How to Defrost Salmon: The Easiest Method

updated Feb 9, 2023
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For so many of us, salmon is such a crowd-pleaser at the dinner table that it’s something we reach for frequently. While buying salmon fresh at the fish counter is great, it’s not always the most convenient option. Frozen salmon is a great alternative and, when prepared the right way, it can taste almost as good as fresh. That said, though, you’ll have to learn how to defrost salmon at home using the safest and easiest method.

How to Defrost Salmon: The Safest Method

You have a few options when it comes to defrosting salmon — it really just depends on how much time you have. The easiest and most foolproof way to defrost salmon is to allow it to thaw slowly in the refrigerator overnight. Simply snip an opening in the frozen package and transfer it to the fridge (you can put it on a paper towel-lined plate to catch any condensation). In about 24 hours it should be completely defrosted and ready to cook.

The most important rule to follow is to keep the salmon out of the temperature “Danger Zone” (41°F to 135°F), where bacteria can grow quickly. Salmon could risk dipping into the Danger Zone if it sits at room temperature for too long, comes in contact with hot water, or defrosts too quickly in the microwave defrosting

How to Defrost Salmon Quickly But Safely

If you forget to put the salmon in the fridge overnight but dinner is still a couple of hours of away, your best option is to thaw it in cold water, similar to defrosting frozen chicken. To defrost salmon quickly, fill a large bowl with cold water, place the fish in a resealable plastic bag and submerge it. Replace the water with fresh cold water after 30 minutes. It will take about an hour for the salmon to defrost, depending on its size and thickness.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Cook Salmon from Frozen

Here’s a little secret: If you can’t even wait an hour to start cooking dinner, you can actually cook the salmon straight from frozen. It’s safe to do this because you’re bypassing the temperature Danger Zone as you cook it through.

To safely cook frozen salmon, place the frozen salmon fillets in a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Roast the salmon in the oven 425˚F for fifteen minutes to steam it and lock in moisture as it defrosts. Then, remove the foil and continue roasting for about eight minutes to evaporate any excess moisture. You’ll know the salmon is cooked and safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.