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Can You Heat Up Smoked Salmon? Important Facts You Should Know About Safely Heating Lox

Can You Heat Up Smoked Salmon? Important Facts You Should Know About Safely Heating Lox

We got bagels every Saturday morning when I was growing up. We’d usually get some cream cheese, lox, and white fish, and let everyone go to town. My younger brother used to toast his bagel with a slice of Munster cheese and some smoked salmon on top of it. I felt like it was wrong to heat up cold-smoked salmon. But, I still asked him to try it one day.

So, let’s ask the question: Can you heat up smoked salmon? And is it OK to heat cold-smoked salmon?

Yes, you can heat up smoked salmon. Although some people prefer not to heat cold-smoked salmon, there is nothing wrong or unsafe about doing so. It just may slightly change the texture of the fish, depending on how long you heat it.

And if you’re wondering how his bagel tasted — it was AWESOME. I eventually altered his recipe and would add the smoked salmon to the bagel after toasting it with cheese, but both ways tasted great.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the types of smoked salmon, the best ways to heat or reheat the fish, and some tips on food safety.

We cover the following items in this post:

Can You Heat Up Smoked Salmon?

Cold-smoked salmon on a platter

Before we provide the answer, we’ll provide more information on the two most popular types of smoked salmon.

  1. Hot-Smoked Salmon. The salmon is fully cooked at temperatures between 126 – 176 °F (52 – 80 °C).
  2. Cold-Smoked Salmon. The salmon is not cooked, as the meat is only cooked at temperatures between 68 – 86 °F (or 20 – 30 °C). Even though it isn’t fully cooked, the fish is safe to eat due to the curing process.

You can heat up both types of smoked salmon. However, many people prefer not to heat up cold-smoked salmon.

These people argue that the texture of the cold-smoked salmon may be ruined after heating the meat. They have a good argument as the meat was strategically cold-smoked to provide a unique flavor and texture profile.

Jumping back to hot-smoked salmon — there is no concern with reheating the meat as it was intended to be eaten warm as it’s fully cooked.

Whichever type of smoked salmon you’re about to heat up, just be sure not to overdo it. Regardless of if the meat was hot or cold-smoked, both versions can be ruined if they’re overcooked.

How To Heat Up Smoked Salmon

There are a few different ways you can go about heating or reheating smoked salmon. We’ve provided the options below, as well as noted which type of smoked salmon they are ideal for. For all options, remember these words: Less is more. Overcooked fish is the worst kind of fish!

Heat the Salmon in The Oven (Ideal for Hot-Smoked Salmon)

Smoked salmon in the oven. Can you heat up smoked salmon?
  • Preheat your oven to a lower temperature — between 325 °F and no more than 350 °F.
  • Place the fish on a baking sheet or another thin baking dish.
  • Use a light amount of olive oil or non-stick spray on the bottom of the fish.
  • Place the salmon in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  • [Optional] Place the fish back in the oven for 2-minute sprints if it’s not hot enough yet.

Tip: Err on the side of caution. Check on the meat after a few minutes and take it out once it feels ready for you.

Heat the Salmon in The Microwave (Ideal for Cold-Smoked Salmon)

  • Place the smoked salmon on a plate.
  • Put the salmon in the microwave for no more than 20 seconds at a time. (Only do more if you’re heating up a larger portion of salmon.)
  • Check on the fish. If it’s not hot enough yet, put it back in the microwave for even shorter durations.

Heat the Salmon in The Toaster Oven (Ideal for Both Types of Smoked Salmon)

An empty toaster oven
  • Place the smoked salmon on a piece of tin foil or a thin tray that fits in the toaster oven.
  • Turn the oven on and monitor the smoked salmon closely.
  • Intermittently open the toaster oven and check on the fish. It’s hard to recommend an interval of time as each device is different, so it’s up to you to monitor the salmon closely.

Each method is practical and up to your preference. I personally love the toaster oven, as it is the best of both worlds as far as an oven-like atmosphere which also has the accessibility of a microwave.

Just remember that smoked salmon can be cooked, but it doesn’t need to be!

Can Reheating Salmon Make You Sick?

Frozen smoked salmon. Can you heat up smoked salmon?

It can, but it’s likely not due to the reheating of the fish. It’s more likely that the smoked salmon wasn’t handled correctly prior to reheating.

This is because some people don’t store their seafood properly. Per the FDA, if the fish isn’t going to be eaten within two (2) days of purchase, you should freeze the meat. If you plan on eating it sooner, you can refrigerate it.

However, some people don’t stick to that timeline well enough, and fish is a breeding ground for bacteria, especially at room temperature. The FDA recommends that you never leave seafood at room temperature for more than 2 hours due to the increased risk of bacteria growth which may cause you to get sick.

Heating fish, especially to an internal temperature of 145 °F, assists in killing bacteria. So, reheating the salmon isn’t what will make you sick. It’s the actions you take before reheating the salmon that may lead to issues.

Final Thoughts on Heating Up Smoked Salmon

Remember that smoked salmon is ready to eat. There is no requirement to heat up any type of smoked salmon that was prepared either hot or cold.

Many people prefer their smoked salmon hot, regardless of how it was prepared. Just be sure to err on the side of caution when heating smoked salmon, so you don’t ruin the texture and flavor of the meat. Less is more when it comes to reheating fish.

And remember that how you heat smoked salmon comes down to personal preference. The recommendations in this article around reheating the salmon are great, but there are more options. Don’t be afraid to test some other options out and let us know what you think of them!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I Put Smoked Salmon in The Microwave?

Yes. Check our tips above on how to do so without ruining the quality of the meat.

Is Hot-Smoked Salmon Healthy?

As long as you eat it in moderation, the answer is yes.

Hot-smoked salmon is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and a host of other nutrients. However, it is quite high in sodium.

Can You Warm Up Ready to Eat Salmon?

Yes. Follow our tips above on the best ways to do so. But remember that you don’t need to, as you can eat smoked salmon raw.