Chicken salad is a prime candidate for baby showers, parties, and get-togethers. It is easy to whip up and as healthy as smoked salmon. Not to mention, it is always a people pleaser. The problem arises when you make salad enough for the leftovers to last days.
So, can you freeze chicken salad when such a situation arises?
The short answer is yes, you can. You can freeze it, just make sure you haven’t left it out at room temperature for over 2 hours. Toss it into a freezer bag or an airtight container, and it will last 3 months.
How to Freeze Chicken Salad?
Freezing chicken salad is a little tricky with all the condiments that go into it. So, whether those add-ons can also stay frozen becomes a question. Chicken salad often comes with mayonnaise and similar ingredients that can separate. You do not want your salad turning rancid after a few days in the freezer.
The crunchy veggies in the salad, be it scallion or celery, can also go bad. They can become rancid faster than the chicken. So, finding the best ways of freezing this salad is imperative. A good way to approach it is by dividing the salad into small portions before freezing. Leave the mayo and veggies that go as garnish to be added after thawing.
Also Read: Can You Freeze Potato Salad?
As for how to freeze chicken salad, here’s the correct way:
Chicken Salad With Mayonnaise
If you make a salad with tuna and mayo, make it as you would. Once ready, prepare multiple freezer-safe containers with airtight lids. Resealable plastic bags will also do. Scoop out the salad into the containers as per the quantity you like. Note down the storage date and toss it into the freezer.
Chicken Salad Without Mayonnaise
If you are using mayo alternatives, the process might not change. Prepare the chicken salad as you usually do before freezing. Scoop out the salad into small portions and toss it into freezer-safe containers. Remove as much air as you can before sealing the lid. Note down the date and toss it into the freezer.
The process might change a little when you are not using mayo or similar ingredients. Prepare the chicken and season it before freezing. Leave the greens to be added after thawing it. Once thawed well, add mayo, scallions, celery, or anything else you like. As for the freezing procedure, follow the same steps. Toss the portions into freezer bags or airtight containers, and you are good to go.
Tips For Freezing Chicken Salads
Chicken salad, after all, is a mixture of meat in it. Naturally, it is destined to go bad soon. So, it is important to follow the freezing procedure closely. You wouldn’t want to throw away a bunch of leftover chicken salad.
Here are a few tips that could help:
- Remove all excess liquid before tossing the portions into the freezer. You can also make chicken broth from the excess liquid.
- Avoid leaving the salad at room temperature for long. Do not bother freezing it if it has been lying outside for more than 2 hours.
- It takes upwards of 6 hours to thaw chicken salad properly.
- This salad can also be served as a sandwich filling or pasta dressing.
- Once your salad is prepared, toss it into the freezer. Serve as much of the dish as needed at the moment.
- Once thawed, you might feel a dip in the taste. Add some salt and pepper or mayo, and you will be ready.
- Microwaves are a big no-no while thawing chicken salad.
- It is best to throw away salad in the fridge for more than 3 days.
Also Read: Can You Freeze Pesto?
Equipment Needed for Freezing Chicken Salads
Just like with everything else, freezing chicken salad requires a few pieces of equipment. Most of them might be around somewhere already. Here are the pieces of equipment you would need:
- A scooping spoon
- Sticker labels and marker
- Plastic sealable freezer bags
- Airtight containers
How to Defrost Frozen Chicken Salads?
Thawing chicken salad is not the easiest job out there. But hey, all it takes is a little practice. Here’s how you defrost this salad in a few easy steps:
- Transfer the salad from the freezer to the fridge. Avoid leaving it at room temperature.
- If possible, let it sit overnight in the fridge. At least, wait till it thawed well.
- Empty the freezer bag into a salad bowl and drain the water.
- Stir with a spoon and add dressing, nuts, veggies, and fruits if it seems soggy. Cornstarch can also help thicken the chicken salad.
- Enjoy the salad alone or use it as a filling for sandwiches. Consume it in a day or two.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. How long does chicken salad last frozen?
Ans. It depends on how soon you freeze it. The sooner, the better. If it is a store-bought salad, toss it into the freezer as it is. If it is opened or homemade, transfer it into a freezer-safe plastic or airtight container. It will last up to 3 months.
Q2. Is chicken salad better the next day?
Ans. Serve as soon as the salad is properly assembled. It is also a good idea to prep the chicken and the dressing days in advance. The salad tastes even better once refrigerated for a while. Just remember to bring it back to room temperature before consuming or serving.
Q3. Why does chicken salad get watery?
Ans. When added to the salad, celery or similar watery veggies can release water. You might see some water even before adding the chicken or mayo. This could make your creamy salad watery in an instant, so be aware of this. Choose veggies that do not release water.
Q4. Why is my chicken salad chewy?
Ans. Your chicken could be chewy for several reasons. This includes overcooking, undercooking, and leaving the chicken uncovered for long. Make sure you avoid these, and you should be good to go.
Q5. How do you crisp up a soggy salad?
Ans. Fill up a large salad bowl with ice water or tap water. Submerge the wilted greens in the cold water. Let it soak for 30 minutes till they are crisp again. A salad spinner is even better for this process.
The Bottom Line
Once you know how to freeze chicken salad well, you can prepare multiple batches simultaneously. Simply divide it into small portions, and toss it into the freezer. Let it freezer, and take it out the day before having it. Let it thaw for hours, if not overnight, and you are good to go.
It is a simple process. All you need to do is not let it sit at room temperature for long. The longer it sits outside, the faster it will spoil. Take care of these, and you should be good.