You can safely freeze a prepared chicken salad for up to 3 months. For the best results and safe consumption, it is important to consider the salad’s freshness, ingredients, and type of dressing.
The purpose of this post is to experiment with freezing chicken salad and find out how it tastes after thawing, and what are the best ways to use thawed chicken salad.
I am also going to explain what are the best ways to freeze the salad, how to thaw it, including my best tips.
By understanding how to properly freeze, thaw and use thawed chicken salad, you can enjoy the leftovers and avoid food waste.
Is it safe to freeze chicken salad?
It is safe to freeze chicken salad if you follow a few food safety rules:
- Cool down the chicken and any other cooked ingredients before freezing.
- Make sure the chicken is fully cooked and reaches 165°F.
- Never freeze the salad that has been sitting at room temperature for over 2 hours or in the fridge for over 3 days.
- Store the frozen chicken salad in a freeze-safe container or a bag.
- Consume thawed chicken salad within 2-3 days.
Does chicken salad taste good after freezing?
The taste of thawed chicken salad will depend on the ingredients you used to make it. Some of them freeze better than others.
Most of the chicken salads are made with cooked chicken, celery, onions, fresh or dried fruits, and sometimes hard-boiled eggs.
Cooked chicken (especially shredded) freezes well and the quality does not change after thawing.
Fresh fruits also freeze well on their own, but in salads, they might release extra liquid once thawed.
Dry fruits are better to add to the chicken salad if you are going to freeze it, as they do not have moisture like fresh ones.
I would avoid adding hard-boiled eggs to my chicken salad if you plan on freezing it. Their taste will change and they may become rubbery after defrosting.
Usually, the dressing is made with mayonnaise, miracle whip, or Greek yogurt.
To find out how good the chicken salad tastes after thawing, I froze a freshly made chicken salad made with shredded chicken, celery, onion, dried cranberries, pecans, and a mayo-based dressing.
Freshly made chicken salad with added mayonnaise dressing.
This chicken salad has been frozen for about 2 weeks and is ready to be thawed in the fridge.
And this is a thawed chicken salad. It took 10 hours to full thaw one cup of frozen chicken salad.
As you can see, after the thawing, the mayo-based dressing lost its quality, and you cannot even tell if the salad had a dressing.
Mayonnaise, miracle whip, and Geek based yogurts can be frozen, but they sure change texture and consistency after thawing.
The salad overall tasted good, although celery and onions lost their crunchiness. So as pecans.
To be short, I would not serve it to my guests.
If you absolutely need to freeze chicken salad, consider freezing it without the dressing as it may change the texture and make a salad unappetizing.
If you still have to freeze salad with a dressing, I recommend after it is thawed, add some fresh vegetables, herbs, and some mayo after thawing to refresh the taste.
Or you can repurpose the thawed chicken salad to make another recipe that requires baking. I will include some of my favorite ideas below.
How to freeze chicken salad
Below are the step-by-step directions on how to freeze the chicken salad.
Prepare a freeze-safe container or a bag. I like to use glass containers.
Fill the container with the chicken salad, just do not overfill it. Cover it with an air-tight lid. If you are using a bag, remove as much air as possible.
The best way to do so is by sucking the air through the drinking straw. Once you removed as much air as possible, quickly remove the straw and seal the bag.
It is important to label the container with a date and the content. In a month, you will not remember when the salad was prepared and it will be hard to tell what’s inside the container once the salad is frozen.
Place the labeled container or a bag in the freezer. Keep it in the freezer until ready to thaw.
It is safe to store chicken salad in the freezer up to 3 months.
How to thaw chicken salad
Place a closed container or a bag in the fridge and let it sit there until fully thawed.
It may take 12-24 hours to fully thaw frozen chicken salad, depending on the size of the container and the amount of the salad.
Never thaw the frozen chicken salad at room temperature, it is unsafe and will cause harmful bacteria growth.
Incorporating thawed chicken salad into recipes
We already know that if you freeze chicken salad with any dairy dressing, it may lose its texture and quality after thawing.
Baking it into one of the dishes will fix the texture and also heat the salad to a safe temperature.
Instead of serving it as a salad, try repurposing it:
- Chicken salad casserole: mix the thawed salad with some vegetables, cooked pasta (or rice), and cheese and bake it for about 20-30 minutes in a preheated to 400°F oven.
- Chicken salad pizza: top premade or fresh pizza crust with thawed chicken salad, add red or white sauce and cheese, and bake until the crust is crispy.
- Stuffed mushrooms: fill the portobello mushroom caps with thawed chicken salad, breadcrumbs, and shredded cheese. Bake in the oven at 400°F for about 20 minutes.
- Whenever possible, freeze chicken salad without the dressing.
- Label the container or a bag with the date before freezing.
- Always thaw in the fridge, never at room temperature.
- Consume thawed chicken salad within 2-3 days after thawing.
- After it thaws, consider adding more dressing and some fresh ingredients, such as celery, grapes, and onions to make it taste fresh.
- Repurpose the thawed chicken salad, by making casseroles, pizzas, etc.
In conclusion, freezing chicken salad is safe if the basic food safety rules are followed. But it is important to keep in mind that freezing will change the salad’s original texture and fresh taste.
The dairy-based dressings do not thaw well and change their consistency after thawing, so it is recommended to freeze the chicken salad without the dressing whenever possible.
Using thawed chicken salad in new recipes, such as casseroles or pizzas, is a great option to fix the texture and ensure the safe consumption of a thawed chicken salad.
Our delicious chicken salads recipes
- Classic chicken salad with fresh tarragon
- Chicken salad with cranberries and pecans
- No celery chicken salad
- Sonoma chicken salad
Can You Freeze Chicken Salad
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 freezer safe container or bag
- 1 permanent marker (for labeling)
- 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 Tablespoon yellow onion, diced
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, add and mix all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the chicken salad leftovers into the freezer safe container or a bag. Use a permanent marker to label the container with a date.
- Freeze chicken salad for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge.
- It is better to freeze chicken salad without the dressing added.
- Thaw it in the fridge and consume within 2-3 days after thawing.
- Add some fresh veggies and dressing to make it taste fresh again.
- You can make delicious casseroles or even pizzas with thawed chicken salad.
- the nutrition facts are only estimate, I used the calorie count application to manually calculate it.