Does Salad Dressing Go Bad? How Long Do They Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on July 13th, 2022

Is it possible for salad dressing to go bad? Of course, it does, but how can you tell? It depends on whether the salad dressing is a dry mix, unrefrigerated, or refrigerated.

Have you ever loaded up on salad dressing to be extra healthy, only to forget that half-empty bottle?

salad dressings

Don’t worry; we’ve all been there, and today we’re going through the wide varieties of salad dressing, how to store them, and how to detect if they’ve gone bad.

How Long Will Salad Dressing Last?

Let’s begin with dry mixtures.

On the label of each package is a best-by date. While the powder will not go bad beyond that date, the quality will decrease with time, and some tastes will be lost. As a result, it’s preferable to utilize them within a few months after the expiration date. Opening the bag doesn’t make much difference if you keep it firmly closed.

When it comes to dressings that are sold unrefrigerated, they also have a best-by date. And, as long as the container is sealed, you may easily preserve such dressing beyond the expiration date, even for a few weeks.

It is, once again, an issue of quality. The mix will not spoil immediately after the expiration date on the label, but its quality and freshness will progressively deteriorate over time.

The contents normally last for 3 to 6 months when you open the bottle. However, check the label for specifics since this is a broad rule that may or may not apply to what you have on hand.

Salad dressings sold chilled to have a substantially lower shelf life than shelf-stable dressings. Typically, it takes a few weeks to two months.

They have a use-by or sell-by date, which is a solid estimate of how long the mix will be fine. Of course, it should last a week or two after that date, but don’t anticipate miracles.

In most cases, opening the bottle has little effect on the shelf life. In other words, keep the opened mix until the date on the label or a little later. However, keep in mind that this is a broad guideline, and you should consult the producer’s proposal for a more specific time frame.

Making your mix should last between 3 and 5 days, depending on the components. The shorter the duration, the more volatile the components. If you make a dressing with the dry mix, it should keep for around a week.

Salad dressing dry mixBest-by + 3 – 6 months
Salad dressing (sold unrefrigerated, unopened)Best-by + 1 – 2 months
Salad dressing (sold unrefrigerated, opened)3 – 6 months
Salad dressing (sold refrigerated)Use-by + 1 – 2 weeks
Homemade salad dressing3 – 5 days

Please keep in mind that all the periods listed above are fairly broad. Always check the expiration dates and any storage instructions on the label of your dressing.

How Long Does Salad Dressing Last in the Outdoors?

Salad dressing that has not been refrigerated and has not been opened can be stored in the pantry for 1 to 4 months after the sell-by date.

The type of dressing determines the shelf life of dressing in the pantry. For example, vinaigrette dressings have a longer shelf life than creamy dressings like ranch and blue cheese.

Proper storage is essential to increase the shelf life of unopened salad dressing. It should be stored in a pantry or cupboard away from light and heat.

How Long Can Salad Dressing Be Stored In The Refrigerator?

Once opened, salad dressing should be kept in the refrigerator. It will keep its freshness in the fridge for around three months.

If it has expired, it may still be safe to use for a month or two after the expiration date if properly kept.

Keep it in the original container, and make sure the lid is securely fastened. If the cover is damaged and the dressing is exposed to air, it may spoil quickly.

How Long Can Salad Dressing Be Stored In The Freezer?

Salad dressings may be frozen; however, some freeze better than others. However, freezing them does not always extend their shelf life. Thus there is little reason to freeze dressing.

Salad dressing with oil freezes well, but there may be some separation when thawed. If this occurs, give it a brief shake or whisk it well once thawed, and it will be ready to use.

Salad dressings made with dairy froze but did not defrost properly. When it thaws, it separates and sometimes curdles, and no amount of whisking will improve it.

Unopened salad dressing can be stored on the counter, but it must be refrigerated after it has been opened. In creamy dressings, freezing salad dressing is not the greatest solution.

Is salad dressing still edible after it has passed its expiry date?

When you look at a bottle of salad dressing, you’ll see a date on it that most people assume is soon to expire.

It is, however, a “best-by” date, which indicates to grocery shops and other food sellers that the dressing may not be at its freshest. That doesn’t imply it’s old or hazardous to consume; it just means it might not be at its best regarding marketing or sales.

After all, food vendors want to get their items into customers’ hands as soon as they arrive.

Instead, if kept refrigerated, most salad dressing may readily survive anywhere from one to four months after the expiration date.

Dairy-based dressings, such as blue cheese or Caesar dressing, may often be refrigerated for one to two months. Still, oil-based dressings, such as Italian or balsamic vinaigrette, can be refrigerated for up to three to four months.

Is it safe to consume expired food?

If your dressing has passed its best-by date, it is still safe to consume, so don’t feel obligated to throw out perfectly delicious dressing merely to meet an artificial deadline. Instead, you should keep an eye on it and look for unusual scents, lumps, or colors.

If you consume spoiled salad dressing, chances are you won’t have many adverse effects other than an upset stomach and maybe nausea, which will usually pass fast.

The Different Types of Salad Dressing: How Can You Tell If They’re Bad?

Salad dressing comes in a plethora of varieties. There’s something for everyone from Caesar to vinaigrette, French to Italian.

The good news is that there are just three categories to worry about when it comes to storage and determining if they’ve gone bad.

How To Tell If Dry Mix Salad Dressing Has Gone Bad

Salad dressing is made from dry ingredients that must be mixed with water before being poured over a salad.

If you used a dry mix salad dressing, this should be acceptable as long as no water got in. If it has, you may see clumps and possibly mold. Those are red flags that you should toss your dry mix right away.

How to Tell if your salad dressing has gone bad if it hasn’t been refrigerated.

It’s quite easy to determine whether your dressing is unrefrigerated. For example, it’s unrefrigerated salad dressing if it’s not sold in the chilled part of the grocery store and the storage instructions don’t state that it has to be refrigerated.

You should look for changes in appearance, smell, and taste in that order. First, examine the area for mold and any changes in odor. If both appear in good condition, you should be able to give them a taste.

If your unrefrigerated salad dressing has gone bad, it may not taste good, but a small amount is unlikely to hurt you.

Remember that separation in unrefrigerated salad dressing with oil and balsamic vinegar is typical. Therefore, it is not an indicator of deterioration or rancidity.

How to Tell If Your Refrigerated Salad Dressing Is Bad

As you might expect, refrigerated salad dressing is found in the chilled department of the shop.

This product is normally chilled since it has fewer preservatives and lasts a shorter time. As a result, you should be particularly cautious in looking for abnormalities. Here are some things to look for:

  • Mold Separation: Separation in refrigerated, dairy-based salad dressings, such as blue cheese dressing, indicates that the dressing is old but not necessarily harmful. To be sure, give it a good mix and a taste!
  • Smell variations
  • A rancid taste: Rancidity refers to food that contains oils and lipids that have oxidized with the oxygen in the air. This results in a harsh taste and odor. While rotten foods are not dangerous to consume, they are certainly unpleasant!

How to Keep Salad Dressing Fresh

Dry mix dressing should be stored in the pantry or kitchen cabinet and sealed firmly after opening. Leftover dry mix can be stored in the cabinet, but it should be transferred to an airtight container.

Refrigerate any leftover salad dressing made from the dry mix in an airtight container or resealable bottle.

Unrefrigerated salad dressings should be stored in a cold, dry, dark area away from light and heat sources. Also, keep your dressing away from light, especially if it’s in a transparent bottle.

After you’ve opened your previously unrefrigerated salad dressing, reseal the bottle and refrigerate it.

Refrigerated salad dressings, you guessed it, should be kept in the refrigerator. However, if you’re unsure whether your salad dressing is refrigerated, putting it in the refrigerator will not affect any salad dressing!

Salad dressing should not be frozen since the texture will alter after thawing. However, like marinated meat, you may freeze salad dressing in a dish.

Finally, if your salad dressing isn’t in a squeezy container and you have to scoop it out with spoons, don’t double-dip, and always use clean utensils.

Salad Dressing Storage Timeframes

To ensure that your salad dressing is safe and tasty, follow the best by and expiry dates on the package.

On the other hand, dry mixtures will decrease in quality after the best-by date but should be good for at least 3 months.

Salad dressing that has not been opened and refrigerated will keep for at least 2 weeks after its expiration date. Therefore, you should use it within 3-6 months of it being open.

Salad dressing may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks to 2 months. The difference in storage times is related to using different substances and preservatives.

Although refrigerated dressings do not keep forever, the good news is that opening them does not hasten their decomposition.

If you make your salad dressing, it should keep in the refrigerator for approximately 3-5 days in an airtight container or bottle. Dressing made from dry ingredients will keep in the refrigerator for one week.

Can Salad Dressing Be Freeze?

As previously stated, freezing salad dressings are neither required nor preferable.

Oil-based salad dressings: Oil-based salad dressings keep well in the freezer. The oil and vinegar may separate as the dressing thaws. The components should recombine into a useable salad dressing after a vigorous shake or whisking.

Dairy-based salad dressings: Dairy-based salad dressings freeze like anything else, but the trouble arises when it’s time to defrost. When it is thawed, the components separate, and it is impossible to recombine them. Furthermore, the dairy dressing has the potential to curdle, destroying the entire bottle.

Salad Dressing Thawing

Oil-based dressings, such as vinaigrettes, are the only ones that may be frozen. However, if you decide to freeze some, here’s how to defrost them.

  • In the fridge: Thaw your frozen oil-based dressing by storing it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • On the counter: This procedure will help it defrost faster. Place the bottle on the counter, away from hot appliances and out of direct sunlight.
  • In a warm bath: You may put the bottle of salad dressing in a warm bath to help it thaw faster. This will also assist reheat the oil, allowing the components to recombine if they separate.


There are wide different varieties of salad dressings available, but for storing purposes, you only need to be aware of three:

  • Dry mix: Keep this in the pantry or kitchen cabinet, whether opened or unopened. Just remember to reseal the packing afterward!
  • Salad dressing that has not been refrigerated: Store it in the pantry before opening and in the fridge, where it will remain for 3-6 months.
  • Refrigerated salad dressing: Use the expiry or best by date because ingredients, manufacturing techniques, and preservatives vary greatly. In general, these salad dressings will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks to 2 months.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!