How Long Can Salmon Sit Out?

From golden honey-glazed salmon fillets to smoked salmon blinis, salmon’s rich, satisfying taste is hard to beat. So, it’s my go-to ingredient when I have friends over. When I’m cooking for crowds, I often get distracted and forget my salmon on the counter. Do I expose my guests to potential food poisoning through the gourmet salmon feast? How long can salmon sit out safely?  

Salmon can be at room temperature for two hours before it becomes a food safety hazard. In high room temperatures (90°F and up), salmon shouldn’t be unrefrigerated for longer than an hour. When entertaining, keep cold salmon dishes chilled and hot salmon dishes warm until you eat them. 

What about leftovers that are left out? I cook more than I’ll need just in case I have ravenous guests. And also, because I love eating leftovers for breakfast!

If I move what’s left of the salmon from the serving platter to my fridge after the dinner party is over, will the food be safe to eat the next day? I’ll find the answers and share them with you. 

How Long Can Cooked Salmon Sit Out?

Cooked salmon can be out of the fridge for two hours max.

If it’s hot out (90°F and hotter), the time is halved to one hour at most. Wait longer, and the fish might not be safe to eat. 

Bacteria like salmon best at temperatures between 40 and 140°F.

They quickly spread over fish that’s been left out at these temperatures for more than an hour or two. If you then eat the fish, you could get sick. 

You might have heard you can make fish that’s been out too long safe by reheating it to super-hot temperatures.

Nope, this won’t work. Some bacteria produce toxins that aren’t destroyed no matter how hot you set your oven. 

If you’re entertaining with salmon on the menu, stick to these rules: keep cold salmon chilled and hot salmon heated until eaten. 

Store cold salmon dishes in the fridge till right before you serve them.

If this isn’t possible (perhaps you’ll be having salmon bagels for a picnic brunch), keep the salmon chilled on ice.

Coolers and ice blocks are handy for this task.

Just make sure you clean your cooler with hot water and soap before you pop your fishy dish inside (and thoroughly rewash your cooler after you’re done with it).  

Keep hot salmon dishes heated (for example, in a crockpot or over a hotplate) till you’ve plated and presented them to your guests.

Suppose you need to make the dish in advance. Then keep it refrigerated after cooking, and reheat just before you need it. 

How Long Is Salmon Good For After Cooked?

You need to put your cooked salmon into your fridge within two hours of preparing it. 

You might want to wait for the fish to cool down a bit first, but don’t forget about it.

You should throw out salmon that’s been at room temperature for more than two hours (or more than an hour if the temperature is 90°F or hotter). 

If you think it might slip your mind to refrigerate your salmon, put it in the fridge soon after cooking.

Share big amounts of food between several shallow airtight containers or tightly wrap small portions of salmon with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then put them in the fridge. 

How Long Does Cooked Salmon Last In The Fridge?

Refrigerated cooked salmon will stay safe to eat for three to four days (provided you got it inside your fridge within two hours, or an hour if it’s a hot day).  

Toss the salmon away if it’s still sitting in your fridge beyond four days – even if it still looks and smells good.

Some illness-causing bacteria won’t change salmon’s appearance, smell or taste, so play it safe by sticking to the eat-within-four-days rule no matter what. 

Reheat your salmon leftovers in your oven or microwave, not slow cooker, until they’re nice and hot (about 165°F). 

When you’ve got more leftovers than you can eat in a few days, freeze them in airtight containers, heavy-duty freezer bags, aluminum foil, or freezer wrap within two hours of preparing.

Cooked salmon that’s been frozen should stay in top condition for two to three months.

How Long Can Thawed Salmon Stay In The Fridge?

The best way to thaw salmon is in the fridge overnight.

If this is how you’ve defrosted your salmon, you can keep it refrigerated for another three to four days (if you cooked it before freezing) or an extra one to two days (if it’s raw) after thawing. 

Say you defrosted your salmon in the microwave or cold water. In this case, you’d need to use it immediately after thawing. 

Take note: freezing salmon won’t kill disease-killing bacteria. So, make sure you’ve taken good care of your salmon (that is, you haven’t left it out for longer than an hour or two) before you freeze it. 

How Long Is Salmon Good After Sell By Date?

As long as you’ve kept your salmon refrigerated at all times, it should be safe to use a day or two past its sell-by date.

To keep your salmon fresh for longer, put it in the coldest part of your fridge (at the back, not in a door compartment) in its original packaging or wrapped snuggly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. 

Food’s sell-by date isn’t for safety. It’s the latest date a store should display the item for sale. The use-by date is when you should eat the food to have it at its best. 

Whatever date is printed on your salmon’s packaging, always inspect the fish for signs of spoilage before you eat it. 

Save yourself from potential food poisoning by throwing away salmon that looks dull, brownish, or moldy; smells sour, off, or very fishy; or feels super slimy or sticky. 


One to two hours is the longest salmon can sit out.

Put salmon somewhere cold or icy within two hours of preparing it, and it should stay good for three to four days (refrigerated) or two to three months (frozen).

After being at room temperature for more than two hours, salmon has likely attracted bacteria that are spreading at an alarming rate.

You might struggle to chuck away salmon that looks fine to eat but be warned that you can’t always see or smell whether fish has become a hotbed for bacteria.

As much as your mouth is watering for a juicy piece of salmon, it’s not worth the food poisoning risk.

Just close your eyes and throw it out. And next time, don’t let your salmon out of your fridge or oven for more than an hour or two.