How Long Can Lettuce Sit Out [Here’s the Answer]

Lettuce is a leafy green vegetable typically eaten raw in salads or as a topping on sandwiches. It is a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Lettuce is relatively low in calories, with only about five calories per cup.

How long can lettuce sit out? Lettuce can sit out for two hours before it starts to wilt, but it will eventually go bad if left out overnight. If you’re unsure if your lettuce is still good, check for signs of wilting, browning, or pest infestation. Lettuce that has been frozen or refrigerated may last a bit longer, but it will eventually start to rot.

In this post, we’ll look at how long lettuce can sit out and how to increase the shelf life if it remains unrefrigerated.

How Long Can Lettuce Sit Out

How Long Can Lettuce Sit out Before It Goes Bad?

Lettuce can sit out for a maximum of two hours before it starts to go bad. If it is left out in warm temperatures > 90°F, it will start to wilt and turn brown.

If it is left in cool temperatures, it will remain fresh for a more extended period. Lettuce should not be left out for more than a few hours, as it will start to spoil and develop bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

The time it takes for lettuce to go bad is determined by the temperature and length of time the lettuce is exposed to air. 

To extend the life of lettuce, store it in a sealed container in a cool and dark place, such as the refrigerator or freezer. Once the lettuce is chilled, it lasts three to five days.

What Causes the Lettuce to Turn Brown?

Lettuce turns brown when it is exposed to air for an extended period. This is the result of the plant cells producing chlorophyll. Chlorophyll in green plants converts light energy into chemical energy to make nutrients.

As the chlorophyll is exposed to light, it absorbs the light and turns dark, turning green. The same thing happens with lettuce leaves. They turn brown when they are exposed to air.

Browning is a condition that can affect a variety of vegetables. It occurs as a result of oxidation, which is a natural process of decay caused by exposure to light and air. This results in discoloration of the plant tissue.

Is Lettuce Ok If Left out Overnight?

It is essential to remember that the longer lettuce is left out, the more likely it is to spoil. Lettuce that has been left out for more than a few hours should be thrown away.

Leaving lettuce outside overnight is not a good idea for several reasons.

  • The temperature changes can cause the lettuce to wilt or turn brown.
  • Insects and animals are attracted to the sweetness of the lettuce and may try to eat it, which can contaminate it.
  • Dew or rain can collect on the leaves and make them soggy, leading to mold growth. So it’s best to keep your lettuce inside, in a cool, dry place.

If lettuce is left out in a warm environment, it will wilt and will no longer be safe to eat. It is best to store lettuce in the refrigerator, plastic bag, or container.

How Do You Know If Lettuce Is Bad?

The most common ways to tell if the lettuce is bad are sight and smell. If the lettuce is wilted, has brown or yellow spots, or smells bad, you should throw it out.

These are all signs that the lettuce has gone bad and is no longer safe to eat. If in doubt, it is always better to err on caution and throw it out.

Can Lettuce Start to Wilt at Room Temperature?

Lettuce can start to wilt at room temperature, typically within 2 to 3 hours. The leaves will begin to droop, and the color will fade.

If you notice your lettuce starting to wilt, you can try to revive it by placing it in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. You can also try to store it in the fridge, although it may not last as long.

If you don’t want to discard the wilted leaves, place them in the refrigerator, where the cold temperatures will slow the growth of bacteria but keep the lettuce from fully wilting.

How Long Can Washed Lettuce Sit out?

Washed lettuce can sit out for a maximum of 2 to 3 hours. After this duration, the lettuce will wilt and become unappetizing. If you plan on eating the lettuce within four hours of washing it, it is best to store it in a cool, dry place.

If you plan on eating the lettuce more than four hours after washing it, it is best to store it in the fridge.

How Long Can Lettuce Sit out Before It Starts to Attract Pests?

If you leave lettuce out overnight, it will likely get contaminated with insect eggs. Even worse, it can start attracting pests like aphids, which feed on the plant’s leaves and weaken them.

If left out too long, lettuce will become a breeding ground for flies and other insects. The key is to keep it cool and dry and ensure it is not in direct sunlight. Cover it with a cloth or wrap it in plastic to keep the pests out.

How Long Can Lettuce Sit out Before It Starts to Rot?

Lettuce begins to rot when it is exposed to oxygen and moisture. The process is accelerated by heat and the presence of bacteria. Lettuce will show signs of rot within a few hours of exposure to these conditions.

The leaves will turn brown and slimy, and the lettuce will smell sour. If you see these signs, it is best to discard the lettuce.

How Long Can Lettuce Sit out in the Fridge?

Keeping lettuce in the refrigerator for three days or less will be fine. But if you leave it in the fridge for four days or longer, it could get mushy and gross.

According to food safety officials, lettuce can sit for up to four days in the refrigerator without damaging its nutritional value.

Lettuce is considered the most nutritious of all salad greens. Keep it in the crisper section of the refrigerator to keep it fresher for longer.

How Long Can Lettuce Sit out in the Freezer?

Lettuce can sit in the freezer for 1 to 2 weeks if you store it properly in a sealed container. The main thing to remember is that it will lose its crispness if not stored properly.

If you plan on using it for salads or other dishes where crispness is vital, you’ll want to use it within a few months. Otherwise, it can last up to a year in the freezer without significant quality issues.

Tips to Increase the Shelf Life of Lettuce

Here are the tips to increase the shelf life of lettuce:

  • Store lettuce in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • Wrap lettuce in a damp paper towel before storing.
  • Do not wash lettuce before storing.
  • Store lettuce away from other fruits and vegetables.
  • Check on the lettuce regularly and remove any wilted leaves.


In the end, we hope that you are now well aware that Lettuce can sit out for a maximum of two hours. After two hours, the lettuce will wilt and no longer be fresh. If you want to keep your lettuce fresh for longer, it is best to store it in the fridge or freezer.

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