When you don’t know what to eat for lunch or if you are too lazy to make something complex in your kitchen, but you definitely want something delicious, chicken salad can be an ideal solution.
Although you can buy chicken salad in most grocery stores and eat that store-bought chicken salad, I personally always prefer a salad that is my own culinary masterpiece because it is easy to make, it is healthier, and it is always delicious.
But of course, it is up to your personal preferences to decide. Store-bought or not, chicken salad is loved by so many because it’s healthy, delicious, and so refreshing.
There are also many chicken salad recipes with shorter and longer ingredient lists, so you can choose what suits you best.
Personally, I am a fan of chicken salad made with mayonnaise-based chicken salad dressing and I would also recommend you try chicken salad sandwiches made with rotisserie chicken and chicken salad crackers. They are just yummy.
All that is great, but if you really like chicken salad and if you also value your health, you have to know how to handle chicken salad properly. The main question that arises is how long is chicken salad good for.
The answer to that question depends on the storage conditions of your chicken salad.
So, in order to learn all the important information about chicken salad shelf life, proper storage, and spoilage signs, I would suggest you continue reading.
How Long Is Chicken Salad Good For?
When it comes to the shelf life of chicken salad, that really depends on the way you’ve stored it. Also, it is important to know what are the ingredients in the salad because that will determine how long the salad will stay fresh.
How Long Can Chicken Salad Sit Out?
No matter what type of food or dish you are dealing with, it is never a good idea to leave food at room temperature for a couple of hours, i.e. for too long. The same goes for our chicken salad.
According to food storage experts, it is not recommended to leave chicken salad at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Room temperature is typically around 68 degrees F. The temperature danger zone in which food tends to spoil quickly ranges from 40 to 140 degrees F.
So, it is obvious that room temperature is within that danger zone range. In that danger zone, bacterial growth tends to accelerate and, after 2 hours, the number of bacteria tends to rise very quickly. So, if you consume those bacteria, it is highly likely that you’ll suffer from food poisoning.
I also have to emphasize that on hot summer days when the temperature is even higher, i.e. above 90 degrees F, it is recommended not to leave chicken salad on the countertop for more than 1 hour, because after just 1 hour, bacteria will start to grow rapidly.
How Long Does Chicken Salad Last In The Fridge?
Your chicken salad can last in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. No matter if you are dealing with store-bought or homemade chicken salad, it is always recommended to store the chicken salad in the refrigerator and use it within that time frame.
So, when you buy chicken salad from the grocery store, you should refrigerate it immediately and use it within 3-4 days, as suggested by the USDA. Also, take a look at the expiration date on the label of the packaging to know how long it will remain fresh.
Generally speaking, the expiration date on the food label doesn’t have anything to do with food safety, but rather with the time in which food will retain its freshness.
When it comes to homemade chicken salad, if you made a big batch of chicken salad, do not leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours, but store it properly in the refrigerator and use it within 3-4 days.
How To Store Chicken Salad Properly?
If you want to preserve your chicken salad for a couple of days more, it is best to refrigerate it. If you do that properly, your chicken salad will remain both fresh and good in the fridge for those 3-4 days. Well-chilled coolers or lunchboxes also come into play, but I always prefer refrigerators.
When it comes to store-bought chicken salad that you buy from the grocery store, you can store it in the fridge in its original packaging if you haven’t opened it.
If you’ve opened it, it is best to transfer the leftovers into an airtight container, seal it properly, and refrigerate in a properly sealed container.
You can also use a bowl covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil for storage, but I always personally prefer airtight containers because they are safer.
When it comes to homemade chicken salad, there is not much difference in the refrigerating process. When you make the salad, just transfer it to the airtight container using clean tools and refrigerate it within 2 hours.
When it comes to the time in which the salad retains its freshness and quality, the types of ingredients used for making it make a difference.
If it’s a mayo-based or miracle whip-based chicken salad, it will probably remain fresh for up to 4 days. However, if the main ingredient of the salad dressing is oil, the quality of your salad will most likely deteriorate after day 2.
So, I would recommend you to consume that kind of salad as soon as possible to enjoy its freshness and quality.
Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
Yes, you can. However, you will have to deal with the consequences related to the quality of your chicken salad.
First, chicken salad can be made from various ingredients including various veggies like scale, spinach, lettuce, green onions, etc., fruits like apples, cranberries, blueberries, etc., as well as chicken pieces and a dressing made from mayonnaise.
The freezing process itself is not the real problem, but since you have to thaw chicken salad in order to consume it, the problem arises from there. Thawed chicken salad won’t be nearly as good as a fresh one.
There are a few main reasons for that. First, the frozen mayonnaise will separate after thawing and the egg whites will turn rubbery. Aside from that, veggies and fruits will turn limp and release extra water.
Although chicken freezes well, the high moisture content will make chicken in your salad soggy.
All in all, although in principle you can freeze chicken salad for up to 3 months, I wouldn’t encourage you to do that unless you want to eat soggy chicken, dried veggies, and separated mayonnaise all in one.
Finally, here’s what the USDA says about freezing leftovers: “Leftovers can be kept frozen for 3 to 4 months. Although safe indefinitely, frozen leftovers can lose moisture and flavor when stored for longer times in the freezer.”
What Are The Spoilage Signs Of Chicken Salad?
Pay close attention to these signs of food spoilage if you don’t want to end up eating rotten chicken salad.
• Mold: If you see any spots of mold on your chicken salad, throw it in the trash without any thinking because it is probably bad.
• Off Odor: Another clear sign of spoilage is an unpleasant smell. Most often, harmful bacteria that have multiplied in the salad, are the cause of the rotten smell. So, if you sense that the smell of your salad is not okay, you should definitely throw it away.
• Slimy Texture: If any ingredient in the chicken salad becomes slimy, it is a sign that you have to toss that salad.
• Infestation: Although infestation does not happen quite often when it comes to chicken salad, you should always pay attention to that aspect as well. If you see any ants or other pests in your chicken salad, throw it in the trash immediately.
• Bad Taste: And finally, if you notice any of these spoilage signs, try a very small amount of chicken salad to see how it tastes. If it tastes off, do not continue eating under any circumstances, and get rid of it immediately.
Here are some frequently asked questions that I want you to know the answers to.
How Long Can You Keep Chicken Salad With Mayonnaise?
Chicken salad with mayo-based dressing can not stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours and if the temperature is 90 degrees F or above, you shouldn’t let it stay there for more than 1 hour.
It is best to refrigerate it in an airtight container where it will remain fresh and good for up to 3-4 days.
Although it can last up to 3 months in the freezer, it is not recommended to freeze mayo-based chicken salad because it won’t retain its freshness and quality.
Is Chicken Salad Good After 4 Days?
No, it is not good after 4 days because it can last for up to 2 hours at room temperature and for up to 3-4 days if properly stored in the fridge.
If you want to preserve it for more than 4 days, you can freeze it for up to 3 months but it won’t retain its freshness and quality.
How Long Can You Eat Leftover Chicken Salad?
If you have leftover chicken salad, it is best to refrigerate and consume it within 3-4 days. Within those 3-4 days always pull the portions that you need at that moment to avoid any potential risk.
Only if you have a lot of people that are able to eat a large amount of chicken salad, you can pull out the whole batch. If there are any leftovers, store them in the fridge again within 2 hours.
How Long Is Homemade Chicken Salad Good For?
Just like store-bought chicken salad, homemade chicken salad can not stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and if the temperature is above 90 degrees F, it shouldn’t be left outside for more than 1 hour.
Within that time frame, store your chicken salad in the fridge and consume it within 3-4 days.
Although it can last for up to 3 months in the freezer, I wouldn’t recommend you freeze homemade chicken salad because once thawed, its texture and flavor will be ruined.
Whether it is tuna salad, pasta salad, or chicken salad, my mouth always gets watery. But, chicken salad has a special place among my favorite foods so I don’t want it to go bad.
So, in order to treat your chicken salad properly, you have to know the answer to the question of how long is chicken salad good for. Well, all you have to know is the fact that it is not a good idea to leave chicken salad at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Second, it is best to store the chicken salad in the fridge for up to 3-4 days so that it will retain its freshness and quality.
A less popular storage method for chicken salad is freezing chicken salad. Although it won’t spoil it, freezing will seriously damage the flavor and texture of your chicken salad.