Does Sushi Go Bad?

Do you love sushi? This popular Japanese dish is usually made with raw seafood, vinegared rice, and nori. Because the seafood is eaten raw, it should be served as fresh as possible. It was in the 1950s when sushi made its way stateside, served in the Japanese embassy in Washington. These days, you can find sushi in most Japanese restaurants worldwide. You can also buy pre-made sushi in your local supermarket. Does sushi go bad?

Since sushi contains raw seafood, the likelihood of it going bad is extremely high. This goes especially if the dish is left sitting at room temperature for 4 hours or so. Sushi has a short shelf life as it is, leaving it to sit at room temperature increases the risk of bacterial growth. Cold temperature slows down bacterial growth. Store the sushi in chilly temperatures to maintain its freshness.

does sushi go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from Jeremy Keith

How to Store Sushi?

Most times, sushi is served as a set. If say, you have leftovers and you have no idea how to store them, we’re happy to report that storing sushi requires minimal prep. Sushi must be eaten fresh but just to avoid waste, you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator. This method is also best for make-ahead sushi!

While you can freeze leftover sushi, we don’t recommend this method at all. For one thing, freezing and thawing the sushi could cause texture and flavor changes. Second, thawing the sushi takes a while. This gives bacteria plenty of time to multiply as the dish thaws! Refrigeration is the only way to go.

Transfer leftover sushi to an airtight container. A rigid plastic container with an airtight lid would be perfect for storing sushi. Start by wrapping the sushi in cling wrap. The cling wrap offers an extra layer of protection against the chilly temperature. It will also ensure that the sushi won’t absorb fridge odors.

After wrapping the sushi in cling wrap, place each one carefully into the container. Do not crowd the sushi, it will ruin the shape of the dish. When this happens, frost could seep into the dish, altering the texture. Cover the container with an airtight lid and stick at the back of the fridge. To extend the freshness of the sushi, keep the temperature to a little above freezing.

If you are making sushi at home, the freshness of the seafood is critical to the dish’s shelf life. We cannot stress this enough, use only sushi-grade seafood. Make the sushi as you normally would but pat the seafood dry with paper towels. Keep moisture at the barest minimum for the side of the sushi that touches the vinegared rice. Once the sushi is fully assembled, wrap tightly in cling wrap then place it in the container. Seal the container, write the storage date then stick in the fridge.

does sushi go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from leyla.a

Shelf Life of Sushi

Sushi has an extremely short shelf life. It will only keep for 1 to 2 days in the fridge. If you are making sushi from scratch, freeze the sushi-grade seafood for at least 24 hours. Freezing the seafood will kill harmful microbes that cause sickness. When you are ready to use the seafood, thaw within 24 hours for best results. Never leave sushi sitting at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours.

How to Tell if Sushi has Gone Bad?

It is easy to tell if sushi is no longer safe to eat. If it reeks of a rotting odor, discard the dish right away. If the rice started taking on a too-mushy texture, think twice about eating the sushi. If the seafood has taken on a slimy texture, discard the dish immediately. Leaving the sushi in the fridge past the 2-day mark, it is best to err on the side of caution even if the dish looks edible.


Storing dishes made with raw seafood is quite tricky indeed. One thing to remember when storing sushi is to protect the raw ingredients from chilly temperature. This way, frost won’t set in and ruin the taste and texture of the dish. Does sushi go bad? Sushi has a short shelf life and storing it improperly could cause it go bad. But just keep the tips we outlined in mind to extend the dish’s shelf life!