Salad Days premiered in the UK at the Theatre Royal, Bristol in June 1954, and transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre in London on 5 August 1954, running for 2,283 performances to become the longest-running show in musical theatre history until overtaken by My Fair Lady in the U.S. (1956) and Oliver! In the U.K. (1960). In the Evening Standard Awards for 1955, Salad Days was given the Award for Most Enjoyable Show (although The Pajama Game won as Best Musical). The musical was produced by Denis Carey, with dances arranged by Elizabeth West, and with a cast that featured Dorothy Reynolds in a variety of roles, John Warner as Timothy and Eleanor Drew as Jane. Slade played one of the two pianos. The reviewer in The Guardian wrote: "There is no pointed satire, only a passable line of wit, but the effect is one of genuine high spirits and those who liked it on Thursday were ready to call it the gayest piece of entertainment since The Mikado. Others were heard to compare it to a children's party, meaning that they found the fun jejune, 'undergraduate,' and limited."
The Canadian premiere of Salad Days in 1956 was at the Hart House Theatre, University of Toronto for several months with Barry Morse as director and Alan Lund as choreographer. The show transferred to the Royal Alexandra Theatre and then to Her Majesty's Theatre in Montreal. Morse wrote that it played "successfully" and was "again a triumph". Morse revived the production at the Crest Theatre, Toronto and then brought it to New York. The New York production, featuring Richard Easton, opened at the Barbizon Plaza Theatre (then located at Avenue of the Americas and 58th Street) on November 10, 1958 and ran for 80 performances. Morse described the theatre as "not a Broadway theatre … a perfectly comfortable and centrally situated theatre which was housed in a hotel." He further wrote "as rotten luck would have it there was a newspaper strike which started just a few days before we opened." There were no reviews, and the show closed in January 1959 when, according to Morse, "our financial resources were used up."
The show was revived in the West End in April 1976 at The Duke of York's Theatre, running for 133 performances, and featured Elizabeth Seal. Salad Days was next revived in April 1996 at London's Vaudeville Theatre, directed by Ned Sherrin and featuring Simon Connolly, Nicola Fulljames and Richard Sisson. In his review for The Guardian, Michael Billington wrote: "Time has also changed both the show and our attitude towards it. What seemed hopelessly innocent in 1954 has now acquired the patina of camp."
The show received a new production by Tête à Tête opera company, directed by Bill Bankes-Jones, originally produced in November 2009 at Riverside Studios in London, and revived for over two months in 2010–2011. That revival was a sell-out and the production is revived again for Christmas & New Year 2012-13 at Riverside Studios