

Fresh raw salmon that has been properly defrosted in the fridge should keep for:

  • 1-2 days in the refrigerator
  • 6-8 months in the freezer

Here are some signs your defrosted salmon has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Slimy texture and foul odor
  • Discoloration or graying flesh
  • Drying around the edges
  • White film on the surface

For optimal freshness and food safety, cook defrosted salmon within 1-2 days and do not refreeze.

Common Questions

Can you get sick from microwaved salmon?

Yes, you can get sick from eating undercooked or mishandled microwaved salmon. Illnesses like salmonella are possible. Always cook microwaved salmon to a safe internal temperature of 145°F.

How long does it take to defrost salmon in the microwave?

Salmon takes about 5 minutes per pound to defrost in the microwave. Defrost for 2-3 minutes at 30% power, flip, then another 2-3 minutes until thawed.

Is frozen salmon safe to eat raw for sushi?

No, you should never eat raw salmon that has been previously frozen. Freezing can kill parasites but does not kill bacteria like salmonella. Only use fresh, unfrozen salmon for raw consumption.


Defrosting salmon in the microwave can be done safely, but fridge and cold water methods result in less bacteria growth. Be sure to fully cook microwaved salmon to 145°F internally to kill any bacteria before consuming. Practice good food handling when thawing salmon to avoid foodborne illness. Refrigerate defrosted salmon and use within 1-2 days for best quality and safety.