How Long Does Tuna Salad Last?

tuna salad

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Today, canned tuna remains popular. In the U.S. canned tuna is the second most popular seafood after shrimp. Between pouched and canned tuna, Americans eat around 1 billion pounds each year. 

For those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, everyone ate canned tuna. If it wasn’t tuna casserole or Tuna Helper, it was tuna salad, which is still popular today. 

In this article, we’ll explore how long tuna salad lasts and how to store it properly. Let’s get started.

How Long Does Tuna Salad Last?

According to the USDA, Food Safety Information Chart tuna salad, if properly stored in the fridge at a temperature of 40°F or below, will last 3 to 5 days.

How Should I Store Tuna Salad In The Fridge?

The doors of refrigerators fluctuate more than the shelves. Therefore, do not store your tuna salad in the door. It should be stored on a shelf in a colder part of the fridge.

You should also store tuna salad in an airtight container to prevent it from causing an unpleasant odor in your fridge or from picking up odors from other foods.

Why You Should Store Tuna Salad At Or Below 40°F

When it comes to food, bacteria can do two things. It can be pathogenic (the kind that makes us sick) or it can be “spoilage” bacteria (the kind that causes foods to spoil). 

You can often spot the bacteria that cause food spoilage because your food may develop and “off” taste, texture, or it may show signs of mold.

Unfortunately, pathogenic bacteria, the kind that makes us ill, can be present on or in your food without you even knowing it. Many times, these types of bacteria can be present and not affect the taste, smell, or texture of your food.

Bacteria grow the fasted between 40°F and 140°F. This temperature range is what the USDA refers to as the “Danger Zone”. You want to avoid the danger zone.  Keeping tuna salad stored in the fridge at or below 40°F slows the growth of these bacterias.

How Long Can Tuna Salad Be Left Out Of The Fridge?

Fish and mayo spoil easily so personally, I would only leave tuna salad out of the fridge long enough to scoop a serving or make a sandwich. 

However, the official recommendation from the USDA is not to leave food out of the refrigerator for more than 1 to 2 hours. 

The difference in time depends on the temperature where the food is left out.

You should not leave tuna out for more than 1 hour if the temperature is at or above 90°F or 2 hours if it is less than 90°F.

This is the recommendation from the USDA but I always err on the side of caution and keep tuna salad out of the fridge for as little time as possible because fish and mayo spoil easily.

Therefore, in my household, tuna salad goes straight into the fridge once its made and only comes out long enough to scoop out a serving or make a sandwich. 

How Do You Know if Tuna Salad Is Bad?

You should discard any unopened cans of tuna that are leaking, bulging, rusted or dented, especially if the dents are around the seams.

If your salad has developed and “off” odor or appearance (change in color or texture), do not taste it and discard immediately. 

If you tuna look and smells ok but it has a funky or “just not quite right” taste, don’t eat anymore and throw it out.

Can You Freeze Tuna Salad?

Technically, you can safely freeze tuna salad. Unfortunately, the quality of your salad once thawed depends on the ingredients used to make it. 

Mayonnaise doesn’t freeze well and will often separate and leaving an unpleasant texture to your tuna salad.  If your tuna contains mayo, don’t freeze it.

Crisp veggies like celery and onions often become limp after thawing ruining the texture of your tuna salad.

However, salad dressings like Miracle Whip will do better in the freezer.

If you want to be adventurous and try freezing tuna salad, I’d recommend you try a single serving at first. 

Freeze a single serving immediately after making it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Thaw only in the refrigerator and try it. 

If the quality once thawed is acceptable, freeze away!

Related Articles:

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

Related Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does Canned Tuna Last In The Refrigerator?

Once opened and if properly refrigerated, canned tuna will last 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Once you open the canned tuna, transfer it to an airtight container.

 How Long Does Tuna Casserole Last In the Refrigerator?

Just like chicken salad, tuna casserole will last up to 5 days if properly refrigerated at or below 40°F.

Can You Freeze Canned Tuna To Extend Its Shelf Life?

Yes, you can freeze canned tuna to extend its shelf life. However, NEVER freeze tuna in the can. You must remove the tuna from its can and into a freezer-safe bag or container.

If kept at a constant 0°F, tuna will be safe to eat indefinitely. Unfortunately, it is hard to know with certainty your freezer has maintained the proper temperature. 

For the best quality, eat your frozen canned tuna within 3 months of freezing. 

Final Thoughts

If your family like tuna, canned tuna can be a great addition to your cost-effective kitchen. 

Canned tuna can be used to make tuna casseroles, tuna bakes, and tuna salad. You can also put chunks of tuna on a green salad or a cold pasta salad. The uses are almost endless.

Just be sure when consuming tuna, you always err on the side of caution. Don’t use damaged or dented cans. Keep it properly refrigerated at or below 40°F and use within 3 to 5 days.

Always look and smell tuna before consuming it. If looks ok and smells ok, sample a small bite to ensure it tastes ok before serving. 


The last thing you want to do is get sick from eating tuna.  

I don’t remember who first said this but remember, “If in doubt, throw it out.” 

Got any questions? Have comments? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

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