How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last? 3 Clear Signs Of A Rotten One!

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Many of you fret over how long smoked salmon lasts mainly because you have paid quite a lot of money for it. You want to enjoy your long-awaited first-class smoked salmon leisurely but also don’t want to ruin its flavor. That raises the below question:

How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?

Smoked salmon’s storage life depends on its package and how it is smoked. But typically, an unopened package of smoked salmon can last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. After unsealing it, you’d better consume it all within 7 days.

I will describe the detailed differences in the article below. Aside from that, I’ll answer some questions about storing smoked salmon, such as whether you should freeze smoked salmon or not. And you’ll find other instructions to detect rotten smoked salmon.

What are you waiting for? Let’s start reading now!

Smoked Salmon And Its 2 Different Types

Smoking is one of many ways to prepare salmon. It provides your fish with saltiness and a smoky fragrance without ruining the natural salmon taste. In this method, a portion of salmon, commonly a fillet, will get cured and smoked.

People often mistake smoked salmon with lox since they share the same appearance. However, lox and smoked salmon have numerous differences, one of which is that lox doesn’t experience the smoking process and is saltier.

Smoked salmon has two primary kinds: hot-smoked salmon and cold-smoked one. (1)

Hot-Smoked Salmon

As its name suggests, this type of salmon is smoked at high temperatures, commonly at 120°F. Before smoking, people will cure the salmon in saltwater, then coat it with a layer of black pepper, teriyaki sauce, or maple.

Thus, this salmon has a rich and flaky flavor. You can use hot-smoked salmon with soups, quiches, and egg dishes.

Cold-Smoked Salmon

In contrast, this kind is slowly smoked at only 90°F without any coating after being dry-cured overnight in salt to eliminate the moisture. Therefore, cold-smoked salmon retains more salmon flavor than hot-smoked one and also tastes softer and silkier.

People mainly use it as horderves with cream cheese and other appetizers.

You can see this video to know more:

How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?

Although smoked salmon’s shelf life is quite the same for every variety, some slight differences depend on the package’s condition or the salmon’s type. Now I will dive into details for each category.

By Package Condition

To develop the most exact comparison, I will put two package conditions under the same circumstances: In the fridge temperature.

Unopened Package

Smoked salmon all have an expiry date on the label indicating their shelf life. Normally, its storage life is a couple of weeks from the day they were packaged. However, that doesn’t mean you have to throw it away right when smoked salmon expires.

The longer smoked salmon’s shelf life is, the more you can keep it past the expiration date. For example, if the package indicates the smoked salmon lasts for 2-3 weeks unopened, you can keep it for additional 2-3 days.

Whereas, some brands produce specialized-smoked salmon with a longer storage life. With this fish, you can store it for another week after the expiry date.

Opened Package

It turns into a race against time with an opened package as the regular smoked salmon can last for a week. And that’s if you handle it with really proper care.

Different types of smoked salmon can lead to mixed results. For example, you should consume organic ones only 2 days after unsealing. At the same time, honey smoked salmon can retain better within 5 days of opening.

By Packaging Condition Fridge
Smoked salmon (unopened) Shelf life + 2-3 days
Smoked salmon (opened) 1 week

By Smoked Salmon’s Types

Like I’ve mentioned above, with different smoking techniques, the result may vary vastly. That applies just right to the hot-smoked salmon and the cold-smoked one.

As cold-smoked salmon doesn’t go through the pasteurization process, there’s a high probability it gets spoiled quicker. Even when put in the fridge, this kind can only last for a few days in the fridge and one month in the freezer.

In contrast, hot-smoked salmon have a longer shelf life, which can be up to 2 weeks when refrigerated and 2 or 3 months when frozen.

Types of salmon Fridge Freezer
Cold-smoked salmon 1 week at most 1 month
Hot-smoked salmon 2 weeks 2-3 months

How To Store Smoked Salmon Properly

Under different circumstances, you have to notice various matters to retain the best flavor of smoked salmon. Let me help you with some simple tricks with multiple techniques.

At Room Temperature

Some brands claim their smoked salmons can retain their best quality without being refrigerated. If that’s the case, you can trust them and leave your fish at room temperature.

However, make sure to store it in a cool and dry place like your kitchen cabinet or the pantry. Avoid any direct sunlight or heat if possible.

Except for these unique smoked salmon, other regulars should be put in the fridge as soon as possible. Of course, they won’t get spoiled just from staying outside for half an hour. But don’t make them wait on the counter for too long as harmful bacterias can increase.

In The Fridge

Basically, refrigerating is the most common option when it comes to smoked salmon, no matter if it is unsealed or not. If the package is resealable, keep the salmon in its container with a tight seal and place it in the fridge.

Otherwise, you can look for other solutions to replace the former package, such as a freezer bag or plastic wrap. No matter what options, make sure to wrap the salmon carefully. It would protect your fish from other foods’ odor and your fridge from the fishy smell.

In The Freezer

However, if you want to buy smoked salmon in bulk and keep it for more extended use, it’s time to pull out the freezer. You can just stay smoked salmon in its vacuum-sealed package and place it in the freezer. The quality will still be at its best after 2 or 3 months.(2)

But if what you want is only a small amount at a time, you need to divide smoked salmon into small portions and wrap them separately. Freezer bags are an ideal choice for freezing temperatures. You can use heavy-duty aluminum foil or Ziplock bags instead.

Make sure you squeeze all the air out of the bags as much as possible before storing them. Doing this will protect your smoked salmon from freezer burn and preserve its freshness. Moreover, you can write some tags on those bags to distinguish afterward.

You can see this video to know more:

3 Ways To Identify A Rotten Smoked Salmon

So now you know smoked salmon can turn rancid. That leads to the question: How to tell whether your salmon is edible. Of course you can rely on the regular symptoms of spoiled salmon. But smoked salmon can be slightly tricky. So, make sure to check the below signs!

The Date On The Label

Before checking your fish, let’s look at the usage date. Even if you haven’t opened it, it’s best to discard the package since the quality can degrade substantially. The same thing applies to the already opened one.


After confirming the date, the next step is to examine the fish’s appearance. There are three clear signs that you shouldn’t miss.

  • Mold

Although molds hardly grow on salmon, this can still happen if you leave it unopened for a week or more, even if the package is in the fridge.

  • Change Of Color

Color changing is always an alarm to get rid of your food, whether it becomes duller or turns green. However, you can relax if there are only minimal discolorations on some parts of the salmon. Just discard those areas, and your fish’s good to go.

  • Appearance Of Slime

This tip is trickier than the two above ones as smoked salmon is already quite slimy. But you can try touching the fish. If your salmon has a thick, slippery film, it’s time to throw it away.


Smell tends to be the most accurate way to identify spoiled food. If your nose detects a weird odor, that dish is 90% already inedible. So when your smoked salmon smells sour or just odd, you can play safe by discarding it as food can’t taste nice with an awful aroma.

What Happens If You Eat Rotten Smoked Salmon

You might say, “Even if my smoked salmon turns wrong, I can just cook it, and that’s fine, right?”. Just stop right there, and let me tell you all the health risks bad smoked salmon can bring to you.

Food Poisoning

This is obvious; eating rotten food can sicken you and even cause stomach aches, all of the symptoms of food poisoning. It’s because of the contamination found in smoked salmon. Although the contamination level in raw salmon is relatively low, it increases after multiple preparing stages like salting, skinning, slicing, etc.

Listeria Infection

Listeria is a harmful bacterium that’s commonly found in salmon. However, freshly smoked salmon only contains so little of this bacterium that it’s hardly harmful at all. Only when you leave the smoked salmon past its date, then this listeria becomes a problem.

You can get rid of most of this bacterium by high heat. That’s why listeria is found more in the cold-smoked salmon than the hot-smoked one. And whatever kind you eat, remember to heat the salmon before digging in. (3)

Frequently Asked Questions About Smoked Salmon

No matter how much knowledge you’ve earned, there are always several questions regarding smoked salmon and its storage life. In this article, I will help you solve some of the most common issues.

Addition Information

Since you have to pay quite a fortune to get some smoked salmon, I know you would want the best of the best. So, here are some tips for you to pick the highest-quality smoked salmon.

  • Decide which method you want. If you’re going to preserve smoked salmon for a long time, pick the hot-smoked one. However, cold-smoked salmon retains almost all of the fresh salmon’s nutrients and texture.
  • Check the salmon’s origin. A wild-caught one tends to have superior quality over the farm-raised.
  • Check the seasoning. Some manufacturers preserve their salmon with both salt and sugar. However, to get a more natural flavor, choose the one without any sugar.

That’s all I want to share about smoked salmon and its shelf life. If you find this article beneficial, don’t forget to share it with your relatives! And comment below any additional knowledge about this dish!


1. 2021. Smoked salmon – Wikipedia.

2. Food Safety News. 2021. How Safe is Home-Smoked Salmon?.

3. 2021. What is listeria and how does it spread in smoked salmon?.

Table of Contents

  • How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?
  • Smoked Salmon And Its 2 Different Types
  • How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?
  • How To Store Smoked Salmon Properly
  • 3 Ways To Identify A Rotten Smoked Salmon
  • What Happens If You Eat Rotten Smoked Salmon
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Smoked Salmon
  • Addition Information
  • Reference

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