Dressing can often make or break a salad, veggie platter, or any number of other dishes. But do you feel like you’re just racking up half-used salad dressing bottles that seem to indefinitely sit on a shelf in your fridge? There’s good news if you’ve only used them once or twice and worry that the expiration date has passed: You don’t have to throw expired salad dressing out quite yet.
Is salad dressing good after its expiration date?
If you look at a bottle of salad dressing, you can easily find a date on it that most people think is about expiration. However, it’s actually what’s known as a “best-by” date, which is an indicator to grocery stores and other food retailers that dressing may not be at its freshest. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s expired or unsafe to eat, just that it may not be at its best from a marketing or sales perspective. After all, food sellers want to get products in the hands of customers as quickly as possible after they arrive.
Instead, most salad dressing can easily last anywhere from one to four months past the expiration date once it’s open as long as you keep it refrigerated. Typically dairy-based options like blue cheese or Caesar dressing can last one to two additional months, while oil-based choices like Italian or balsamic vinaigrette can sit in the fridge for up to an extra three to four months.
Is it safe to eat when it’s expired?
If your dressing is past that best-by date, it’s still OK to eat, so don’t feel like you have to throw out perfectly good dressing just because of an arbitrary deadline. That said, you definitely want to keep an eye on it and look out for any funky smells, bumps, or colors.
If you do happen to eat salad dressing that’s gone bad, chances are you won’t see too many side effects aside from an upset stomach and some nausea, which will typically pass pretty quickly.
How can you tell when salad dressing has gone bad?
There are usually two key indicators that it’s time to chuck your dressing. If the bottle’s contents begin to give off a rotten or rancid smell, or you notice discolored moldy growths forming on the surface of the liquid, it’s time to say goodbye and throw it in the trash. Another potential sign may also be that lumps are beginning to form in otherwise smooth dressing.
So the next time you’re tempted to throw out that barely-used bottle after only a week or two after opening it, feel free to give that expired salad dressing a little more time!