Tilapia Shelf Life: How Long Does Tilapia Last?

What is the average shelf life of tilapia? How long does tilapia last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store tilapia to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:

Shelf Life of Tilapia

Fresh1-2 Days6-8 Months
Cooked2-3 Days2-3 Months

Tilapia is the fourth-most-consumed fish in the United States. It is low-priced and has a slight flavor – almost tasteless. When compared to other fish, tilapia is relatively cheaper. Many people like tilapia better than other fish, as it does not have a very fishy taste.  Regarding the shelf life of the fish, it lasts for a relatively shorter period if not cared for or stored properly. Fish, along with other proteins, does not have an expiration date, but rather, has a sell-by date. Frozen fish can be safely stored for up to 10 to 12 months. On the other hand, if fresh, tilapia can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days, and it can be kept in the freezer for 6 to 8 months. For cooked tilapia, the shelf life in the fridge is 2 to 3 days, and in the freezer, it last 2 to 3 months.  

Purchasing Tilapia

Tilapia is gaining popularity quickly around the globe due to its unique, minimal fish-like flavor. It is also very easily prepared in a variety of ways. Purchasing tilapia can be tricky, but in order to buy fresh fish, certain points should be kept in mind. Ask your local seafood supplier from where they get their fish and how it was grown; if the supplier doesn’t have much knowledge on the subject, it can be a sign of poor fish quality. If possible, purchase live tilapia, and if live fish is not available, you should buy frozen, thinly-sliced fillets. Tilapia has the trait of retaining the flavor of the water in which it swam, so it should smell like the sea and not musky. Eye inspection is also important when purchasing the fish; if the eyes appear slimy, the fish is probably old. The gills and scales should also be free of dirt and not peeling or flaking. Lastly, try purchasing tilapia soon before it will be cooked, because the longer the fish sits, the more flavor it loses.

Storing Tilapia

Storing the fish properly in the refrigerator immediately after use helps prolong its shelf life. Prepared fish should be stored in a closed, airtight container to keep contaminants and moisture out. Tilapia meat has the trait of absorbing the water it sits in, so avoid storing it in wraps or containers with standing water, as it gives the fish a poor taste.

Handling Tilapia

When it comes to cooking and serving fish, handling of the meat must be done properly to avoid contamination. There should be different sets of utensils for cooked fish and raw fish, unless they have been properly washed and dried after being used. Raw fish should not come into contact with cooked food or raw vegetables and fruits. It is necessary to handle and cook the fish properly to avoid the chance of foodborne illnesses.

Cooking Tilapia

Tilapia is lean, white, and highly rich in proteins. Tilapia is very difficult to handle, so it is preferred to be baked, broiled, or steamed. It goes very well with Asian dishes and can be fried and served with a hot sauce. Unlike other fish, simplicity is not the key when cooking with tilapia, and anything on a plate with tilapia can be easily highlighted and made the star of the dish.  Tilapia serves as a blank slate for recipes.