Smoked salmon is just an amazing dish that more than justifies the high price and long preparation time. It seems to go well with almost anything, it’s highly nutritious, and the delicate, smooth texture combined with the rich flavor is something you just can’t seem to get enough of!
It seems that way to me when my boys are eating it, that’s for sure!
However, it’s not possible for them to eat all the salmon I buy and I can’t miss a good sale and just buy a few! My boys might think they can eat it all but I know better, and I don’t want to have to throw away perfectly good salmon or risk reheating it.
With smoked salmon, freezing it doesn’t seem like a viable option at first. It’s a delicate food that needs to be cooked just right and freezing it beforehand might damage the taste. I don’t want it to taste like canned salmon, now do I? My boys just hate that and so do I.
There are a lot of things I didn’t know here. Can smoked salmon be frozen and thawed safely? Will it retain the right taste and texture? Will it go bad in the freezer?
Those are all questions I asked myself, and I started researching to find out the answers.
What I found out is something I expected – that smoked salmon can be ruined by freezing and thawing, but only if you do it incorrectly. If you do it the right way, it will come out of the freezer as delicious as it was when it came in. Here’s how to do it.
Further Reading: How Long Does Cooked Salmon Last?
Can You Freeze Smoked Salmon?
The short answer to this question is that yes, you can, just like you can freeze most foods, even the ones that spoil easily like potato salad. However, you have to take care when you’re doing it to do it right. Otherwise it will be much worse when it comes out of the freezer.
My husband always complain about food from the freezer – when he knows it has been frozen. If I freeze it right and don’t tell him, he doesn’t even know the difference! 😉
Pro Tip: If your salmon tastes too bitter or too sour after you take it out of the freezer – you’re doing something wrong. Try buying, freezing, thawing and cooking one slice of smoked salmon to test out how well you’ll do with a full batch.
Salmon spoils quickly as well, and you can’t keep it in the fridge for too long. Luckily, freezing it the right way and having it keep for a long time is not that difficult, you just have to know what to do and what to avoid doing. That’s what I’ll talk about next.
How to Freeze Smoked Salmon the Right Way
I know, I know, there’s no one ‘right’ way to do anything, this is just one way to freeze smoked salmon, but I happen to think it’s the best. It certainly did have the best results for me when it comes to smoked salmon. Freezing other foods is a different matter altogether though.
Here are the steps you need to take to freeze smoked salmon and ensure it doesn’t go bad:
- First, cut your smoked salmon into slices on a cutting board, as thin as possible – you only need to do this if you purchased it in larger pieces. This makes it easier to thaw the salmon afterward and it also allows you to take out only as much as you need at the time. Constantly unfreezing and refreezing whole pieces will decrease its shelf life.
- Place the individual pieces in plastic wrap – use two or more layers just to be sure it will not be freezer burned. Make sure to wrap them tightly. If you just want to be extra safe, you can also add a layer of aluminum foil to each slice. This is a must if you keep your freezer at an exceptionally low temperature.
- Now, put the slices of salmon in different freezer bags and seal them completely, leaving no air inside. How many you put in each bag is up to you. Label the bags with the date when you froze the salmon to make sure you’ll know if it’s still good or not. Frozen salmon can keep for 6 to 9 months if it’s not thawed and refrozen.
You May Need: Best Rated Freezer Containers
Pro Tip: You don’t need to put each piece in an individual freezer bag – they won’t get stuck to each other in the freezer. You can put up to five pieces in each bag.
That’s about it! With that, you have correctly frozen your smoked salmon, and it should be good to go once you take it out, nearly as good as when you put it in the freezer.
My husband can’t tell the difference at all! But, for it to taste good, you also need to thaw it correctly – if you don’t do that, it can be ruined.
How to Thaw Smoked Salmon
Defrosting your smoked salmon is something you need to be careful about – if you don’t, you’ll probably end up ruining it. You also need to do that to avoid the possible dangers associated with defrosting food improperly, including food poisoning.
For starters, take out only as much salmon as you need and prepare it all. Don’t take out more and refreeze it – that increases the risk of it going bad, ruins the taste and increases the risk of food poisoning. I always have to tell my boys to stop taking out food that’s in the freezer and leaving it on the counter.
The best way to defrost salmon is gradually and naturally, instead of in a microwave.
- Take it out of the freezer, remove the slices from the freezer bags and place them on a plate.
- Then, you should place that plate into your refrigerator and wait until the salmon naturally defrosts. This will preserve the unique flavor of the smoked salmon.
Just keep it away from any grabby hands while it’s in the fridge – my husband eats almost anything he sees in there.
Caution: Don’t let salmon sit for too long after thawing it, not even in the fridge – at best you’ll get bad, bitter-tasting salmon and at worst you’ll get food poisoning. You can let it sit in the fridge pro approximately 6 to 12 hours after it defrosts and it will take around 12 to 16 hours for it to defrost completely, depending on the size of the slices.
Cook the salmon as soon as you take it out of the fridge and you’ll get the best possible taste.
If you want your salmon to defrost faster, there’s another method you could try and that I found to be a good alternative – defrosting it in the sink.
Keep your salmon in a plastic bag, remove as many ice chunks from the bag and the meat as possible and place it in a large bowl where it can be completely submerged in water. Fill the bowl with cold water and keep it in the water for approximately 30 minutes and it will be defrosted.
Keep In Mind: this amount of time here applies to a single pound of smoked salmon. If you want to defrost more than one pound, make sure you get a bowl for each pound of fish you want to defrost.
This is not an optimal method, but if you need your salmon to be ready quickly, it’s the best one and highly preferable to defrosting it in a microwave. My boys tend to request foods like smoked salmon at the oddest of times and I just can’t resist indulging them so this method helped me a lot.
Now that you know how to freeze and thaw smoked salmon properly, you can go wild! Buy as much smoked salmon as you can, especially if you find it on a good sale!
Just make sure to check the due-by date, and you’re good to go!
You’ll be swimming in smoked salmon! Well, not literally, but you get the idea. 🙂