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How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

If you love salmon, then learning how to tell if salmon has gone bad is important.

After all, the last thing anyone wants is to get sick from eating fish that has been improperly stored.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to tell if salmon has gone bad. In fact, there are only a few things you need to look for…

Raw salmon steak on a plate

How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad

The best way to tell if salmon has gone bad is by the smell. If it smells fishy, then it’s probably not good to eat. Another way to tell is by looking at the color. If it’s starting to turn brown, then it’s probably not good.

Eating fish that has gone bad is one of the most common reasons people get food born illness 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.

1. Smell the salmon

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. Are you cooking salmon tonight? Check out my side dishes for salmon.

2. Look the salmon 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 pink when it has been cooked.

Bad salmon looks like it is old it does not look fresh.

Bad salmon can have grey opaque skin this is a sign 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.

Food poisoning is serious and you don’t want to get sick. This is an extremely important step when you’re trying to decide if your salmon has gone bad.

3. Feel the salmon

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.

This step is so important before you cook salmon or make a salmon dish that is your favorite.

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.

If you add it to the fridge to defrost then you don’t have to worry about liquids coming out.

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’re ever in doubt, give your salmon a smell test. If it smells fishy, it’s probably not fresh.

You can also tell if salmon has gone bad by looking at it. If the flesh is discolored or the skin is dull, it’s time to toss it.

And finally, give your salmon a feel test. If it’s slimy or sticky, it’s not fresh. Now that you know how to tell if salmon has gone bad, you can cook with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions for Salmon Going Bad

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.

Raw salmon should have a mild, ocean-like scent that is not overly fishy. It should not have a strong or unpleasant smell, like ammonia or sulfur, which is a sure sign of bad fish.

Fresh salmon should not have much of a scent at all and should remind you of the Atlantic Ocean, the East Coast seashore, or cold-running river water.

Salmon can generally stay good in the refrigerator for up to a week, as long as it is refrigerated or frozen as soon as you get it home.

It is best to cook it on the same day to ensure the highest quality.

Additionally, salmon should be stored in an airtight container or resealable bag to ensure that it stays fresh for as long as possible.

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