If you have a little leftover chicken salad, you might be wondering: how long does chicken salad last in the fridge? This article will give you the 411 on how long your chicken salad will last along with tips on how to properly store chicken salad and when you know it’s time to toss it!
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Whipping up a large batch of chicken salad is one of my favorite things to make if I am having a big gathering….it’s easy to make and everyone loves it!
Homemade chicken salad sandwiches (made with rotisserie chicken) or wraps are always a hit at my house on busy weeknights!
Since I make big batches, I usually always have a little leftover salad! Wonder how long chicken salad will last in the fridge? No one wants to eat bad chicken salad so let’s find out!
FDA & USDA GUIDELINES ON STORING COOKED CHICKEN
According to the FDA’s Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart, cooked chicken can last for 3-4 days when properly refrigerated. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also says 3-4 days is the maximum number of days chicken salad will last and be safe in the fridge.
HOW LONG DOES CHICKEN SALAD LAST IN THE FRIDGE?
According the FDA guidelines for storing cooked chicken, chicken salad is safe to eat within 3-4 days in the fridge when properly stored. The chicken salad must be stored in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature of at least 40˚F (or colder).
The same rules apply to other protein/mayo-based salads such as tuna salad and ham salad.
How long does chicken salad with mayo last?
Mayonnaise-based chicken salads (including Miracle Whip), are safe to eat within 3-4 days after being refrigerated.
How long does chicken salad without mayo last?
One might think chicken salad without mayo might last longer than mayo-based chicken salad. However, the FDA still does not recommend cooked chicken being consumed after the 3-4 day limit they provide on this Refrigerator and Freezer and Storage Chart.
How long does chicken salad with Greek yogurt last?
Just like with mayonnaise, chicken salad with Greek yogurt should be consumed within 3-4 days. The same goes for chicken salads made with sour cream or salad dressing.
HOW TO STORE CHICKEN SALAD
Here are some tips for storing chicken salad:
- Storage Containers: The best way to store chicken salad for best results is an airtight container in the fridge. These glass containers are my absolute favorites for storing leftovers. You can also store leftovers in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap.
- Storage Temperature: The FDA and USDA both recommend storing cooked chicken in the fridge at 40˚F or colder.
- Freezing Chicken Salad: Salads with mayo are not good candidates for the freezer! Freezing breaks down mayo and causes it to separate which leads to an undesirable texture when freezing chicken salad. Also, the high moisture content in celery, onions and other veggies will also further water down chicken salad when it’s thawed.
Freezing chicken salad isn’t a food safety issue, it’s just a matter of personal preference. If you are willing to eat thawed chicken salad with a change in texture, go right ahead and freeze it! But read this post first to get all the tips and tricks. You’ll also find out what chicken salad is best to freeze!
HOW TO EXTEND THE SHELF LIFE OF CHICKEN SALAD
Here are some tips for extending the chicken salad shelf life:
- Airtight containers: When storing chicken salad in the fridge, you want to keep as much air out as possible. These glass containers have a tight seal and are a great way to store leftovers in the fridge.
- Fridge Temperature: Ensure your fridge is 40˚F or colder when storing chicken or any leftover food (Source: USDA).
- Freeze it: If your chicken salad not made with mayo, it will freeze up OK. Get all the details in this post: Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
HOW TO TELL IF CHICKEN SALAD IS BAD
Old chicken salad or chicken salad that is not safe to eat should be tossed. Here is how to tell if your chicken salad is past it’s prime:
- Unpleasant Smell: This one is obvious. Do the sniff test and if it has any indication of a rotten smell or sour smell–TOSS IT!
- Texture: Touch the chicken — old chicken will often have a slimy texture. If that’s the case, ADIOS!
- Sell By Date: Although the USDA states that the “sell by” date is for inventory management and NOT a food safety date, if your chicken salad’s sell date is past 3-4 days, it’s a good idea to toss it. By that time, you know it has been made and refrigerated for at least 4 days.
- Room Temperature: If your chicken salad has been sitting OUTSIDE the fridge at room temperature for over two hours, it should be tossed, according to the FDA.
No. According to both the USDA and the FDA, cooked chicken that has been refrigerated past 3-4 days is not safe. After that, bacterial growth and food safety become and issue. See the FDA’s handy Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart.
Always check the sell by date on Costco chicken salad. The sell by date is NOT a food safety date. Instead it’s simply there for inventory management. However, if it’s 4 days past the sell by date, it has been sitting refrigerated for at least 4 days. Therefore, according to FDA guidelines, it should be tossed.
A “sell by” or “use by” date means that the manufacturer recommends using the product by this date for the best flavor or quality. The date can also be used for inventory management. The date is not a food safety date.
However, use common sense. If you’re not sure or if the food looks questionable or has an off odor, throw it out.
As stated above, if the chicken salad has an unpleasant smell or texture, toss it! Also, toss it if it’s been in the fridge for over 4 days.
Another important thing to note: If your chicken salad has been sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, both the FDA and USDA recommend not eating it because of food safety issues. So if your chicken salad has been sitting out a couple of hours, TOSS IT! If it’s a hot summer day, toss it even before the 2 hour mark.