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Does Italian Dressing Go Bad? Storage Tips To Keep It Fresher Longer

Does Italian Dressing Go Bad? Storage Tips To Keep It Fresher Longer

Italian dressing is like salad’s best friend. But it’s good to know does italian dressing go bad and we’ll share some answers with storage tips for you here.

You can also call it your favorite sandwich’s soulmate, put it on your pizza when you have friends for dinner, or use it in your marinade.

Basically, it can go with just about any meat or vegetable.

But what exactly is Italian dressing?

Italian dressing is a salad dressing that typically consists of oil, lemon juice or vinegar, herbs, garlic, and peppers.

Despite having the word “Italian” in the title, it did not originate or did not even become a popular condiment in Italy.

In fact, Italian dressing is an American invention.

The term comes from the herbs and other seasonings, like oregano, basil, garlic, and vinegar, that are in the most popular recipe for Italian dressing.

The name also comes from the fact that these ingredients are used in Italian food.

Besides, it was not supposed to taste like a typical Italian salad dressing.

Moreover, Italian dressing is simple to make.

You can even make it at home instead of going to the store to buy a bottle. 

You’ll get a fresher taste, but it won’t last as long because homemade dressing often doesn’t contain the same kinds of preservatives.

And while you may be excited to whip up this zesty dressing in your kitchen, it is also important to know its shelf life, storage requirements, and more.

Now, do you want to know if Italian dressing goes bad

Check out this quick guide.

If you have re-opened a bottle of Italian dressing, you may have noticed that the smell is quite different than when you first bought it.

That is because, like most dressings, it has oil, which naturally oxidizes and changes over time.

Still, if you buy a new bottle of  Italian dressing and do not use it immediately, there is no need to worry. It should still be fine.

What if it has been sitting in the back of the refrigerator for months or years without being opened?

You will start to wonder: Does Italian dressing go bad?

The short answer is yes, but if it is stored incorrectly.

Italian dressings typically last for three months without refrigeration; however, those with additional vinegar tend to lose their flavor quicker.

If you want to keep the freshness and preserve the flavor of the dressing after opening the bottle, put it in the refrigerator.

But if you want to extend the life of bottled Italian dressing for a longer time, freeze after opening.

You can always thaw it if you want to use it later on.

And once frozen solid again, place the bottle back into the fridge to slow spoilage.

How to tell if Italian dressing has gone bad

Even though Italian dressings usually have a lot of preservatives, they can spoil if you keep them for a long period or in bad conditions.

Here is how to tell if Italian dressing has gone bad, so you can throw it away before you get sick:

  • Smell:  If it smells like gasoline or rotting eggs, you should get rid of it right away.
  • Appearance: If it pours out thick or lumpy, or has mold on it, throw it away.
  • Taste: If it tastes strangely sour, sweet, metallic, bitter, or fishy, it is probably not safe to eat.

Also, make sure to see the label on the bottle of Italian dressing to see when it was produced.

If sold in a cooler, it will not last long after its expiration date.

Yet, dressings that do not need to be refrigerated can stay good for up to a month after their expiration date if they are not opened and for a few months after they are.

On the other hand, homemade Italian dressings that use cream should be stored in the refrigerator at all times.

They may last from three to seven days, depending on the ingredients you use.

If you need more specifications, you can always refer to the recipe.

Can I use expired Italian dressing?

Keep in mind that salad dressings, like many other condiments, usually have a “Best When Purchased by Date,” not an “expiration” or “use-by” date.

And that might make you think, “Can I use expired Italian dressing?”

Well, yes, you can.

The “best-by” date label is simply an indicator to grocery stores and other food retailers that dressing may not be at its freshest.

Still, that does not mean it has gone bad or is dangerous to eat.

After all, people who sell food want to get their goods to customers as soon as possible after they arrive.

Essentially, the dressing will not go bad immediately after the date on the label, but its quality and freshness will slowly decrease over time.

You can say it will still be good to use, but the taste will not be as excellent as it was when you first opened it.

From Hidden Valley Ranch, about their bottled dressings:

​​The bottled Hidden Valley® dressing…will continue to have the best flavor up to four weeks past the flavor date. After this, the vinegar flavor will tend to become stronger as the dressing goes beyond the best flavor date. However, the dressing would still be safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.

How to store opened Italian dressing

Although it may seem obvious to keep creamy dressings in the fridge, oily dressings like Italian dressing should also be kept cold after they have been opened.

We’ve learned that sometimes Italian dressing will separate and it may also become cloudy, but you can shake it to combine in that case, too.

From Paul Newman Foods about storing their dressings:

To ensure freshness and food safety, we recommend refrigerating Newman’s Own dressings once they are opened. Please note that the oil in the oil-based vinaigrette dressings may appear cloudy after being refrigerated. This is normal and there is nothing wrong with the product. Simply let the dressing come back up to room temperature and the cloudiness will disappear.

It is because its main ingredient, citrus juice, also needs to be kept refrigerated to avoid going rancid.

Equipment you will need to store homemade Italian dressing

  • Italian dressing
  • Container with a tight-fitting lid (cruet, glass bottle or mason jar)
  • Refrigerator

The best way to store your Italian salad dressing will also depend on your type of dressing.

Here are the instructions on how to store opened Italian dressing:

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing

  1. Pour the homemade Italian dressing in a tightly sealed glass jar, cruet (recommended) or any non-metal container.
  2. Store the oil and vinegar only version for up to one week in a cool, dark place at room temperature but keep the creamy version in the refrigerator.

Store-Bought Italian Salad Dressing

  1. Store the original bottle or container in the refrigerator until the “Best When Purchased by” date.

Also, it may be best to transfer a store-bought Italian dressing that comes in a glass jar to a plastic container before putting it in the refrigerator.

Putting Italian dressing in a plastic container will help keep your Italian dressing from being affected by light, which in return will help preserve its flavor.

How long does Italian dressing last?

Italian dressing is a delicious and versatile condiment that you can use on salads, pasta, and burgers.

But how long does Italian dressing last?

Italian dressing sold refrigerated needs to be chilled and kept cold after you buy.

Typically, store-bought Italian dressing features an easy-to-read “Best When Purchased by Date” printed on the bottle’s neckband, not an “expiration” or “use-by” date. 

According to Kraft Heinz, “Best When Purchased by” dates are simply an indicator when a product should be consumed or when it will be of best quality or flavor. 

One good example of the “Best When Used By” date is: 13 AUG 22, which means “Best When Used By August 13th, 2022. 

But if you make your own Italian dressing, you should keep it in the refrigerator too.

Depending on what you put in it, it usually lasts anywhere from a few days to a week, and expect the flavor of the condiment to degrade over time

Those made with olive oil will stay fresh for up to three weeks if they are stored in the refrigerator, as well.

Does zesty Italian dressing go bad?

If you have ever looked at the salad dressings at your local grocery store, you have probably seen how many Italian ones there are.

You will also notice the “zesty” Italian dressings, which have herbs and spices, resulting in a deliciously crowd-pleasing and bright flavor—which is also laden with a little more zing compared to those creamy ones.  

And just like other dressings, you will want to ask yourself too: Does zesty Italian dressing go bad?

The answer is yes, zesty Italian dressing goes bad. 

As per Ken’s zesty Italian dressings, when stored in ambient or room temperature, they typically last for 150 days or 5 months. 

After opening, they recommend storing the dressing in the refrigerator immediately, tightly covered. 

If you have a bottle of zesty Italian dressing that looks like it has been in your fridge for a long time, give it a sniff and a quick look before you use it to dress your salad.

And always shake it with the lid capped tightly every time you go to use it, since the ingredients separate over time.

If an acidic dressing has gone bad, it might have mold, smell funny, or be hard to spread.

How to use Italian dressing in cooking

Did you know that Italian dressing is not just a drizzle for salad dishes?

You can actually use it for cooking too!

Italian dressing is like the little secret of the kitchen: it goes with almost anything.

You can use it as a finishing touch, like a good vinegar or coarse sea salt, to add zing to roasted or grilled vegetables, salads, dips, or even grilled or roasted meats.

In fact, meats or vegetables marinated in Italian dressing before cooking get a strong flavor without the need to add more spices or even oil before cooking.

So, here are some ways to use Italian dressing in cooking:

  • Pork Tenderloin. Make this juicy and tender pork tenderloin by marinating it in a rich sauce that calls for Italian dressing.
  • Italian Dressing Chicken. If you are looking for a zesty, creative way to make your chicken breasts even more amazing, this Italian dressing chicken recipe is for you.
  • Italian Dressing Steak Marinade. This is an easy steak marinade recipe that will give your steak a ton of flavor and make it savory and tasty. 
  • Italian Baked Fish. This is such an easy recipe ever — just coat the fish with Italian dressing, bake it in the oven, and you have a tender and flavorful meal that your whole family will love. 
  • Italian Pork Hoagies. Pork hoagies are one of the simplest sandwiches you can make at home, and they get extra delicious when you dress them up with Italian dressing.
  • Burger Bowl With Italian Dressing. This burger bowl with Italian dressing is a lot like salad, but with a burger patty on top. And you need to try it for yourself to see how incredible it is.

The bottom line

Italian dressings are usually made of olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and spices, so it is possible for them to go bad, even though the acid tends to keep for a long time.

But should you throw your dressing away just because it has been sitting at the back of your refrigerator for a couple months?

The answer is not that simple.

If you see any sign of mold or it smells very sour or has no smell at all, throw it away.

But if it looks, smells and tastes as good as when you first bought it, it is probably safe to eat.

And even if it is not opened, it can stay good for a long time, and it may still be good for months after it is.

Just remember to look at it, give it the sniff test, and check any dates on the label for best practices.

How To Store Homemade Italian Dressing

How To Store Homemade Italian Dressing

Here’s the best way to store homemade Italian dressing so it stays fresher longer. 


  • Italian dressing
  • Container with a tight-fitting lid (a cruet or mason jar works well)
  • Refrigerator


  1. Pour the homemade Italian dressing in a tightly sealed glass jar or dressing cruet or any non-metal container.
  2. Store the oil and vinegar version for up to one week in a cool, dark place at room temperature while keeping the creamy version in the refrigerator.

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