Eating a meal without some refreshing side dish like salad is unimaginable for some people. If you know how to make it right, salad can be both refreshing and tasty, as well as really healthy if you are incorporating the right ingredients.
There are various types of salads and I am sure that salad can offer everyone something great. You can buy yours from the store or you can make your own homemade salad as I often do.
However, most types of salads are quite sensitive due to some of the ingredients, so they don’t last very long, especially if you don’t store them in the fridge. So, the question arises “How long can salad last in the fridge?”.
Well, that mainly depends on the type of salad as well as on the ingredients.
But, let’s see some details about salad shelf life in the fridge.
How Long Does Salad Last In The Fridge?
As mentioned in the introduction, the main factor that determines the shelf life of a salad is the type of salad. Also, there are the types of ingredients incorporated into the salad, as well as whether the salad is with or without dressing. So, let’s take a look.
How Long Is Pasta Salad Good For In The Fridge?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the shelf life of salad, alongside some other types of salads like chicken salad and macaroni salad. And this is quite logical since these salads are Americans’ top picks.
Well, there is no precise answer to this question, but pasta salad can usually last about 3-4 days if properly stored in the fridge.
I also have to say that some types of pasta salads contain mayonnaise and therefore those pasta salads are more prone to spoilage. Such salads usually last a day less.
How Long Is Chicken Salad Good For In The Fridge?
Chicken salad is also one of the favorite types of salad among many Americans, so it is no surprise why this question is asked so frequently.
If you store your chicken salad in the fridge properly, it will last for up to about 3-5 days.
Enough to prepare for eating that delicious piece of chicken.
How Long Does Macaroni Salad Last In The Fridge?
And of course, there is good old macaroni salad.
Since it contains noodles, it should stay good in the fridge for only about 3 days and you have to refrigerate it in an airtight container so that air doesn’t spoil those noodles.
For the best flavor and texture, I suggest you prepare it the night before you plan to consume it.
Other Salads Shelf Life In The Fridge
Besides the three previously mentioned types of salads, there are also some other types worth mentioning and knowing their shelf life in the refrigerator.
• Tuna Salad: Just like chicken salad, tuna salad can last for up to 3-5 days in the fridge if stored properly. Because spoiled fish can be so dangerous in terms of food poisoning and foodborne illness, you should be really careful about this one.
• Green Salad: One of the most popular green salads is Caesar salad and, if it doesn’t contain mayonnaise, it can stay good in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.
If it contains mayonnaise or some other dairy products like yogurt, you shouldn’t keep it in the fridge for more than 1-2 days.
• Fruit Salad: Fruit salad that doesn’t contain sugar should stay good in the fridge for up to about 3-5 days. If you add sugar to it, it will retain its freshness for up to a week.
• Potato Salad: If you bought your potato salad from the grocery store, it should stay good in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
If it has an expiration date, it should stay good for 1-2 days past that date. Homemade potato salad is good for up to 3 days in the fridge if stored properly.
• Egg Salad: Eggs are a quite sensitive food, so you should be extra careful when storing egg salad in the fridge. But, if stored properly, egg salad should stay good for up to 4 days in the fridge.
• Quinoa: Quinoa is a healthy seed that goes into many types of salad. But there is also a specific quinoa salad and if you store it properly, it will remain good for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
How Long Does Salad Last In The Fridge With Dressing?
There is a huge difference in storing salad with or without salad dressing. There are oil-based dressings and vinegar-based dressings, as well as those made with mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise should always be stored separately from other ingredients in the salad if you want your salad to last longer. I followed that advice when freezing coleslaw, so I recommend doing the same.
Also, if you are using olive oil for the oil-based dressing on your salad, you shouldn’t store it in the fridge alongside other ingredients because the salad won’t last very long.
So, in general, salad without dressing will stay good for up to 10 days in the fridge.
On the other hand, if you store your salad in the fridge with dressing, that time frame will be cut in half and your salad will stay good for only about 2-5 days in the fridge.
Even in that time frame, the dressing can cause the salad leaves to become wilted and not so pleasant for consumption.
As you can see, it is always better to separate your salad from the dressing before you refrigerate it.
How Long Is Salad Good For After Opening?
My top recommendation is: once you open your salad, it is best to refrigerate it immediately if you are not planning to eat it right away.
However, food safety and food storage experts suggest that you can leave your salad out of the fridge for up to 2 hours if the temperature is between 40-90 degrees F.
On the other hand, if the temperature is higher than that, i.e. if it ranges somewhere between 90-140 degrees F, your salad shouldn’t be left out for more than 1 hour.
But if you store it in the fridge properly, it should stay good for a couple of days based on the type of salad. Usually, commercially bagged and prewashed salad mixes stay good for up to 3-5 days in the fridge.
How To Store Salad And Keep It Fresh
In general, if you want to make your salad last longer, you should store it in the fridge. However, if you want to keep it fresh, you must know some tips and tricks and those tips are a bit different for every type of salad. So, let’s see what you have to do.
Salads With Leafy Green Vegetables
If you plan to make a leafy green salad, you should first properly wash the leafy greens and lettuce and lay them on a clean paper towel.
After that, you should dry it in order to remove any excess water that can potentially ruin your precious salad. To do that, it is best to use a salad spinner and run it for about 20 seconds.
When the leafy greens and lettuce are ready, it is time to prepare and wash the other veggies like cucumbers and tomatoes.
After you wash those properly as well, your next task is to combine all the veggies in one bowl. Make sure that you put heavier vegetables underneath the lighter ones. Also, do not put the dressing in the bowl before the refrigeration process.
It is best to store that dressing in another container in the fridge because adding it too soon will cause the leaves to become soggy.
Sealing the bowl with veggies the right way is very important. Because of that, you should put the dry paper towel on the top and, by doing that, you will make sure that there is no excess moisture in the bowl that can make the leaves soggy.
Finally, you can seal the container with a tight lid or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Your salad should stay fresh for about a week in the refrigerator.
When it comes to making and refrigerating fruit salad, it is first very important to wash and prepare the fruit properly according to your recipe.
Then you can transfer that fresh fruit into a bowl. Usually, most fruit salads contain some type of oxidizing fruit like apples or avocados.
In that case, it is really important to add a tablespoon of citrus juice to the mix so that the fruits don’t go bad.
Seal the bowl tightly with an airtight lid and place it in the fridge. Your fruit salad will remain fresh for 3-5 days in the fridge if stored this way.
One more note. If there are no oxidizing fruits in the mix, you can just put the fruits in an airtight container and that will do the trick.
Meat, Egg, And Pasta-Based Salads
When it comes to refrigerating salad that contains pre-cooked ingredients, like most meat, egg, and pasta-based salads, it is very important to know that you must protect them from air at any cost.
That means that you should put those ingredients in some kind of airtight environment, ideally an airtight container with a tight lid. Of course, without the dressing.
Aside from that, you should also put plastic cling wrap over the top to protect your salad in order to be 100% sure.
Make sure that you refrigerate the salad as fast as you can because this type of salad really doesn’t like air, i.e. there is a really high risk of harmful bacteria growth if you keep pre-cooked ingredients outside the fridge for too long.
If you follow all these rules, your salad should remain fresh for up to about 5 days in the fridge.
Is It Safe To Eat Leftover Salads?
The answer to this question mainly depends on the way you handled your salad, assuming the salad greens and other ingredients were fresh and good in the first place.
However, no matter what type of salad you are dealing with or what types of ingredients are incorporated, one thing is sure: The two-hour rule suggests that if your salad was left on the countertop for more than 2 hours, it is not safe for consumption anymore.
Also, if you are not sure how long your salad has been stored in the fridge, it is best not to consume it. If it has been refrigerated for longer than it should be (according to the type and ingredients), it is best to throw it out.
But, if you think that it has been sitting in the right place for the right time, but you are still not 100% sure about it, below are some of the major signs of spoiled salad.
How To Know If Salad Is Bad?
In order to tell if your salad is bad, you must know the signs of spoilage, and they are listed and explained below.
• Off Smell: If you sense a rotten smell coming from the salad, something like rotten eggs, it is probably bad. Also, if the salad contains lettuce, it can begin to smell like soil and that too is a sign of spoilage.
• Discoloration: Although it is not quite easy to notice any discoloration when it comes to salads, this is another clear sign of spoilage. So, if you notice any strange colors in your salad, it is best to play it safe and get rid of it.
• Soggy Texture: Excess moisture can make some of the ingredients in salad soggy and slimy. So, if you notice anything like that, it is best to avoid consuming that salad.
• Bad Taste: If you didn’t notice any of these previous signs, you can taste a little bit of salad and if the flavor is harsh and sour, spit it out and don’t consume the rest of the salad.
Is It OK To Eat 3-Day Old Salad?
According to the USDA, leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days (if stored properly). Proper storage includes using airtight containers or placing your salad in a freezer bag and squeezing as much air as you can.
Can You Keep Salad Fresh For A Week?
You certainly know that most salads can be consumed the next day if they are stored properly in the fridge. But, in some cases, salad can stay good for even a week if you refrigerate it properly.
Well, pasta salads and leafy green salads without dressing and mayonnaise can be kept in the fridge for about a week or even a few days more. Fruit salad shouldn’t be kept in the fridge for more than 5 days
Final Thoughts On Refrigerated Salads Shelf Life
No matter if it is store-bought or homemade, the prepared salad needs to be refrigerated if you are not planning to consume it within 2 hours. The same goes for salad leftovers as well.
So, the main question is “How long does salad last in the fridge?”. To sum things up, leafy green salads last for about one week if refrigerated without dressing and mayonnaise.
Fruit salads last for about 5 days in the fridge, without dressing as well.
And meat, egg, and pasta-based salads without mayo-dressing last for up to about 5-7 days in the fridge if stored properly.