How long can you keep tuna salad in the refrigerator?

How long can you keep tuna salad in the refrigerator?


Tuna salad is a popular dish that can be enjoyed in sandwiches, wraps, or as a standalone meal. However, like any perishable food, it is essential to know how long tuna salad can be safely stored in the refrigerator. In this article, we will explore the factors that affect the shelf life of tuna salad and provide guidelines on how long it can be kept refrigerated.

Factors Affecting Shelf Life

Several factors influence how long tuna salad can be stored in the refrigerator. These factors include the ingredients used, the storage conditions, and the presence of any spoilage indicators. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors:

Ingredients used: The ingredients used in tuna salad can impact its shelf life. For example, if the salad contains mayonnaise, it can spoil more quickly compared to a salad made with oil and vinegar dressing. Mayonnaise-based tuna salad should be consumed within a shorter period.

Storage conditions: Proper storage conditions are crucial for extending the shelf life of tuna salad. It should always be stored in a clean, airtight container to prevent contamination. Additionally, the refrigerator temperature should be set below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth.

Spoilage indicators: Visual cues like changes in color, texture, or odor are indicators that tuna salad may have spoiled. If the salad appears slimy, has an off smell, or shows signs of mold growth, it should be discarded immediately.

Refrigerator Storage Guidelines

To ensure the safety and quality of tuna salad, it is important to follow these refrigerator storage guidelines:

Homemade tuna salad: If you have prepared tuna salad at home, it can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Remember to keep it in a sealed container and check for any spoilage indicators before consuming.

Store-bought tuna salad: Store-bought tuna salad typically comes with a “best by” or “use by” date on the packaging. It is advisable to consume the salad before this date for optimal quality. However, if the package has been opened, it should be consumed within 3-5 days, similar to homemade tuna salad.

Leftover tuna salad: If you have leftover tuna salad from a meal, it should be refrigerated promptly. Transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator within two hours of preparation. Leftover tuna salad can be safely consumed within 3-5 days.

Safe Handling Practices

To ensure the safety of tuna salad and prevent foodborne illnesses, it is important to follow these safe handling practices:

Proper hygiene: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing or handling tuna salad. This helps prevent the transfer of bacteria or other contaminants.

Separate utensils: Use separate utensils, cutting boards, and containers for raw ingredients and cooked tuna salad to avoid cross-contamination.

Temperature control: Keep tuna salad refrigerated at all times, except when serving. Avoid leaving it at room temperature for an extended period, as this can promote bacterial growth.


In conclusion, tuna salad can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, whether it is homemade or store-bought. Proper storage conditions, such as using airtight containers and maintaining a refrigerator temperature below 40°F (4°C), are essential for extending its shelf life. Always check for spoilage indicators before consuming tuna salad and follow safe handling practices to prevent foodborne illnesses.


– United States Department of Agriculture: