How Long Does Chicken Salad Last? Room Temperature & In The Fridge

Chicken salad is one of the most popular salad dishes in the world, because of how easy and simple it is to make, and how it makes the most of the flavor and texture of chicken to create a dish that is perfect both as a main course or simply as a side for a larger meal! 

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last

Because chicken salad is so easy to make, it is a popular option to serve at a party or dinner event in large batches. 

But what should you do with any leftover salad after the event is over? It would be a real shame to see it all go to waste! 

If you’ve been looking to find out how long your leftover chicken salad will last in certain areas in your kitchen, then you will want to read on down below, because today we are going to show you what you need to know about storing leftover chicken salad, as well as how you can tell when it might have gone bad.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive right in! 

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last?

Chicken salad can last varying lengths of time depending on where it is stored within the kitchen and the temperature at which it is stored. Let’s take a look at how long chicken salad can last in certain areas before going bad!

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last At Room Temperature?

At room temperature, a chicken salad will generally only last for around two hours, thus you will want to make sure to store it somewhere like a refrigerator as soon as you can!

The reason chicken salad only lasts for two hours at room temperature is that it is incredibly high in moisture, and thus highly susceptible to developing bacteria.

Bacteria tend to thrive at room temperature, and it actively seeks to propagate on moist surfaces, thus you should generally try to avoid simply leaving a chicken salad out on your kitchen counter at room temperature.

If your kitchen is warmer than room temperature, such as during the Summer months, then you will want to make sure to move it into the refrigerator within an hour, as the higher temperatures will make it even more vulnerable to bacteria. 

If you want to keep your chicken salad at room temperature, such as on a serving platter at a party, you should try to keep it covered when it is not being served out, which helps to protect it from bacteria for a little bit longer! 

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last In A Refrigerator?

Because chicken salad simply won’t last at room temperature, you will definitely want to place it into the refrigerator as soon as you can!

This can make it easier to save it for another day so it still tastes just as fresh as when you made it, or simply to store it to have a little more later in the same day! 

In general, a chicken salad will last for around 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before it may begin to go bad. At a stretch, your chicken salad may last in the fridge for 5 days, but you should consume it no later than this! 

In order to help your chicken salad to last a lot longer in your refrigerator, there are a few things you will want to make sure to do. 

Place The Chicken Salad Into The Refrigerator Quickly

The countdown towards a chicken salad going bad begins on the day that the salad was first prepared, so the sooner you place the salad into the fridge, the more it will be able to last. Placing a chicken salad into the refrigerator early helps to stop the development of bacteria in its tracks.

As soon as the chicken salad is done with, place the rest into the refrigerator!

Serve Chicken Salad Into Smaller Bowls

If you have made a large batch of chicken salad in one bowl, then you may find yourself needing to remove it from the fridge multiple times.

If this is the case, you may benefit from simply serving smaller portions of the salad in smaller bowls outside of the fridge, as this will mean you don’t have to keep removing the whole salad from the fridge every time.

Place Your Chicken Salad Into An Airtight Container

If you are placing your chicken salad into the fridge, you will want to store the chicken salad in an airtight container.

This not only helps to protect the salad from bacteria seeking to enter it, but also helps to keep the flavor packed in, which stops the salad from becoming flavorless. It also helps to keep other foods in the fridge from absorbing the taste and smell of the salad from the air. 

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

Technically, it is possible to freeze chicken salad, but not all of the ingredients in most chicken salads will take well to the freezing process. You will want to check if there are certain ingredients in your chicken salad, and whether they can be frozen. 

Ingredients like fruit and vegetables, such as apples and celery that have a lot of moisture, don’t freeze very well, because they become mushy upon being thawed.

If your chicken salad has lots of celery in it, you might want to avoid freezing it, but if you do still want to freeze it, just remember that the texture of the celery will be diminished.

You will also want to consider whether your chicken salad is made using mayonnaise, as mayonnaise is known to not freeze well at all.

When mayonnaise is frozen, the ingredients separate, which leads to a massive change in taste and texture of the entire chicken salad! This is why most people would recommend against ever freezing a chicken salad! 

If your chicken salad contains any egg content, then it is best to avoid freezing it at all. Before you set out to make a chicken salad, make sure to strongly consider how much you are making, and whether you will be able to use all of it before it might go bad.

However, if you really want to create a chicken salad that can be frozen, then don’t worry, because you can easily substitute mayonnaise and other egg-based ingredients with Miracle Whip!

Miracle Whip is designed to freeze incredibly well, so it can easily stand in! This can be a great option for those that might want to make a chicken salad well ahead of time and then freeze it for later use! 

How Should You Freeze Chicken Salad?

If you are making a freezer-friendly chicken salad, then you will want to place the salad into an airtight container, so that the scents and flavors stay tightly packed in. 

Once you have placed your chicken salad into the freezer, it can then last for around 3 months, making it very convenient for making ahead of an event. 

You should try your best to consume your chicken salad within this 3 month time frame, as leaving any food in the freezer for too long leaves it susceptible to freezer burn, a state at which the flavor and texture of food become destroyed.

Can You Refreeze Chicken Salad?

Generally, you should avoid refreezing chicken salad as much as possible. The reason for this is that the process of freezing and then thawing food naturally has an impact on the cells of food.

When food is frozen and thawed, the bonds between the cells of the food become stretched, which can mean that the flavor and texture can be slightly altered.

However, if you must refreeze your chicken salad, you should try to do it only once. Refreezing food only once will only affect flavor and texture a small amount, but refreezing it a second or third time will lead to the food becoming very unappetizing. 

How Can You Help Chicken Salad To Last At Room Temperature?

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last

Because chicken salad is such a popular dish to serve at parties and events, you will want to be able to keep it out and ready for serving as much as possible, so let’s find out how you can help to lengthen the lifespan of your chicken salad.

Keep The Chicken Salad In The Fridge Right Until You Need It

If you know that a bunch of people is coming over to your place for a dinner party, then you don’t want to set out your chicken salad hours before they even arrive, as you might do with other foods.

Instead, wait until your guests are ready to eat before breaking it out. This means it will be at its freshest, which will lead to much happier guests!

This also means that it will then be allowed to be out a lot longer, meaning that guests can easily and safely go back for second helpings! 

Serve The Chicken Salad With Something To Cool It

One great way to help your chicken salad to last a little longer at your social function is to bring the cooling air from your fridge with you. There are various cooling trays and cooling mats that can be placed onto your platter so that foods can stay cool even outside of the fridge.

We strongly recommend looking out for cooling ice trays. These are designed with a top and a bottom plate. Within the bottom plate, all you need to do is place some ice cubes and then fix the top plate onto the top of the bottom plate.

On the top plate will be your chicken salad. This helps to keep the chicken salad cool, without causing other foods around it to become too chilled! 

Serve The Chicken Salad In Smaller Bowls

Instead of grabbing the entire chicken salad and serving it at your dinner party, which will inevitably leave leftovers that then have to be refrigerated, you can have your chicken salad last much longer by leaving the chicken salad in the refrigerator, and then dishing out smaller portions of the salad as and when needed as your dinner event is ongoing.

This is a great solution because it helps to negate the risk of accidentally leaving the entire chicken salad at room temperature and having to throw it all away! 

How Do You Know If Chicken Salad Has Gone Bad?

Now that we all know how long chicken salad can last at room temperature and within the fridge, you’re likely now wondering how you can know if your chicken salad has gone bad.

This is an important question to ask, especially considering that it is technically possible for a chicken salad to last more than 4 days in the fridge if cared for properly. 

The general rule is, if your chicken salad has been out on the kitchen counter for more than two hours, or it’s been in the fridge for more than 4 days, you should generally throw it out. 

Let’s take a look at some of the things you can check for to see if your chicken salad has gone bad, just in case it has a few more days left in it! 


If you spot even the smallest sign of mold on your chicken salad, you should treat it as a good excuse to throw the chicken salad away. If mold has developed on your chicken salad, then that means that bacteria has had more than enough chance to get to it and destroy its texture and flavor.

Do not simply scrape off the affected area that is covered in mold, as there will still be plenty of bacteria within the salad itself.

Weird Smell

Chicken salad should have a very pleasant smell of the various ingredients within it, thus, a great way to tell if a chicken salad has gone bad is to smell it.

Every time you take your chicken salad out of the fridge, make sure to smell it first to check for strange odors that weren’t there before.

If your chicken salad begins to smell sour, musty, or otherwise totally unpleasant, then it is best that you throw it out, as it is likely that bacteria have infested it. 


If your chicken salad still smells okay, but you are still unsure of whether it has gone bad, then your next best option is to give it a little taste.

By this point, you should know what your chicken salad naturally tastes like, so you should be able to notice strange changes to the flavor.

If the food begins to taste strange, or unlike what you expect, it is generally best to throw the chicken salad away. It’s likely that if it has a bad taste it would be too unappetizing anyway! 


One of the clearest surefire signs that your chicken salad may be past its best is if it becomes infested with insects or other creatures feeding off of it.

At this point, you definitely do not want to eat it, because the bacteria and other harmful contaminants from the creatures will have seeped into the salad! Ew!


Sliminess can be both visual and textural. If, when you pull the chicken salad out of your fridge, you notice that it is kind of slimy, or if you notice that it has a slimy texture once you start eating it, it would be safe to assume that the chicken salad is past its best, and should be thrown away! 

Be careful not to confuse sliminess with excess moisture. Chicken salad naturally contains a lot of ingredients with high moisture levels, and naturally, over time, some of that moisture collects across the surface of the salad.

Generally, you should be able to mix water back into the chicken salad with a quick stir.

Is Chicken Salad Bad If The Vegetables Or Nuts Go Soft?

Many chicken salad recipes include vegetables like celery, and nuts like walnuts, which may naturally go soft over time. If this happens, it does not necessarily mean the salad has gone bad! Check other things such as the taste and smell of the salad to check if it has gone bad! 

What Would Happen If You Ate Bad Chicken Salad?

Generally, you should avoid eating chicken salad that has gone bad, but if you find that it has happened, don’t worry! Though it is not likely to be incredibly dangerous, you may still experience some nausea and vomiting.

The reason for this is that the bacteria will be toxic to the digestive system, and vomiting is one of the body’s ways of expelling the toxins from the body. 

If the chicken salad you have eaten is only a few days past its best, you will most likely experience an upset stomach, though the severity of symptoms may worsen significantly if the chicken salad is much older.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Eat Chicken Salad After 7 Days?

Even when a chicken salad is refrigerated, it tends to only last for around 4 days, so you should really avoid eating a chicken salad after 7 days.

Can You Tell If Chicken Salad Is Bad?

Yes. To tell if chicken salad has gone bad, you should try smelling it for foul odors before attempting to taste it. If it tastes odd, definitely throw it away!

How Long Will Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge?

Generally, cooked chicken will only last for around 4 days in the fridge before going bad!

To Wrap Up

Chicken salad, as a very moist dish, naturally is not able to last very long at room temperature, and thus you will want to place it into your refrigerator as soon as you can. Try to keep a chicken salad out at room temperature for no longer than 2 hours.

If you do place chicken salad in the fridge, remember that it will generally last around 4 days before going bad, so make sure to eat it within that time frame!

And when you do store your chicken salad, ensure that you place it in an airtight container to help keep it away from bacteria, and to keep the flavors packed in! 

Try to avoid freezing chicken salad, unless you have made a specific version of it using freezable ingredients! Mayonnaise will naturally separate when frozen, so you should avoid freezing it! 

Mark Williams
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