How Long Does Potato Salad Last in the Fridge?


Creamy, filling, and delicious hot or cold. Potato salad has to be one of the best side dishes ever. Because it is so filling, it can sometimes mean that you have got a little (or a lot) leftover. That’s no bad thing, as it actually gets better if left overnight. But how long does potato salad last in the fridge? Well, today you are about to find out as we tell you everything you need to know!

Generally speaking, potato salad will last for around 3 days in the fridge. Any time beyond this may mean that bacteria have grown to harmful levels within the food. Also, the quality of your potato salad will make it pretty unappetizing after this time. Better not to risk it!

potato salad

What is Potato Salad?

While traditionally served in summer, Potato salad is a great all-year-round dish. As the name would suggest, potato salad consists of chunks of peeled and boiled potatoes covered in lashings of creamy mayonnaise. 

There are many different variations of the above as plain old potatoes and mayo might just get a little bit boring. Most recipes will include some or all of the following elements: –

  • Potatoes (generally waxy are the best)
  • Mayonnaise 
  • Finely chopped onions
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Yellow mustard
  • Chopped pickle
  • Salt and pepper
  • Seasoning such as paprika, chili, or garlic salt.

One of the great things about potato salad is that it is really easy to make, with very little prep time. It is also fairly neutral in flavor, meaning it is the ideal accompaniment for several dishes. 

Why Does Potato Salad Go Bad? 

There are a few reasons why potato salad goes bad. 

Taking a detailed look at the ingredients above should give you a few clues.

The potatoes themselves are a starch. Like most starches, they begin to lose water and dry out over time. One of the nice things about potato salad is how rich and creamy it is. Dry potato salad isn’t going to be anyone’s favorite. 

Mayonnaise is an ingredient that you need to be really careful with. Mayo is made by beating egg yolks and oil. While it can keep for a while, it spoils really easily when mixed with other foods, especially if it has been left out at room temperature for a while. 

Once food reaches a certain temperature, bacteria can breed and multiply exponentially. Over time these can grow to levels that will make you feel really sick. You can inhibit this growth by keeping your food nice and cool. The easiest way to do this is to pop your potato salad in the fridge. (It is still just as delicious when cold).

How Do You Know if Potato Salad is Bad?

There are a few ways to tell that potato salad is bad. It will give you a few tell-tale signals that you might want to consider making or eating something else if you have stored it for a long time. Here are some great clues that you might want to consider reaching for something else next time you are hungry: –

Your Potato Salad Has Been Stood for Too Long

Regardless of whether it has been freshly prepared or not, if your potato salad has been left out at room temperature for too long, it will be time to throw it away.

The USDA recommends not leaving food stood for longer than two hours, so if you have gone past this time, it is well worth considering throwing the food away.

Liquid Pooling in the Bottom

As ingredients are left to stand, they release moisture as their cell structure breaks down. This can be a sure-fire sign that they have gone bad, even if they have been refrigerated.

On opening your salad, if there is a lot of liquid in the bottom, it might indicate that your ingredients have begun to spoil. 


You want your potato salad to be the same color when it comes out of the fridge as when you made it. Any dark spots, fur, mold, or discoloration is a great sign that it is well past its best.

Foul Odor

This is a dead giveaway for a bad potato salad. If there is any bad odor or it doesn’t smell fresh, it is time to open the trashcan. 

Sorry potato salad, it’s time to go!

Dry Potato

Bacterial concerns aside, potato salad should taste rich and creamy. Potato tends to dry out over time (even in the fridge), and it just won’t be palatable. 

See Also: How long does coleslaw last

How Long Does Potato Salad Last in the Fridge?

Potato salad can safely last for 3 days in the fridge, provided it is stored properly. Any time beyond this leads to a significant risk of food poisoning.

Here are some great tips to ensure safe storage for your potato salad in the fridge: –

Chill Immediately 

No, not you! Your potato salad. Cover it and place it in the fridge as soon as it is ready. This will ensure it stays fresh for the longest possible time.

Store in a Clean, Covered Container

One way to keep your refrigerated potato salad at its best is to store it covered. This prevents it from drying out and limits the number of bacteria able to make their way into the food. 

Store Away from Raw Ingredients

Raw and cooked food doesn’t mix. Be sure to store your potato salad above any raw ingredients (especially meat and fish). This prevents drips from contaminating your salad. Also, it is recommended that you don’t store raw food next to cooked food either.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Be careful which utensils you use when serving your potato salad. You might unwittingly introduce bacteria from other dishes. Always serve your potato salad with a clean spoon. Don’t store it in the fridge with utensils either, as this can accelerate bacterial growth.

See Also: How Long Can Milk Sit Out


Potato salad will easily be kept in the fridge for around 3 days if you follow the above tips. Beyond this time, it is probably worth preparing a new batch. After all, it is pretty easy to make! Have you got a secret recipe for a killer potato salad? Why not tell us your secret ingredients in the comments below?

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