Chicken salad is also perfect for summer picnics, office potluck, or just a casual dinner.
It is also a smart way to make the most out of leftover cooked chicken. Whether it is a rotisserie, baked, or roast—any cooked chicken will do.
When it comes to serving, this hearty salad is also versatile. You can serve it with pasta, on top of lettuce, or as a filling for sandwiches and wrap.
Sometimes, we overestimate the amount of food to serve. As a result, we end up with too much leftover to eat. Of course, it can be boring to eat the same dish over and over again.
Talking about storing leftovers or perhaps preparing in advance for an upcoming potluck party, can you freeze chicken salad without ruining it?
Let’s go through this article to find out the most useful tips about freezing chicken salad and whether freezing chicken salad is worth doing. So, read on!
Can Chicken Salad Be Frozen?
You’ve probably known that the ingredients used in a dish affect how well the dish turns out after freezing.
There are undoubtedly numerous chicken salad recipes out there. Some common ingredients include crunchy vegetables (such as celery, onion, and spring onion), grapes, mayonnaise, or mayo-substitutes (yogurt).
Unfortunately, those ingredients don’t hold up well during freezing. Mayonnaise tends to curdle and separate after thawing. Meanwhile, the crunchy bits will be soggy and mushy.
If you have no options but freezing leftover chicken salad, of course, that’s still an option. Just be mindful of how it turns out after thawing.
On the other hand, if you plan to stock up on a chicken salad, it’s best to freeze the cooked chicken separately. Add the other ingredients just a few minutes before serving up.
How To Freeze Leftover Chicken Salad
As mentioned earlier, freezing prepped chicken salad is not recommended due to undesirable changes after thawing. No matter if it’s homemade or store-bought from Costco, Sam’s, or your local salad bar.
Next to that, chicken salad is a perishable item that goes bad quickly without proper handling. To keep food safety risks at bay, make sure that the salad is not left at room temperature longer than 2 hours and it doesn’t exhibit spoilage signs.
Although freezing is not the most ideal option, it is still useful to salvage leftovers. Just know what to expect.
Like other leftover foods, freezing is easy, and here is how you should do it.
1. Make sure that leftover chicken salad is still fresh and not spoiled.
2. Portion out the dish into single-serving sizes. This way, you don’t need to defrost a large amount and end up with another leftover.
3. Pack the portioned salad into a freezer-safe container or bag.
4. If using a freezer bag, suck out as much air as possible.
5. Seal the container tightly and mark with the freezing date.
6. Transfer the package into the freezer.
How To Freeze Cooked Chicken
If you plan to stock up a chicken salad to serve later, it is suggested to freeze only the cooked chicken.
Meanwhile, other ingredients such as fresh vegetables and mayo dressing can be added later before serving.
Follow our simple guide below to freeze cooked chicken.
1. Prepare the chicken as usual and cool down quickly. Skip this step if using leftover chicken (rotisserie, roast, or baked chicken).
2. Divide the chicken into individual serving sizes.
3. Pack into a freezer-safe container or bag.
4. Remove as much air as possible from the bag.
5. Seal the container tightly and write the freezing date or a use-by date.
6. Place the package in the freezer.
Frozen foods need to be continuously frozen at 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower. Check your freezer’s temperature regularly and set it to the recommended temperatures above.
How Do You Defrost Frozen Chicken Salad?
Simply place a frozen package in the refrigerator to slowly thaw overnight. For quick defrosting, immerse the frozen package in cold water. Change the water a couple of times until the chicken completely softens up.
Keep in mind that chicken salad is perishable. Thus, defrosting the kitchen counter is generally not the best idea.
Serve chicken immediately after thawing. Keep the rest refrigerated in a sealed container and use within three days.
For cooked chicken, after thawing, reheat the chicken until the internal temperature reaches a safe temperature of 165 °F. Finally, mix the chicken with the vegetables, grapes, and creamy dressing.
How Long Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
Leftover chicken salad is best to enjoy within 1 to 3 months after freezing while it still has its optimal flavor.
It is possible to keep it beyond this time, but the flavor losses might not be worth your time.
Next to that, everyone has a different standard regarding food quality after thawing. So, if this is your first time freezing chicken salad, try to pull out the dish every couple of weeks or so and check if it’s still acceptable to your taste buds.
Chicken salad keeps well for up to 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Pack any leftovers in a sealed airtight container and refrigerate. For safety reasons, the rule of thumb is to never leave perishable foods at room temperature longer than a couple of hours.
General indicators of chicken salad going off are funky smell, slimy texture, mold growth, and unpleasant odor. Next to that, discard any leftover if it’s already refrigerated longer than 3 to 4 days or if it’s left out for more than 2 hours, even though chicken salad doesn’t look suspicious. Harmful bacteria doesn’t necessarily alter the look and taste. So, better stay on the safe side.
Celery gives that crunchy texture to the salad. Meanwhile, frozen celery becomes limp and mushy after thawing, making it less suitable to add to your salad bowl. Instead, use previously frozen celery for soups, stew, stock, sauces, or other cooking recipes.
Freezing leftover chicken salad changes its texture and flavor after thawing. Some ingredients, including mayo dressing and fresh vegetables, don’t freeze well and become mushy and soggy after thawing.
For a better result, consider freezing the cooked chicken and add the other ingredients later before serving.
Also learn more how to freeze potato salad.