How To Tell If Salmon Is Bad: Stay Healthy With These 3 Easy Steps

I love to eat fish, but I’m absolutely terrified of getting food poisoning, especially when I’m preparing the meal at home. Because I’m still new to cooking with fish, I become a bit over-anxious about my fish. How do I know if it is still okay to eat?

The biggest problem for me in the kitchen with fish was how to tell if salmon is bad or not. I had no idea, so I asked around and figured out that it’s actually quite simple to figure out if this delicious, healthy fish is still fresh or not.

Let’s break down the steps on how to recognize if salmon is bad or not. It won’t take long at all, and you’ll be able to eat at ease knowing that your salmon is still fresh!


What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

Cooked, Fresh, or Frozen Salmon

The first thing that you will need to determine if salmon is bad or not is the salmon itself! Whether you have already cooked the salmon, you have frozen it, or you have just bought it at the store, you’ll be able to determine if it is spoiled or not with this tutorial.

Salmon is a saltwater fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and considered to be one of the healthiest fish that you can eat. While some people don’t like fish, salmon is one of the most popular fish choices that many people enjoy eating.

To Store Fresh Salmon:


Lemons are a delicious part of many recipes, but sometimes they are used not only for their flavor but also for their preservation abilities! Lemons are a great way to keep foods like lettuce, guacamole, and fish from spoiling as quickly. The juice is able to prevent bacteria from forming since it is so acidic.

Plastic Wrap

When storing any food, it is important to keep the air around it limited. If there is too much air, bacteria is more likely to be able to form on a food. Wrapping a food like salmon in plastic wrap before storing it will help prevent the food from spoiling while it is i in storage.

Airtight Container

Airtight containers are a great way to keep food stored in the refrigerator or freezer for a longer period of time without as great of a potential for bacteria forming. Airtight containers can prevent both spoilage and freezer burn, making them a necessity when freezing foods like salmon.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Check The Smell

All fish has some type of fishy smell, but the best way to determine if your salmon has gone bad or not is to use your nose!

Fresh salmon has a natural, mild aroma. Cooked salmon smells mild as well, while smoked salmon has a smoky aroma. If you’re not familiar with this smell and want to learn more about it, as to smell fresh salmon at your local fish seller.

If your salmon smells…

  • Sour
  • Unpleasantly fishy
  • Like ammonia

… then it has gone bad! It’s time to toss it. Sometimes fish will look fine, but it smells off. If that’s the case, it is no longer edible.

Step 2: Look It Over

The next way that you can identify if your salmon has gone bad or not is by giving it a once over with your eyes. There are some ways to tell if salmon has expired by looking at it.

Here are some tips on how to identify whether salmon is spoiled or not using your eyes:

  • Should not have any mold or slimy residue
  • Should be pinkish in color
  • Should not be discolored
  • Should not be dry
  • A whole salmon should not have cloudy eyes
  • No milky-white or sticky residue on the outside of salmon, especially near the gills
  • Flesh of salmon should always bounce back if pressed, with no dimples or depressions being left behind on the flesh

If your salmon fails any of these points, it has spoiled and should not be eaten. If you notice anything off about the salmon, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Spoiled fish can make you very ill due to the presence of mold or bacteria.

Here is a video that can help you to visualize some of these potential problems:

Step 3: Store It Properly Next Time

If your salmon has spoiled or this has been a concern, you will want to learn how to store salmon properly so that you do not have to worry about this next time!

Here’s how to properly store fresh salmon:

  • For fresh salmon, start by patting it dry with a clean towel to remove any excess water.Squeeze a lemon on top to help retain freshness.
  • Wrap in plastic and then put in a container with an airtight seal.
  • This can be kept in the refrigerator for one to two days until cooking, or in the freezer for six to nine months.

If you follow these steps when storing fresh salmon, your salmon will be more likely to stay fresh for a longer period of time.

Ready To Eat Your Salmon?

Hopefully your salmon is a-okay, and you can either start cooking or dig in and start eating your leftovers. It’s always more enjoyable to eat a meal that you know has not spoiled, right? I know I can enjoy the taste much more when I am certain about the quality!

Do you have any other tips on how to recognize if salmon has gone bad or not? If so, share them in the comments so that both I and other salmon-lovers can use them, too! Then, share this article with friends like me who are worried about spoiled fish. They’ll be sure to thank you!


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Sophia Gardner

I'm Sophia, food blogger, dog lover, homemade cooking and travel passion. I really hope you enjoy my blog, i'll do my best to share great recipes, healthy living tips and just general 'food' thoughts!

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