Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
Chicken salad is a classic kitchen staple because it tastes delicious and is super versatile.
With your base of chicken and mayo (or Greek yogurt), you can add endless ingredients to create a unique and flavorful dish that satisfies your taste buds.
Making chicken salad is super easy and with the popularity of batch cooking to save time in the kitchen, you might end up making larger amounts of chicken salad than you can eat in a few days.
With all these leftovers you might be wondering what the best way to store your chicken salad is.
So, can you freeze your chicken salad? Generally speaking, when you freeze mayo or Greek yogurt, it tends to separate upon thawing, which can change the texture of your chicken salad. However, by adding a little more of either mayo or Greek yogurt to your thawed product, you can fix it.
Keep reading to discover whether you can freeze different types of chicken salad, how to best freeze them, other ways to store it, and how to make the best chicken salad ever!
Can You Freeze Chicken Salad With Mayo?
One of the most popular ways to make chicken salad is a blend of shredded or chopped chicken with mayo and other seasonings and ingredients.
Mayo helps to bind the chicken and all the other ingredients together and gives it a delicious, creamy flavor and texture.
But can you freeze chicken salad that has been made with mayo? First off, we need to understand what mayo is to see how it fares in the freezing process.
Mayo is an emulsified product, meaning it combines a liquid and a fat, which they don’t naturally like to do, through a specific process.
To make mayonnaise you need the basic ingredients of oil, egg (whole or yolk depending on the recipe or brand), lemon or vinegar, and sometimes some mustard.
What you do to make mayonnaise is emulsify the oil with the egg yolk to create a thick, creamy sauce.
This texture is completely different from sauces made with oil, such as vinaigrettes, because it is thicker and the oil is completely combined with the egg to create a stable, creamy sauce.
When you freeze mayo, the oil can end up separating once it thaws, which leaves you with something that is oily as opposed to creamy. That means, for the best quality chicken salad you probably don’t want to freeze it.
Now, with that being said, that are some steps you can take when you thaw your chicken salad to improve the texture.
I like to add another spoonful of mayo and a little bit of Dijon mustard to the thawed chicken salad and stir it all together.
Adding in more of the emulsified mayo and mustard can help the oil emulsify back into the chicken salad mix, so you end up with a better texture.
This step isn’t foolproof, but it can definitely make the thawed chicken salad more enjoyable.
Can You Freeze Chicken Salad With Greek Yogurt?
If you are looking to make your chicken salad with a twist, Greek yogurt is a great option. It is packed with flavor, full of protein, and super creamy from the healthy fats.
I find it gives chicken salad a bit more of a tang than a mayo, thanks to the fermentation process yogurt goes through prior to eating.
However, like mayo, which can separate once thawed, Greek yogurt has a similar issue.
Because it is a mix of fat and liquid as well, though it doesn’t go through the same emulsification process as mayo, these two ingredients can separate once frozen and thawed.
So can you freeze chicken salad with Greek yogurt? The separated texture of thawed Greek yogurt can be offputting to some folks, so freezing your chicken salad may not be the best idea.
Like your chicken salad with mayo, you can try stirring in a little Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard once thawed to help mix the split yogurt back into the mix.
This may not work fully and some people still won’t enjoy the texture, even if you add more yogurt to the chicken salad.
Best Methods To Freeze Your Chicken Salad
While it doesn’t seem like the best idea to freeze your chicken salad if it is made with mayo and/or Greek yogurt, you can still give it a try. In this section, I will outline how to freeze it and other tricks you can try to save time in the kitchen.
How To Freeze Leftover Chicken Salad
If you have made a large batch of chicken salad and you don’t think you will be able to finish it before it goes bad in the fridge, then you can try freezing it.
Remember that if you use a mayo or Greek yogurt base, it may separate upon thawing so adding some more of either to the thawed product can give you a better texture.
- Portion your chicken salad into the serving sizes you are likely to consume once thawed. You don’t want to freeze it all in a big lump if you won’t be able to finish it once thawed.
- Find freezer bags or sealable containers that fit your portion size. Make sure to leave about a third of the space empty since the chicken salad will expand once it is frozen.
- Place the chicken salad into your freezer bag, gently press out any excess air, and then seal. Or if you’re using a container, place the chicken salad in the container and press a piece of plastic wrap down on top of the mix before sealing the lid.
- Take a piece of masking tape and write the date and contents on it.
- Place your chicken salad in the freezer and use it within 3 months.
How To Freeze Batch-Cooked Chicken Salad
If you haven’t already added your mayo or Greek yogurt to your chicken salad then you can follow these steps to properly freeze it.
- Mix together your shredded chicken, any spices, and any veggies that don’t have a high water content (avoid freezing cucumber or celery since they get really mushy once thawed).
- Portion your chicken mix into serving sizes that you will want to consume in 1-2 meals.
- Place the chicken salad mix (minus the mayo or Greek yogurt) in freezer baggies or sealable containers.
- If you’re using a freezer baggy, gently press out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and then seal the bag. For containers, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the chicken mix, then snap the lid on.
- Write the date and contents on a piece of masking tape so you remember what you froze and when you froze it to prevent yourself from eating chicken salad that has gone bad.
- Store in the freezer for 3-6 months.
- When you want to eat your chicken salad, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then stir in your mayo or yogurt, plus any watery vegetables such as cucumbers or celery. Enjoy!
What Kind Of Chicken Salad Can You Freeze?
If you want to batch cook fully made chicken salad and don’t want to risk the separation of the mayo or Greek yogurt and the potential weird texture, then there are other types of binding agents you can use in their place.
One of my favorite things to use to make chicken salad is a pesto mix. It freezes really well and adds a fresh and delicious flavor to your pesto. You can also stir in a little mayo once it’s thawed for the best of both worlds.
Another option you can use to make chicken salad is to use hummus instead of mayo or Greek yogurt.
It is going to be creamier than pesto, but it will freeze and thaw a lot better than the other emulsified choices. Hummus-based chicken salad is also a litter lighter than mayo-based.
When it comes to making chicken salad, there are lots of delicious varieties you can choose from.
If you want to freeze your leftovers, then it might be best to use either a pesto or a hummus base instead of mayo and Greek yogurt to prevent splitting once thawed.
How To Thaw Your Chicken Salad Properly
The best way to thaw your chicken salad would be to take it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight, especially if you’ve used mayo as your base.
Since mayo can go bad if left at room temperature for too long, thawing it in the fridge will keep your mayo from spoiling and you from getting sick.
If you froze a hummus, pesto, or Greek yogurt-based chicken salad, then you can get away with letting it thaw on the counter for a few hours without too much fear. Just make sure you don’t forget about it!
Another choice is to place your container of chicken salad in a bowl of cool water and letting it thaw in there until it is softened. Make sure you don’t use hot water since this could make your chicken salad spoil.
If you have the time, the best way to thaw your chicken salad is definitely in the fridge overnight, but these other choices will also do if you need a meal in a hurry.
How To Store Your Chicken Salad In The Fridge
If you have leftover chicken salad that you know you can eat within about 5 days, then you can definitely store it in the fridge since it will typically stay fresh to eat for that long.
For batch cooking, grab-and-go portions of chicken salad you can store them in small containers or baggies so that you know one portion is going to be enough for a meal or snack.
I recommend picking up some small containers at the store for this purpose so you can reuse them.
If you aren’t as concerned about being able to quickly grab your chicken salad, then you can keep it in one large container and just scoop out what you need as you eat it. You can use the mix for sandwiches, salads, and wraps.
I don’t recommend keeping pre-made chicken salad sandwiches in the fridge for more than a couple of days since the filling can make the bread go soggy somewhat quickly.
Whether you choose to store it in one large container or several smaller ones, follow these steps:
- Place the chicken salad mix in a bag or airtight container.
- If it is in a resealable bag, gently press out any excess air before sealing the bag. Removing the air will help it stay fresh for longer. If it is in a container, you can press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the mix and then seal the lid.
- Write the date and contents on a small piece of masking tape before placing it in the fridge.
- Place in the fridge and eat within 5 days.
How To Make The Best Chicken Salad
If you want to make a delicious chicken salad mix, try this simple and tasty recipe. Remember that it is just a guide and you can always change things up to make them suit your taste buds and what you have available.
- 2 cooked chicken breasts or the meat from half a rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 a cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts
- 1 cup mayo or Greek yogurt
- 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 4 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, currants, or blueberries
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- A few cranks of black pepper
- Dice or shred your chicken into the desired size and place it into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix them together.
- Let rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours for the flavors to meld together. This step isn’t necessary, but it does make a bit of a difference in the final taste.
- Enjoy inside sandwiches, on top of a bed of mixed greens, added to a quinoa or grain bowl, or inside a wrap.
If you want to freeze your chicken salad, your best bet is to do it before you add the mayo or the Greek yogurt, since these foods can separate once thawed and give your salad a weird texture.
With leftover chicken salad, you can stir in a little extra mayo or Greek yogurt once thawed to fix the issue.
Some chicken salad bases that you can freeze without worrying about the texture once thawed include pesto and hummus.
You can even try combining the pesto base with some mayo or Greek yogurt once thawed for a really decadent chicken salad.
Once frozen, chicken salad will last for about 3 months and the best way to thaw it is to let it sit in the fridge overnight, especially if you’ve used mayo.
Do you have any favorite methods for making the perfect chicken salad? Let us know in the comments!