Does Coleslaw Go Bad? How Long Does Coleslaw Last?

Coleslaw is a salad where the main ingredient is cabbage served with other vegetables, salad dressing, sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, sugar and salt. Coleslaw is usually served cold and is considered as a summer salad (recipes).

There is a little bit of history involved in this iconic salad, the word ‘coleslaw’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘koolsla’. ‘Kool’ means cabbage and ‘Sla’ is the short form for the Dutch word ‘Salade’ which obviously means salad.

Dutch settlers came to New York in the 17th century during which ‘koolsla’ was popularized. With time, it was anglicized to coleslaw for the whole world to know.

Now, coleslaw is mostly eaten as a side dish and it is served high end restaurants to fast food restaurants. But what if you had leftover coleslaw? Does it go bad? Let’s read below!

Does Coleslaw Go Bad? How Long Does Coleslaw Last?


Coleslaw should be consumed immediately as it does not contain any preservative. With the passage of time, its overall quality would degrade and you would be left with inedible coleslaw and one that smells quite bad as well.

Whether you have prepared coleslaw or you have store-bought coleslaw, it should be stored in an air-tight container and should be put in the fridge within two hours of opening it or making it.

Even though the salad is refrigerated in an air-tight container, coleslaw should not be kept for more than three to five days and should be consumed within the stated number of days. In failing to do so, the salad should be thrown out and should not be attempted to eat it.

Hidden Valley Ranch, Coleslaw Dressing, 16oz Bottle (Pack of 3)
  • Hidden Valley Ranch
  • Coleslaw Dressing
  • 16oz Bottle
  • Pack of 3

How to Tell If Coleslaw Is Bad? Coleslaw Shelf Life!


If the coleslaw has been kept in the open in room temperature for more than two hours, there is a high chance that bacteria have already taken hold of it. Coleslaw has all the ingredients that would attract microbial activities, and if it is not refrigerated, it would give off a sour to tangy odor. In this case, it should be thrown out, as it is already spoiled.

If you have left the coleslaw in the fridge way beyond its time, check for odors. If not, check whether it has a moldy appearance. If so, the coleslaw is beyond salvageable and should not be attempted to eat it.

If it does not have an off smell or a moldy appearance, you can still have a taste, and your taste buds would make the final verdict on whether it has gone bad or not.

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