Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

Can you freeze chicken salad? Yes and no. It depends on the recipe. This guide will show you how to freeze and defrost this classic dish—the right way.


Freeze-ability Index
Freezability Index of Three

Best Stored In…
Airtight container or freezer bag

How to Thaw
Refrigerator

What to Expect
A bit watery

Can I Re-Freeze?
Not recommended


Can chicken Salad Be Frozen?

Now, when it comes to chicken salad, there are a few rules:

  • First, don’t let it sit in the fridge for a day or two and then freeze it. When it comes to freezing food, the sooner, the better. Freeze chicken salad on the same day it was made or opened (prior to the best-before date.)
  • Second, never freeze chicken salad that has come to room temperature (at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit.) Bacteria thrive between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezing just inactivates them—it doesn’t remove them.
  • Third, the ingredients you use will determine how well the salad will freeze, so let’s review a couple of ingredients that typically go into chicken salads:
Can you freeze chicken salad?
Whether you can freeze chicken salad depends on the ingredients in the salad.

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad With Mayo?

Yes and no. Mayonnaise is notorious for separating when frozen. But yes, you can freeze chicken salad made with commercially processed mayo.

Commercially processed mayonnaise (basically anything you buy in-store that isn’t homemade) is typically pasteurized and has added thickeners and preservatives. All of these ingredients will help prevent the mayo from separating.

Don’t freeze your chicken salad if you made it with homemade mayonnaise. It will separate after defrosting (pretty unappetizing.)

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad With Miracle Whip?

Yes. Miracle Whip freezes much better than mayonnaise because it technically isn’t mayonnaise. Consider making your salad with Miracle Whip for better results than mayonnaise if you plan on freezing a batch of chicken salad.

Don’t Freeze These Ingredients

Don’t freeze chicken salad if it contains any of these ingredients:

  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Peppers (especially green)
  • Radish
  • Sprouts
  • Salad greens (like arugula, curly endive, escarole, etc.)
  • Apple
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Whole citrus fruit (slices of orange, lemon, or lime)

You can freeze most of these foods on their own—frozen grapes are a lovely summertime treat, and we’ve looked at how to freeze tomatoes. But chicken salad isn’t cooked or eaten from frozen, and these ingredients will turn to mush when defrosted.

Can you freeze chicken salad?
This chicken salad with diced celery won’t freeze well. Vegetables and fruit with high moisture content should be used in recipes or eaten frozen.
Airtight, freezer-friendly containers

How To Freeze Chicken Salad In Airtight, Resealable Containers

Freeze as soon as possible after making or opening (if store-bought) and keep it refrigerated. Use smaller containers for faster freezing and thawing.
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins

Equipment

  • A spoon (preferably slotted)
  • Clean airtight, freezable containers
  • Cling-wrap
  • Freezer labels
  • A permanent marker
  • Space at the back of your freezer

Instructions
 

  • Fill the container. Important: Leave 1 inch of space at the top of the container.
  • Cover the top of the container with cling wrap and then put the lid on. Make sure the container is sealed tightly.
  • Add a freezer label to the container and write today’s date on it.
  • Store the container at the back of your freezer.
Keyword can you freeze chicken salad with mayonnaise in it

The Best Airtight Containers (Glasslock)


• Over 3,700 Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars

These airtight glass containers from Glasslock don’t leak or absorb food smells, they’re oven-safe, freezer-safe, microwavable, and affordable.


Plastic freezer bag

How To Freeze Chicken Salad in Freezer Bags

Freeze as soon as possible after making or opening (if store-bought) and keep it refrigerated. Use smaller containers for faster freezing and thawing.
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins

Equipment

  • A spoon (preferably slotted)
  • Medium-sized, resealable, plastic freezer bags
  • Freezer labels
  • A permanent marker
  • Space at the back of your freezer

Instructions
 

  • Fill the freezer bag with chicken salad. Important: Gently squeeze the air out of the bag before you seal it. if you have a vacuum sealer, use it.
  • Write today’s date on a label and stick it to the bag.
  • Store the bag at the back of your freezer.
Keyword freezing chicken salad

Equipment Shopping List

I made this quick list for you in case you noticed that you were low on freezer bags or realized it was time for a new slotted spoon (I mean, you do deserve a present after all!)

I’ve either used these tools or added them to my own shopping list because they’re affordable and they get great reviews. Add them to your next Amazon order!


The Best Slotted Spoon (OXO)

• Over 1,000 Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars
• Solid, stylish, & dishwasher safe

The Ultimate Freezer Bags (Hefty)

• Over 2,000 Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars
• Tough and easy to fill

The Handiest Freezer Labels (Chinco)

• Hundreds of Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars
• Water-resistant, easy to remove, no residue

The Clingiest Plastic Wrap (Freeze-Tite)

• Hundreds of Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars
• Amazon’s Choice


How Long Does chicken Salad Last in the Freezer?

Chicken salad has a freezer shelf life of 3 months. For better results, aim to defrost and eat your salad within 1 month.

How Do I Thaw chicken Salad?

There are two ways to thaw chicken salad:

  • Defrosting in the refrigerator, the safest and easiest method, or
  • In cold water, which is faster than thawing in the fridge.

Do not do thisHow NOT to Thaw chicken Salad

Don’t thaw frozen chicken salad at room temperature, in warm/hot water or in the microwave. This is one of those foods you need to thaw slowly and always keep cold at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees C) or less to stop bacterial growth.

Best Way To Thaw Chicken Salad

This is the easiest and safest way to thaw chicken salad, whether it's in a container or freezer bag.
Defrost Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d

Equipment

  • A kitchen towel OR a plate
  • A mixing bowl
  • A mixing spoon
  • 1/2 tablespoon (optional)
  • Mayonnaise or cornstarch (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Place the container(s) or freezer bag(s) of frozen chicken salad onto a plate/towel, and then into the refrigerator.
  • Leave to thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • Once the salad has defrosted, carefully drain any excess liquid and empty the contents into a bowl.
  • Stir it a few times to re-incorporate the ingredients. Try adding a little extra mayonnaise to help things mix. Serve chilled.
Keyword how to defrost chicken salad
Defrosting in cold water

How To Quickly Thaw Chicken Salad In Cold Water

Follow these steps if you can't wait overnight to thaw your salad. Do not use warm or hot water for this method—this could lead to bacterial growth and subsequent food poisoning.
Defrost Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr

Equipment

  • A large bowl OR a sink
  • Cold water (not warm or hot)
  • A mixing bowl
  • A mixing spoon
  • 1/2 tablespoon (optional)
  • Mayonnaise or cornstarch (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Fill a sink or bowl with cold water.
  • Place the container or bag into the cold water.
  • Replace the water with fresh cold water every 30 minutes. The chicken salad should defrost after 1 hour, but it may need more time depending on volume.
  • Once the salad has defrosted, carefully drain any excess liquid and empty the contents into a bowl.
  • Stir it a few times to re-incorporate the ingredients. Try adding a 1/2 tablespoon of mayonnaise or cornstarch to help things mix. Serve chilled.
Keyword defrosting chicken salad, thawing chicken salad
Can you freeze chicken salad? How to thaw it
Add extra mayo or a little cornstarch to your chicken salad after defrosting if it seems watery and thin.

What to Expect After Defrosting chicken Salad

This dish just doesn’t taste the same as when it’s prepared fresh. Here’s what to expect in terms of taste and texture after you’ve defrosted chicken salad:

  • Excess liquid is common. Drain it and add more mayonnaise to thicken the salad up.
  • If you included any of these vegetables or fruits with high-moisture content, expect those ingredients to be mushy and watery.
  • Frozen mayonnaise or sour cream separates when defrosted.
  • Doesn’t taste quite like freshly made.

Can You Re-Freeze It?

As long as you keep the thawed chicken salad chilled at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and re-freeze within 24 hours of defrosting it, it can be refrozen.

We probably wouldn’t do it because the texture will worsen every time you put it back in the freezer, but it’s your call.


Ok, But What About…

Do you know a better way to freeze chicken salad? Or are you looking for info on something else? Leave a comment below or email us—we’d love to hear from you!


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