Can You Refreeze Tilapia? (Cooked-Uncooked)

Can You Refreeze Tilapia

If you like trying out seafood due to the plenty of health benefits that it provides, tilapia might be one of your top picks. It is very popular as a low-cost food fish, and thus, you may prefer buying it in bulk. But, the real crisis arises when you thaw tilapia more than needed, and you don’t want to waste it.

You might have concluded that you can store it back in the freezer. But, what if the fish still spoils? What is the correct method to refreeze raw/cooked tilapia, and can you do it?

You can refreeze both cooked and uncooked tilapia and store it for more than seven months. Thaw your fish in the refrigerator beforehand if you plan to freeze it later. Other thawing techniques do not go well with the repeated process of freezing. Ensure to use good packaging for storing your tilapia in the freezer. It will help to prevent damage.

Tilapia, like other fish variants, is delicate and demands gentle handling. We have listed all the advantages and side effects of refreezing tilapia in this article for your ease.

Refreezing Cooked Tilapia After Thawing

Many people love tilapia because of its mild flavors. As inexpensive seafood, it is consumed widely across the globe. However, like other fish, tilapia is prone to perish very quickly. You might prefer storing it in the freezer for future use, and it is the safest option.

When you finally thaw the tilapia and utilize it for preparing a delicious recipe, you can keep the leftovers back in the freezer. Yes, it is perfectly okay to refreeze tilapia that defrosts in a refrigerator. According to USDA, refreezing any fish type that thaws in a refrigerator is considered safe.

Before proceeding with the refreezing process, you must wrap the tilapia in high-quality freezer bags to prevent it from getting the freezer burned. Also, if the cooked fish is still warm, do not place it in the freezer directly as it may spoil. Always cool it down, and once it reaches a stable temperature, you can refreeze tilapia.

If your fish remains in the open air for longer durations, it can attract many harmful bacteria. Thus, you must avoid keeping the tilapia at room temperature for more than two hours. If this limit exceeds, it can longer refreeze, and you have to discard the fish.

Refreezing Uncooked Tilapia After Thawing

When you thaw some raw tilapia for dinner and later on change the plan, you can successfully freeze it again. But, it must thaw in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen countertop, as the latter method makes the fish unfit for refreezing. When tilapia is inside the fridge, it is least likely to get contaminated, and you can store it back in the freezer.

However, do not leave tilapia in the refrigerator for more than two days after thawing. Transfer it back to the freezer as soon as possible, and it will remain fresh and edible. You might notice some changes in the taste and texture of your tilapia after the second thaw. But, it will still be safe for consumption and cause no harm to the health.

If you thaw the uncooked tilapia in a microwave or cold water, it is better to cook it immediately. By these methods, the fish rises to a high internal temperature which is ideal for bacteria to multiply rapidly. As an outcome, it can no longer refreeze as the tilapia is already at the risk of spoilage.

How To Refreeze Tilapia?

Tilapia is versatile seafood and often goes well in different dishes. On top of that, it is affordable and easy to prepare. Once you take it out from the cold and thaw, you need to be careful with the handling so that the tilapia refreeze well.

To refreeze the tilapia perfectly, follow the steps listed below for you

  • For raw tilapia that thaw on the way back home, clean it thoroughly before placing it in the freezer. It will help the fish keep all its rich flavors while refreezing.
  • Once it is dry, cover it in a heavy-duty freezer bag or airtight container to ensure it remains intact while exposed to cold air. It will also prevent the formation of ice crystals.
  • If you have a large amount of tilapia, lay each fish on a tray with wax paper and flash freeze them for two to three hours.
  • When frozen, take them out of the freezer and wrap each separately in good-quality aluminum foil.
  • Now, transfer them to a freezer bag to provide maximum coverage to the fish and protect it from freezer burns.
  • For cooked tilapia, cool it down before shifting it to the freezer. If you freeze it while still warm, it can spoil very quickly.
  • Once it reaches the right temperature, you can vacuum seal the fish. Remove all the excess air out from the bag until it deflates completely. You can use a straw for this purpose if you don’t have a vacuum sealer device.
  • Lastly, mention the refreezing date on the bag/container and let the tilapia refreeze for a few months.

How Long Is It Safe To Refreeze Tilapia?

Whether cooked or uncooked, tilapia can refreeze for a decent amount of time if you follow all the safety instructions. When you thaw it in the refrigerator, the tilapia can remain refrozen for up to eight months without getting rancid. Also, it is crucial to store the fish in proper packaging before you pop them inside the freezer.

Vacuum-sealed fish generally lasts longer compared to another safety packaging. The exposure to air is minimal, and the fish remain in a good state without losing their nutritional value. After some time, the fish might suffer degradation in taste and texture due to the extreme freezer environment. So, it is better to utilize it soon and not keep it refrozen and unchecked.

Also, if you leave tilapia raw or cooked at room temperature for too long, drop the idea of refreezing. Even if you place it in the freezer afterward, it cannot refreeze for a long time and might turn inedible. Thus, it is better to discard the fish as consuming it can cause food poisoning.

Can You Refreeze Tilapia More Than Once?

As tilapia is protein-based, it is vulnerable to deteriorating faster. Freezing it again after thawing might be okay if you do it once, but avoid overdoing it. Inside the freezer, food gets exposed to low temperatures, causing the formation of ice crystals. When you refreeze it one time, the fish already suffers a quality loss and is no more suitable for another round of freezing.

If you refreeze it again, the tilapia might turn mushy, discolored due to freezer burns, and taste awful. Eating it will not be a pleasant experience, and you will have to discard it. So, to save time and effort, you can freeze your tilapia in meal-size portions. It will allow you to thaw only the required amount instead of defrosting the whole together.


Refreezing fish requires extra effort and can remain in the freeze for many months. It is of utmost importance to thaw it in the fridge and not by other methods if you want to refreeze the leftovers. Defrosting on the kitchen counter or hot water may not support the freezing process.

Ensure to store tilapia in proper safety containers or bags for effective freezing and prevent the tender meat from perishing early. If the packaging is not sturdy enough, the fish can lose its texture and flavors and turn dry. You can opt for vacuum sealing for better and long-lasting results.

Tilapia is budget-friendly seafood and pairs with many other food items easily. By following all the necessary freezing steps and tips mentioned in this article, you can make your fish shelf-stable and decrease the chances of any food wastage.


Tauseeq is the principal creator of He loves cooking and wants to help others overcome kitchen challenges through practical advice and solutions.

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