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How Long Does Salad Dressing Last? Can It Go Bad?

In the high-paced world we live in, few of us have the time or the desire to be whipping up our own salad dressings as we need them. Thankfully, with the modernization of food, there are seemingly infinite varieties of dressings available pre-made that are just as good. The trouble is, if you are the type that is fond of having a broad variety of tastes at your disposal, you can easily end up with a vast collection of half-full bottles. If you are, there is a good chance that one or more of these has been sitting around for a really long time.

However, before you let doubt get the better of you, there is still a chance that they might still be good. A homemade dressing will need to be used within a short timeframe to assure quality but provided the correct measures have been taken, a bottled one can last much longer. In order to best store your salad dressing for a long shelf life, read on!


Does Salad Dressing Go Bad?


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Commercially bought salad dressing does have a much longer shelf-life than its homemade counterparts, but it won’t exactly last forever. Its lifespan really depends on how it has been handled once it has gotten home from the store. For example, if the bottle is left open in between uses, you can expect that it may only last for a couple of weeks before things start to go wrong. The good news is that it does preserve quite well if you do it right. Take a look at the section below, where we will explain how.


How Do I Store Salad Dressing?


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Elena Veselova/


Unopened bottles

Salad dressing is excellent at preserving itself when it is unopened. It generally has a pretty decent amount of vinegar in it, and vinegar is a hostile environment for bacteria to grow in. So, storing a bottle of unopened dressing is mercifully easy. There are just a few small things to be on the lookout for. With vinegar-based condiments, the integrity of the bottle can be compromised if it is left in contact with sunlight for prolonged periods. This will break down some of the compounds in the dressing and just absolutely ruin the flavor. The same goes for heat. Even if the bottle is unopened, if it is left too near a heat source, it will diminish in quality rapidly. So, to avoid this, we recommend storing your unopened bottles of salad dressing in the fridge. If you are short on space in the fridge, the pantry will also do just fine, provided the temperature there is relatively stable.

Opened bottles

As soon as a bottle of salad dressing has been opened, it will begin to age at a much quicker pace than its unopened counterpart. This is because such things as too much air and moisture are the natural enemies of foods. The key then is to minimize contact with such things. As soon as the bottle has been opened, it should always be sealed again after use and placed into the fridge. The same goes for any homemade salad dressings also.

Dry mix dressings

Dry mixes are probably the easiest of the lot to store. This is due to the fact that there is no moisture in the package. So, if the package remains unopened, these can last for ages before anything goes wrong. The best way to consider it is as you would a package of dried herbs. It can be kept in a spice drawer or on a shelf for a very long period if unopened.


Should You Refrigerate Salad Dressing?


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Sergey Lapin/


Some bottles of salad dressing that you see in the store will demand that they be stored in the fridge. In this case, it is always best to follow the manufacturers’ advice. However, most unopened bottles will last equally as long as they are simply stored in the pantry. In the case of opened bottles, or homemade dressing, you should always keep these in the refrigerator.


Can You Freeze Salad Dressing?

It might be tempting to freeze salad dressing with a view to keeping it for much longer, but this isn’t the greatest idea. Nearly every producer of salad dressing advises against freezing their product as it changes the flavor and consistency of the liquid after it has thawed. Besides, salad dressing can last quite long enough without needing to be frozen.


How Long Does Salad Dressing Last?


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Unopened bottles

Unopened bottles of salad dressing generally already have a pretty long shelf-life, as indicated by their sell-by date. However, if the bottles are stored correctly once you get them home, there is no reason why they can’t retain their quality for a while after their sell-by. So long as they are kept out of the way of excessively hot temperatures, we estimate that a bottle of salad dressing can last for up to a month beyond its sell-by. Even at this point, it is likely that the salad dressing will be safe to consume. It just simply won’t taste as good as it once did. Salad dressings that are sold refrigerated and that demand constant refrigeration after purchase generally have a shorter sell-by date – around one month at the most.  

Opened bottles

As soon as a bottle of salad dressing is open, the countdown timer starts ticking. At this point, there is nothing you can really do beyond keeping it in the fridge. The sell-by date on the bottle will no longer be a good indicator of how long the salad dressing will last. Instead, we would recommend using the rest of the bottle within a 4-month timeframe. Should it be the case that the bottle has been left unsealed at any stage, this estimate will drop right down to a period of days. The reason for this is that foreign bodies can get into an open bottle relatively easily, destroying the contents. For a guide to spotting the signs of spoilage, we have a handy section on that below.

Dry Mix


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Michelle Lee Photography/


With dry mix, so long as the bag or package hasn’t been opened or punctured, the mix can last for a few months beyond the sell-by date. The reason for this is that because the mix is dry, less can go wrong with it. So, provided it is kept away from moisture and left unopened, it should be totally fine. What will begin to happen after a certain point is that the mix will begin to lose its quality. After the package of the mix has gone beyond 3 months out of date, the chances are good that it won’t be worth using.

How Do I Make Salad Dressing Last Longer?

There is no real-life hack method for making your salad dressing last longer. It really is as simple as always making sure that the bottle is resealed and kept in the fridge after it has been opened. Unopened salad dressing, on the other hand, needs to be kept out of direct sunlight and kept at a constant temperature. The pantry is just fine for this purpose.


Signs That Your Salad Dressing May Have Gone Off

As we have mentioned already, it takes quite a while for a salad dressing to really begin to go off. Instead, what happens in most cases is that the quality of the dressing will just begin to fade until there is no point in using it anymore. In some cases, you will notice that there may be a separation of the ingredients. In oil-based products, such a thing is pretty common and nothing to be concerned about. Just shake the bottle really well before use. Really, the signs you should concern yourself with are gone off aromas and the physical appearance of mold. Naturally, if you see any foreign bodies in the dressing, it is best to chuck it out. Basically, if you are suspicious of the bottle in any way, just get rid of it and replace it.

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