No health-conscious person is a stranger to chicken salad, right? Unless you don’t eat meat of course. But if you do and, at the same time, just can’t get enough of chicken salad, then maybe I don’t need to tell you just how delicious the recipe is when devoured the next day.
On the other hand, chicken salads are not easy or quick to prepare. So how about making an entire batch and then freezing it? But then, can you freeze chicken salad?
Chicken salad, no doubt, is healthy, wholesome, and utterly delicious. Nevertheless, you sometimes can’t possibly finish the whole serving in just a single sitting. And if you’ve prepared a large quantity, then it only makes sense to freeze it and have it later instead of just discarding the leftovers.
And like I said before, a chicken salad tastes even more delicious when consumed the next day. Simply because all the flavors get a longer time to sort of blend into each other.
So let’s get to the bottom of how to freeze, what factors matter in the case of freezing, and a lot more about a dish as simple as the chicken salad (50+ recipes for chicken salad).
Table of Contents
- Freezing Chicken Salad – Can You Do It?
- Freezing Chicken Salad – Factors That Matter the Most
- How to Freeze Chicken Salad (with or without mayonnaise)
- How to Tell If Your Frozen Chicken Salad Has Gone Bad?
- Is It Safe to Freeze Chicken Salad?
- How to Thaw Chicken Salad Properly
- Other Relevant Frequently Asked Questions
Freezing Chicken Salad – Can You Do It?
You can indeed freeze chicken salad. But it’s not as black or white as that. Meaning freezing and then thawing it tends to affect the quality of the dish. However, there is a way around this because some ingredients freeze more successfully in comparison to others.
So freezing a healthy chicken salad while also preserving its nutritional value and delicious flavor depend on what ingredients are present in there. This brings me to the next, very important section of the article.
Freezing Chicken Salad – Factors That Matter the Most
Let’s just cut to the chase and get started right away.
Strictly on technical terms, mayonnaise-infused chicken salad can be frozen. But then also keep in mind that mayo, when thawed post-freezing, tends to break apart. And this, needless to say, has a negative impact on the quality of the chicken salad.
So if your salad contains mayonnaise, then seriously consider skipping freezer storage. Or maybe add mayonnaise right before eating, that is once the salad gets thawed completely. Many also use mayo alternatives that don’t clump upon freezing and thawing. And the list includes mustard, olive oil, pesto, and salad dressing.
Unlike mayonnaise, Miracle Whip doesn’t separate when thawed. So with Miracle Whip, the quality of your frozen chicken salad doesn’t get compromised.
You have nothing to worry about as long as the chicken is cooked properly. Cooked chicken holds up very well in the freezer. Just make sure you store it properly (more on this later).
Regular fruits are bound to become slightly soggy after being subjected to the thawing process. But then the texture and flavor of chicken salad tend to disguise the sogginess that fruits often give rise to. So, all in all, there’s nothing to worry about here.
Crunchy Vegetables and Fruits
Crunchy vegetables are a part of many chicken salad recipes. For example, celery, scallions, green peppers, etc. Along with crispy fruits like apples. These, no doubt, are extremely sensitive to low freezer temperatures. And you simply can’t expect the crunchiness to remain the same after such crispy ingredients have been frozen and then thawed.
Eggs and Dairy
Does your chicken salad have hard-boiled eggs in it? If yes, do yourself a favor and don’t freeze. Because eggs become rubbery and tough during the freezing process. And then during thawing as well, they release a lot of water. And it’s all just YUCK.
Dairy items, like yogurt for example, contain water-like and fat properties. So, just like mayonnaise, it tends to separate during freezing and then thawing. Therefore, causing flavor and texture alterations in your chicken salad.
Herbs and Spices
Let’s talk about herbs first. Dried herbs have comparatively lower water content than their fresh counterparts. So fresh herbs go through a considerable amount of textural change in the freezer, which affects and dampens the flavor.
Spices, on the other hand, have the least amount of moisture content. So they hold up very well during the freezing process. But the flavors do indeed deteriorate or dull down over time.
How to Freeze Chicken Salad (with or without mayonnaise)
The storage process is the same even without mayonnaise. You can always add mayo to your chicken salad once it’s been thawed completely.
1. Use Only Freezer-Safe Storage Bag/Container
Every traditional chicken salad recipe contains mayonnaise, right? Either way, use freezer-friendly storage containers that are equipped with an airtight seal/lid. Even re-sealable plastic bags work.
2. Fill the Bag/Container Properly
Just toss all the contents of the salad in a large bowl before scooping it all into the storage bag or container (with the help of a large-sized spoon). Avoid overfilling by covering only half of the container. Otherwise, defrosting will take longer.
Also, an overfilled freezer plastic bag might just rupture. Thus, leading to the formation of freezer burns, which change the texture and flavor of the salad ingredients.
3. Remove Air from the Freezer Storage Bag
In the case of a freezer bag, also make sure to expel as much air from the bag as possible by pushing down on it to prevent oxidation. You can also use a vacuum sealer machine. Seal, write down the date, and then freeze.
4. Finish the Salad Within A Month
Frozen chicken salad, when stored properly, can remain in there to be eaten for as long as 3 months. But then it’s highly recommended, for the sake of your health, to consume the salad within a month from its freezing date. And this begs yet another very important question…
How to Tell If Your Frozen Chicken Salad Has Gone Bad?
Does the chicken salad look mushy or smell bad post-thawing? If yes, it’s best to just chuck it into the bin. On the other hand, if your chicken salad is slightly watery but then the aroma and flavor are not unpleasant, then it’s safe to consume the food.
Is It Safe to Freeze Chicken Salad?
Under normal circumstances, it is safe indeed. So what are these normal circumstances?
How to Thaw Chicken Salad Properly
It’s now time to get the frozen salad out from your freezer. But before you devour all that flavor-infused deliciousness, thaw it correctly to ensure safe consumption. And here’s how to go about it.
Take it out from the freezer and put it in the fridge first for approximately 8 to 10 hours. Avoid thawing at room temperature as this could lead to contamination.
Also, the process of thawing causes the fats and water-like components to form a thick and thin layer. So you can just mix it all and create uniformity. Or if the texture is excessively thick, you could add some salad dressing or olive oil for thinning it out.
Other Relevant Frequently Asked Questions
For how long can you keep chicken salad in the fridge?
In the refrigerator, a properly stored chicken salad can keep good for roughly 5 days.
Can you freeze chicken salad with regular or Greek yogurt?
Just like mayonnaise breaks apart once thawed, even yogurt separates post-freezing. And that means a drastic texture change, which deteriorates the quality, flavor, freshness, etc. of your chicken salad.
But then if you still want to freeze your salad with Greek or normal yogurt, go ahead by all means. The freezer storage instructions are the same as those for storing chicken salad with mayonnaise (discussed earlier in the post).
Can you freeze chicken salad with eggs?
Hard-boiled eggs become rubbery and tough upon freezing. Along with that, they tend to release lots of water during the thawing process. So NO, do not freeze chicken salad with eggs. Maybe just add the eggs to the salad right before eating.
Can you freeze chicken salad sandwiches and wraps?
Chicken sandwiches or wraps with mayonnaise can be frozen indeed. But then since mayonnaise is a perishable item and doesn’t hold up well to the process of freezing, it’s best to add mayo at the time of eating.
Can you freeze hot chicken salad?
You can indeed freeze hot chicken salad. Prepare the dish beforehand and then freeze it to consume it later.
Can you freeze Costco chicken salad?
Store-bought chicken salads can be frozen. But then for how long can you freeze it depends on the size of the salad. For instance, a serving ideal for a small-sized family is best consumed within a week.
Also, in the case of freezing store-bought chicken salad, the flavor after freezing is sure to get compromised to a certain extent. Because the mayonnaise content is bound to separate during thawing. And that inevitably changes the flavor and texture of the food.
Please note – if the salad has been sitting out at room or warm temperature for a while, then avoid freezing. Just throw it out instead.
It goes without saying that freshly cooked homemade salads and whatnot taste the most delicious. And, in fact, they’re the healthiest too. But then not everyone has the luxury of time to cook every single day. Also, most of us are just lazy. In that case, preparing large batches and then freezing them is a brilliant idea (Guide to Meal Prepping and Freezing).
But it’s brilliant only if the food retains most of its freshness and delicious flavors, aromas, and texture after getting thawed completely. Lucky for you, chicken salad belongs in that category, minus the mayonnaise of course. You can always add the mayo or yogurt right before eating.