Can You Marinate Frozen Fish?

Marinating is one of the best ways to enhance and bring out the flavor of any dish. This is especially true when it comes to fish, which can often have an almost neutral taste. If you’re planning on getting some frozen fish and marinating it to improve the flavor, then you’ll need to know if you can marinate frozen fish first. Traditional wisdom holds that food cannot be marinated unless it is fresh and not frozen. However, this isn’t strictly true.

There are a few things that make marinating frozen fish tricky, but it is certainly possible if you are willing to work with the limitations. It goes without saying that if you want your fish to end up tasting great, you should avoid pre-frozen fish as much as possible. You should also try to get the thinnest fillets or steaks possible in order to give them more surface area for marinade penetration and faster diffusion of flavors. Let’s take a look at some potential options for how to marinate frozen fish to get the most out of it!

Things to Know When Marinating Frozen Fish

There are a few things to keep in mind when marinating frozen fish. First and foremost, marinating will only work if the fish is thawed before marinating. If you try to marinate a frozen fish, it will be impossible for the water and oil in the marinade to get through the frozen exterior to actually affect the interior. Thawing is necessary to allow the fish to actually absorb the marinade.

This presents an additional problem, however, as the water will actually begin to break down the fish itself. If you use warm water, the fish may thaw too quickly and begin to break down as soon as it begins to melt. This can lead to a mushy texture that may be undesirable.

The size of the fillet or steak you buy is also important. Thicker pieces of fish will take longer to thaw than thin ones, which means that you should plan accordingly. For example, if you want to marinate a frozen salmon steak, you should thaw it out for several hours before marinating. A thicker salmon fillet will require more time than a thinner salmon steak.

How to Marinate Frozen Fish

When you are ready to actually marinate frozen fish, first thaw it out until it is completely thawed out and thawed through. If possible, thaw it in the fridge rather than at room temperature so that it doesn’t thaw too quickly. Fold the fillet or steak in a couple of layers of paper towels, then place it in the fridge while it thaws.

This will help absorb any excess water the fish releases as it thaws, and will also help it to thaw more slowly. When the fish is completely thawed, you can use the same marinade you would use on fresh fish. If you are using a sauce or rub, apply it to both sides of the fish, or to the bottom side if you are marinating it inside an oven-safe vessel like a casserole dish.

When you are ready to cook it, you should also be sure to thaw frozen fish in the oven rather than over direct heat. Doing so will help to ensure that the fish does not end up overcooking before it is fully thawed.

Alternative Methods – Allowing Frozen Fish Thaw before Marinating

If the fish is still frozen when you need to marinate it, there are a couple of ways you can handle it. First, you can thaw the fish out in the fridge and then marinate it at room temperature. This will allow the marinade to enter the fish more quickly, but will also increase the risk of bacterial growth as the fish thaws. Proceed with caution!

To avoid introducing bacteria at all, you can also marinate the fish in a vacuum sealer bag. Seal the fish in the bag and then immerse the bag in the marinade, allowing the bag to act as a sort of protective barrier between the fish and the marinade. This is especially useful for sauces and brines, which will allow the fish to absorb the flavor more quickly without risking bacterial growth.

Is it Safe to Marinate Frozen fish?

If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s safe to marinate frozen fish, wonder no more! The answer is yes, you can absolutely marinate frozen fish. In fact, marinating frozen fish is a great way to add flavor and texture to your seafood dishes.

Here are a few tips for marinating frozen fish:

  • Make sure to thaw your fish completely before marinating. This will help the fish absorb the flavors of the marinade more evenly.
  • When marinating, always use fresh or properly thawed ingredients. Avoid using old or freezer-burned ingredients, as these can impart off-flavors to your dish.
  • If you’re using an acidic marinade (such as one made with lemon juice or vinegar), be sure to cook the fish shortly after marinating. Acidic marinades can “cook” the fish if left on for too long, so it’s best to use them only as a flavor enhancer and not as a cooking method.

With these tips in mind, go forth and enjoy all the deliciousness that marinated frozen fish has to offer!


Marinating frozen fish is possible, but it requires extra care and attention to avoid breeding bacteria and having the marinade break down the fish. You should also be sure to thaw the fish out completely before marinating it to make sure that the marinade can actually get inside. If you take the right precautions, however, you can use marinades to add tons of flavor to frozen fish.

Just be sure to choose a marinade with lots of flavors, and use a thick fillet that will take longer to thaw out in order to avoid rushed cooking times. Select a marinade with lots of bold flavors and spices that work well with fish, and you’ll be able to get maximum taste and flavor out of your frozen fish.

Can You Marinate Frozen Fish?

You can marinate frozen fish, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, frozen fish will thaw much faster than fresh fish, so you’ll need to adjust your marinating time accordingly. Second, because frozen fish is often more watery than fresh fish, you may want to add a little extra oil to your marinade to help it adhere. Lastly, be sure to pat the fish dry before marinating, as excess moisture will dilute the flavors of the marinade.

How Long Can You Marinate Fish?

In general, you should marinate fish for no more than 30 minutes, as longer than that can begin to “cook” the fish and make it tough. If you’re using a particularly strong marinade (like one with a lot of acids), you may want to marinate for even less time.

Do I Need to Cook Fish Before Marinating?

No, you don’t need to cook fish before marinating it. In fact, marinating is often used as a way to add flavor to raw fish that will be cooked later. Just be sure to pat the fish dry before marinating, as excess moisture can dilute the flavors of the marinade.

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