Does Coleslaw Go Bad? How Long Do They Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on December 20th, 2022

Is it possible for coleslaw to go bad? How can you tell if your coleslaw has gone bad, and how should you preserve it? Here’s a quick guide.

A hot summer day begs for a BBQ and, of course, coleslaw. It’s light, creamy, and packed with vegetables.

Maybe you had a barbecue a week ago but still have some leftover coleslaw, and you’re wondering, “Has my coleslaw gone bad?” How long is it going to last?

The following are the answers to your questions: The shelf life of coleslaw is stated on the box. This is normally 2-3 days after the package is opened. On the other hand, homemade coleslaw will keep for 3-5 days.

What exactly is cole slaw?

Coleslaw is an English version of the Dutch word koolsla, which means cabbage salad. Dutch settlers in present-day New York City brought this simple yet tasty side dish in the late 18th century.

Hundreds of years later, coleslaw is widely regarded as one of America’s favorite side dishes. It goes well with meat meals and burgers and can even be put into tacos.

Coleslaw is made with shredded cabbage, carrots, and salad dressing, which commonly includes vinegar and mayonnaise.

This crunchy salad is popular outside of the United States, particularly in European nations, with subtle variations in vegetables and sauces, often without mayonnaise.

How Long Will Coleslaw Last?

Store-bought coleslaw will keep for 1 to 2 days after the printed date and 3 to 5 days after being opened. Homemade coleslaw may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days after making it. Always keep the salad refrigerated and firmly packed.

Coleslaw is not the same as sauerkraut or kimchi. It has a limited shelf life, whether you purchase it at the grocery or make it yourself.

When it comes to store-bought coleslaw, stick to the expiration date on the package. A stale coleslaw may be edible for a day or two beyond the written date, but that’s it. Salads are perishable and storing them for who knows how long is never a smart idea.

The label should also tell you how long the coleslaw should remain good once you open it. Typically, it takes 3 to 5 days, but check the label. After that time, the salad will progressively turn watery and unappealing.

It lasts 3 to 5 days for homemade coleslaw. It depends on the recipe, how well you keep it, and what texture is still acceptable to you, but that time frame is a decent starting point.

Look for shelf life information if you’re following a recipe you discovered online. Again, if your coleslaw becomes watery in a day or two, consider the storage strategies I mentioned.

Shelf Life of Coleslaw chart

Store-bought coleslaw (unopened)Use-by date + 1 – 2 days
Store-bought coleslaw (opened)3 – 5 days
Homemade coleslaw3 – 5 days

How Long Will Coleslaw last Outside?

As far as possible, avoid serving your coleslaw at room temperature, as it will deteriorate rapidly. Coleslaw may only be stored at room temperature for up to two hours.

Coleslaw is traditionally served cold, and for a good reason. At room temperature, the components deteriorate fast, which might become unsuitable for ingestion in only a few hours.

If you’re not going to eat your coleslaw immediately, refrigerate it as soon as you finish cooking it or as soon as you get home if you bought it. If you leave it out, it will decay soon.

How Long Will Coleslaw last in the Fridge?

The refrigerator is the ideal location to keep coleslaw. Even so, it won’t be around for long. Coleslaw, whether handmade or store-bought, has a shelf life of three to five days when refrigerated.

If you have store-bought coleslaw that hasn’t been opened yet, the best-buy date is your best bet. While it may be fine for another day or two after that, it won’t be good for much longer.

Refrigerate your coleslaw immediately and store it in an airtight container to prevent it from taking up aromas from other meals and drying out.

How Long Will Coleslaw last in the Freezer?

You may be able to freeze coleslaw if you have a lot of it or if you need to keep it fresh for a long period. Frozen coleslaw may be stored for up to three months.

Of course, whether or not you can freeze coleslaw depends on what’s in it. Even if you can freeze it, the quality will most certainly deteriorate.

Although coleslaw frozen for more than three months is likely to be safe to eat, the components may separate and become watery, which means it won’t be very delicious.

As wonderful as coleslaw might be, it does not keep well, so it may be preferable to consume it immediately. Otherwise, you’ll have to take extra precautions to keep it safe.

Is it necessary to keep coleslaw refrigerated?

Salads and coleslaw are both perishable. Coleslaw, whether homemade or store-bought, should always be refrigerated. Microbial growth is favored at room temperature, so your salad will degrade faster. Coleslaw should not be refrigerated for longer than 2 hours.

How long will vinegar-based coleslaw last?

You may keep homemade coleslaw in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. This is only if you store your coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

On the other hand, Vinaigrette salad dressings may be refrigerated for up to two weeks. So go double the dressing and store the leftovers in the fridge.

How to Tell If Your Coleslaw Is bad

The longer you keep your coleslaw, the worse it will get. The salad will get watery as the veggies lose their crispness. Although this isn’t a symptom of rotting, you should get rid of it because of the loss of quality.

Here are some tell-tale symptoms that your coleslaw has gone bad:

  • Mold: If you see any mold on your coleslaw, it is time to remove it.
  • Color: Discolorations like black patches indicate that your coleslaw is starting to deteriorate. Remove it as quickly as possible.
  • Smell: If it has an off or foul odor, it has most likely gone rotten. Remember that a recipe may contain lemon juice, which would account for the sour fragrance.
  • Storage: Keeping your coleslaw for an extended period isn’t worth the bother. Instead, toss it out since food might be ruined without any evident evidence.
  • If there are no other obvious indicators, give it a taste. This should indicate whether or not it has been ruined.

How to Keep Coleslaw Fresh

Salads and coleslaw are both perishable. Coleslaw, whether homemade or store-bought, should always be refrigerated. Always keep the container well covered and use clean tools while removing the salad.

Although creating homemade coleslaw is very straightforward and requires fewer efforts (particularly if you use a mix of shredded veggies and store-bought dressing), you never want to trash the meal you’ve worked so hard to prepare, do you?

If you make coleslaw in abundance, take only what you need to serve and immediately chill the rest of the salad.

Microbial growth is favored at room temperature, so your salad will degrade faster. Coleslaw should not be refrigerated for longer than 2 hours.

If you don’t want to make coleslaw in quantity, buy or prepare shredded cabbage ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Combine the veggies and the sauce whenever you want coleslaw for a meal. It’s also quick and simple to do.

Is Coleslaw Freezable? How?

Are you thinking of freezing your coleslaw? Here’s everything you need to know:

Mayonnaise freezes poorly. If your coleslaw contains mayonnaise, you should not freeze it. Mayonnaise does not freeze well and will most likely separate. You can freeze it if you want, but it might not be very nice.

Both the oil and the vinegar freeze well. Oil and vinegar, unlike mayonnaise, tend to freeze well. If you make your coleslaw using oil and vinegar rather than mayonnaise, you should be alright freezing it.

Use a freezer-safe, airtight container. Coleslaw should be stored in an airtight container at all times. You should also make certain that the container you use is freezer-safe.

The best option is to use a freezer bag. It is advised that you store coleslaw in a freezer bag so that you may push out any excess air before freezing.

Keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. Frozen coleslaw may be stored for up to three months.

Is it possible to freeze raw cabbage for coleslaw?

Is it possible to freeze shredded cabbage for coleslaw? Yes. If you’ve shredded a large cabbage and cannot utilize it all right away, freezing is a terrific solution. Place the shredded cabbage in freezer bags, press the air out of the bags, and seal them.

Is it possible to freeze raw shredded cabbage?

Cabbage can be frozen in shreds, leaves, or wedges, depending on your needs. If you don’t sure what you’re going to do with your cabbage, freeze it in wedges.

That way, you’ll be able to trim it to any size you need afterward. Go ahead and cut your cabbage once you’ve determined how you want to freeze it.

Is it possible to freeze KFC coleslaw?

Is it possible to freeze KFC coleslaw? While vinegar-based coleslaws keep better in the freezer, creamy coleslaws, such as KFC coleslaw, may be stored. One thing to remember when freezing KFC coleslaw: once defrosted, the slaw will have a watery quality.

Is it possible to freeze raw cabbage?

You can freeze raw cabbage without blanching it, but blanching it first yields better results when freezing. To blanch raw cabbage, fill a pan halfway with water and heat it over high heat. Once the water has reached boiling temperature, you can immerse your cabbage to blanch it.

How Should You Thaw Coleslaw?

To thaw frozen coleslaw, place it in the refrigerator and leave it to thaw overnight. Thawed coleslaw will last about two to three days and most likely be quite watery, so drain the water.

You could also try eating frozen coleslaw! Some people enjoy it, so it might be worth a shot if you haven’t tried it before.


Have a barbeque and need the perfect homemade coleslaw recipe? Look no further. This recipe will leave your guests craving for more, so there’s no need to worry about it going bad.

While it may be a favorite side dish, this salad does not last long. Keep it in the fridge and check the labels for the dates which indicate how long it will last.


Editorial Staff

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