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Can You Eat Smoked Salmon Raw? Your Extensive Guide On The Health Benefits and Risks of Eating Raw Smoked Salmon

Can You Eat Smoked Salmon Raw? Your Extensive Guide On The Health Benefits and Risks of Eating Raw Smoked Salmon

Cold smoked salmon is one of my favorite things to eat. If you give me some smoked salmon, a toasted bagel, and some whipped cream cheese I will be forever indebted to you.

But some people have never tried it, and the thought of eating raw smoked salmon can scare them. And I can’t blame anyone for being hesitant around raw fish. So, on to the question at hand. Can you eat smoked salmon raw?

Yes, you can. Smoked salmon, whether it was hot-smoked or cold-smoked, is safe to eat. The curing and storage process of the meat keeps it safe for consumption, even though cold-smoked salmon is considered raw.

I personally love raw smoked salmon. I grew up eating it almost weekly, as we got bagels and smoked salmon every Saturday morning. I haven’t gotten sick of it in over 30 years!

We’ve put together this guide to answer all of your burning questions about the safety of consuming raw smoked salmon, and we’ve clarified some confusion around the processes used to ensure food safety.

We cover the following items in this post:

Is Smoked Salmon Raw or Cooked?

It depends.

Smoked salmon can be raw or cooked depending on whether it was cold-smoked or hot-smoked.

Hot-Smoked Salmon

Salmon in a smoker. Can you eat smoked salmon raw?

If you purchase hot smoked salmon, then the salmon is cooked. Hot smoked salmon is cooked at temperatures between 126 – 176 °F (52 – 80 °C).

Cold-Smoked Salmon

If you purchase cold smoked salmon, then the salmon is raw. The temperature doesn’t get high enough to cook the salmon, as it’s cooked between 68 – 86 °F (or 20 – 30 °C).

Can I Eat Smoked Salmon Raw?

Raw smoke salmon on a plate. Can you eat smoked salmon raw?

Yes, you can.

While cold smoked salmon is technically raw, the bacteria inside are killed off during the curing process, which happens before the meat is smoked. Curing salmon helps prevent bacteria growth and preserves the taste, texture, color, and overall quality of the meat for a longer period of time.

Before you buy smoked salmon, the suppliers are required to follow strict guidelines provided by the FDA to ensure the safety and quality of the food. When you get home, it’s your job to ensure you store the smoked salmon correctly.

Does Smoked Salmon Need to Be Cooked?

No, it doesn’t.

The curing process for cold-smoked salmon is an FDA-approved process that keeps the salmon safe for consumption.

However, some people prefer to cook, or rather heat up, their smoked salmon.

How Is Smoked Salmon Made?

Multiple salmon in a smoker. Can you eat smoked salmon raw?

Producing smoked salmon is a long-winded process. It is important that the process begins with freshly caught fish. If the fish has been sitting around for a day or so, then it can be difficult to smoke them properly.

The process follows these steps:

  1. Source and purchase fresh salmon
  2. A quality check is performed on the fish to ensure the safety and condition of the meat
  3. Cure the meat
  4. Wash and dry the meat
  5. Smoke the meat (either hot or cold)
  6. Remove any unwanted burnt meat
  7. Slice the salmon
  8. Vacuum-seal the meat
  9. Store the meat

Steps 8 and 9 are optional if you’re making smoked salmon at home. The fresher the meat, the better. So no need to store it if you want to eat it then and there!

Can You Eat Smoked Salmon Straight from The Packet?

Yes, you can. Smoked salmon is ready to eat regardless of which smoking process was used!

Many people wonder whether they should clean the salmon or perform any other actions prior to eating it. But, no action is required. You can toss it right on a bagel and chow down.

Smoked salmon on a bagel. Can you eat smoked salmon raw?

Final Thoughts: Can You Eat Smoked Salmon Raw?

You can eat raw smoked salmon. Remember that only cold-smoked salmon is served raw, and hot-smoked salmon is considered fully cooked.

Regardless, there is no danger in consuming either option. Remember that salmon is one of the most popular raw sushi dishes, and it’s my favorite by far. Millions of people enjoy raw sushi throughout the world. And smoked salmon, regardless of whether it was hot or cold-smoked, is safe to eat, and delicious.

So now, my question to you is: Do you eat smoked salmon raw? If you haven’t done it before, I highly recommend it! Especially with a toasted bagel and some cream cheese. You might just find that you love it as much as I do.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Smoked Salmon Unhealthy?

No, it’s not. Smoked salmon is a healthy option, as long as you don’t overdo it.

It’s low in calories, high in protein, high in nutrients, and a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Smoked salmon can:

  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Assist in maintaining a healthy weight
  • Promote your brain health
  • Reduce inflammation

However, the downside is that smoked salmon is high in sodium. If you have preexisting health issues, you may want to pay close attention to the sodium levels in smoked salmon. Sodium levels are much higher in smoked salmon as compared to fresh salmon.

Can I Eat Cold Smoked Salmon?

Yes, you can.

It is completely safe, and actually delicious!

Does Smoked Salmon Have Parasites?

In theory, it can, but it is not expected nor a common occurrence to get parasites from smoked salmon. Especially if you purchase commercially produced smoked salmon.

Per the FDA, freezing the fish will kill any present parasites. As such, if you want to be extra cautious, you can put your smoked salmon in the freezer to extend its shelf life and kill any possible parasites on it.

Is Smoked Salmon Raw in Sushi?

It depends on the type of sushi. If the sushi uses cold smoked salmon, then, yes, the salmon is raw.

However, if the sushi uses hot smoked salmon, then the salmon can be considered cooked. 

The restaurant should be able to tell you whether it is raw or cooked salmon.