Can You Eat Leftover Salmon?

Whether enjoying it smoked over a bagel at breakfast, grilled and tossed on top of salad for lunch, or served with a side at dinner, there’s so many delicious ways to enjoy salmon. In fact, salmon is so healthy and so satisfying, we end up making it quite often, which can often lead to leftovers, especially in the case of larger family dinners. But is leftover salmon safe to enjoy?

Meet The Experts

  • Shawn Matijevich is the Lead Chef-Instructor of Online Culinary Arts & Food Operations at the Institute of Culinary Education

  • Jon Butler is the Executive Chef at Kiki's La Quinta

Tips For Properly Storing Leftover Salmon

  • Chill it: “The main thing to know with leftovers is that you want to get them [the salmon] chilled down as quickly as possible,” said Shawn Matijevich, Lead Chef-Instructor of Online Culinary Arts & Food Operations at the Institute of Culinary Education. “Failing to chill leftovers quickly will give bacteria an opportunity to grow on them. Once you have reheated leftovers, you can't chill it down and reheat it again. You only get one chance, so only reheat what you need,” said Matijevich. Make sure to reheat your leftovers to 140 degrees F.

  • Give it space: It’s also a good idea to make sure your leftover salmon is well spaced. “It is important to make sure if you have a large amount that you spread it out in a single layer to ensure they get down to below 41 degrees F quickly,” said Matijevich. After that, you can consolidate and keep them tightly wrapped or in an airtight container.

Related: How To Tell When Salmon Is Done

Then, take a deep breath and exhale with ease. “I think people worry that leftover fish in general is somehow dangerous,” said Matijevich. The reality is that food borne illness from proteins is quite rare.  “The leftovers that cause the most food borne illness are actually cereal grains and starchy vegetables.  As long as you chill the leftovers quickly and reheat them to the proper temperature, the risk is minimal,” said Matijevich.

The Shelf-Life Of Leftover Salmon

We’ve all had the nights where we make way too much food, and then store the leftovers in the fridge for another day. No one wants good food to go to waste, especially when food budgets are tight. But while we may feel comfortable letting meat or vegetable dishes chill in the refrigerator for a few days, it’s easy to be nervous about fish. We needn’t worry, though. Leftover salmon has a pretty decent shelf-life. “Assuming it has been properly chilled and stored, leftover salmon is good for up to five days,” said Matijevich.

Salmon Tip

Smell it!  If it smells good, eat it.  “Of course, that is assuming that I made sure to chill it right after it was cooked.  If it smells questionable, I discard,” said Matijevich.

How To Reheat Leftover Salmon

There’s so many ways to enjoy salmon, like Grilled Corn-and-Salmon Salad with Tomatoes or  Teriyaki Salmon Bowls with Crispy Brussels Sprouts, but if we have leftover salmon from these dishes, how do we go about using it in other ways in future dishes?

We have a fair range of options when reheating that leftover salmon to enjoy on another day.

  • On the stovetop: Jon Butler, the Executive Chef of Kiki's La Quinta, generally likes to reheat his salmon on the stovetop, cooking with a small amount of butter or stock to add back moisture while reheating.

  • In the oven: "Squeeze a lemon or pour some olive oil over the fish, cover with foil in an ovenproof dish, and reheat at a low temperature (250 F) until the internal temperature reaches 125-130 F,” said Butler.

  • In the microwave: One great method for reheating leftovers from a food safety point of view is actually the microwave. “It brings the internal temperature up the fastest. Reheating on the stove top or oven is fine as well, as long as you are using a thermometer and ensuring that you get to 140F,” said Matijevich.

Important tip: Play things safe when reheating your leftover salmon by remembering to use a thermometer. “The most common mistake would be not heating it to the proper temperature.  You want to ensure that you have killed any bacteria that might be living on or in the salmon,” said Matijevich.

Recipes For Enjoying Leftover Salmon

A lot of us are trying to create healthier menus for our families each week, and add some nutrition to our go-to meals, creating delicious dishes like some of the ones here:

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