How long does pasta salad last in the fridge? If you made too much, you can still use it up in time! Here are some guidelines.
During the Summer, my family eats a lot of cold foods! We also like easy meals that are quick to put together.
Grilled chicken, chicken sausages, and hot dogs make it on our menu at least once a week. And a popular side dish to go with them is typically pasta salad.
Whether I’m bringing a fancy pasta salad to Summer barbecues, or just making my simple 4-Ingredient Pasta Salad for my family, I typically have leftovers that go in the fridge for lunch the next day.
Certain foods have a longer shelf life than others. How long can you store pasta salad in the fridge?
The short answer is, pasta salad will last about 5-7 days in the fridge. And it largely depends on the types of ingredients used in it. Keep reading for some simple tips on how to safely eat your pasta salad!
What typically goes in a pasta salad?
I laugh sometimes at how many variations of pasta salad you can make. There seems to be one for every occasion! Here are common pasta salad ingredients:
- Red onion
- Green onions
- Cherry tomatoes
- Green or red bell pepper
- Black olives
- Other fresh veggies
- Cheese, like cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, or feta cheese
- Italian dressing
- Other types of salad dressing
- Various types of pasta (Elbow macaroni, rotini pasta, penne, or other favorite pasta)
- Fresh herbs
- Meats like salami, pepperoni, grilled chicken
How long does pasta salad last at room temperature?
Typically, you should only keep pasta salad for 2 hours once it sits in a room temperature environment. Once it reaches a temperature above 40 degrees F, it’ll become a breeding ground for bacteria and you’ll risk getting sick.
If you can, place the container of pasta salad on top of a bowl of ice. That may extend the shelf life longer, but still pay attention to it.
How long does pasta salad last in the fridge?
The shelf life of pasta salad is between 5 and 7 days in the refrigerator, if it’s in a sealed container. But it also depends on what ingredients are in it.
- Salads with dairy products and meat ingredients, like mayo, cheese, and salami, tend to have a shorter shelf life.
- Certain soft vegetables, like tomatoes, can make the pasta salad mushy after a couple days.
If you have a store-bought pasta salad, go by its expiration date. It might be okay a day or two after, but definitely check it before eating!
How can you tell pasta salad has gone bad?
Here are a few signs of spoilage for pasta salad:
- Strange/ sour smell
- Mold on any part of the ingredients
- Excess liquid. This usually means the vegetables are going bad.
- Any strange discoloration
Definitely double check before you eat week-old pasta salad. When in doubt, just throw it out. There’s no need to give yourself food poisoning!
Can you freeze pasta salad?
Unfortunately, pasta salad can’t be frozen. Mayo-based salads will lose their texture after defrosting and can become soggy and just not pleasant.
You CAN freeze a lot of the ingredients separately, though. Vegetables like bell peppers can be diced and frozen separately, and cooked pasta generally freezes well. At that point though, I’m better off just making everything the day of.
Tips for the best pasta salad
- Prep the ingredients ahead of time! The best way to save time beforehand is to chop all of the fresh vegetables, because that seems to be the most time-consuming part.
- Cook the pasta al dente, and pour into a colander and run under cold water.
- Prepare the pasta salad the night before and keep it in a large bowl in the fridge! Wrap with plastic wrap and maybe set aside some extra dressing for later use. While letting it sit will let the pasta absorb the flavors, it will also absorb a LOT of the liquid. Making some extra dressing will help!
What to do with leftover pasta salad
If you have any pasta salad left and it’s still safe to eat, you can store leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge.
You can easily turn pasta salad into a main dish by adding some meat to it! One of my favorite things to do is add grilled chicken sausages. You’ve got protein, carbs, AND vegetables. And that, for me, is a full meal!
In the end, use your best judgment when it comes to using up your pasta salad. If it’s been sitting out for awhile and you’re just not sure, throw it out. But when stored properly, you’ll easily be able to use up all of your leftovers!