How Long Does Coleslaw Last?


Ah, coleslaw! The taste of the summer. Creamy, crunchy, and ever so slightly acidic. It is the perfect accompaniment to practically anything that comes off the grill. There’s only one time that we won’t eat coleslaw, and that is when it has gone bad? How long does coleslaw last? Well, it all depends on how you store it and when it was made. For the full answer, check our article out.

chick fil a coleslaw

What is in Coleslaw?

Coleslaw is a mixture of shredded vegetables, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and often a few little extras like garlic, chopped chives, and even cheese.

But, here’s the thing.

Many things in coleslaw don’t tend to have a very long shelf life. As a result, you need to be careful that your coleslaw hasn’t expired.

Because it features mayonnaise mixed with other ingredients, it can spoil very quickly indeed, and it doesn’t pay to take any chances.

How Long Does Coleslaw Last?

The easiest way to tell how long your coleslaw lasts is to check the label on the pot and follow the use-by date. That said, some coleslaws are sealed in an airtight container and have a given shelf life from the moment they are opened.

Generally, coleslaw, whether store-bought or homemade, tends to last for about 3 days. If you have made it fresh, then you could probably extend this period to 5 days. Remember, it takes a while to get from the manufacturer to the store, which accounts for the lost time.

There are things that will affect how long coleslaw lasts. Let us cover a few below: –


This one is a biggie.

Bacteria breeds in foods at certain temperatures. There are two ways to stop this. The first is to apply heat. Somehow, we reckon that this isn’t the best option to prolong the life of your coleslaw. The only other option is to keep it cool. 

This inhibits bacterial growth and will make your coleslaw, or in fact, any food, lasts much longer.

Here’s our guide.

If your coleslaw has been stored in the fridge, then it will almost certainly be good for up to three days.


Let’s say you have a barbecue. And the coleslaw has been sat at anything higher than room temperature. In that case, we’d advise eating it within 4 hours. After dinner, you will need to throw it away as it won’t store very well in the fridge. 


Excuse us! Our coleslaw isn’t contaminated. Au contraire my friends. Cross-contamination of food can take place easily at any time.

What is it?

Let us say you use a fork to stab the (cooked) sausages off the grill and then use the same fork to get yourself a large dollop of coleslaw…

Congrats, you’ve just cross-contaminated it! The meat juices will sit in the coleslaw and allow bacteria to breed more readily. While this is harmless in the short term, it will reduce the shelf life of your coleslaw significantly.

How to get around it?

Only use fresh cutlery to serve your coleslaw, oh and no dipping your finger in! 

Freshness of Ingredients

Remember how we said that coleslaw, when homemade, will keep for up to 5 days? Well, this comes with a caveat.

That being…

How long homemade coleslaw lasts depends a lot on the ingredients made in the first place. One of the key ingredients is carrots, cabbage, and mayonnaise. If any of these ingredients, on their own, were approaching their use-by date or had seen better days, then this is going to be the limiting factor. 

Adding old ingredients to coleslaw is a little bit of a no-no anyway unless you will serve and eat them that same day. But tired ingredients will not get any better (even if you have tried to hide them in the coleslaw).

Storage methods

How you store your coleslaw can heavily dictate how long it lasts. To breed, bacteria need two things. Fresh air and a favorable temperature. 

Get rid of both of those requirements, and you’ll find your coleslaw lasts a lot longer.

How do you do it?

Well, let’s show you…

See Also: KFC copycat coleslaw

How to Store Coleslaw?

It is really easy to store coleslaw. Make sure you keep it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. That’s about as easy as it gets.

If you leave it exposed to the air, it will dry out. And nobody likes eating dried out or mushy coleslaw.

How to Tell if Coleslaw is Bad 

There are a few simple ways to tell if coleslaw has gone bad. Look for the following signs, and then throw it in the trash: –

Mold spots

Any signs of blue, black, or green spots and that coleslaw need to go. Any fur around the lid or on the food is also a really bad sign.


If it isn’t the same color as when you opened it, don’t eat it. Yellow coleslaw is not good coleslaw. Ask us how we know.

Bad odor

Any foul, bitter or unpleasant smells mean that your coleslaw has seen better days. If in doubt, throw it out.


If there is a layer of watery liquid on your coleslaw, it could mean that the veg within has gone bad. 


Ok, we aren’t saying to taste it to check. But if none of the above applies and you have taken a mouthful that tastes a little funny, don’t eat your coleslaw. Trust your senses.

See Also: How long does potato salad last in the fridge


It isn’t difficult to tell a bad coleslaw from a fresh one. How long does coleslaw last? Well, between 3 and 5 days, depending on how and when it was prepared. Be sure to store your coleslaw properly, and you should be good. Got a decent homemade coleslaw recipe? Why not share it with us? We are always on the lookout for new dishes to try. 

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