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How To Freeze Fish

Freezing fish is a fantastic way to preserve its freshness and taste, but doing it correctly is essential to maintain quality.

Whether you are an angler boasting the day’s catch or you’ve managed to snag a deal on seafood at your local market, knowing how to properly freeze fish can allow you to save money and enjoy your favorite seafood dishes whenever you like.

Freezing fish might seem straightforward, but doing it correctly can mean the difference between a delicious meal and a dish that falls flat.

Raw fish fillets on a wooden cutting board.

To properly freeze fish, rinse, pat dry, and choose a method: ice glazing, vacuum sealing, or wrapping in plastic. Quick freezing and airtight packaging reduce freezer burn, preserving the fish’s quality and flavor.

Methods For Freezing Fish

Freezing fish is not just about tossing it into the freezer. There are several methods to ensure that your fish stays fresh and delicious, minimizing freezer burn and preserving taste.

Before freezing, it’s important to start with fresh fish. Not sure how to spot a high-quality catch? You can learn how to tell if a fish is bad in our comprehensive guide.

No matter which method you choose to use to freeze your fish you should always start with these three steps:

  1. Select the freshest fish possible. Look for clear eyes, a mild scent, and firm flesh that springs back when pressed.
  2. Rinse the fish under cold water to remove any dirt or scales.
  3. Remove its scales, or fillet it before freezing, now is the time to do so. Clean the fish’s cavity and remove any organs or entrails. If filleting, carefully separate the fish into fillets following proper techniques.

Ice Glazing

Ice glazing involves dipping the fish in cold water and then freezing it. After the water has frozen, you repeat the process several times to create a protective layer of ice around the fish.

Although if not done properly this method can cause your fish to become mushy when you thaw it.

  1. Freeze the Fish: Lay the fish on a tray lined with parchment paper. Put the tray in the freezer until the fish is frozen.
  2. Glaze the Fish: Once frozen, dip the fish quickly in cold water and return it to the freezer. This will create a thin layer of ice around the fish.
  3. Repeat: Continue dipping and freezing until you have a good layer of ice around the fish. This can take 2-3 rounds depending on the size of the fish.
  4. Package: Once the fish is thoroughly glazed, place it in a freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and seal it tightly.

Vacuum Sealing

This method requires a vacuum sealer, a machine that removes all the air from a plastic bag before sealing it. Vacuum sealing can be a little more expensive due to the cost of the machine, but it is extremely effective at preserving fish.

  1. Place Fish in Bag: Put your fish in a bag compatible with your vacuum sealer.
  2. Seal the Bag: Use your vacuum sealer to remove all the air and seal the bag. Make sure the seal is tight and secure.

Wrapping in Plastic

If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can also tightly wrap your fish in plastic wrap, then place it in a freezer bag. While this isn’t quite as effective as vacuum sealing, it’s a good budget option.

  1. Wrap the Fish: Wrap your fish tightly in a layer of plastic wrap.
  2. Package: Place the wrapped fish in a freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and seal it tightly.

Guide to Freezing Different Types of Fish

How you freeze your fish can also depend on what type of fish you have. Here’s a quick guide to freezing common types of fish.

Type of FishFreezing MethodNotes
SalmonVacuum SealingHigh in fat, vacuum sealing prevents freezer burn best
White Fish (Cod, Haddock)Ice GlazingLow in fat, these types are less prone to freezer burn
Shellfish (Shrimp, Lobster)Vacuum SealingDelicate and prone to freezer burn, best preserved with vacuum sealing
TunaIce Glazing or Vacuum SealingHigh in fat but often sold as steaks, either method works well

For guidelines on safe freezing practices and food preservation, refer to the FDA’s recommendations on freezing and food safety.

Top Tips for Freezing Fish

Here are some quick tips to remember when freezing fish:

  • Always clean and prepare the fish before freezing (remove guts, scales, etc.).
  • If freezing whole fish, consider freezing them individually to avoid them sticking together.
  • Label your packages with the type of fish and the date it was frozen.
  • Eat your frozen fish within 3-6 months for the best quality.

Now if you are not ready to freeze your fish immediately. Proper storage is crucial to maintain freshness until you’re ready to move to the freezing step.

To help with that, we’ve outlined the best practices for storing fish in our detailed guide. Remember, the goal is to keep the fish as fresh as possible until it’s time to freeze.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Freeze Fish

The safest and most recommended method is to thaw fish in the refrigerator for over 24 hours. If you’re in a hurry, use the cold water thawing method, changing the water every 30 minutes.

For the best quality, it’s recommended to consume frozen fish within 3-6 months. However, as long as the fish has been stored properly at a constant temperature of 0°F (-18°C), it should remain safe to eat beyond this period.

Yes, fish should be cleaned and prepared (gutted and descaled) before freezing. This aids in maintaining quality and makes it easier to use when you’re ready to cook.


Knowing how to freeze fish properly will help you get the most out of your seafood, whether you’re saving a supermarket bargain, preserving a successful fishing trip, or simply ensuring you have your favorite protein on hand for future meals.

With the right approach, you can maintain the quality and taste of your fish, making it just as delicious as the day you brought it home.

Raw fish fillets on a wooden cutting board.

How to freeze fish

Freezing fish is a simple and effective way to preserve the freshness and quality of your seafood, enabling you to enjoy your favorite dishes anytime. This recipe card offers three different methods for freezing fish: ice glazing, vacuum sealing, and wrapping in plastic. Choose the method that works best for you, and remember to label your packages with the date and type of fish for easy identification.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Freezing time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • Paper towels
  • Vacuum Sealer Bags (If using the vacuum sealing method)
  • Vacuum Sealer (If using the vacuum sealing method)
  • bowl (If using the glazing method)
  • baking sheet
  • freezer bags
  • Parchment paper


  • Fresh fish


Ice Glazing Method

  • Rinse the fresh fish under cold water and pat it dry.
  • Place the fish on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put it in the freezer.
  • Once the fish is fully frozen (usually in 2-4 hours), take it out of the freezer and quickly dip it in a bowl of cold water.
  • Place it back on the baking sheet and return it to the freezer.
  • Repeat this process of freezing, dipping, and refreezing 2-3 times until there's a uniform layer of ice around the fish.
  • Once the final layer of ice is solid, transfer the fish to a freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal it tightly, and place it back in the freezer.

Vacuum Sealing Method

  • Clean the fish and pat it dry.
  • Place the fish in a vacuum sealer bag.
  • Use the vacuum sealer to remove all the air from the bag and create a tight seal.
  • Label the bag with the date and type of fish, then place it in the freezer.

Wrapping in Plastic Method

  • Rinse the fish under cold water and pat it dry.
  • Wrap the fish tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, ensuring it's fully covered and the wrap adheres well.
  • Place the wrapped fish in a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal it tightly.
  • Label the bag with the date and type of fish, then place it in the freezer.
Keyword How to freeze fish
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