How Long Does Fish Last in the Fridge? (6 Storing Tips)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 22, 2024

Just three years into my carnivore diet, I discovered that seafood was a tasty way to add variety to a carnivore diet.

It wasn’t before long that fish became one of my favorites, but because fish is very delicate and requires better handling and storage, I had to find out what the USDA says about how long fish can last in the fridge.

I did my fair share of research and experimented with different storage methods until I discovered what worked best.

Quick Summary

  • Raw fish can last for 2-3 days in the fridge.
  • Frozen fish can last for up to a few months.
  • Inspect the smell, texture, and color of fish for signs of spoilage.

How Long Does Raw Fish Last In The Fridge

Raw fish in the fridge

Raw fish can last in the fridge for up to three days. Raw or cooked fish should be kept in the fridge at a temperature of 40°F or lower.

I recommend freezing fish if you cannot cook it within three days.

Frozen lean fish like cod, halibut, flounder, pollock, sea trout, and rockfish can be frozen for up to eight months [1].

However, fatty frozen fish like salmon, bluefish, tuna, and mackerel only have a three-month maximum shelf life.

How Long Does Cooked Fish Last In The Fridge

Cooked fish can last for three to four days in the fridge, but meat like smoked salmon may last for more than seven days. Put cooked fish in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing odors from other items.

Cooked fish, unlike raw fish, can be placed on any level in the refrigerator, save from the bottom shelf where raw meat, fish, and poultry are kept [2].

Eat cooked salmon only after checking for signs of spoilage, or you'll risk food poisoning.

"Cook fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (74°C) and let it stay for a maximum of 2 hours at room temperature before freezing."

- United States Department of Agriculture 

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How To Refrigerate Fish Properly

Raw fish in fridge

You need to follow these steps to store fish in the fridge properly:

  1. Clean fresh fish thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Wrap fish in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or waxed paper.
  3. Label the packaging with a "use by" date to help you determine how long something will be safe to consume.
  4. Place fresh fish separate from other meals since bacteria can rapidly transfer from one food to another.

When purchasing cooked salmon, be sure the package states that it was kept at or below 40°F (4.4°C). Transfer cooked salmon to an airtight container and place in the fridge.

Keep leftover fish in well-sealed containers to avoid cross-contamination and dehydration before storing them in the refrigerator.

Tips For Extending The Shelf Life Of Your Fish

Raw fish is stored in the fridge

Here are some food safety tips I use when storing fish:

  • Buy fresh fish: Purchase fresh to extend its shelf life. Raw fish should be firm and pink and have a light scent.
  • Thaw frozen fish: If you cook it before freezing, only thaw frozen raw fish in the refrigerator or cold water.
  • Cook before storing: Cooking fish before storing it in an airtight container might increase its shelf life by one to two days.
  • Store raw fish right away: When storing fresh fish, place them in the freezer right away to preserve their freshness.
  •  Vacuum seal before freezing: Vacuum seal it once more to preserve the fish's quality and freshness for up to 10 weeks.
  • Check for use-by dates: Ensure the use-by dates for food safety before eating fish.

Read More: Vacuum-Sealed Meat Shelf Life

4 Ways to Tell If Fish Has Gone Bad

Frozen fish gone bad

There are a few warning indicators you can look for when determining whether your raw fish is safe to eat.

1. Check Fish for a Milky Tint

Fresh fish often has a thin, transparent layer of liquid and is light pink or white in hue.

The meat of fresh or chilled fish will turn shiny and milky as it ages and spoils. The fish's milky areas could also have a blue or grayish hue.

This expiration warning only applies to uncooked fish since frozen cooked fish won't turn milky.

2. Sniff for a Rotten or Overly Fishy Smell

Fresh fish shouldn't smell, but some coldwater fish species may have a slight oceanic odor.

A dangerous sign is the presence of any rotting meat odor or a strong fishy smell that includes ammonia.

3. Press with Fingers to Feel

Person pressing on fish

The flesh of fresh salmon should be firm and spring back when touched.

Always check the fish's texture; if it has turned slimy, mushy, or too dried out, it is past its prime and should be thrown in the compost bin immediately.

4. Check Expiration Date

Checking the expiration date is another technique to determine if your fish is spoiled.

This test will show how long your fish may last if stored properly, even though sometimes it may spoil, and your date will still be okay.


Can Fresh Fish Get a Freezer Burn?

Yes, fresh fish can get a freezer burn if it has been packed in a way that allows the air to come into contact with its surface.

How Long Will Freshly Caught Salmon Last In The Fridge?

A freshly caught salmon will last in the fridge for about two days after its sell-by date. Be sure to cook it if you want it to reach the 5-day threshold.

Can Fish Last In The Fridge For 5 Days?

According to the USDA, cooked fish can last in the fridge for up to 5 days. After that, it begins to spoil, so if you want it to stay longer, consider freezing it.

How Long Is Raw Salmon Good for in the Fridge?

Raw salmon is good for up to two days in the fridge. If you don’t plan to eat it within this timeframe, freezing the fish is your best option.


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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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