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How to Defrost Salmon

6 Mins read
How to Defrost Salmon

Defrosting salmon properly is crucial to ensure that it remains safe to eat and retains its flavor and texture. When it comes to defrosting salmon, there are a few methods you can use, but not all methods are created equal. In this article, we will discuss the best way to defrost salmon to ensure that it remains safe and delicious. So, if you’re wondering how to defrost salmon, read on to learn more.

How to Defrost Salmon – 4 Best Methods

Salmon is a popular fish with a delicate flavor and a lot of health benefits. When it comes to cooking salmon, it is essential to ensure that it is properly defrosted to maintain its taste and texture. Here are four of the best methods on how to defrost salmon:

How to Defrost Salmon In the Refrigerator

Defrosting salmon in the refrigerator is the safest and recommended method for thawing frozen salmon. Here are the steps on how to defrost salmon in the refrigerator:

First, take the salmon out of the freezer and place it on a plate to catch any moisture as it defrosts. Then, put the plate in the fridge. 

Allow about 6-8 hours for every pound of salmon to thaw completely. For example, a 1-pound fillet may take 6-8 hours, while a 3-pound whole salmon may take 18-24 hours. 

As the salmon defrosts, the liquid that accumulates on the plate should be drained and discarded occasionally. Once the salmon is defrosted, use it immediately and do not refreeze.

Defrosting the salmon in the fridge is the safest method because the cold temperature prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. The salmon can stay in the fridge for 1-2 days before cooking. 

For the best quality, use the defrosted salmon as soon as possible. With some simple planning, you can enjoy delicious home-cooked salmon dishes even when starting with frozen fish.

How to Defrost Salmon


How to Defrost Salmon In Water

Defrosting salmon in water is a quick and easy method, but it requires more attention compared to defrosting in the refrigerator. Here are the steps on how to defrost salmon in water:

Start by placing the wrapped salmon in a watertight plastic bag and submerging it in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. The water should be cold, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Allow about 30 minutes per pound of salmon to thaw. For example, a 2-pound fillet may take about 1 hour to defrost completely. Make sure the salmon is in a leak-proof bag and placed in a container or sink in case the bag leaks as it defrosts.

Draining and replacing the cold water regularly is important. As the salmon defrosts, the water absorbs the freezing temperature. Replacing the water helps the defrosting water maintain a consistent cold temperature. Never use hot or warm water, as this can cause the outer layers of the salmon to start cooking before fully thawing the center.

Once the salmon is defrosted, pat it dry, remove it from the packaging, and use it immediately. Do not refreeze. Defrosting in cold water speeds up the process but also increases the risk of foodborne illness if not done properly. Be very careful and use the defrosted salmon right away if defrosting in water. 

With the proper precautions taken, salmon that has been defrosted in cold water can be part of a healthy, delicious meal. But whenever possible, for maximum safety and quality, defrosting salmon in the refrigerator is recommended.

How to Defrost Salmon

How to Defrost Salmon

How to Defrost Salmon In the Microwave

Defrosting salmon in the microwave is a quick method, but it should be used with caution as it can lead to uneven defrosting and dryness. Here are the steps on how to defrost salmon in the microwave:

First, place the wrapped salmon on a microwave-safe plate to catch any moisture release. Use the defrost setting on the microwave which runs at 30% power. This gently defrosts the food without cooking it. 

For every pound of salmon, microwave in 30-second bursts, flipping the fish over in between. Check on the salmon every few bursts. The total time will depend on the wattage of your microwave. A higher wattage, around 1000 watts, may defrost a pound of salmon in 2 to 3 minutes. Lower wattages may take 3 to 5 minutes. 

It is important not to over defrost the salmon. Stop the microwave periodically to flip the salmon and check on its progress. The salmon is done when it’s firm and opaque, and a fork can slide easily into the thickest part. 

If any part has started to cook, stop immediately.  Let the defrosted salmon stand for a few minutes, then use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Do not refreeze.

Microwaving salmon has food safety risks if not done properly. Power settings and timing can vary between microwaves, so extra attention is needed to avoid partially cooking the salmon. 

When done right, microwaving can provide a quick and convenient method for defrosting salmon. However, for the best quality and safety, defrosting salmon in the refrigerator is usually the top recommendation.

How to Defrost Salmon

How to Defrost Salmon

How to Defrost Salmon Quickly

When you need salmon defrosted in a hurry, there are a couple of methods to use: cold water or microwave defrosting. Cold water defrosting is the safer and more gentle method, while microwaving works the quickest.

To defrost salmon in cold water, place the wrapped salmon in a watertight plastic bag and submerge it in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes as it defrosts. 

Allow about 30 minutes per pound of salmon. Drain and use the salmon immediately once thawed. This method works faster than the refrigerator but the salmon is vulnerable to foodborne bacteria, so use it immediately and do not refreeze.

For an even quicker method, defrost the salmon in the microwave using the defrost setting and checking frequently. Microwave the salmon in 30-second bursts, flipping each time. 

Total time will depend on microwave wattage. A higher 1000-watt microwave can defrost one pound of salmon in 2 to 3 minutes. Stop defrosting before the salmon begins to cook. Let the salmon stand to finish defrosting, then use it immediately. Do not refreeze.

While the water and microwave methods allow you to defrost salmon quickly, they do have some risks. It is possible to partially cook the salmon if not careful. And dangerous foodborne bacteria may start growing if the salmon is left to sit for too long at room temperature after thawing. 

So for safety, it is best to use these quicker methods only when necessary and follow guidelines closely. Consume the salmon immediately and do not refreeze for any method. As always, thawing the salmon in the refrigerator is the gentlest approach and results in the best quality, whenever time permits. 

Salmon Recipes to Try Tonight

Here are three salmon recipes that you can try tonight:

Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce: This simple recipe only requires salmon fillets, butter, lemon juice, white wine, and herbs. Heat butter in a pan, and sear the salmon skin-side down until crisp. Flip and cook the other side. Make a quick sauce in the pan with wine, lemon juice, and herbs. Spoon the sauce over the salmon to serve.

Teriyaki Glazed Salmon: Combine soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, sesame oil, ginger, and brown sugar to make a teriyaki marinade. Marinate salmon fillets for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Heat a skillet and cook the salmon with some of the marinade. Reduce the leftover marinade to make a thick glaze and drizzle over the cooked salmon. Serve with rice and Asian vegetables.

Blackened Salmon: Coat salmon fillets in Cajun seasoning – a blend of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, and cayenne pepper. Sear the spiced salmon in a very hot skillet with some oil until blackened. The salmon flesh will remain moist inside. Serve on a bed of greens with lemon wedges.

Grilled Salmon with Honey BBQ Glaze: Brush salmon fillets with a mixture of honey, and chili sauce like sriracha, garlic, and soy sauce. Grill the salmon meat side down first, then brush with more glaze. Flip and grill skin-side down, brushing again, until the salmon is cooked through. Charred and flavorful.

Salmon Fried Rice: Flake cooked salmon and stir it into fried rice with rice, egg, peas, corn, and diced carrots. Use soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic to season the rice. Quick to make and satisfying.

How to Defrost Salmon

How to Defrost Salmon

How to store salmon

Storing salmon correctly helps maintain its freshness and flavor. Whole salmon and salmon fillets should be kept chilled as soon as possible after purchase. Fresh salmon will last 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator. For longer-term storage, freeze the salmon.

Keep fresh salmon in its original wrapping and place it on a plate to catch any moisture. Use within 1 to 2 days. For the best quality, buy salmon the day it is to be eaten or prepared. When ready to use, unwrap the salmon and pat dry with paper towels or a clean cloth. 

To freeze salmon, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, foil, or freezer bags or containers and seal it well. Remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Properly wrapped, frozen salmon will last up to 9 months in the freezer. Label and date the packages so you know how long they have been frozen.

When ready to use, thaw frozen salmon in the refrigerator overnight. Place on a plate to catch any moisture released during thawing. Thawed salmon should be used immediately and not refrozen.

For short-term thawing, you can place the sealed salmon packet in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed. Cook the salmon immediately, do not refreeze. 

Microwave thawing requires extra caution to avoid partially cooking the salmon. Use the defrost setting and stop periodically to flip the salmon. Microwave in 30-second bursts. Let stand, then use immediately.

How to Defrost Salmon

How to Defrost Salmon

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About author
As the founder and chief editor of Scills Grill, I'm a self-proclaimed BBQ nut. I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I use various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. Peter Cobbetts is the president and founder of Scills Grill, with over 15 years' experience in barbecue. He's an exceptional pitmaster and grill expert who specializes in smoking briskets, pork shoulders - using charcoal, wood or propane grills/smokers - as well as reviewing kitchen appliances such as grills, smokers etc., having tried out almost every model available on the market.
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