Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

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A heaping bowl of chicken salad is a perfect side dish for your summer’s barbeque! It is a great way to fill your guests’ bellies with only using a handful of ingredients. However, what do you do with the uneaten batch if your eyes are bigger than your stomach? Can you freeze it for later?

Depending on the ingredients, you can safely freeze chicken salad for up to 3 months. Elements like mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and crunchy fruits and veggies do not freeze particularly well as the texture and flavor change once defrosted. Also, store the salad in an airtight container.

Whether you can freeze your leftover chicken salad vastly depends on the ingredients added to your dish. While some components are excellent for freezing, others do not freeze particularly well. So, continue reading to find out which chicken salads you can freeze and how you can work around the additional elements to make it freezer-friendly.

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

Chicken Salad

Unfortunately, freezing chicken salad is not as simple as scooping the leftovers into a Tupperware and popping it into your freezer. Some of the additional chicken salad ingredients do not freeze well; therefore, prepping the dish may be critical to ensure the longevity of your chicken salad.

While freezing chicken salads tend to be perfectly safe in most cases, it’s best to avoid freezing them altogether if you have mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs, or Greek yogurt in the chicken salad. 

More so, chicken salad can contain crunchy vegetables like scallions or celery, or fruit like apples and grapes. These veggies and fruits are sensitive to freezing temperatures and tend to change flavor and texture after defrosting.

Additionally, your chicken salad should last up to three months in the freezer, depending on the way you package it. However, consuming the chicken salad within one month is best to prevent its flavor from diminishing.

Then, please note that if the chicken salad sits at room temperature for several hours, it’s best not the freeze it as it can carry harmful bacteria and pathogens that can make you sick.

The longer you leave the chicken salad out of the fridge or freezer, the more likely the chicken salad can contain harmful bacteria like E. Coli or salmonella that can cause severe sickness and side effects.

Ultimately, the type of ingredients in your chicken salad and how long it has been outside at room temperature will indicate whether you can freeze or not.

Chicken Salad Made With Mayonnaise

Chicken Salad Made With Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is the number one trouble ingredient when trying to freeze chicken salad. Mayo is an emulsion, a combination of fat and liquid that typically do not go well together and split apart when frozen.

So, freezing chicken salad with mayonnaise will result in an unpleasant watery mixture and smell, making your salad less appealing and rancid.

As a pro tip, divide your large batch of chicken salad into two portions, only add mayonnaise to the one half to ensure that the portion your freeze is mayonnaise-free. Then, once you’re ready to serve the second batch, thaw the chicken salad and add a dollop of mayo onto the salad a few minutes before serving the dish.

To freeze the chicken salad, you’ll want to place it in a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid or a resealable plastic bag. Then, scoop the salad into the container and write the storage date before popping it into the freezer.

Tip: Use hummus or pesto as a chicken salad base as an alternative to mayonnaise. Hummus and pesto both freeze well without the consistency changing too much after you thaw the salad. 

Chicken Salad Made With Eggs

Chicken Salad Made With Eggs

While you can freeze chicken salad with egg, it’s generally not recommended. Although hard-boiled eggs won’t cause any health risks once defrosted, as soon as the eggs are frozen and thawed, the egg whites release excess moisture and tend to become pretty chewy and rubbery in texture.

However, if you’re a fan of the yolks, you can go ahead and freeze them as only the egg whites will turn hard and chewy. Otherwise, simply remove the hard-boiled eggs before popping your chicken salad into the freezer.

You can always add a few fresh hard-boiled eggs to your chicken salad once you are ready to defrost and eat it.

Chicken Salad Made With Greek Yoghurt

Greek yogurt is a top pick for people looking for a healthier chicken salad alternative to mayonnaise. It is an excellent protein and calcium choice while adding a unique flavor to your chicken salad.

Freezing chicken salad made with Greek yogurt will not change its nutritional value. However, the yogurt will separate once thawed, creating a similar texture to freezing chicken salad made with mayonnaise.

That said, follow similar tips as freezing chicken salad with mayonnaise by only adding the Greek yogurt to the second half of the salad once thawed and ready to enjoy.

Consider using Miracle Whip as an excellent, freezer-friendly alternative to mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Miracle Whip is perfectly safe to mix with your chicken salad as a dressing and then pop it into the freezer because, unlike mayo and yogurt, it consists of corn starch and egg yolks. So, it does not separate when you defrost it.

Chicken Salad With Crisp Veggies And Fruit

Chicken Salad With Crisp Veggies And Fruit

Due to the high-water content in crunchy vegetables like celery, chives, green peppers, cucumber, and scallions rely on their cell walls to provide and deliver their distinct crunchy texture. 

These veggies tend to lose their flavor and crispiness in the freezer as freezing damages these cell walls that retain moisture. So, they become mushy when thawed.

Additionally, grapes and apples also lose their crispiness when you freeze them.

Although grapes alone freeze well and make a yummy frozen snack, they become soggy when you thaw them.

Therefore, consider making a yummy chicken salad without crisp fruit and vegetables or remove them from the salad before putting it into the freezer. You can always chop in a few more ingredients once you defrost your chicken salad for your next meal.

Adding the fresh veggies and fruit after the chicken salad thaws will ensure that the ingredients maintain their distinct crunchy texture and flavor.

How To Freeze Chicken Salad The Right Way?

Be sure to freeze your chicken salad the day you make it or open it after purchasing it at the store. 

A pro tip to attaining optimal longevity when freezing chicken salad is to freeze the ingredients separately rather than popping the prepared dish into the freezer as certain sauces, vegetables, and fruit will sadly turn soggy when you defrost them due to their high water content. 

  • You will want to use a freezer-safe container or sealable bags.
  • If possible, try to store the ingredients separately as they will remain fresh for longer.
  • Then, try to remove as much air from the sealable bags as possible to prevent freezer burns.
  • Label the lid or plastic bag with a black sharpie to indicate the date you freeze the chicken salad. 
  • Try to use the salad within two to three months after freezing.

How Long Can Chicken Salad Last In The Freezer?

If you decide to freeze an already mixed chicken salad, the salad typically stays fresh for up to three months if you keep it in a properly sealed container. However, it’s best to eat the chicken salad within one month of freezing it as it loses its flavor and texture when it’s frozen for too long.

However, if you keep the chicken salad’s ingredients, they can each last up to six months in the freezer, once again, only if you store them correctly in freezer-safe containers or sealable, airtight bags.

The bags or freezer-safe container will serve as a protective layer from freezer burns. Although freezer burns do not cause health risks, they change the texture of the ingredients in the salad, making them rather unpalatable. So, you’ll want to ensure that you seal the bags properly and that they don’t rupture.

As a reminder, if the chicken salad smells off while you are thawing out the salad, dispose of the whole salad rather than risk becoming sick.

How To Prepare Your Chicken Salad For Freezing?

If you plan to freeze your chicken salad, be sure to leave it in the fridge before serving to prevent harmful bacteria from building up.

Then, toss the salad into an airtight container or sealable bag and ensure that you write the date on the package as a reminder to consume the salad within three months.

Although it’s a fairly straightforward procedure, keep these tips in mind to ensure that you freeze your leftover chicken salad correctly.

  • First, ensure that you never leave the chicken salad outside on the counter for over two hours, as it dramatically increases the risk of getting food poisoning from the buildup of harmful pathogens.
  • Consider giving the salad a good toss before popping it into the freezer; this will ensure that the ingredients separate correctly.
  • Next, always write the date and content on the container or bag; this may seem unnecessary at the time, but it’ll be a lot easier to avoid unidentified meals in your freezer once they are fully frozen. More so, the date will give you a proper indication as to when you need to consume the salad (we don’t want to leave the chicken salad in the freezer for longer than three months).
  • Then, be cautious not to overfill the sealable bags. You’ll only want to fill them about halfway to prevent the bag from rupturing. Also, the chicken salad will take longer to defrost if you overfill the bags.
  • If you are using a sealable or ziplock bag, ensure that you push down on the bag or use a vacuum suction machine to remove the excess air.
  • Lastly, flatten the chicken salad bags and place them in the coolest part of your freezer to ensure that the salad freezes evenly in a shorter period.

How To Defrost Chicken Salad After Freezing?

For the best results, you’ll want to defrost your chicken salad overnight in the refrigerator. Avoid leaving the salad out at room temperature to speed up the process. 

More so, as tempting as it seems, do not defrost the chicken salad in the microwave as it’ll lose its texture and flavor.

Defrosting chicken salad can typically take six to eight hours to thaw thoroughly. 

However, if you’re in a pinch, you can place the sealed container into a bowl of cold tap water to speed up the defrosting process. 

Change the water every half-hour; this method will likely take about an hour or two to defrost your chicken salad thoroughly. However, ensure that water doesn’t seep into the container, or you’ll have a soggy mess!

More so, a thin watery water layer liquid may form while defrosting the chicken salad. Again, we recommend pouring this watery substance down the sink instead of mixing it into your chicken salad.

In addition, you’ll want to ensure that the chicken salad completely defrosts before you eat it; biting into a chunk of chicken with an icy core is something you’ll want to risk.

Lastly, consider adding a few finishing touches by chopping up fresh veggies or fruit and adding a dollop of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt to your salad. These fresh toppings will provide your salad with a crunchy texture and yummy taste. 

So, Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

You can freeze chicken salad for up to three months if you follow the appropriate method.

While you can freeze chicken salad with mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, and crunchy fruits and veggies, it’s best not to freeze it as these ingredients often change in flavor and texture once you defrost the salad.

Lastly, ensure that you’re extra careful about the way to treat the chicken salad before freezing it to prevent becoming sick from the bacterial growth caused by leaving the salad outside on the counter for over two hours.

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