Veggies are great when crunchy, but when they get soggy, your chicken salad might lose its flair. The refrigerator is a great place to keep it fresh, but for how long exactly?
How long does chicken salad last in the fridge? If stored properly in an airtight container, chicken salad will retain its best quality for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. If your chicken salad is homemade, it will also last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
You should know that the ingredients in your chicken salad play an essential role in its shelf life. Even in the refrigerator, your chicken salad will only last as the fastest-spoiling ingredient.
How Long Does Chicken Salad Last at Room Temperature?
If you are going to leave your chicken salad at room temperature, you might as well throw the entire dish away.
After about two hours at room temperature, you probably have to throw your chicken salad away. 2 hours isn’t enough time for the growing bacteria to change the color or taste of your food, but if you notice a slight change in odor or appearance, you should probably throw it away.
On a hot summer day, your chicken salad might have bacteria growing on it in as little as an hour.
How to Tell if Your Chicken Salad Has Gone Bad
Your senses are the best tools for checking if your chicken salad has gone bad or not. It is not perfect, but it is a very good way of telling if it has gone bad or not. A spoiled chicken salad shares the same characteristics as other kinds of salads.
If your chicken salad has a rancid rotten smell, you should toss it into the waste bin. The rotten smell might have been caused by the chicken absorbing the flavors of other ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.
Don’t eat if you notice a discoloration in your chicken salad. The discoloration comes from the naturally occurring enzymes in the salad’s ingredients. As the enzymes degrade, they spoil the protein and carbohydrates in the salad, causing discoloration.
All chicken salads have a high moisture content, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. If your chicken salad has a slimy texture, don’t eat it! A slimy texture is proof that it has gone bad. The slimy texture is a result of the growth of bacteria and mold.
If your chicken salad exhibits any of these signs, you should throw it out. Eating spoiled food has adverse effects on your personal health and could cause chronic food poisoning that can be deadly in some cases.
How to Make Your Chicken Salad Last Longer in the Fridge
Your chicken salad would be safe in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days, but some variables can shorten the length of its time in the fridge or affect the quality.
Putting your chicken salad on a plate in the refrigerator would not be enough to keep it edible for three to five days. You need to be intentional about storing it before it goes into the fridge.
It is best to store your chicken salad in a container with a lid that can help keep the air out. Apart from prolonging the lifespan inside the fridge, it would keep your chicken salad from absorbing the flavors of other food items in the refrigerator.
Your chicken salad lasts only as long as the ingredients in it. If you have a mayo-based chicken salad, it would probably be okay for the entire period of time in the fridge. It would taste fine too.
However, if the dressing of your chicken salad is oil-based, let’s say vinaigrette, for example, the salad’s quality after 3 to 4 days won’t be as good as it was right after you mixed all the ingredients together.
Moisture content also matters; if it’s a salad with high moisture content, the veggies might wilt, losing their crunch after some days. This would ruin your chicken salad as the change in texture wouldn’t make it seem so enticing anymore.
If you don’t mind, great! But if you do, try to keep your chicken salad dry if you are making a larger portion.
The chicken you want to prepare the salad with must be appropriately cooked. Make sure you cook it at a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you are done cooking, you can use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken.
According to the USDA, for best quality, foods like chicken and eggs, tuna, macaroni, and ham, should be kept for no longer than 3 to 5 days at 40 degrees or lower.
While the temperature in your fridge is critical, you should also make sure your chicken salad goes into the refrigerator at least within an hour or two of preparation. If left out longer than that, the fridge will not return it to its normal condition.
If you think about storing your chicken salad in the freezer, it will last longer, but it would not be as it was when you made or purchased it. When it is thawed, its texture gets ruined, and the chicken salad becomes runny. In no time, it will begin to taste bad.
Vegetables do well in a low moisture environment like the refrigerator and last for 5 days. As for the chicken, it is recommended that you shouldn’t eat it if it has sat for longer than 3 days. But if it has been properly stored, you can eat it within five days.
Vegetables would begin to lose their nutritional value after 3 days in the fridge. The right time to eat your chicken salad that has been stored in the fridge for its best quality and nutritional value is within the first three days.