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How Long is Leftover Sushi Good Before It Spoils?

You’ve just returned home from an extravagant sushi feast and, already dreaming of tomorrow’s lunch, place your precious box of leftovers in the fridge, already dreaming of tomorrow’s lunch.

Empty dirty plate of sushi on table in cafe

You’re already dreaming of sinking your teeth into what remains of your chef-curated sashimi selection and the last few bites of crunchy mango roll. But will it truly be as delectable tomorrow as it was today?

Read on to learn the answer to “how long is leftover sushi good?” including how long raw or cooked fish can survive a sojourn at room and fridge temperature, safe storage techniques, and signs that it’s time to toss your rice or tuna rolls in the trash. 

Let’s get rolling!

How Long Does Sushi Last at Room Temperature?

Did you accidentally leave your sushi on the kitchen counter?

sushi on table in cafe

Before picking up your chopsticks, consider how long your to-go box has languished.

When it comes to raw fish sushi, you’re working against the clock. At room temperature, raw sushi should be consumed within 2 hours maximum.

Any longer, you risk the sushi’s quality and safety because raw seafood is a breeding ground for bacteria. 

The only exception to the rule is vegetable sushi, which lacks the primo real estate of fleshy fish components that create a welcoming environment for pathogens. 

Cooked sushi is a slightly different story. Dishes like tempura rolls or eel nigiri are more forgiving than their raw counterparts.

You can leave them out at room temperature for about 4 hours before you risk spending the night getting closely acquainted with your bathroom floor.

Either way, the sooner you dig in, the better your dining experience will be.

How Long Can You Keep Sushi in the Fridge?

 Be it raw or cooked sushi, every roll has its limits, even in the cool confines of your refrigerator. 

sushi in a plastic box on a wooden table

For raw sushi, you’re buying yourself a little time once it’s safely refrigerated, but don’t expect an extended stay.

You have around 24 hours before the ingredients start to break down, leading to some unpleasant new tastes and textures. 

Cooked sushi, on the other hand, lasts around three days if you take the time to pack it away in airtight containers.

However, like its raw cousin, cooked sushi is best when eaten fresh, so don’t dilly-dally for too long before enjoying your delicious leftovers.

How Do You Safely Store Leftover Sushi?

When you’ve had your fill of sushi and are left with some delicious morsels you simply can’t bear to part with, there are some steps you can take to safely store leftover sushi:

Leftover sushi on a table
  1. Begin by separating raw and cooked sushi, as they have different storage requirements. This step will help maintain the flavor and texture of each type, giving you the best experience when you dig in later.
  2. Remove raw fish from your rolls. Rice and veggies have a longer shelf life in the fridge, so you can still eat the rest of your roll even if the sashimi seems off. 
  3. Place your sushi in clean, airtight containers or wrap each piece in plastic wrap to keep out unwanted odors and maintain the sushi’s moisture.
  4. To preserve the freshness of your sushi, place it in the coldest part of your fridge, usually the back. Never store it in the door because it’s prone to temperature fluctuations. Instead, aim for the ideal storage temperature below 40° F to slow bacterial growth.
  5. Store your soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger in separate containers. You can put the soy sauce and pickled ginger in the fridge, but keep your wasabi at room temperature to retain its eye-watering heat and delicate herbaceousness. 
  6. Enjoy your leftovers within the recommended time frame—24 hours for raw sushi and up to three days for cooked sushi. 

Suppose you’re feeling particularly fancy or just eat sushi often enough to justify splurging.

In that case, you can purchase specialized sushi storage containers packed with features that keep your sashimi and unagi as fresh as the day you brought them home. 

For example, the Lock & Lock Roll Container has an airtight silicone seal, while a bento container from Lunch Box has segments that make it easy to safely separate your raw fish and cooked elements. 

How Can You Tell If Sushi Has Gone Bad?

We’ve all found ourselves staring at a piece of sushi, wondering if it’s still safe for human consumption. 

Rainbow Sushi Roll with salmon

To avoid unnecessary risk, watch for these signs that your roe has gone rogue. 

  • First and foremost, start by giving your fish a whiff. Fresh sushi should have a slightly oceanic smell, not an aroma akin to a questionable fish market in the middle of June. If it has a funky, sour smell, it’s a sign your sushi has gone bad. 
  • Raw fish should still have a vibrant color and is slightly translucent. If it looks dull or discolored, it’s time to bid sayonara. Dry, hard rice is also a no-go. It should feel soft and slightly sticky, with no discoloration. 
  • Check the texture. Your fish should feel firm, not slimy or mushy. The sushi rice should be soft and a bit sticky.

Dangers of Eating Spoiled Sushi

Should you decide that your leftover sushi is worth this risk, you might be in for a world of pain thanks to pathogens like salmonella and listeria.

Fresh and delicious maki and nigiri sushi

At best, you’ll have a severe stomach ache. At worst, you may have just risked your life for some expired salmon

The first signs of food poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea. You’ll feel like you have the world’s worst stomach flu as chills and fever set in.

Eventually, all that expulsion can lead to dehydration. If you can’t keep water down, your body will soon suffer the consequences as your cells lack the necessary water to perform their life-sustaining duties. 

Eating Sushi with chopsticks

If the infection is bad enough, there’s a chance that your foray with eating spoiled sushi can lead to even more alarming complications like septicemia– blood poisoning– or kidney failure.

It’s terrible news for those with compromised immune systems, as the body doesn’t have the resources to fight off the ikura-borne infection. 

Fortunately, by keeping an eye (and nose) out for these signs of spoilage, you can avoid these sickening symptoms and survive to enjoy sushi another day. 


Are you still questioning your sushi’s safety? Check out these frequently asked questions for more insight into enjoying your leftovers without risking bodily harm. 

healthy kale and avocado sushi roll

Is 3-day-old sushi safe?

Although cooked sushi dishes can last up to three days in the fridge, raw fish is best consumed within 24 hours, so it’s generally safer to avoid raw sushi leftovers after the first day to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. 

The quality and safety of three-day-old cooked sushi depend on the ingredients and storage conditions. To be on the safe side, always examine your leftovers closely before you eat them. 

Does leftover sushi need to be reheated?

Reheating leftover sushi is generally not recommended or necessary, as it can adversely affect the taste and texture of the components.

If you choose to reheat sushi, do so gently, in 10-15 second bursts, and leave the raw fish cold. Otherwise, you’ll have to choke down a rubbery nightmare. 

How do you eat day-old sushi?

You can enjoy day-old sushi cold straight from the fridge. However, if the rice has lost its soft texture, you can use a few tricks to revive it. 

Start by wrapping the sushi in a damp paper towel. Then, place the wrapped sushi in the microwave and heat it for 10-15 seconds to soften the rice without compromising the overall quality of the sushi. Once done, unwrap and enjoy. 

Can you freeze sushi?

While freezing sushi is possible, you’re taking a severe risk regarding quality. 

If you think it’s worth the drop in flavor to freeze your sushi, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store rice separately from fish in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, thaw the sushi in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

One Comment

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  1. Why the risk – don’t eat leftover sushi. By the time it’s served, hours after dinner or an event, 24 hrs. easily pass. While not adequately packed but in a very cold fridge, I tried sushi the next morning, and the rice was no longer soft and mushy. Plus, the sushi while still safely edible, it does not look or taste the same.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.