How Long Can Raw Salmon Sit Out? (+4 FAQs)

how long can raw salmon sit out

Let’s discuss this question today: how long can raw salmon sit out?

Salmon is prevalent fish food. It is classified as an oily fish and has a very high protein and omega -3 fatty acids content. Omega -3 fatty acids are heart-healthy, reduce inflammation, and are suitable for brain health. 

Salmon is considered very healthy because it contains a lot of selenium, an essential nutrient. Selenium is involved in reproductive health, thyroid hormone metabolism, and the synthesis of DNA. It is a source of lean protein that helps you retain your muscle mass while you lose weight. 

The health benefits of eating salmon make it a favorite dish for many. There are many types of salmon, but wild salmon is considered the best to eat. The high nutrient content does nothing to diminish its flavor, and you can prepare the dish in several ways.

Therefore, you might wonder how long you can let this dish sit out after preparing it. After all, eating spoiled food is never a good idea, no matter how healthy it might have been. 

How Long Can Raw Salmon Sit Out?

Raw salmon can only be left on the counter for 2 hours. This is especially true at around 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit room temperatures. Salmon left out for 2 hours should be thrown away. 

You should make sure to refrigerate store-bought salmon when you get home immediately. This will reduce the chances of bacterial growth and keep your salmon healthy for consumption. Raw fish is a lot more delicate than other types of meat. 

Raw salmon left sitting out for 2 hours should be cooked immediately. You should not freeze it as this isn’t going to kill the germs. Freezing only slows down the rate at which the bacteria grow. 

How Long Should Cooked Salmon Be Left Out?

At 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it can only be left out for 2 hours. The freshness of your salmon depends on how well you cook and store it. When salmon is cooked correctly, it can be refrigerated for four days. When salmon is frozen, it remains safe for consumption for six months. 

The duration of its freshness also depends on other factors, like its preparation method and the conditions in which it is stored. 

Remember never to eat fish that has gone bad, especially if it has already been cooked. Food poisoning is nothing to laugh at. The symptoms can be excruciatingly painful and life-threatening if not adequately treated. If you accidentally consume any bad fish, seek immediate medical assistance. 

At Room Temperature

When salmon is cooked, it can only be left unrefrigerated for 2 hours. After refrigeration, it lasts 3 hours when taken out. Watch out for how long your salmon sits out to avoid eating bad salmon. 

In A refrigerator

Cooked salmon that is appropriately stored remains safe to consume for four days when refrigerated.

How Long Should Smoked Salmon Sit out?

Smoked salmon could sit out on the counter for the next three days without refrigeration if smoked, salted, and vacuum packed. 

Is it OK to consume raw salmon that has been left out overnight?

No. When raw salmon is left out throughout the night, it becomes contaminated with bacteria and should not be consumed. 

Remember that leaving raw fish out for 2 hours or more exposes it to bacteria, increasing the risk of food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning include stomach cramps, stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and fever.

Food poisoning is usually self-diagnosable and self-treatable. You should ensure to stay hydrated after noticing any of the symptoms mentioned above. Should the symptoms persist, ask for medical assistance. 

Can You Freeze Raw Salmon for a Long Time?

Yes, raw salmon can be frozen for a long time. It remains fresh for up to 3 months when frozen. If properly stored in airtight containers, it can last for more than three months. It loses quality the longer it’s frozen. 

Remember that if the salmon is mishandled when storing it, it will spoil faster even when frozen. 

How Long Can Salmon Sit Out To Defrost

Do not let your salmon sit out to defrost. This usually exposes it to bacteria and makes it unsafe for consumption. You should instead leave it thawing overnight in the refrigerator. You should also avoid defrosting your salmon in the microwave because it heats up unevenly, increasing the risk of bacterial growth. 

You should also remember that thawed salmon is only suitable for consumption within two days when left refrigerated. It is best cooked immediately after defrosting. 

How Long Can Salmon Sit Out In Water

Salmon can be left sitting out in the water for two to three hours. 

If you want to defrost your fish faster, you can try cold water defrosting. This technique will only take around 3 hours to thoroughly defrost your fish compared to leaving it out in the refrigerator, which lasts overnight. 

You should also remember to change the cold water every 30 minutes and never to use warm or hot water when defrosting. This is done to prevent bacterial growth.

Salmon defrosted using this technique should be cooked immediately. 

How To Tell If Salmon Is Bad

You can tell if your salmon has gone bad by its smell, appearance, and texture. Fresh salmon should be red when raw and pink when cooked. Its skin should also glisten.

If the salmon’s skin turns gray and opaque, you should not eat the fish. You should also watch out for any dark spots, mold, and cloudy residue on the fish. It should not be slimy and should smell fresh. Do not consume fish that smells rotten. 

How to Freeze Raw Salmon?

Freezing raw salmon should be done in the right way to avoid problems such as freezer burn. The frozen salmon should last long and also retain its flavor and texture.

Follow these easy steps to freeze your salmon correctly:

Clean the Salmon

Freshly caught salmon should be appropriately cleaned and gutted before storage. The salmon’s gut contains a lot of bacteria that can spread to the rest of the fish and should therefore be discarded beforehand. You should then clean it thoroughly.

Wrap With Plastic Wrap

The clean, gutted salmon should then be wrapped in a plastic cover. This is a fast and easy process with no rules other than to press all the air out when wrapping it. This usually prevents freezer burn when air is left in the container wrapping the salmon. 

Store-bought salmon usually comes with airtight packaging that should not be removed when freezing. Removing it from the container will expose it to bacteria which can cause spoilage. 

Instead of using plastic wrap, you can also try using aluminum foil. This is usually tremendously helpful in stopping freezer burns.

Seal the Uncooked Salmon

Freezer burns ruin your salmon’s texture and flavor, hence affecting its quality. Sealing the salmon in tight-pressed vacuum packages protects the salmon from freezer burns, helping it retain its quality.

Vacuum sealers are available on amazon. A good quality vacuum sealer will remove all the air from the package, safely sealing the salmon in a package with no air inside. Vacuum sealers come with instructions on their user manuals that are very easy to follow. 

However, if no vacuum sealers are available, you can simply wrap the salmon in a plastic wrap or aluminum foil and press all the air out, as described in step 2. 

Note that vacuum sealing not only stops freezer burns but it also reduces the chances of bacterial growth. Bacteria cannot survive in a vacuum, and your salmon will therefore remain fresh for an extended period after freezing. 

Is It Safe to Freeze Salmon Raw or Cooked?

It is safer to freeze salmon cooked than raw. Raw salmon should be consumed 2 to 3 months after freezing. Cooked salmon can, however, remain safe for consumption up to 6 months later. 

Note that both raw and cooked salmon can remain frozen indefinitely. Raw salmon, however, loses its flavor after three months. Cooked salmon lacks this handicap, as it can retain its taste and texture for much longer. Its quality remains unchanged for up to 6 months. Its quality only deteriorates when frozen for periods longer than six months. 

However, you should remember to account for other factors when determining the shelf life of your salmon in the freezer. Factors like power outages are unpredictable and can cause the spoilage of your salmon before the desired period. 

how long can raw salmon sit out

Remember that once salmon is completely thawed, it is only suitable for the next three days in the refrigerator. The fish is best cooked immediately. Frequent power outages will negatively affect your salmon’s shelf life and should therefore be accounted for when freezing your fish.

You can transfer the frozen fish into coolers. Ensure to use dry ice, which leaves no moisture behind and lasts longer than regular ice. 

How Long Can Uncooked Salmon Sit in the Fridge?

Raw salmon remains safe to consume when left in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The salmon should be cooked within the two-day grace period. 

Some bacteria can survive in temperatures as low as -4 degrees celsius and are therefore present in the refrigerator. These bacteria are the reason why refrigerated food goes bad. 

Related Questions

How Long Can Salmon Sit Out Before You Cook It?

Raw salmon should only be left on the counter for 2 hours before cooking. After defrosting, it is also advised to let your salmon sit at room temperature for the next 20 minutes before cooking. This is done to warm up the salmon. 

How Long Can Raw Fish Sit Out Before Cooking?

It is safe to leave raw fish out for up to 2 hours before cooking it. If raw fish is left at room temperature any longer, you should discard it as it may contain food-borne pathogens. In warmer weather, salmon can only sit out for an hour. Remember that the warmer the temperature, the faster the bacterial growth rate. 

After two hours, the salmon should be cooked thoroughly. 

How Long Can Fresh Salmon Be Refrigerated?

Fresh salmon remains safe for consumption after refrigeration for two days. Remember to store the salmon in airtight containers before storing it in refrigerators. You can also wrap and air press it in plastic wraps and aluminum foils. 

How Can You Tell If Fish Is Spoiled?

You can tell spoiled fish by its appearance, smell, and texture. Fresh fish always glistens, but bad fish has a dull and grayish appearance. Its coating becomes thick and slippery while its flesh turns milky. The smell becomes a lot stronger, like the ocean at low tides. Its texture becomes slimy. 


Denzel and Beryl are a food scientist powerhouse couple. They met while attending culinary school, and have been cooking and baking together ever since. They love to watch football, movies, and reality shows in their free time. They have even participated in several cooking and baking competitions globally!

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