How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last After It's Been Opened?

Smoked salmon is a versatile ingredient that can enrich breakfast, lunch, or dinner dishes. Whether you like smoked salmon cold-smoked and thinly sliced on a bagel with cream cheese or an open-faced smoked salmon sandwich, or you prefer it hot-smoked in thick filets and served in smoked salmon pasta, on top of salads, in scrambled eggs, or topping your morning avocado toast, the cured fish is a low-calorie, nutritious protein packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. 

Smoked salmon is made by curing and then smoking the delicate fish, resulting in a fish with a long shelf life when vacuum-sealed, often lasting several weeks in a refrigerator and several months in a freezer. The packaging will state the use-by date, detailing how long the fish will remain fresh. 

However, once opened, the fish should be consumed within a matter of days. To ensure the fish maintains optimal freshness and its highest quality, it is best to enjoy it within three to four days; however, it is possible that it can last for up to seven days before it spoils. You'll notice when the fish begins to degrade, as it will have a slimy texture, an off-putting aroma, a change in color, and poor taste. If you see any of these signs in your opened smoked salmon, it is best to discard the fish.

How to store open smoked salmon

The reason smoked salmon can remain fresh for so long before being opened in an airtight, vacuum-sealed pouch is that the packaging locks oxygen and bacteria out. Once opened, exposure to oxygen will cause the quality of the fish to begin to decline, becoming discolored and beginning to deteriorate. High temperatures can also cause food to deteriorate. 

Because of this, opened smoked salmon should be refrigerated at the lowest temperature possible to maintain its freshness and prevent bacterial growth, ideally around 34 to 38 degrees. We recommend placing it in the coldest part of the fridge, typically in the back or on the bottom shelf. Tightly wrapping the fish and placing it in an airtight container will prevent oxidation. 

While you can freeze smoked salmon that has been previously opened, it may affect the flavor and texture of the meat once thawed, causing it to lose some of the smoky sweetness. If you try this, be sure to thaw it under refrigeration before consuming it to ensure your smoked salmon brioche bites or fry bread is safe to eat.