3 Ways to Thaw Salmon

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3 Ways to Thaw Salmon
3 Ways to Thaw Salmon

Salmon is a very versatile, nutritious and tasty fish that can be prepared in many ways. When fresh, it tastes wonderful, but frozen also tastes great and is easy to make. Did you save a few steaks for a handy meal in a hurry, or did you keep a whole fresh fish in the freezer? Try defrosting them in the refrigerator for 12 hours. If you're short on time and need to prepare the fish the same day, put it in a zip-lock plastic bag and soak it in cold water for an hour or so. Defrosting in the microwave is also a quick option, but it ends up damaging the moist and soft texture of the salmon a little. Whichever method you choose, don't give the bacteria a chance - cook the fish right after thawing.


Method 1 of 3: Thawing in Refrigerator

Defrost Salmon Step 1

Step 1. Remove salmon from freezer 12 hours before preparation

Defrosting in the refrigerator is the method that best preserves the fish's flavor. Thin salmon fillets and pieces less than 500g take about 12 hours to thaw. A whole fish or thick pieces of more than 500 g need 24 hours.

  • Want to prepare it for dinner at 19:00? Take it out of the freezer at 7:00 am.
  • It's okay to leave thin cuts in the fridge overnight, but don't exceed 24 hours. Do you plan to prepare the salmon at 4:30 pm? Nobody deserves to have to wake up at dawn to get him out of the freezer! In that case, it's okay to do this before going to sleep.

Step 2. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap

Remove them from the original packaging, especially if they are vacuum packed. Wrap each frozen piece in a layer of plastic wrap.

If the fish comes in a package with several fillets, but you only want to thaw a few pieces, remove the correct number from the package, reseal it and immediately return it to the freezer

Step 3. Place the wrapped salmon pieces on a paper towel-lined plate

Place one or two sheets to absorb all the moisture from the defrosting process. Put the pieces side by side in a single layer.

Choose a large dish or bowl that holds all the pieces of fish in a single layer

Defrost Salmon Step 4

Step 4. Leave the dish in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours

Wait for this period to thaw pieces of up to 500 g. For larger pieces or whole fish, wait 24 hours.

Make sure the refrigerator is set at a temperature of 4°C or less

Defrost Salmon Step 5

Step 5. Cook the defrosted salmon right after taking it out of the fridge

Once the fish is defrosted, you can prepare it. Throw away the paper towels, packaging, and used plastic film. Then, be sure to cook it until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 65 °C.

  • Don't let the salmon sit at room temperature unless you plan to prepare it right away.
  • While it is safe to refreeze raw salmon that has been thawed in the refrigerator, it can lose a lot of flavor and moisture.

Method 2 of 3: Thawing in Cold Water

Step 1. Place the frozen salmon in a plastic bag with a zip closure

Remove the fish from its original packaging and place the frozen pieces in a large plastic bag. Squeeze it to get the air out and then close it very tightly.

Do not use a bag that has holes in it as the water will leak out

Step 2. Place the wrapped salmon in a large, deep bowl

Choose a wide and deep option to hold the fish inside the bowl, without it going over the edge. When you add water, the salmon should be completely submerged.

Use two plastic bags and more than one bowl to thaw a large amount of salmon

Step 3. Fill the bowl with cold water until the slices are submerged

Use very cold, cold tap water (around 5°C) to prevent the proliferation of bacteria. Fill the bowl with water at the right temperature and fully immerse the frozen fish. Use a closed can or jar to serve as a weight and keep the fish from floating. The objective is to keep the salmon underwater.

Do not use warm water. If you heat the outside of the salmon, it loses moisture and flavor. Also, it doesn't defrost properly from the inside

Step 4. Change the water every ten to 20 minutes or leave the salmon under running water

For a less labor intensive (but more water-using) defrosting method, place the bowl directly under the running faucet. Put a weight on top of the poles as they are more likely to float this way. Another less wasteful option is to change the water in the bowl every ten to 20 minutes.

It is important to change the water so that it does not reach room temperature. It should be close to 5°C all the time

Defrost Salmon Step 10

Step 5. Thaw salmon in cold water an hour before preparation

Leave pieces of up to 500 g to thaw for 30 minutes. When the process is finished, cook the meat immediately. Don't put it back in the fridge, let alone the freezer.

  • This method is not good for defrosting a whole fish because it won't fit in a zip-lock bag and also because it's often too thick to completely thaw under running water. It's better to use the refrigerator technique yourself.
  • If there are still ice crystals inside the whole salmon cavity, wrap the fish in plastic wrap and leave it under running water for up to an hour.

Method 3 of 3: Using the microwave

Defrost Salmon Step 11

Step 1. Take the frozen salmon out of the package ten minutes before cooking it

Do you want to defrost the entire package? Then throw away the wrapping and plastic where the slices came wrapped. To prepare one or more slices from a larger package, remove only the ones you want, close the package and return it to the freezer.

Microwave defrosting is the fastest method, but it is the least recommended. There is no health risk, of course, but the meat can become drier and/or cook unevenly

Step 2. Place the frozen salmon on a plate lined with two sheets of paper towels

Use a microwave-safe dish that holds all the pieces of salmon side by side. Line it with paper towels, which absorb any ice crystals that melt. Place the salmon directly on top of the paper towel and cover it with another sheet.

Place the thickest pieces of fish on the edge of the plate and the thinner ones in the middle so that they all thaw evenly

Step 3. Select the microwave defrost program

Each equipment is a little different from the other, but the basic thing is to use the defrost button. Then, if necessary, enter the weight of the salmon or the desired time. On average, you need to leave four or five minutes for every 500 g of fish.

The defrost program generally uses 30% of the microwave's heating power

Step 4. Pause the microwave halfway through to flip the salmon

If it is a 500g piece, open the appliance door after two and a half minutes, in other words, in half the time. Carefully turn the piece so that it thaws evenly. Then close the microwave and let it finish the process.

Wash your hands with soap after handling raw fish that has been partially thawed

Defrost Salmon Step 15

Step 5. Take the salmon out of the microwave before it completely thaws

Stop thawing when the fish is tender but with some pieces frozen. Test it with your finger to check progress. If necessary, schedule another 30 seconds of defrosting, and so on, until it is as expected.

  • Again, wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling raw fish.
  • Avoid over-thawing salmon in the microwave. If the time is exceeded, it can start cooking or drying.

Step 6. Let the fish rest at room temperature for five minutes before cooking it

Instead of defrosting it completely in the microwave, remove it from the appliance and let the heat finish the process at room temperature. Wait about five minutes for the frozen parts to be ideal. Then prepare it however you like.

Choose whether you want to prepare the salmon on the stove or in the oven


  • To thaw a whole salmon, refrigerate it for 24 hours. Then check the fish's internal cavity for ice chips. Wrap it in plastic-film and place it in cold water for about an hour to finish the process if necessary.
  • Label the salmon with a date before storing it in the freezer to remember to prepare it within two months.


  • Freeze salmon for up to two months maximum.
  • Do not try to thaw fish at room temperature as bacteria can proliferate.
  • Avoid buying salmon covered in a thick layer of ice crystals. Of two, one: either it has been stored for a long time or it has already been thawed and frozen again.
  • Avoid buying frozen salmon that is slightly soft when pressed. It must be quite hard, otherwise it is a sign that it has been thawed before.

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