Yes, you can freeze chicken salad as it is only made up of three main ingredients - chicken, salad, and dressing. However, perhaps the question should be: is it worth freezing chicken salad?
Salad is very finicky and it often enjoys playing the game ‘how quickly can I turn brown?’ with you.
Similarly, many dressings are emulsions that can lose their texture and consistency once frozen.
So, feel free to freeze your chicken salad and take your chances. Keep reading to find out whether or not you should bother freezing your chicken salad and whether you can bring it back from a subpar quality after doing so.
How To Freeze Chicken Salad
Now that we’ve established that you can freeze chicken salad, you might be wondering how you’d go about doing such a thing. Freezing leftovers seems simple enough at first thought, but when poultry is introduced everything gets a little more confusing.
You need to ensure that the chicken has cooled completely before freezing it to avoid the cultivation of potentially harmful bacteria. This means that you’ll need to break into the thickest pieces of chicken to ensure that the middle is completely cold.
Once you’re sure that the chicken is cold, the salad should also be frozen in a bag or box that offers as little oxygen around the ingredients as possible. Added oxygen in the bag can cause the chicken to oxidize while in the freezer, causing some questionable flavors arising once it’s thawed.
To avoid this, freeze the salad in a zip lock bag or Tupperware box that is the right size to fit all of the salad without too much additional space. Leave it in the freezer for at least eight hours to ensure that it is completely frozen.
It’s also worth noting that you should never freeze a store-bought chicken salad or chicken that has already been frozen before. Only freeze chicken salad that you have made personally from home.
How To Defrost Chicken Salad
You can keep your chicken salad in the freezer for up to three months without it going bad, which is one of the main reasons why so many people freeze their leftovers. However, the longer you wait to thaw and eat your salad, the less flavor you’ll be able to enjoy from it, especially if you freeze it with the dressing on.
Defrosting the chicken salad is very simple but time-consuming. Take the chicken salad from the freezer and place it in the fridge. Leave it for at least eight hours to thaw, but make sure you check the chicken properly to ensure that it is completely thawed before you eat it.
If the dressing was frozen along with the salad, make sure to give it a good mix to try and avoid eating separated mayonnaise. Use a salad spinner or salad spoons to make sure that you don’t miss any of the dressing.
Now you can feel free to tuck into your chicken salad without feeling guilty about wasting food!
Factors to Consider Before Freezing Chicken Salad
There are three main ingredients to a chicken salad, but only two of them are at risk of compromise in the freezer. Below we’ll be looking at how salad and the dressing fares in the freezer to give you a better idea of what you’ll be in store for when you take it out.
We’ll also take a look into freezing chicken and when you can safely do so.
Salad, such as lettuce and celery, is so popular because of the crunchy texture. As the salad has such a high water content, freezing it can compromise the cell walls of the vegetables and therefore the salad can lose its crunch.
If you’re unaware of this possibility, you might tuck into your thawed salad only to be disappointed with a limp, soft salad that should be crunching away in your mouth.
The different textures in a chicken salad are so important and one of the reasons why it’s so popular, so freezing it might take away from the experience.
The dressing you choose to coat your salad with will often be the downfall of the frozen chicken salad. Mayonnaise is a very popular choice for many chicken salads, and this dressing cannot be frozen nicely. Brace yourself, there is some stomach-churning information ahead…
Mayonnaise is made up of fat and water, making it an emulsion. When you freeze an emulsion, the fat and water components separate and freeze by themselves. You know where we’re going with this, don’t you?
So, when you thaw your chicken salad and tuck in to eat it, you might be left with watery salad in some parts, and lumps of fat in other areas. We don’t even want to imagine what this tastes like, but just make sure that you brace yourself for this potential issue from occurring.
A lot of people are wary to freeze chicken, and rightly so, as there are plenty of horror stories on the internet about salmonella and food poisoning from chicken.
As long as your chicken has plenty of shelf life left before you freeze it and that it’s completely cool before you put it in the freezer, you should find no issue with your chicken salad.
We hope that our article has given you some insight into how you can freeze a chicken salad. The simple answer is yes, but the salad is not going to come out of the freezer as delicious as if you were to eat it fresh. The salad might be softer and the sauce could separate during the freezing process.
Make sure to freeze your chicken salad without the dressing to avoid the dreaded mouthfuls of watery fat. However, if it’s too late and you’ve already done so - all hope is not lost. Just make sure to whip the salad to mix it all together again.
The longer you leave your salad in the freezer, the less flavor it’s going to offer so feel free to add another tablespoon of fresh dressing to enhance the flavor a little bit.