How Long Pasta Salad Will Last In The Fridge

Pasta salad is a staple of summer. It's a highly adaptable dish that works as a great side for a variety of different meals. No matter how much you may try, you are more than likely going to have leftovers, and that means that you are going to need to make some space in your fridge. But how long, exactly, is that pasta salad going to last?

The majority of pasta salads will last between three to five days in the refrigerator. This is provided you are storing the salad properly, in an airtight container so as to prevent any harmful bacteria from growing in your salad. The presence of bacteria is less of a concern for pasta salads that have a lot of acidity to them. Ingredients like vinegar and citrus juices also work to keep harmful bacteria at bay. The acids act as an all-natural preservative, which can extend the fridge life of your salad by a few days. According to the USDA, acidic foods can last five to seven days in the fridge.

What about mayonnaise-based pasta salads? Mayonnaise is great for extending the fridge life of your pasta salad too. Despite being an egg-based condiment, there is so much acidity in mayonnaise, whether store-bought or homemade, that will again act as a deterrent for the bad bacteria. So, your mayonnaise-coated pasta salads will keep in the fridge for longer. The only pasta salad additive that gets really tricky to deal with is dairy. 

Be wary of dairy

Playing with dairy, whether it's milk, cheese, sour cream, or yogurt, can be tricky with pasta salad. Unlike mayonnaise, a pasta salad that has a dairy-binding agent is going to spoil quicker, even when stored under refrigeration. This is not to say that you should never make a pasta salad using dairy. You just need to make sure that it's eaten quickly, especially if you're planning on making some for a cookout or outdoor event.

Bacteria thrive in warm environments, and leaving any pasta salad exposed to warm temperatures for too long puts it at risk of fast spoilage. This is especially true if there is dairy present. As milk is filled with natural sugars, as it warms, bacteria will eat away at those sugars, causing them to turn into lactic acid, thereby rendering the milk sour. So, keep your dairy-based pasta salad as cold as possible for as long as possible. 

The element of time is also at play with pasta salad. Within 2 to 3 days, the flavors will start to wilt, especially if there are fruit or vegetables in your salad. Still, if you do have leftovers, try one of the acidic preservation tips, keep the salad well sealed under refrigeration, and eat it before the end of the week. Otherwise, you may be looking at a wasted salad.