Skip to Content

How Long Can Chicken Salad Sit Out? Important Things to Know

Chicken salad involves any salad whose main ingredient is chicken. Other elements included are mayonnaise, celery, onions, hard-boiled eggs, and pepper. However, you must understand how long this chicken salad can stay out to avoid health issues in the long run. Here are a few insights to keep in mind.

How Long Can Chicken Salad Sit Out?

The period your chicken salad can sit out depends on the current temperature and humidity. On average, this period is approximately two hours at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Long Can Chicken Salad Sit Out?
How Long Can Chicken Salad Sit Out?

Holding all factors constant, your salad will no longer be safe to eat after two hours under average room temperature. An increase in this temperature triggers bacterial production, lessening the lifespan of your salad. For instance, expect chicken and salad to go bad after one hour if the temperature is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity is another factor affecting how long your salad can stay good. Increased humidity raises the amount of moisture in the salad, creating a conducive environment for bacteria and pathogens to multiply. In turn, your chicken salad will likely go bad within a shorter period of time.

In addition, the amount of moisture in the environment affects how long your chicken salad can sit out. Excessive moisture within the environment translates to increased bacterial production, causing food spoilage.

If the chicken salad is in an airtight container at room temperature, it will likely last longer. It will also be less susceptible to bacteria and germs, eliminating various health risks.

Chicken salad can only sit out at room temperature for 2 hours, less if the room is warmer.
Chicken salad can only sit out at room temperature for 2 hours, less if the room is warmer.

How Do You Know Chicken Salad Has Gone Bad?

You’ll need to watch out for six elements to note when the chicken salad has gone bad: smell, texture, color, fuzz, separation, and taste. There is a significant change in these elements when the chicken salad turns from fresh to stale.

An unpleasant smell is the first tell-tale sign that your chicken salad has gone bad. This salad will turn sour or will have a sulfur-like smell. Once you notice this odor, it would be best to avoid the salad.

However, since people have varying senses of smell, you cannot rely on scent alone to determine whether the chicken salad is good.

You’ll also have to pay attention to the texture of your chicken salad. Avoid it once it turns slimy. However, since chicken has a moist, creamy texture, it is significantly challenging to notice this change. However, any unusual stickiness should be a red flag.

You can also notice that the chicken salad has gone stale by tasting it. If you feel that the taste is not natural, discard it. You could also check whether the container has lots of water, causing separation.

Sometimes, the stale chicken salad could turn furry or fuzzy moldy. It is one of the signs that you must not even taste the salad. The color will also change, often to green, brown, yellow, blue, or pink. This color change will likely happen gradually.

If your chicken salad has a foul smell, it means it has gone bad.
If your chicken salad has a foul smell, it means it has gone bad.

Can You Put Chicken Salad In a Freezer?

Storing your chicken salad in a freezer is an excellent way to boost its longevity. It will not lose its freshness, texture, smell, and taste. However, this can only happen if you store it properly.

Freezing chicken salad allows it to stay for approximately three months. There is no unique way to extend the lifespan beyond this period.

Various steps go into the proper storage of chicken salad in the freezer. First, skipping fresh vegetables or ingredients in the chicken salad would be best. For this reason, you can only freeze the chicken and mayonnaise. Add fresh ingredients once you are ready to eat.

Further, ensure that you wrap it adequately before placing it in the freezer. An airtight container will help minimize airflow and oxygen, slowing bacterial reproduction. The absence of oxygen and air eliminates the bacteria’s ability to thrive.

Once you remove it from the freezer, you must thaw the chicken salad entirely before eating it. The best way to do this would be to do it in the fridge, as leaving it in the open adversely affects its taste and texture. You must also eat this chicken salad within a day of defrosting it.

Can You Keep Chicken Salad In a Fridge?

You can keep the chicken salad in the fridge. This appliance helps boost the longevity of your salad by three to four days. While it does not eliminate bacteria, it slows their production, ensuring the food does not go stale sooner. Unlike when you freeze the chicken salad, you can include fresh ingredients.

You’ll need to place your chicken salad in an ideal container or wrapping. This wrapping or container must be airtight to prevent the entry of air or oxygen. Increased exposure to oxygen will likely make the salad go bad within a shorter time. The best tip: avoid aluminum foil as it does not wrap the food entirely.

Suppose you want to improve its taste and texture. In that case, you could consider adding fresh ingredients later. This move will likely improve the shelf life of your chicken salad.

While you can reheat the chicken to make it last for a more extended period, doing so with the chicken salad will not add any value. Instead, expect it to lose its taste and texture.

Properly wrapped chicken salad will last 3-4 days in the fridge.
Properly wrapped chicken salad will last 3-4 days in the fridge.

What Factors Can Affect Chicken Salad?

Three factors alter the taste and texture of chicken salad: ingredients, preparation, and moisture. Most experts recommend limiting fresh ingredients when preparing this salad. You’ll need to add these elements only when ready to serve.

Moisture is a severe concern when preparing chicken salad. Excessive moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens, exposing you to food poisoning. For this reason, ensure that the chicken salad is in an airtight container.

Excellent preparation is also central to long-lasting chicken salad. Ensure that you cook the chicken breast adequately, as undercooking it can cause adverse health conditions and excessive bacterial growth. While cooking, ensure that the internal temperature is approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

To extend the shelf life, only add fresh, perishable ingredients to your salad when ready to serve.
To extend the shelf life, only add fresh, perishable ingredients to your salad when ready to serve.

What Is the Ideal Temperature to Store Chicken Salad?

The ideal temperature to keep your chicken salad is below 40 degrees. This temperature level guarantees enhanced longevity and minimal bacterial interference. Increasing humidity and temperature offer an excellent breeding environment for bacteria, meaning your chicken salad will be short-lived.

You should not let your chicken salad sit out for more than two hours at room temperature. This period is long enough to encourage harmful bacteria to thrive in the salad.

Read about how long cooked chicken can sit out next.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Can Chicken Salad Sit Out?

Can you Eat Chicken Salad Left Out Overnight?

The chicken salad takes approximately two hours to go bad at room temperature. Leaving this salad overnight implies that so much bacterial production has happened that the salad can cause food poisoning. In addition, this salad will likely be smelly, slimy, and with a strange taste, meaning you’ll not enjoy it.

What Happens If You Eat Old Chicken Salad?

Old chicken salad is any salad that has stayed for over three hours at room temperature. Eating this dish will likely expose you to food poisoning, triggering stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal irritation. It would be best to avoid old chicken salad.

Can Chicken Salad Sit Out for 4 Hours?

A chicken salad that sits out for more than two hours is likely to be stale.

Conclusion to How Long Can Chicken Salad Sit Out?

Chicken salad can only sit out for two hours at room temperature. If the room is warmer and above 90°F, the time frame can even be shorter by one hour. Beyond this window, bacteria will have proliferated significantly and you are putting yourself at risk for a food-borne illness by consuming it.