Wondering if you can freeze chicken salad? Try these easy steps to freeze your leftovers so they stay safe & tasty. Plus the best way to thaw it out and refresh it for enjoyment. Perfect to enjoy later on some homemade ciabatta for a delicious sandwich.
If you find yourself with too much chicken salad after a meal or party, saving that food for later is always a great way to not waste food. So whether you made it homemade, bought a large Costco size, or have my favorite white chicken salad from Trader Joe's, freezing it is a great option.
- Is it Safe?
- Refrigerating Fresh Chicken Salad
- Chicken Salad with Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
- Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
- Chicken Salad with Oil & Vinegar
- Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard
- Freezing with Additional Salad Ingredients
- How Long Does Frozen Chicken Salad Last?
- How to Defrost
- What to Serve with Chicken Salad
- Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
Is it Safe?
Freezing any food is a form of preserving it for later enjoyment. When food is frozen, bacteria growth stops. However, when it is defrosted & thaws out, any possible bacteria can begin. Therefore, it is best to follow the guidelines shared here - including the best way to freeze, defrost, & enjoy chicken salad.
Refrigerating Fresh Chicken Salad
Chicken salad stores well in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. However if you will not use it during that time, then it is time to freeze it to enjoy later.
Leftover chicken salad can freeze easily and will stay well if done properly. It also depends on the type of recipe you want to freeze as some ingredients may not freeze well. I have shared all my best tips and tricks on how to get the most out of frozen chicken salad leftovers.
Chicken Salad with Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
You can freeze chicken salad that has been made with either mayo or Miracle Whip. However, one will work much better than the other. So if you know ahead of time you want to freeze some, choose your dressing wisely.
MAYONNAISE is an emulsion, freezing it will cause the ingredients to break down. The ingredients will separate, and make the chicken salad unappetizing looking. If you do freeze some, once defrosted you may want to remove any liquid that's accumulated & stir in some fresh mayo.
MIRACLE WHIP on the other hand is not the same as mayo. Due to the sugar (corn syrup) in the product, it tends to hold up better. That along with the bit of mustard in Miracle Whip seems to bind it together a bit better than mayo when freezing and thawing.
Chicken salad made with mayo or Miracle Whip will last up to 2 months in the freezer.
Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
If you have ever opened a partially used container of yogurt or sour cream you have seen the liquid that forms on the top. This separation occurs and requires each of them to be stirred to get that creamy texture back. It is the natural process of the whey separating.
GREEK YOGURT separates when refrigerated or frozen. Due to the watery occurrence, a chicken salad made with any type of yogurt isn't best for freezing. Greek yogurt is a great dressing like on my broccoli salad with apples & nuts but it doesn't freeze as well as mayo.
SOUR CREAM, like greek yogurt, tends to separate and becomes watery. For that reason, any chicken salad made with sour cream is not ideal to freeze. It is safe & can be done, just know the texture will change.
If you choose to freeze chicken salad made with Greek yogurt or sour cream, it will last up to 2 months in the freezer.
TOP TIP - any chicken salad that has become watery once defrosting can be refreshed. Simply pour off the liquid from the top. Then bring it back the salad back to life with some fresh sour cream or Greek yogurt.
Chicken Salad with Oil & Vinegar
Chicken salad made without mayo freezes much better than those made with mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, or Greek yogurt. I make my chicken salad with an Italian-style oil & vinegar dressing. This makes it even better if I want to freeze some later. If stored properly, this kind will last in the freezer for 3 months.
Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard
A honey mustard dressing may be used in recipes for those people that do not like mayo. Honey solidifies once frozen but will not crystallize. If the honey mustard dressing is vinegar-based and not mayo-based, it will freeze really well. Chicken salad made with a honey mustard dressing can store in the freezer for 2 months.
Freezing with Additional Salad Ingredients
Chicken salad isn't just about the chicken & dressing. Many of the best recipes have other ingredients like vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, & more. So if you have a deluxe chicken salad recipe with many ingredients in it, here is what I recommend when it comes time to freeze it.
FRUIT is one thing I do not recommend freezing. For example, grapes freeze but once they defrost they will be mushy. The same is true for foods that turn brown or spoils when freezing, such as apples, avocado, or bananas. I do not recommend your chicken salad if it has any of these ingredients.
NUTS freeze well and taste just fine. For a homemade or store-bought chicken salad with nuts, it will last up to 30 days in the freezer.
VEGETABLES may or may not be great to freeze in a chicken salad. Those that have a high water content, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, lettuce, & squash, will release water once thawed. Go ahead and freeze your chicken salad if you use any of these freeze-friendly ingredients - celery, onion, or carrots. This can be stored for up to 3 months.
BACON or other types of meats that may be in the chicken salad are ok to freeze too. This is true for hard-boiled eggs, sausage, or cooked turkey bacon as well. They can be frozen for up to 2 months.
FRESH HERBS do not stand up well to freezing. They will turn brown or black once frozen. Once defrosted they will be mushy, withered, & bitter. Remove any fresh herbs like parsley, dill, and cilantro if you can before freezing.
How Long Does Frozen Chicken Salad Last?
Depending on what your chicken salad is made up of, it will last anywhere from 1-3 months in the freezer. It is always best to eat things when fresh or only frozen for a short period of time. Eating anything frozen within the first month will continue to be the best practice when possible.
How to Defrost
The best way to thaw chicken salad that has been in the freezer is by placing it in the refrigerator. It can take 1-3 days to defrost. And once thawed out, eat it within 2 days. Do not refreeze.
What to Serve with Chicken Salad
Whether you want it on bread for a sandwich or atop lettuce for a light lunch, chicken salad can be enjoyed in many ways. Here are some great side dishes that go well with chicken salad. Try one today or make the wonderful freshly baked Soft Dinner Rolls and have chicken salad sliders.
Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
- Freezer-safe Air-tight containers or Ziploc bags
- leftover chicken salad
Ingredients to Refresh Defrosted Chicken Salad
- Dressing of choice / from the original recipe Mayo, Miracle Whip, etc
- fresh herbs
- fresh vegetables onions, celery, etc
- fresh fruits apples, grapes, etc
- chopped nuts almonds, cashews, etc
Freeze the Chicken Salad
- Remove any items that will not store well in the chicken salad - such as fresh herbs and fruits.
- Select air-tight freezer containers or Ziploc bags that will fit the amount of chicken salad you will be freezing. Do not pick a container that is too large, you want the chicken salad to just fit in so that there are no exposed areas for air to also be sealed inside. Vacuum sealer bags would be great for this.
- Spoon the chicken salad into the container or bag. Seal tightly and try not to leave any air inside that will expose the chicken salad to possible freezer burn. Press out any air you can if using a vacuum sealer or Ziploc.
- Label it with the use-by date and what it is. Place in the freezer. Store for 1-3 months.
Defrost the Chicken Salad
- Place the unopened Ziploc bag or container full of frozen chicken salad in the refrigerator.
- Let it defrost for 1-2 days. It will depend on how small or large of an amount you are thawing.
Refresh the Chicken Salad
- Once it is defrosted, check for any separation before mixing. If there is a watery layer on the top, carefully pour or spoon that off.
- Mix the chicken salad to see how dry or moist it is. Based on its texture and consistency, add an additional dressing of choice - mayo, Miracle Whip, Greek yogurt, sour cream, or other dressings.
- Add any additional ingredients to freshen it back up and add crunch and texture. This is a great time to add fresh minced onions, celery, etc.
- Add fresh herbs or season with salt & pepper. Stir to combine & taste test.
- Enjoy within 48 hours of defrosting. Do NOT refreeze.