A barbecue session is easily made better with some coleslaw. It’s light, creamy, and packed with vegetables.

Perhaps you had a barbecue a week ago and still have some leftover coleslaw, and you’re wondering if your coleslaw has gone bad. How long is it going to last?


Coleslaw is an English translation of the Dutch term koolsla, which means cabbage salad. In the late 18th century, Dutch settlers in what is now New York City brought this simple yet tasty side dish.

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

Coleslaw is made of shredded cabbage, carrots, and a salad dressing that typically comprises vinegar and mayonnaise, as the name suggests.

This crunchy salad is also extensively offered outside of the United States, particularly in European countries, with modest variations in the kind of vegetables and sauces, often without mayonnaise.

Shelf life of coleslaw

Store-bought coleslaw will hold for 1 to 2 days after the printed date has passed and 3 to 5 days after the container has been opened. After whipping up the coleslaw, it will last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Always keep the salad refrigerated with the lid tightly closed.

When it comes to store-bought coleslaw, the use-by date on the label is the most important factor to consider. For a day or two after the listed date, an out-of-date coleslaw might be acceptable, but that’s it.

Salads are perishable; therefore, storing them for an unknown amount of time is never a wise idea.

According to the label, the coleslaw should be good for at least a week after opening the container. It usually takes 3 to 5 days, but check the label first. After that time has passed, the salad will turn watery and unappealing.

The shelf life of homemade coleslaw is 3 to 5 days. It depends on the recipe, how well you store it, and what texture you can live with, but that time frame is a reasonable starting point.

Type of coleslawRefrigerator
Store-bought and unopenedUse-by date + 1 to 2 days
Store-bought and opened3-5 days
Homemade3-5 days
cooked food

Coleslaw at room temperature

As much as possible, avoid serving your coleslaw at room temperature as it will spoil quickly. At room temperature, coleslaw will only last two hours. Coleslaw is designed to be eaten cold for a reason.

At room temperature, the ingredients degrade quickly, making them unfit for ingestion in as little as a few hours.

If you’re not going to eat your coleslaw right away, put it in the fridge 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 quickly deteriorate.

How long will coleslaw hold in the refrigerator?

The refrigerator is the best place to keep coleslaw. Even so, it isn’t going to last long. Coleslaw, whether handmade or chilled store-bought, only lasts three to five days in the refrigerator.

If you’re using store-bought coleslaw that hasn’t been opened yet, the best-buy date is your best bet.

It may last another day, but it won’t last much longer. Refrigerate your coleslaw as soon as possible, and store it in an airtight container to avoid it taking up aromas from other meals and drying out.

How long can you store coleslaw in the freezer?

You might be able to freeze coleslaw if you have a lot of it or if you just need it to last a long period. Coleslaw can be frozen for up to three months. Of course, whether or not you can freeze coleslaw depends on the ingredients.

Even if you can freeze it, the quality will almost certainly deteriorate. Although coleslaw that has been frozen for more than three months would most likely be safe to eat, the components may separate and become watery, resulting in a dish that isn’t very delicious.

Coleslaw, as tasty as it is, does not preserve well, so it’s best to consume it immediately away. Otherwise, you’ll have to be cautious about how you store it.

Is it necessary to keep coleslaw refrigerated?

Salads and coleslaw are both perishable. Coleslaw, whether homemade or store-bought, should always be kept chilled.

Microbial growth is favored at room temperature, so your salad will degrade faster. Coleslaw should be kept refrigerated for no longer than 2 hours.

How can you tell if your coleslaw is bad?

The longer you keep your coleslaw, the lower its quality becomes. The salad will get watery as the vegetables lose their crispness.

Even though this isn’t a sign of rotting, you might wish to get rid of it due to the loss of quality.

Here are several telltale indicators that your coleslaw is about to spoil:

  • If you notice mold on your coleslaw, it’s time to throw it out.
  • Discolorations like dark patches indicate that your coleslaw is starting to spoil. It should be thrown away as quickly as possible.
  • It has probably gone rotten if it has an odd or sour odor. Remember that a dish may contain lemon juice, giving it a sour flavor.
  • It’s not worth the work to keep your coleslaw for a long time. Rather, toss it out because food could be rotten without showing any evidence of it.
  • Give it a taste if there are no other obvious indicators. This should indicate if it has been spoilt or not.

How to keep coleslaw fresh

Salads and coleslaw are both perishable. Coleslaw, whether homemade or store-bought, should always be kept chilled.

When removing the salad from the container, ensure it’s well sealed and that you’re using clean tools.

Although creating homemade coleslaw is straightforward and requires little effort, especially if you use a mix of shredded vegetables and store-bought dressing, you don’t want to waste the food you’ve worked so hard to prepare, do you?

If you’re making coleslaw in excess, take only the amount you’ll need to serve and chill the rest. Microbial growth is favored at room temperature, so your salad will degrade faster. Coleslaw should be kept refrigerated for no longer than 2 hours.

If you don’t want to make coleslaw in volume, you can buy or prepare shredded cabbage ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. Simply combine the vegetables and the sauce whenever you want to have coleslaw. It’s also simple and requires very little time.

Is coleslaw freezable?

Mayonnaise is a liquid that does not freeze well. You may not want to freeze your coleslaw if it contains mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise does not freeze well and is prone to separation. You can freeze it if you want, but it won’t be as good.

Vinegar and oil both freeze well. Oil and vinegar, unlike mayonnaise, tend to freeze without difficulty. You should be able to freeze coleslaw made with oil and vinegar rather than mayonnaise.

Use a freezer-safe, airtight container. Coleslaw should be kept in an airtight container at all times. Make sure the container you’re using is freezer-safe.

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

Store for up to three months in the refrigerator. Frozen coleslaw can last up to three months in the freezer.

How long does a coleslaw make with vinegar last?

For 3-5 days, you could eat homemade coleslaw. This is only true if you keep your coleslaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Refrigerated vinaigrette salad dressings, on the other hand, can last up to two weeks. So go ahead and double the dressing and store the rest in the refrigerator.

selective focus photography of purple petal filled bowl

Is it possible to freeze raw cabbage for coleslaw?

Can shredded cabbage for coleslaw be frozen? Yes. If you’ve shredded a large cabbage and cannot utilize it all right away, freezing it is an excellent option.

Place the shredded cabbage in freezer bags, press the air, and seal the bags.

Is it possible to freeze raw shredded cabbage?

Cabbage can be frozen in shreds, leaves, or wedges, depending on your preference. It’s best to freeze your cabbage in wedges if you’re not sure how you’ll use it yet.

You can chop it down to whatever size you need later. Go ahead and cut your cabbage once you’ve determined how you want to freeze it.

Is it possible to freeze KFC coleslaw?

While vinegar-based coleslaws freeze well, creamy coleslaws, such as KFC coleslaw, can be frozen. One thing to remember before freezing KFC coleslaw: once defrosted, the slaw will have a watery quality.

Is it possible to freeze raw cabbage?

You can freeze fresh cabbage without blanching it; however, blanching it first will give better freezing results. To blanch raw cabbage, fill a pan halfway with water and cook it over high heat.

You can drop your cabbage into the boiling water to blanch it after the water has reached that temperature.

How do you defrost coleslaw?

To thaw frozen coleslaw, simply place it in the refrigerator overnight. The coleslaw will keep for two to three days after it has been thawed, but it will be somewhat watery, so drain it.

You may also try eating frozen coleslaw! If you’ve never tried it, it might be worth a shot if you haven’t before.

Last words

Coleslaw can make any barbeque session even better. As long as you consider the information in this article, you should be good to go!