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How long does chicken salad last in the refrigerator?

Chicken salad can usually last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator when stored properly. The shelf life of chicken salad depends on several factors such as the ingredients used, how it was handled and stored, and the temperature of the refrigerator. With proper storage, chicken salad made with cooked chicken, mayonnaise and vegetables can stay fresh for up to 5 days after preparation. Here is a detailed breakdown of how long chicken salad will last in the fridge:

Ingredients That Affect Chicken Salad Shelf Life

The ingredients used to make chicken salad have a major impact on how long it will last in the fridge. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Chicken – Using freshly cooked chicken will allow the chicken salad to stay fresher longer compared to using leftover chicken. Cooked chicken lasts 3-4 days in the fridge.
  • Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise has a typical shelf life of 2-3 months unopened or about 1 week after opening when stored properly. Using mayo within its prime will help extend the life of chicken salad.
  • Vegetables – Fresh, crisp vegetables mixed into chicken salad like celery and onions will deteriorate faster than things like relish or pickles. Making sure cut veggies are not soggy or wilted will maximize freshness.
  • Acidity – Adding acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar or mustard can act as preservatives to keep the chicken salad fresher longer.
  • Herbs and seasonings – Dried herbs and spices do not shorten the shelf life, but fresh herbs like parsley will wilt and get slimy faster, reducing how long the salad will last.

Proper Storage of Chicken Salad

Storing chicken salad properly is key to maximizing its shelf life. Follow these tips:

  • Store in an airtight container – Covering the container with plastic wrap or a tight fitting lid prevents air exposure and keeps the chicken salad fresher longer.
  • Keep cold – Chicken salad must be kept refrigerated at 40°F or below. Keep towards the back of the refrigerator where it is coldest.
  • Use clean utensils – Always use clean utensils when scooping chicken salad to prevent bacteria transfer.
  • Avoid cross-contamination – Keep raw chicken and egg separate from prepared chicken salad during storage.

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last in Fridge?

With proper refrigeration and storage methods, here is how long chicken salad will last:

Chicken Salad Type Refrigerator Shelf Life
Freshly prepared 3-5 days
Commercial premade (unopened) 10-14 days
Commercial premade (opened) 3-5 days
With canned chicken 3-4 days

Signs Chicken Salad Has Gone Bad

Here are some signs that the chicken salad should be discarded:

  • Slimy or mushy texture
  • Discoloration or graying
  • Strong sour odor
  • Mold growth
  • Change in consistency

Freezing Chicken Salad

Properly frozen chicken salad can last 4-6 months in the freezer, allowing it to be made ahead in batches.

Tips for freezing:

  • Freeze in an airtight container leaving headspace to allow expansion.
  • Put plastic wrap directly on surface before sealing container.
  • Label container with contents and date.
  • Defrost in refrigerator overnight before serving.
  • Use defrosted chicken salad within 3-4 days.
  • Do not refreeze thawed chicken salad.

Reheating Chicken Salad

To retain quality and freshness, it’s best to eat chicken salad chilled. However, if you need to reheat, follow these guidelines:

  • Only reheat once – Reheating allows bacteria to grow.
  • Use gentle reheating – Microwave on low or use stovetop on low until heated through.
  • Avoid boiling or sautéing – High direct heat will make chicken and vegetables soggy.
  • Stir frequently – Evenly distribute heat to prevent hot spots.
  • Only reheat the portion needed – Don’t reheat entire batch if not being served all at once.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Ways to Use Chicken Salad Before It Spoils

If you have chicken salad that is nearing the end of its refrigerator life, here are some tasty ways to use it up:

  • Sandwiches – Classic chicken salad sandwiches are an easy lunch or snack.
  • Wraps – Spoon chicken salad into wraps or pitas for a portable option.
  • On top of salads – Turn chicken salad into a protein-packed salad topper.
  • In omelets – Mix chicken salad into omelets or scrambles.
  • On crackers – Top crackers or crostini for simple chicken salad bites.
  • In stuffed tomatoes – Fill cherry tomatoes with chicken salad for a cute appetizer.


Chicken salad stored properly in the refrigerator will generally last for 3 to 5 days. Use fresh ingredients and airtight storage to maximize its shelf life. Freezing chicken salad allows it to keep for 4-6 months. Reheating once can extend the life but eating it chilled is best. With some simple storage strategies, you can safely keep delicious chicken salad on hand to enjoy all week long.