Chicken Smells Like Fish: Is It Bad? (Explained)

Chicken is probably one of the most popular proteins for many households. It’s pretty affordable delicious, and you can enjoy it in many ways. Now, one of the things to note about chicken is that we usually buy them frozen in grocery stores. While fresh and frozen chicken works all the time, you may wonder if you smell something fishy in yours. Thus, you may ask:

Why does my chicken smell like fish? If your chicken smells like fish, it can be several reasons. The most common reason a chicken smells like fish is that it has gone bad. Also, you might have stored your chicken improperly, or it got contaminated. Lastly, it can also happen that you’re simply sensitive to smell.

We usually prefer purchasing chicken in bulk and storing them in the fridge in most cases. This technique is handy since we’ll always have available chicken at hand when we want to cook some. However, in these cases, the reasons mentioned above happen, resulting in chicken smelling like fish. 

This article will read everything you need to know about chicken smelling like fish and why it happens. This way, you can learn the several causes and understand how to deal with such if it ever happens to you.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Chicken Smells Like FishPin

Should raw chicken smell like fish?

Raw chicken should not smell like fish. In general, raw and fresh chicken have a very mild smell. Thus, if it smells like fish, something is wrong with it. Still, you shouldn’t always rely on smell to know if the chicken is safe to eat.

Why do my chickens smell like fish?

Here are several reasons why chickens smell like fish. You can read below and see if any reasons fit your case.

Your chicken has gone bad.

The chicken has likely gone bad if it smells fishy. Chickens that go bad develop an unpleasant odor.

Look for signs of spoilage and the expiration date to determine whether the chicken has gone bad.

You should discard the chicken if it has gone bad. You may get severe food poisoning from eating spoilt chicken.

You didn’t store it properly.

You may have a fishy smell if you don’t store your chicken correctly. Chicken should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in cling film. While handling children, avoid touching other foods as well.

The chicken got contaminated.

A chicken can smell fishy if it is contaminated. Therefore, you should always use clean utensils to avoid contamination, such as a knife, chopping board, and frying pan.

It is essential to wash the knife and cutting board thoroughly before using them for chicken if you have used them for any other meat.

Furthermore, it would be best if you didn’t keep different types of meat in the same container. Chicken batches are also subject to this rule. It would be best never to store older chickens with newly purchased chickens.

Halfway through the cooking process, it would be best to wash the egg flip or spoon you use to prevent contamination.

You have a sensitive smell.

There is no other explanation for your dislike of poultry other than that your chicken isn’t spoiled, contaminated, or improperly stored.

There is an easy way to get rid of the smell if this is the issue. It is best to soak the chicken in a vinegar and water mixture before cooking.

Is chicken bad if it smells like fish?

In most cases, chicken is bad if it smells like fish. The thing is that raw chicken shouldn’t smell like fish. It should only have a very mild smell, or it should have no smell at all.

Thus, you should check for other signs of spoilage if you think your chicken smells like fish because it’s gone bad.

Is it okay to eat chicken that smells like fish?

If you’ve checked your chicken and it’s still fresh despite the smell, it’s still okay to eat it. However, make sure you cook your chicken thoroughly and that it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This way, you can make sure it’s thoroughly cooked and safe to eat. The thorough cooking should also be enough to take away that fishy odor.

What happens if you cook smelly chicken?

If you cook smelly chicken, it will get rid of the smell. Since raw chicken can have a very mild smell when it’s not fresh, cooking it will help remove the smell.

In general, you’ll have better chances with adding some acidic components to your chicken as you cook. These acidic components can help get rid of the smell and enhance the flavor of your chicken, even if it’s not fresh anymore.

How do you get the fishy smell out of chicken?

No matter what you serve your family for dinner, you might have trouble getting them to eat it right away if it smells like fish. However, you can turn your chicken into a tasty dinner by following a few simple tips.

Almost anything acidic will cover up fishy flavors in chicken. So instead, use these simple ingredients to make your chicken delicious. Of course, the chicken won’t smell exactly like fresh chicken, but it’ll still smell good!


The best way to hide the fishy smell of your chicken is with vinegar, which is one of our favorite household tricks! A creamy white wine vinegar sauce with plenty of cracked black pepper will have your family gobbling it up in no time.


Tomatoes will mask any fishy flavors in your chicken. Over pasta, you might want to try making an herb-flavored ragu.

Lemon Juice

With chicken in general, lemon juice pairs well, and it works well to counteract the smell of fish. A lemon juice and herb marinade will warm your chicken, then serve it with a hot summer salad.

Why does chicken smell like fish after defrosting?

If your chicken smells like fish after defrosting, it’s because you didn’t store it properly, or in most cases, it’s already gone bad.

Keeping your chicken in the wrong place can result in a fishy smell. Chicken should be wrapped in cling film or kept in an airtight container. Make sure not to touch other foods while handling chicken.

Raw chicken thighs smell like fish

If your raw chicken thighs smell like fish, either it’s gone bad, or you didn’t store it properly. Raw chicken thighs, when still fresh, shouldn’t smell like fish. Instead, it should have a very mild smell or no smell. 

Thus, you need to check for other signs of spoilage or cook it with acidic components to know if you can still eat it. If your chicken is still okay, the cooking process should eliminate the fishy smell.

HelloFresh chicken smells like fish

If your HelloFresh chicken smells like fish, it’s likely because of the recipe, or it has gone bad. If such is the case, you should contact HelloFresh and ask your concern so they can help you with it.

What should raw chicken smell like?

In general, raw chicken should have a very mild smell or no smell at all. Thus, if your raw chicken smells like fish or smells funky, you should note that there’s something wrong with it. Thus, you should always check it and cook it thoroughly to ensure it’s safe to eat if it’s not yet spoiled.


In a nutshell, your chicken may smell like fish for several reasons. First, chickens that smell like fish are usually bad because they have gone bad. Additionally, your chicken may have been improperly stored or contaminated. Another possibility is that you have a sensitive sense of smell.

We usually purchase chicken in bulk and store it in the refrigerator. The advantage of this technique is that we will always have chicken on hand when we want to cook it. However, the above reasons cause the chicken to smell like fish in these cases. 



Image credits – Canva

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