How Long Can Salad Stay Out of the Fridge: A Handy Chart

In this article we’ll answer the question ‘How long can salad stay out of the fridge?’. We’ll also take a look at factors affecting the shelflife of left out salad and how to store salad properly. 

How Long Can Salad Stay Out of the Fridge?

A salad can stay out of the fridge for around two hours. This is the average time for most salads including caesars, lettuce or potato salad. The reason behind this small time window is that most salads are made of highly perishable vegetables. It means that they go bad really quickly if not kept at the cooler temperature. 

Another reason is the use of salad dressings that add moisture and salt to the vegetables and result in a quick spoilage. Thus, salad is consumable within the two hours of making if it has been left out of the fridge.

What factors affect the shelf life of salad that is left out? 

There are several factors that affect the shelf life of salad. It can include temperature, ingredients, toppings, and the dressing.

As most salads are made with leafy greens or raw vegetables they spoil pretty quickly at room temperature. Moreover, these perishable ingredients are high in water content that results in the spoilage really quickly. 

Sometimes toppings and dressings can also contribute to the decreasing shelf life of the salad. For example ricotta cheese or fresh mozzarella goes bad pretty quickly when not kept in the refrigerator. 

How does dressing affect the shelf life of salad? 

Dressing contributes to decreasing the shelf life of salads in two ways. Firstly, the moisture or water content of the dressing can result in spoilage and wilting of leafy greens. This results in the whole salad going bad. 

Another ingredient of the salad or dressing that results in the spoilage is salt. Salt disturbs the osmotic balance of the ingredients, especially lettuce and other leafy vegetables. As a result water comes out of the leaves. The process of wilting begins which is hastened by the temperature and other ingredients. As a result leaves wilt and salad is spoiled. 

How do you store leftover salad with dressing?

There are two ways you can store the salad with dressing. 

Salad with added dressing 

If you have added dressing to the salad, then its shelf life is lesser in comparison to the salad that is not mixed with the dressing. Here is how you can store the salad with dressing. 

  • Take out the leftover salad in a clean bowl.
  • Cover it with the cling film or make sure you have an airtight container
  • Place it in the refrigerator preferably in the lowest compartment of fridge (lowest compartment of the fridge is usually the coolest)
  • Use within 12 hours to one day after storing 

Salad and dressing separately 

In case you haven’t mixed the salad and dressing. Here is how you can store it. 

  • put salad and dressing in bowls or containers separately.
  • Cover them using the lid or cling film so they are airtight
  • Put them in the refrigerator in the lowest shelf or compartment.
  • You can keep the salad stored for two to three days.
  • Dressing will last around three to four days before spoilage occurs. 

How to make a salad that lasts longer? 

If your sole priority is to make a salad that lasts longer. Then there are a number of things that you can do. Firstly, you can start by not including the leafy greens in your salad. Avoiding them can result in a salad with a little longer shelf life. 

You can also use cooked or blanched vegetables in salad. Such as corn, green beans, carrots etc. such salads usually have a longer shelf life. 

Find out the top ways to make your salad last longer here

When do you refrigerate the salad to ensure longer life? 

It is recommended to refrigerate the salad right after you make it to ensure a prolonged shelf life. This is in the case you are not consuming the salad right away and there is a bit of delay. 

Consuming the salad right away is always the best option as all ingredients are fresh and there are no signs of deterioration. If you have any leftovers after consumption then refrigeration immediately after putting it in a smaller bowl is crucial. It is also recommended not to put the salad dressing over all the salad. It drastically reduces the shelf life and prevents long storage. 


In this article we answered the question ‘How long can salad stay out of the fridge?’ We also looked at factors affecting the shelflife of left out salad and how to store salad properly. 


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.