Chicken salad is beautiful on both cold and warm days. The meal is light enough but still offers plenty of protein and nutrition to fill your needs.
You made a whole bunch of chicken salad and chucked the leftovers in the fridge, but now you’re not sure if it is safe to eat.
You are not alone, and many people ask the same question. Just how long is chicken salad good for?
How Long Does Chicken Salad Last?
Chicken salad lasts in the fridge 3 to 5 days. It must be refrigerated at all times and kept in an airtight container. The 3 to 5 days is the safe period for eating the salad, but when you reach day 4 is the salad still fresh enough that it tastes good? This will depend on what ingredients you put into the salad. Ingredients like lettuce, kale, and spinach will wilt early and become soggy.
What Is Chicken Salad?
The name chicken salad refers to any type of salad that contains baked or fried chicken.
The primary ingredient is chicken meat along with a binder which can be crème cheese, salad dressing, or mayo.
Chicken salad might be served on top of the avocado, lettuce, cooked, diced potatoes, or tomatoes.
Depending on what you put in the salad, it can be used for sandwiches also.
Chicken salad might also be referred to as a type of garden salad that normally has grilled or roasted chopped chicken on top of the bed of salad.
Chicken Salad Use-Bys
Not all chicken salads last for the same length of time. If your salad is mayo-based then it will quite often taste the same for the length of time it is safe to eat.
If you have used a salad dressing like a vinaigrette oil-based, it won’t last as long. After day 3 the quality of the salad won’t be as good as the mayo dressing.
If your salad tends to have a large moisture content, then the veggies are going to wilt.
Your salad won’t have the crunch action everyone loves to feel with a salad. Some people are not as worried about these things, but I, for one, love a crunchy salad, not a wilted one.
If your salad has ingredients that lose their quality quite quickly, then it might only taste good for the first day or so.
How Long Can Chicken Salad Stay Out On A Picnic
So you want to take your chicken salad to a picnic. Sounds great, but unfortunately, meat such as chicken requires refrigeration.
Chicken in a salad or on its own should not be eaten once it has been left out for over two hours.
If the day has a warmer temperature, then this time needs to be cut in half and only leave it for up to an hour at most.
Bacteria love to thrive at 40°F and beyond (4.4°C).
If it’s a hot summer day, that period is cut in half to about an hour.
How To Store Chicken Salad
When you have cooked your salad for storing in the fridge, you need to keep it in food-friendly sealable containers that are completely airtight.
If you have store brought chicken, you can store it in the package it came in if it seals back up tightly.
If not, then transfer to a food container and refrigerate right away.
If you have a chicken salad that you have loaded with greens such as kale, lettuce, and spinach, then use an oversized container so you don’t squeeze everything in.
Veggies will wilt faster and lose quality if they are crammed in tight.
If you find you are not putting leftovers in the fridge, it is important that you use clean tools when you are getting the salad out.
Also, be sure not to double-dip. This will help to prevent microbial contamination from growing and causing the salad to grow mold you might not see.
Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
It might sound like a good idea, but no, you cannot freeze chicken salad. The chicken plus the salad will not taste or look any good once it has thawed out.
While it may still be safe for you to eat, the quality will turn you away quite quickly.
What Happens When You Freeze Salads
If the salad contains dairy, it will separate. Leafy veggies will wilt, and other veggies will become watery.
Fruits will be soggy without any crunch and may turn a dark black color.
Both store brought and home-prepared salads will do the same thing.
How To Tell If Chicken Salad Is No Good
You might be able to spot mold on the surface, which might look fuzzy. Throw everything out, including the bowl or container.
If you can smell a funky odor to your salad. Your nose can often tell you if food is no good.
You dated the chicken salad, and it has been in the fridge for more than 6 days. It might still be safe, but food poisoning from chicken is defiantly not worth the risk.
Everything might seem ok with your salad, but when you taste it, something doesn’t taste right. This is an indicator to ditch the dish and whip up another.
If you get your salad out and everything such as smell, taste, and appearance is fine, check the container. If you have moisture gathering on the bottom, then get rid of the salad.
The liquid that is sitting in the bottom of the container is a good home for bacteria.
Most likely, if the salad has already been in the fridge for a few days, then it is already growing funky stuff.
Be safe when eating chicken salad. The symptoms that come with food poisoning can put you out of action for days.
It really isn’t worth the risk. Always label the date on your salad, so there is no guessing how long the chicken has been in the fridge.
If you are getting too much leftover, consider halving the recipe to make half the amount. This means you won’t have so much leftover to store.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Chicken Salad Lasts
How To Prolong Chicken Salad On A Picnic?
If you are taking the chicken on a picnic, always carry a cooler bag with a few blocks of ice to act as a fridge for the chicken. You can use a couple of water bottles frozen in a sealable bag that will work just as well.
When Is Chicken Salad Best Eaten?
Chicken salad is best eaten within two hours of prepping it. If cooking for guests or taking to a party, prepare it as close to the time as possible.