How Long Does Fish Last In The Fridge? (And Signs It’s Gone Bad)

If you’re wondering how long fish can last in the fridge before going bad, you’re in the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How long fish lasts in the fridge whether cooked or raw
  • How to handle it safely
  • Signs it’s gone bad
  • And more!

NOTE: This article was reviewed by Melissa Macher, Registered Dietician and Food Scientist for safety and accuracy.

How Long Does Fish Last In The Fridge?

Raw or fresh fish or shellfish will last 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator, if stored safely. Leftover fish or shellfish will last 3 to 4 days.

Let’s explore both options below. 

How Long Does Raw Fish Last In The Fridge?

Raw fish can last in the fridge for 2 days at most.

The ideal fridge temperature for keeping raw fish is 40°F or less. Even if stored at this temp, you need to cook and eat the fish within the 2 day period.

If you’re unable to cook the fish within this time, it’s better to freeze the remaining pieces at a temperature of 0°F or less.

It’s recommended, that you consume fish within three to eight months if frozen. Shellfish can last a little longer, up to 12 months in the freezer. There will be differences in the flavor and texture the longer you keep raw fish in the freezer. 

Lean fish, such as cod, flounder, halibut, Pollock, rockfish, and sea trout, can last for up to eight months in the freezer.

On the other hand, fatty fish, like bluefish, mackerel, salmon, and tuna only has a maximum of three months shelf life, even when frozen.

Nonetheless, fresh fish is always better in terms of flavor and texture. With this in mind, make sure to purchase only enough fish for two days consumption unless you’re planning to freeze a few pieces. 

How to Store Raw Fish

If you purchased fillets, portion them into serving sizes that are sufficient for a single meal for yourself or your family. Then, wrap the pieces tightly in waterproof freezer paper or foil to prevent air leaks before storing them in the fridge or freezer.

If you bought whole fish, you could ask the store to clean the entrails and scales. This way, you don’t have to do it yourself before storing it in your fridge or cooking. Store them in airtight containers or bags in individual serving portions as well.

Once you’re ready to eat the fish, take a batch out of the fridge and cook immediately.

If they’re frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator first for 18 to 24 hours. Avoid thawing frozen fish out of the fridge unless you can focus on monitoring its thawing process. Thawing at room temperature is never recommended.

If you want to thaw the fish within minutes, you can put it in a plastic bag and dump it in cold water. Make sure the bag is sealed and is completely submerged in cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. This process should thaw small portions in an hour or less.

You can defrost it in the microwave for an even quicker thawing time. Just make sure to stop the cycle when the fish is already pliable, even if there’s still a bit of ice.

How to Freeze Fish (Raw or Cooked)

Fish doesn’t last very long in the fridge unfortunately, but it can easily be frozen to make it last longer. To freeze raw or cooked fish all you have to do is place your fish in an airtight container and place it in the freezer. We do recommend labeling your container with the date you are freezing the fish for your own reference. 

For the best results when freezing fish, consume cooked frozen fish within 3 months, raw frozen fish within 8 months, and raw frozen shellfish within 12 months.

fish in the fridge fact

How Long Does Cooked Fish Last In The Fridge?

Cooked fish can last in the fridge for up to 4 days if stored properly.

If you are meal prepping using fish, you should take note of how long cooked fish can last in the fridge. As mentioned, fish can spoil easily.

Although cooking it can extend its shelf life for a bit, the lifespan is still relatively short compared to other meats, like cooked bacon, ribs, and chicken.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends storing cooked fish in the fridge for up to four days. However, if the meat was cured in salt or smoked before cooking, it may last more than four days in the refrigerator.

For instance, smoked salmon can last for about seven days when refrigerated. Afterward, you should consume it all or freeze the remaining batch.

Cooked fish can last indefinitely in the freezer as well, but it’s best to consume it within a month or two.

How to Store Cooked Fish

Factors that influence storing cooked fish in the fridge are:

  • Storage method
  • Fish type
  • Fish quality before cooking
  • Preparation technique (whether cured, smoked, or marinated)
  • Fridge temperature

Make sure to cook fish to an internal temperature of 145°F. If you don’t have a food temperature, you can check if the flesh is clear since it indicates that the fish is already cooked.

After cooking fish, you should consume it immediately. If you have leftovers, refrigerate them within two hours.

For batch meals, make sure to cool them in shallow containers to hasten the cooling process before refrigeration. Bacteria can grow rapidly in hot food that’s left in deep containers. 

Once you’re ready to eat the cooked fish again, you can heat the food in your microwave or take it out of the fridge and eat it after 30 minutes when it’s at room temperature.

For frozen cooked fish, plan your meals since you need to thaw it in the fridge overnight.

Read Also >> Best Wood for Smoking Fish

How To Tell If Fish Has Gone Bad?

Common signs that fish has gone bad are slimy skin, a thick slippery outside, and an overly fishy smell.

This may seem tricky since fish can be pungent and slippery when fresh, but these signs become much more noticeable when fish is bad.

Although not a perfect test, your senses can usually tell you if your fish has gone bad.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Fish?

Consuming fish is a great way to maintain a balanced diet. Fish is also relatively easy to prepare.

Eating fish provides a lot of health benefits. It’s packed with high-quality protein, omega-3, vitamin D, vitamin B2, as well as minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus.

All these nutrients make it a great option if you’re looking to shed a few pounds and want to avoid feeling sluggish and bloated. 

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week. One serving is equivalent to three ounces of cooked fish.

Anchovies, mackerel, salmon, sardines, Bluefin tuna, and striped bass are some fish types that are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids.

With this in mind, you should make room for fish in your weekly meal plan and fridge.

As stated, though, there are special considerations to remember when storing fish in the fridge. 

If you want to learn more about grilling, check out these other helpful resources!

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Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I love this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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