How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?

Here’s all about the shelf life, storage, and going bad of smoked salmon. Learn how long it lasts, what’s the best way to store it, and how to tell if it’s spoiled.

So smoked salmon was on sale, and you decided to stock up. You bought a few more packages than you can use in the next week or two, and you started wondering: how long does smoked salmon last?

Or maybe you’ve bought smoked salmon for the first time, and you want to know how long you can store the leftovers or if you can freeze the fish.

Sounds familiar?

If so, this article is for you. Read on.

Smoked salmon container
Smoked salmon container

How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?

Like other fish, smoked salmon comes with a date on the label. Usually, it’s a sell-by or use-by date, and it’s about two to three weeks from the moment the package was sealed.

That date is a pretty good estimate of how long the salmon will retain freshness. Of course, it should still be fresh for at least a day or two longer, but don’t expect miracles.

Once you open the package, the smoked salmon stays fresh for about 5 days. If you handle the storage well, you might be able to get away with a week, but that’s about it.


If you need to store smoked salmon for longer, freeze it. The process is straightforward and takes little time, so it has no downsides.

Smoked salmon (unopened)Sell-by + 3 days
Smoked salmon (opened)5 – 7 days
Please note the periods above are only estimates.
Smoked salmon date on label
Smoked salmon date on label

How to Tell If Smoked Salmon Is Bad?

First of all, watch the dates. If an unopened package is more than a week past the date on the label, discard it. Same thing if an open package sits in the fridge for over a week.

If the date is reasonable, use your senses to determine the quality. If the fish develops a slimy film, the color becomes dull, or the smell sour, those are sure signs you should get rid of it.

Given that everything appearance-wise and smell-wise is okay give the salmon a taste. If it tastes okay, feel free to consume it. Otherwise, it’s past its prime, and you should discard it.

In short, if anything with the salmon seems fishy (see what I did there?), err on the side of caution and throw it away.

Bread with smoked salmon salad
Bread with smoked salmon salad

How to Store Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon almost always sits in the refrigerated section of the store, so it’s no surprise that it requires refrigeration.

Once you get back home after the trip to your local grocer make sure to transfer it to the refrigerator promptly. It won’t spoil if it sits at room temperature for 30 minutes or even an hour, but it’s definitely not a healthy thing to do.

Please note that some producers sell smoked salmon unrefrigerated.

SeaBear is such a company. If the package sits unrefrigerated and the label clearly says it can be stored at room temperature, feel free to keep it in the pantry or in a dark cabinet in the kitchen. Make sure it’s away from sunlight and sources of heat, though. When in doubt, refrigerate the fish.

When it comes to smoked salmon leftovers, they belong to the fridge.

If the original package is resealable, seal it tightly and put it into the refrigerator. If not, put the container into a freezer bag for some additional protection. That will keep the fish aroma contained and protect the smoked salmon from fridge odors at the same time.

Smoked salmon in a food bag
Smoked salmon in a food bag

Can You Freeze Smoked Salmon?

If you’ve bought too much of the fish on a sale, I’ve got good news: you can freeze smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon usually comes in vacuum-sealed packs, and these are great for freezing. There’s no need for repacking or anything. Just take the container, chuck it into the freezer, and you’re good to go.

If you have some leftover smoked salmon you’d like to freeze, you need to wrap it properly. Putting the package into a freezer bag should take care of that.

Crostini with cream cheese and smoked salmon
Crostini with cream cheese and smoked salmon

When freezing smoked salmon in a bag, remember to squeeze as much air out as you can before sealing it.

Frozen smoked salmon should retain quality in the freezer for at least a few months.

When it comes to defrosting the frozen fish, the refrigerator is king. Transfer the package to the fridge the night before you need it, and the fish should be thawed in the morning.

Bread with cheese and smoked salmon
Bread with cheese and smoked salmon

Smoked Salmon Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Let’s recap the most important pieces of information:

  • How long does smoked salmon last? Store-bought smoked salmon typically lasts for up to a couple of days past the printed date. Once you open the package, you get about 5 days of storage time, maybe up to a week if you’re lucky. Of course, if the fish is past the printed date already, don’t expect it retain quality for more than 1 to 2 days.
  • Does smoked salmon go bad? Yes, unopened smoked salmon goes bad. Usually, it starts to smell off and become slimy after 2 to 3 days past its date, and that’s when you throw it out. If you need more time, consider freezing it.

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