How to Tell When Potato Salad Goes Bad

Potato salad is a summer staple, but it can ruin your day when it goes bad. In this article, we’ll tell you how to tell when potato salad goes bad, so you can avoid a disaster that I had to learn the hard way.

As you may be wondering…

I was all set for my big romantic date with my crush. We were going to have a picnic in the park, and I was responsible for bringing the potato salad. On the day of the picnic, I made the potato salad and put it in a big Tupperware container.

We got to the park and spread out our blanket under a tree. She opened the container and took a big scoop of potato salad onto her plate. She took a bite, and then another, and then she made a face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“This potato salad is really gross,” she said.

I was mortified. How could I have not realized that the potato salad was bad? I was so embarrassed that I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

Luckily, my date was a good sport, and we ended up having a nice time anyway. But ever since then, I’ve been much more careful about making sure my potato salad is fresh before serving it.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Three Indicators Of Bad Potato Salad

  1. Flavor
  2. Temperature
  3. Odor, Color, or Texture


The flavor is one of the best indicators of bad potato salad. If your potato salad tastes sour, rancid, or otherwise off, it’s probably gone bad. If you’re not sure whether the potato salad is bad, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

After all, there’s no point in eating something that might make you sick. When in doubt, toss it out!

Just like on my date at the park, he took one bite and knew it was bad. And quite frankly, that rancid taste is a memorable one.


Another indicator of bad potato salad is temperature. If the potato salad has been sitting out in the sun or otherwise exposed to heat, it can spoil more quickly. Heat speeds up the growth of bacteria

Let me tell you this straight, a picnic just isn’t a picnic without some delicious potato salad. However, if the potato salad isn’t properly chilled, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

That’s why it’s important to check the temperature of the potato salad before serving it. If it’s above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it should be thrown out. So avoid a foodborne illness by being careful with your potato salad!

Odor, Color, or Texture

Ya’ll know a batch of bad potato salad is like when you see mold on bread. Yuck! You can quickly notice that the smell, color, and texture of your salad are off. These changes are all signs of bacteria growth, so I’d advise you to throw it out.

Ultimately, it’s better to be safe than sorry or, even worse sick. Plus, the smell is enough to turn even the most enthusiastic eaters away. Fortunately, these signs are there to help you know potato salad has gone bad.

Clearly, one is by the odor, and another telling sign is the color. If the potatoes have turned an unappetizing gray or green, they’re no longer good. Finally, the texture is another indicator of a spoiled potato salad. If the potatoes are mushy or have developed an off-putting slimy texture, it’s time to pitch it.

So, next time you’re wondering if that potato salad is still good, trust your nose and give it a miss!

How Long Does Potato Salad Last in the Fridge?

How long does potato salad last in the fridge? This is a question I get asked a lot, and it really depends on how you make your potato salad. If you use mayonnaise, then your potato salad will last about three days in the fridge.

But if you use miracle whip, your potato salad will last about five days in the fridge. Now, if you want your potato salad to last even longer, you can add some vinegar to it. This will help to preserve the potato salad and it will last up to seven days in the fridge. So, when it comes to how long potato salad lasts in the fridge, it really all depends on how you make it.

Nonetheless, I would still say it’s best to err on the side of caution and eat potato salad within two or three days of making it. After that, it’s time to say goodbye to your leftovers and start fresh.

How Long Can Potato Salad Be Left Out At Room Temperature?

As any southerner knows, a good potato salad is essential to any picnic or potluck. All things considered, picnics tend to involve the outdoors so more than likely your potato salad will be left out at room temperature.

But how long can you leave it out at room temperature before it starts to go bad?

Once again, the answer depends on a few factors, such as the ingredients in the salad and how it was prepared. If the potato salad contains mayonnaise or eggs, for example, it will need to be refrigerated sooner than one without those ingredients. In general, potato salad can be left out at room temperature for up to two hours. After that, it should be refrigerated to prevent bacteria from growing.

For what it’s worth, next time you’re packing up your picnic basket, remember that your potato salad will be just fine sitting out for a while. Just be sure to enjoy it before it gets too warm or passes the two hours mark!

A few tips to extend the shelf life of your Potato Salad:

  • Add an acid like vinegar or lemon juice to the potato salad to help prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Refrigerate the potato salad within two hours of making it
  • Eat the potato salad within three days of making it
  • Make sure the potato salad is kept in a cool, dry place.
  • Don’t add any dairy products like egg or mayonnaise until you’re ready to serve the salad.
  • Use potatoes that are high in acidity like red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes. These types of potatoes will last longer in the fridge.
  • Use an air-tight container to store the potato salad in the fridge.

With these tips, you can enjoy your potato salad without worrying about it when it goes bad. Just be sure to follow these simple tips, and you’ll be able to enjoy your picnic favorite for days to come!


What happens if you eat spoiled potato salad?

If you eat spoiled potato salad, you may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You may also experience a headache, fever, and abdominal cramps.

Can potato salad be frozen?

Potato salad can be frozen, but it is not recommended. The texture of the potatoes will change when they are frozen and thawed, so they will not be as firm as they were when they were fresh.

How do you know if potato salad has gone bad?

You will know if potato salad has gone bad when it starts to develop a slimy texture. The potatoes will also start to turn brown, and the color of the salad will change. If you see any mold growing on the potato salad, it should be thrown out immediately.

What is the best way to store potato salad?

The best way to store potato salad is in an airtight container in the fridge. This will help to prevent bacteria from growing and extend the shelf life of the potato salad.

Can you reheat potato salad?

Potato salad can be reheated, but it is not recommended. The potatoes will become mushy, and the texture of the salad will change. If you do reheat potato salad, make sure to do so slowly over low heat.


In a nutshell, when it comes to potato salad, it’s best to eat it within two or three days of making it. However, if you take a few precautions and follow the tips above, you can extend the shelf life of your potato salad and enjoy it for days to come!

So, now that you know how to tell when potato salad goes bad and how long it can last in the fridge, you can enjoy your picnic favorite without worry!

Just be sure to keep an eye on it and if you see any signs of spoilage, throw it out immediately. And when in doubt, always err on the side of caution!