In a way, with salad dressings, you are cheating your way through a healthy life – the dish tastes fantastic without ruining your diet and daily calorie intake. Not to mention how homemade salads can turn from boring to very delicious in no time.
There are various salad dressings available today, and you can even whip up your own recipe in no time. As tastes differ, there is something for everyone – from Balsamic vinegar and Ranch dressing to Italian, French, and Blue Cheese dressing.
Because the market offers a great deal, we often tend to stock up on different bottled or dry-mix versions and don’t have the time to use them all up.
But, can salad dressings actually go bad?
This article contains useful information about salad dressing’s shelf life and tips on storing it, so read along!
See Also: Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad?
Does Salad Dressing Go Bad?
Like any other food, salad dressing can too go bad. However, if stored adequately, it can be used even after the best-before-date and still taste good. In most cases, you will notice when it’s not suitable for consumption anymore because the spoilage signs will be obvious.
Salad dressing is a mixture of vinegar, oil, herbs, and other flavorings. The list of ingredients is endless – from garlic, onion, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili, to peanut butter, honey, lemon, and mustard.
There are a lot of different salad dressings, and each has a different shelf life. It usually depends on the ingredients used and whether there are preservatives involved. For example, variations with dairy products like Blue Cheese dressing tend to have a shorter shelf life, whereas vinegar-based dressings will last the longest.
How Long Does Salad Dressing Last?
There are a few types of salad dressings, and these are:
- Bottled (refrigerated and unrefrigerated)
- Dry mix
Naturally, each dressing type has a different shelf life. Let’s start with the most popular ones:
Bottled Salad Dressings
These come in two varieties: refrigerated and unrefrigerated.
- Unrefriegarated versions contain preservatives, and their typical shelf life is from 12-18 months if stored properly. After opening, their quality starts to deteriorate slowly, and they will last at least 3-6 months. They usually stay suitable for consumption, even 1-3 months after the best-before date.
- Refrigerated versions tend to have a much shorter life, usually up to 3 months at best. After opening, they start to deteriorate in quality quickly and can be used for up to 2-3 weeks.
All the dressings that don’t contain ingredients like cream, yogurt, vegetables, nut oil, fruit juice, or mayonnaise can be kept at room temperature.
Dry Mix/Powder Salad Dressings
Dry mixes require minimal additional preparation and some extra ingredients as they’re already halfway done.
Powder salad dressings have the most extended shelf life. They can stay good for up to 1-2 years if stored properly. After opening, it can stay good for up to 6 months or even more. They can also be used months after the best-before date. The worst that can happen with these varieties is that they won’t taste quite delicious as they usually do.
Unlike store-bought versions, these don’t contain preservatives to keep them suitable for a longer period.
The shelf life here depends on the type of ingredients used, but it’s typically about a week, more or less. Vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and maple syrup keep really well, and dressings with these ingredients can last from 7-14 days. As for dressings with dairy products, 3-5 days is all you can hope for, if not less.
Signs Of Spoiled Salad Dressing
Signs of spoilage will most definitely occur much faster if the product isn’t stored correctly. But they will be obvious and very much visible.
Again, let’s start with bottled salad dressings. The first sign will be an unpleasant rancid smell and taste. Next off, you will notice some changes in the texture or even bacteria growth in the form of mold.
As for dry mixes, as long as the moisture doesn’t get into the mixture, it should be safe to use. The most typical signs are mold and changes in the texture like clumps. Moreover, if the mix tastes sour or rancid, it’s past its due date, and you should discard it.
Lastly, the homemade version will go rancid after a couple of days in the refrigerator, and it can go bad after a few hours if left at room temperature. You will notice a sour and rancid taste or smell, changes in the texture or mold, throw it away. Even if it’s not visibly spoiled, it will deteriorate in quality after a few days, so it’s best just to toss it if you’re unsure.
Also, there is a big difference when it comes to separation in dairy and oil-based dressings. Suppose you notice the separation between ingredients in oil-based dressings like with Italian or vinaigrette dressing. In that case, it is completely normal, and all you have to do is shake the container.
But, if you notice separation in dairy-based dressings like Ranch dressing, toss it away as it might be a spoilage sign. If you’re not sure, check the label’s date and if the manufacturer recommends tossing it away or just stirring it.
How To Store Salad Dressing?
You can store unopened bottles of unrefrigerated versions at room temperature. Remember to keep the bottles away from the sources of heat (like the stove) and direct sunlight. A pantry or cupboard is a great storage option.
The refrigerated bottled version, on the other hand, needs to be kept in the refrigerator. These salad dressings usually contain dairy products and can go rancid quickly if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Cold and stable fridge temperatures can prolong their shelf life for a couple more days. Just don’t store the salad dressing bottles in the fridge door because the temperature tends to fluctuate every time you open the fridge.
Homemade salad dressings should also be kept in the refrigerator. You can store them in an airtight container, a plastic bottle, or a glass jar, whatever works the best for you. Just make sure the product is sealed tightly, as that’s the most important thing.
Finally, you should keep dry mixes like any other spices – in a dry, cool, and dark place. If the package is opened, seal it tightly or transfer the powder into an airtight container. You can store it in a pantry, kitchen cupboard, or even a spice drawer.
See Also: Can You Freeze Alfredo Sauce?
In Addition: What Are The Healthiest Salad Dressings?
Here is the list of the healthiest salad dressings:
PER 2 TBSP
|Bolthouse Farms Chunky Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing
|35 calories, 2.6 g fat, 135 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 2 g protein
|Organic Girl Avocado Cilantro Vegan Vinaigrette
|120 calories, 13 g fat, 80 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 0 g protein
|80 calories, 7 g fat, 20 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 0 g protein
|Hilary’s Ranch Chia
|45 calories, 4.5 g fat, 150 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein
|Primal Kitchen Dreamy Italian Dressing
|110 calories, 11 g fat, 220 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein
The following surprised us, but here are the three unhealthiest salad dressings:
- Hidden Valley Original Ranch
- Kraft Zesty Italian
- Kraft Thousand Island
These three contain a lot of sugar and sodium, as well as artificial sweeteners and preservatives. We recommend either putting less than 1 tbsp of these dressings or replacing them with more healthy versions.
According to the study conducted by The Association for Dressings and Sauces, Ranch is the most popular salad dressing in the USA. The second place goes to Caesar dressing and the third to Buttermilk dressing.
Does Salad Dressing Go Bad? – Final Word
In conclusion, there are a few types of salad dressings, and each has a different shelf life. Unrefrigerated bottled versions and powder mixes have a much longer shelf life and can be used months after the best-by-date. The refrigerated salad dressing can last up to a few months, and homemade salad dressings can last for only a couple of days.
If you notice any spoilage signs like mold, the rancid smell, or a noticeable change in taste or texture, throw the product away. Even if you don’t see any signs of deterioration after its due date, we advise you not to use it. No food is worth risking a foodborne illness.
As for storage conditions, remember to use clean utensils, seal the bottle or package tightly, and use an airtight container. Keep in mind that the sources of heat and light are the biggest threats to your salad condiments.
Also, keep the product in a dry, dark, and cool place. Once you open the bottle, store it in the refrigerator. The same goes for other versions except for dry mixes, which you can keep in the kitchen pantry, cupboard, or spice drawer.
Furthermore, don’t freeze your dressings if you don’t have to. The quality will significantly degrade, and they won’t taste the same after the thawing process.
How many salad dressings have you tried? Make sure to check out our tasty recipes and enjoy your food in the best possible way!