Lunches, potlucks, or picnics, there are so many different occasions that chicken salad is perfect for.
If you’re a meal prepper like me, you’ve probably thought about whipping up a big batch and then thought to yourself, can you freeze chicken salad?
While chicken salad is certainly a crowd pleaser, there are some things you need to consider before you stash a batch in your freezer.
Can you freeze chicken salad?
Yes, you can certainly freeze chicken salad. The real question is, should you?
What you put into your chicken salad will determine how well the original textures and flavors are retained once thawed. Some chicken salad ingredients may not be as freezer friendly as others.
Here we’ll explore some classic chicken salad ingredients, how well they freeze, and some proper storage tips.
How to freeze chicken salad
Store-bought or homemade, the best way to freeze chicken salad is immediately. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always allow for this.
If your chicken salad is homemade, get it in the freezer within an hour. This will help to retain freshness and prevent any unwelcome bacteria from getting to it before you can.
For store-bought chicken salad, if you can’t rush home make sure you keep it cool on ice and pop it in the freezer on the same day.
You’ll also want to freeze it as soon as you open it. If the container is unopened, then you can store it as is. Chicken salad will last up to three months in the freezer so be sure to mark the freeze date.
Here are a few freezer tips I found very useful when preserving all that satiating goodness.
- Freeze within an hour
- Divvy up into your desired portion size
- Store in freezer-safe airtight containers or vacuum sealed bags
- Remove any extra liquid
- Freeze the chicken salad without any dairy ingredients and add once thawed
- Use dairy-free substitutes that freeze better (coconut milk, dressing, etc)
- Will last about 2-3 months in the freezer.
Can you freeze chicken salad with yogurt?
If frozen yogurt can – and should – go in the freezer, then chicken salad made with yogurt can, right?
Unlike frozen yogurt, regular yogurt doesn’t hold up the best in the freezer. This is because the ice crystals that form in the freezer pull water away from the protein content causing the yogurt to break down and separate once thawed.
So while you can freeze chicken salad with yogurt, you might not want to.
However, chicken salad made with yogurt is far too good to pass up! A better alternative would be to freeze the chicken salad and then add the yogurt once thawed.
Can you freeze chicken salad with egg?
Eggs are one of those foods that are a bit tricky when it comes to freezing. There are many freezing do’s and don’t depending upon how the egg is prepared beforehand.
So what about in a chicken salad? If your recipe calls for hard-boiled eggs, it’s best not to freeze them.
The whites of hard-boiled eggs take on a rubbery texture once frozen. While you can definitely still eat it, it may not be as appetizing as when it’s fresh.
On the other hand, egg yolks do freeze well. If you are going to use hard-boiled eggs in your recipe, consider omitting the egg whites and only using the yolks instead.
Can you freeze chicken salad with grapes?
I love the sweet crunch of grapes in my chicken salad. What I don’t like is when grapes get smooshed and soggy.
Grapes freeze better when dry. Unfortunately, I’ve found the grapes frozen in chicken salad tend to lose their crispness.
For this reason, if you find the change in grape texture will ruin your dish, I don’t recommend freezing chicken salad with grapes.
Can you freeze Costco chicken salad?
Yes, you can freeze Costco chicken salad. I would recommend portioning it out in your desired portion size before freezing. It will stay good for about 2 months if stored properly in the freezer.
Can you freeze chicken salad sandwiches?
In case you were thinking of prepping a batch of chicken salad sandwiches for the family, know you can freeze them.
Just note, when they defrost that same separation I mentioned earlier will occur. This means you may wind up with some soggy bread.
How to store in the refrigerator
The best method of storing your chicken salad is the refrigerator.
For proper storage, use an airtight container. Airtight containers do well in preserving perishables and enhancing shelf-life.
Similar to the freezer, I would recommend divvying up your portions. However, since the dish doesn’t need to defrost, you can store it all in one container if you like.
If you do opt for the fridge, it’s best to eat the chicken salad within 5 days tops. I also recommend storing as soon as possible to avoid any contamination.
Like anything else in your fridge, if you pull out the chicken salad and notice any funny smells, off flavors, or mold, then don’t eat it!
At this point, the chicken salad was either not stored properly or in the fridge well past the point of being edible. If this is the case, follow it safe and toss it.
How long can it stay out at room temperature?
When it comes to chicken salad, the main thing you have to consider is food safety.
All that creamy mayo or yogurt you love about chicken salad doesn’t last long if it’s been sitting out. Especially if it’s been sitting out on an excruciatingly hot day!
The longer your chicken salad sits out, the higher the chance for contamination.
If temperatures reach 90°F or hotter, you’ll need to pop that chicken salad into the fridge within an hour. For cooler temps, you can freeze or refrigerate safely within 2 hours.
When you’re ready to eat, I recommend thawing out your chicken salad either in the fridge or a bath of cool water. This is a safer method for defrosting chicken salad than letting it sit out on the kitchen counter at room temp.
Chicken salad is one of those homestyle dishes that will probably stand the test of time. Unfortunately, its shelf-life will not.
While you can freeze chicken salad, the ingredients you put in it may not defrost like you want them to. The trick around this is to add those not so friendly freezer ingredients after thawing.
You also need to pay heed to how you store and when you store your chicken salad to ensure it doesn’t perish before you get to enjoy it.
If you now have a hankering for chicken salad like I do, I recommend whipping up my favorite spicy chicken salad for a satisfying meal. Or you could try this chicken salad meal prep recipe for healthy family lunches later on in the week.