How to Freeze Potato Salad (Mayo or Oil Based)

Can you freeze potato salad? Yes, and it’s not tricky at all. This guide will show you through how to freeze & defrost this classic dish—the right way.


Freeze-ability Index
Freezability Index of Two

How Long in Freezer
1 to 3 months

Best Stored In…
Airtight container or freezer bag

How to Thaw
Refrigerator

What to Expect
Soggy, watery

Can I Re-Freeze?
Not recommended


Can You Freeze Potato Salad?

Yes, although most experts don’t recommend it because it doesn’t thaw well.

Mayonnaise or sour cream are prone to bacterial growth when defrosted at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and above, so we don’t recommend that you freeze them, either.

If you’re going to freeze leftovers, stick to those dressed in oil and/or vinegar.

Tip: Don’t freeze overcook the potatoes; they’ll turn to mush upon defrosting.

How to freeze potato salad - a German, oil-based potato salad
Salads dressed in oil and/or vinegar freeze better than those mixed with mayonnaise or cream.
Airtight, freezer-friendly containers

How To Freeze Potato Salad in a Container

Freeze as soon as possible after cooking, especially if you’ve dressed the salad in mayonnaise or sour cream. Use a smaller container for faster freezing and thawing
Never let mayonnaise or sour cream-based potato salads come to room temperature before freezing.
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.
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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 Potato Salad in a Freezer Bag

Freeze as soon as possible after cooking, especially if dressed in mayonnaise or sour cream. Use small plastic bags for faster freezing and thawing.
Don't let mayonnaise or sour cream-based salads to come to room temperature before freezing.
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 potato salad. Important: Gently squeeze the air out of the bag before you seal it.
  • Write today’s date on a label and stick it to the bag.
  • Store the bag at the back of your freezer.
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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


Can You Freeze Store-Bought Potato Salad?

If you can’t confirm that the salad was made the day you bought it, don’t freeze it. You must freeze it when it’s freshly made.

You should also transfer the store-bought stuff to a freezer-friendly container or a resealable, freezer-friendly plastic bag.

How Long Does Potato Salad Last in the Freezer?

Potato salad has a freezer shelf life of up to 3 months. For better texture and taste, try to defrost and eat your salad within a month.

How Do I Thaw Potato Salad?

There are two ways to thaw potato salad:

  • Defrosting potato salad in the refrigerator is the safest and easiest way to thaw potato salad.
  • You can also defrost potato salad in cold water, which is a bit faster than thawing in the fridge.

Do not do thisHow NOT to Thaw Potato Salad

  • Never thaw a mayonnaise or sour cream-based potato salad by letting it come to room temperature or thawing it in warm water. The mayonnaise or sour cream can spoil (bacteria quickly multiply at room temperature, which starts ) and make you sick.
  • Don’t use a microwave to defrost potato salad. 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.
Fridge

The Best Way To Thaw Potato Salad – In The Fridge

Never thaw a mayonnaise or sour cream-based potato salad by letting it come to room temperature. The mayonnaise or sour cream can spoil and make you sick.
Do not use a microwave to defrost potato salad.
Defrost Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d

Equipment

  • A kitchen towel OR a plate

Instructions
 

  • Place the container(s) or freezer bag(s) of frozen potato salad onto a plate OR towel, and then into the refrigerator.
  • Leave the potato salad to thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • Once the salad has defrosted, stir it a few times to re-incorporate the ingredients. Serve chilled.
Keyword How to defrost potato salad with mayonnaise, How to thaw German potato salad, How to thaw potato salad
Defrosting in cold water

A Faster Way To Thaw Potato Salad – In Cold Water

Follow these steps if you’re short on time. The time to defrost depends on the amount of potato salad in the container or plastic bag.
Defrosting Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • A large bowl OR a sink
  • Cold water

Instructions
 

  • Fill a sink or bowl with cold water.
  • Place the container or bag of frozen potato salad into the cold water.
  • Replace the water with fresh cold water every 30 minutes. The potato salad should be defrosted after 1 hour, but it may need more time depending on how much is being defrosted.
  • Once the salad has defrosted, stir it a few times to re-incorporate the ingredients. Serve chilled.
Keyword How to defrost potato salad, How to defrost potato salad with mayonnaise, How to thaw German potato salad

What to Expect After Defrosting Potato 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 potato salad:

Made With Oil and Vinegar

  • The potatoes might be soggy or grey.
  • Oil becomes cloudy when frozen.
  • The flavor shouldn’t change.

Made With Mayo or Sour Cream

  • The potatoes might be soggy, and mayo may turn potatoes dark brown or black.
  • 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 potato 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 potato 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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3 Comments

  1. Excellent! I froze it and defrosted it and didn’t get sick.

  2. You’re my freeze maven!

  3. Katie Rosenquist
    Katie Rosenquist

    Thanks so much, Antony! I’m really humbled to hear this 🙂

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