How Long Does Coleslaw Last In The Freezer & Fridge [Signs, Safety & Preservation]

Wondering what to do with that bowl of leftover coleslaw?

If you’re worried it’ll go bad and you’ll end up losing that delicious cabbage salad, you should read this article. Coleslaw does not last so long but you don’t have to throw it out too soon either.

I guess you already want to know how long coleslaw can last in and out of the refrigerator. Should you keep the bowl of vegetable salad you made for lunch until dinner or the next day? There’s one way to find out… continue reading.

What is coleslaw?

Coleslaw or slaw, as it’s also called, means cabbage salad. It originates from Dutch settlers who ate ‘koolsla’, as a side dish.

Cabbage salad is a mixture of uncooked shredded cabbage, carrots, onions, and a dressing that could be mayonnaise or vinegar.

Slaw is eaten as a side dish or by itself as a snack. This veggie salad pairs perfectly with chicken sandwiches, tacos, shawarma, hot dogs, hamburgers, fried clams, and pulled pork sandwiches.

How long does coleslaw last?

Generally, coleslaw will last three to five days after preparation. How long your bowl of veggies lasts depends on how you prepare and store it.

A bowl of homemade slaw can last three to five days after preparation and store-bought slaw will last the same duration after you have opened it. Slaw left in the open or on a kitchen counter is only as good as two hours.

Coleslaw does not contain preservatives. It is best you eat it quickly and not store it.

How long does coleslaw last in the refrigerator?

Homemade and store-bought (opened) slaw will last three to four days in the refrigerator.

A bag of unopened slaw in the fridge can only last as long as the printed date says.

Although you may enjoy one to two more days of good coleslaw after this period, it is not advisable to refrigerate it for so long.

How long does coleslaw last in the freezer?

A bowl of coleslaw can last up to three months in the freezer. Freezing coleslaw is a good way to keep your bowl of veggies around for much longer and prevent waste if you have leftovers.

However, keep in mind that you will not have fresh, crisp slaw when you take it out of the freezer.

In addition, if you added mayo to the slaw, you’ll get a bowl of separated veggies and cream after it defrosts.

How long does vinegar coleslaw last?

Vinegar coleslaw will last three to five days if you refrigerate it. Make sure you store it in an airtight container before refrigerating.

How long does coleslaw last after the best-by date?

Coleslaw will last for only one or two days more after the sell-by and best-by date if it remains unopened and refrigerated.

However, when you open the bag of slaw, you should consume it within three days.

Will you get sick after eating spoilt coleslaw?

Yes, you will.

When you eat spoilt vegetable salad, you’ll have similar signs as food poisoning. If you leave the slaw open at room temperature, it is equally exposed to bacterial contamination.

In addition, eating spoilt slaw exposes you to salmonella poisoning. Some of the manifest signs you may experience include nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

How can you tell coleslaw is bad

How old is the slaw

Check for the best-by, sell-by, and expiration date in the pack of your store-bought salad. This will tell you how long the slaw has been sealed before you bought it.

Also, if you have stored the bowl of vegetable salad for a long time, it’s already bad.

Mold growth

Mold is a sign of decomposition in food, and it’s a loud sign that food is bad. The same applies to slaw. Mold growth in the veggies or around the bowl means that you should throw the salad away.

Overall appearance

How your slaw looks tells a lot about its state. If you notice any discoloration on the veggies or the overall look, do not eat it. Also, if the salad looks watery, throw it away.


A pungent smell from your bowl of salad is a sign that the veggies are no longer good. If you got a sour smell, do not discard it yet; it could be the sourness of lemon juice in the dressing. You can taste a little of it to be sure.

Taste the coleslaw

Your taste buds know good food when they taste one, so allow them to be the judge. If you’re still confused after examining the appearance and smell of the salad, you should taste a little of it. A bowl of bad salad will taste unpalatable and spoilt.

How to preserve coleslaw

  • Preserve slaw in the refrigerator
  • Store the salad in a tightly sealed container before refrigerating
  • Avoid opening the door of the refrigerator too frequently to prevent contamination
  • Do not mix veggies and dressing until you’re ready to eat the coleslaw. Refrigerate them separately
  • Wilt the veggies before making the salad. This will help to prevent your coleslaw from becoming watery


Can you eat watery coleslaw?

Yes, you can.

Watery coleslaw is still edible. However, the vegetables may not be as crisp as they were and the whole dish will not be as tasty as it was when it was still fresh.

How long does bagged coleslaw mix last?

Bagged coleslaw will last up to ten days if you store it in a refrigerator. Make sure it is in a tightly sealed bag, and consume it as soon as you can.

Why does the cabbage in coleslaw taste bitter?

Cabbage has a naturally bitter taste because of a compound called glucosinate.

If you feel your cabbage is too bitter, you can boil it a little if your recipe allows. But if you’re to eat it raw, you can soak it in cold water for some minutes to get out the bitterness.


Coleslaw is one of those foods with a short shelf life, so you should consume it within a few hours of preparing it. It lacks preservatives that can keep it fresh for a long time.

How you prepare the slaw and the preservation methods are some factors that determine how much longer you can keep your bowl of veggies, even within its short shelf life.

If you’re reconsidering that bowl of old coleslaw, ensure you check for signs of spoilage before you eat.

Thanks for reading.

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