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How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

Eating any kind of food that has spoiled is not a good thing, you can get really sick. Seafood is no exception.

I am going to go over a few ways you can tell if salmon is bad or not. It is always important to look it over carefully before you get into preparing it.

As will most foods you want to smell, look it over and feel it to make sure that it is good and fresh.

Raw salmon steak on a plate

How to tell if salmon has gone bad? If your salmon has taken on a greyish color or dulled in color it isn’t good anymore. Other signs to look for are dark spots and or a milky residue on the salmon.

Tips for how to tell if salmon has gone bad

entire whole fish

Eating fish that has gone bad is one of the most common reasons people get food poisoning so it is crucial that you know how to tell if it has gone bad. Here is how to tell if salmon has gone bad.

The most obvious thing that you will notice right away is the smell. You will want to look at the texture of the fish. How does it look? How does it feel? Let’s get into it in more detail.

Smell it

raw salmon steaks

As soon as you open the package you will likely be able to tell if the salmon is bad by the way that it smells. Any scent of ammonia or muskiness and you should toss your salmon out.

Fresh salmon shouldn’t have much of a scent at all. A mild fish smell is ok but you do not want to cook salmon that has a bad smell to it.

It should smell fresh like the sea, not any form of a fish smell.

Look it over

entire whole fish

If you have smelled the salmon and it smells fine, the next thing you want to do is look it over. Salmon should be reddish when it is raw and turns to pink when it has been cooked.

If you notice that it has a grey opaque skin then it has gone bad. Other things to look for are milky residue, dark spots, or mold anywhere on the fish. Those are all signs that your salmon has spoiled.

Feel it for firmness

raw slices of salmon

The last thing will be to feel the salmon. This is important before you cook it because even if it doesn’t smell or look bad you want to be sure and check the texture as well.

If you touch your salmon and it feels like it is falling apart to the touch or slimy then it has gone bad. You want your salmon to be firm in texture and wet but not slimy.

It is a good idea to follow all of the ideas before your reheat salmon.

How long does salmon last

Salmon don’t have a long shelf life like most other fish. You really want to plan to cook it the same day you got it or the next day.

Cooked salmon will only last about two days in the fridge if stored properly. Cooked or smoked salmon will last you about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. To prolong the life of your salmon you can freeze it.

Frozen salmon will keep for 2-3 months before the quality starts to diminish. That is of course if it is stored properly in a tightly sealed container or freezer bag.

Just be sure you follow all these suggestions before you cook your salmon, then make sure you know how to tell if your salmon is done cooking.

Salmon shelf life chart

SalmonRoom TemperatureRefrigeratedFrozen
Raw Salmon1 hour1-2 days3 months
Cooked Salmon1 hour3-4 days6 months
Smoked Salmon1 hour4-5 days6 months
this all depends on how cold the space is

If you are looking for a new recipe to try you should try out this baked lemon salmon recipe!


It will look really bad. We are smart if it looks old and gray then it most like has expired. In the end, it does not look good. Pale in color and gray or the first signs to know if the salmon has expired.

Most likely you will get sick and get food poisoning. Salmon can spoil really quickly and you can sick quickly. Stick with how it looks, smells, and feels before you decide to go eat some old salmon.

Salmon fresh salmon should smell like nothing. It should have a fresh ocean smell and it should smell clean. If it smells like ammonia or a “fishy” smell then most likely it has gone bad.

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