How Long Does Fish Last In The Fridge? (And Signs Its Gone Bad)

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

In this TheGrillingDad.com 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!
how long does fish last in the fridge

How Long Does Fish Last In The Fridge?

Fish can safely last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days if stored safely.

Whether it’s 3 or 4 days depends on whether or not the fish is raw or cooked. 

Let’s explore both options below. 

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How Long Does Raw Fish Last In The Fridge?

Raw fish can last in the fridge for 3 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 3 day period.

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

Frozen raw fish can stay in the fridge indefinitely.

It’s recommended, though, that you consume them within three to eight months if frozen. 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 of this meat for three days’ consumption or a week at most if you’re planning to freeze a few pieces. 

Buying Raw Fish Tips

Make sure to buy fresh fish in the store to be sure about their flavor and texture. The meat and eyes (if you’re buying whole fish) should look shiny and bright.

There shouldn’t be any discoloration or drying on the edges, especially for fish fillets.

Additionally, it shouldn’t give off an ammonia-like odor, and the flesh must bounce back when pressed. 

Handling Raw Fish Safely

If you purchased fillets, portion them into serving sizes that are sufficient for a single meal for yourself or your family if you’re living with them or have kids.

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 per serving portion as well.

Once you’re ready to eat them, 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.

If you want to thaw the fish within minutes, you can put it in a plastic bag and dump it in cold water.

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.

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 shorter than 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.

Cooked Fish Safety Handling Tips

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.

Benefits of Eating Fish?

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

However, most of us don’t have the time or energy to go to the store every day and purchase fresh fish. The next best thing is to buy them fresh and store them in the fridge.

This can be tricky, though, since fish can easily spoil if not handled properly.

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 off 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. 

Quick Summary On Storing Fish Safely

Fish is a great meat option because of the health benefits it offers. Handling it can be tricky, though, since it spoils easily.

Ideally, raw and cooked fish should be consumed immediately, but they can still stay for a few days in the fridge.

Freezing them can extend their lifespan but may affect their flavor and texture if unused for a prolonged period.

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Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I’m Shawn and I run 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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