How Long Can Potato Salad Sit Out: [And How To Store It]

There is no debate about the popularity of potatoes as a food. Whether you serve them as chips or potato salad, potatoes are a convenient and affordable side dish that can be enjoyed at any meal. In a salad with mayonnaise, the potato can not be left out longer, so it is essential to know how long the potato salad should be left out.

How long can potato salad sit out?

The potato salad can be kept at room temperature for one to two hours and in the refrigerator for three to five days. When kept outside the fridge, there is a risk of bacteria growing in the potato salad, and this time could reduce by one hour if the temperature is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

In this guide, we’ll cover how long potato salad can sit out, why it goes bad, and some care tips to increase the shelf life of potato salad.

How Long Can Potato Salad Sit Out

If you are interested in the best bowls and bowl sets, be sure to visit my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which includes all of my top picks by category.

What Is Potato Salad?

Potato salad is a dish made from potatoes, typically boiled and then diced or mashed, mixed with mayonnaise, vinegar, and other ingredients such as celery, onion, egg, or mustard. Potato salad has many variations, with different regional recipes calling for specific ingredients. The essential ingredients in all versions are potatoes and mayonnaise or another dressing.

Moreover, the potato salad is often served at picnics and potlucks, and it’s typically made with potatoes, mayonnaise, and other ingredients such as eggs, celery, and onions. Many people are unsure about how long potato salad can sit out. The answer depends on a few factors, such as the ingredients used and how it was stored.

Other common ingredients include eggs, celery, onion, black olives (particularly greens), mustard, dill pickles or dill pickle relish, and herbs such as chives or parsley. Many people also add vinegar or lemon juice (or both) to brighten up the flavor.

One of the great things about potato salad is that it’s so versatile. You can really add any type of fruit you like, and it will taste great. One of the favorite combinations is to add diced potatoes to your fruit salad. This gives the salad a little bit of extra heartiness, and the potatoes soak up all the delicious flavors of the fruit. Plus, it’s a great way to use up any leftover potatoes you might have!

Why Does Potato Salad Go Bad?

Potato salad is perishable because it contains mayonnaise, made with raw eggs. Mayonnaise can spoil within a few hours if it’s left out in warm temperatures. So if you’re planning on making potato salad for an outdoor event, be sure to keep it refrigerated until it’s time to eat.

When you see mold growing on your potato salad, you will know it has gone bad if you have left it out for too long. In a potato salad sitting out for more than a few hours, the presence of mold can cause food poisoning.

Read Also: How Long Can Caesar Salad Sit Out?

How to Know If Potato Salad Is Bad?

If you are not sure whether or not your potato salad is still safe to eat, there are a few things you can look for. First, check the color of the potatoes; if they have started to turn brown or black, this is a sign that they have gone bad.

Another telltale sign of spoiled potato salad is an off-putting smell. It goes bad if you notice a foul smell when you open the container or potato salad bag. A telltale sign is a bad odor or an ammonia-like stench, indicating bacteria have contaminated your food.

If it has been in the dangerous temperature zone (40–140°F) for too long, you can just tell by looking at it. Also, if the meat or eggs are added to the mix, do a quick sniff test to ensure there isn’t an unpleasant scent. Any exciting colors or textures are also a bad sign; mold and slime are common indicators that you should toss your taters into the trash ASAP.

Moreover, if the salad feels slimy or mushy to the touch, you should throw it away because this texture indicates contamination with pathogenic bacteria or yeast. Potatoes are very absorbent, and they can quickly soak up any added ingredients through their skin. Therefore, they can easily get contaminated if they sit out too long or are handled improperly after cooking. When potato salad goes bad, its color changes from vibrant yellow to brownish-gray and greenish-gray. 

What Temperature Is Safe For Potato Salad?

The safe temperature for the potato salad is less than 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can keep the potato salad in the fridge to keep it fresh for longer. According to USDA, the cooked food sitting at room temperature is only safe for two hours. This is because bacteria that cause food poisoning, like Staphylococcus aureus, grow when foods are between 40°F and 140°F. 

How Long Can Potato Salad Sit Out in Fridge?

Potato salad can be kept in the fridge for up to five days.

You can store the potato salad in an airtight container in the fridge. Avoid storing it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or foil because the potato salad will spoil faster in the bowls.

Make sure to keep your potato salad covered tightly, as it can pick up other smells and tastes from the air around it. Also, store your potato salad in the coldest part of your fridge, as it’s most likely to stay below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (which is what you’re aiming for to prevent bacteria growth). You can use a refrigerator thermometer if you’re unsure whether your fridge is running at a low enough temperature.

potato salad in plate

What Happens If Potato Salad Sits Out Too Long?

Potato salad will go bad if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

The potato salad should only be left out for an hour or two before it needs to be refrigerated. And if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you shouldn’t leave it out for more than an hour.

If you’ve ever been to a potluck or picnic, you know that there’s always that one dish sitting out for a little too long. And while most food is okay to eat after sitting out for a bit, some dishes are best served fresh, and potato salad is one of those dishes.

The main risk of leaving potato salad is that leaving it unrefrigerated provides plenty of opportunities for it to become contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella.

Tips to Increase Shelf Life of Potato Salad

Here are some tips to keep in mind to keep the potato salad fresh for a longer duration:

  • Make sure the potato salad is refrigerated adequately before serving. Bacteria grow more quickly at warm temperatures, so keeping the salad cold will help slow down the growth of bacteria.
  • If possible, use mayonnaise or another dressing that contains acid. Acidic ingredients help inhibit the growth of bacteria.
  • Avoid adding any ingredients that have already been sitting out at room temperature. This includes things like cooked eggs or meats. Adding these ingredients can introduce new bacteria and cause the potato salad to spoil more quickly.
  • If you’re not planning on eating the potato salad right away, store it in a sealed container in the fridge. This will help keep it fresh for longer.
  • Potato salad should not be frozen; the delicate texture of the potatoes will become mushy when thawed and may cause food poisoning if eaten after being frozen. In addition to this danger, the mayonnaise used in most recipes will separate upon defrosting and ruin the appearance of your dish.


You should never leave potato salad out for more than 2 hours, as it can quickly become a bacteria-breeding ground. If the weather is hot, you should only leave it out for 1 hour. If you’re not sure how long it’s been sitting out, it’s better to throw it away. If there are any perishable ingredients in the potato salad like mayonnaise or eggs, it is best to consider the USDA guidelines to avoid food poisoning.

If you are interested in the best kitchen products and accessories, be sure to visit my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page), Which includes all of my top picks by category.

Similar Posts