How to Freeze and Defrost Fish Safely

frozen fish

Stocking up on seafood is not just a smart idea for meal planning, but it’s also a great way of making sure you have healthy protein on hand anytime.

We receive a lot of questions about how to freeze fish and what is the best way to defrost seafood safely, so we’ve put together this handy guide to seafood freezing and defrosting. The short answer is yes, you can easily freeze and defrost most seafood, so go ahead and order your favorite fish from and enjoy healthy, delicious meals anytime.

With more and more people staying home because of the coronavirus (Covid-19), there's never been a better time to stock up on seafood and cook more instead of dining out or getting takeout. Having a variety of seafood in the freezer means that you can skip a trip to the store (and the crowds) and your family can eat well no matter what they’re craving. Get inspired with dozens of our family-friendly seafood recipes.

Can I freeze fish?

Yes, you can safely freeze most fish. Fish spend their lives in cold water, and freezing is only a few degrees colder than their typical environment.

How to freeze fish and seafood

Freezing fish is easy. Place fish fillets or portions in freezer safe bags. You can also wrap tightly in plastic like Saran wrap. Air is the enemy when freezing fish, so squeeze as much air as possible when sealing the bag or plastic wrap. Fish exposed to cold air is prone to freezer burn, drying out the fish and making it inedible.

Top tip: when freezing fish, pack portions or fillets into meal-sized portions, so you only defrost as much as you need for that meal.

How to defrost fish and seafood

The best way to defrost frozen seafood safely is slowly in the refrigerator. That means removing your fish from the freezer and placing it in the refrigerator overnight, or around 12-18 hours depending on the size of the fish or fillets.

If you need your fish faster, remove from the freezer and place the sealed fish in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes.

While some fish can be defrosted in the microwave, we recommend defrosting with the above methods. Each microwave is different and can cook parts of the fish while defrosting. Any fish that has been defrosted in the microwave should be cooked immediately afterwards.

Do not defrost your seafood at room temperature.

Fish that has been defrosted should be used within 1 day.

Can you refreeze previously frozen fish?

You can refreeze fish that has been thawed, but once thawed the quality will not be as high as the first time it was thawed as the changes in temperature will dehydrate the fish. Do not refreeze any fish, cooked or uncooked, that has been left out for more than two hours, or one hour during the summer.

How long can I freeze fish for?

You can safely freeze most fish for up to 6 months. After that, the quality of the fish will start to decline. Fatty fish, such as salmon, should be frozen for up to 3 months. You can freeze smoked seafood, including smoked salmon, for 6 months.

Can I cook fish from frozen?

Some fish can be cooked directly from frozen, including thin fish fillets or cooked seafood like crab and shrimp. These should be added at the end of a hot dish, like a chowder, curry or stew. Make sure the fish is properly cooked through before serving. The FDA recommends that most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F.