As a rule of thumb, one should try never to freeze foods that have mayonnaise as an added ingredient. It usually doesn’t turn out very well, since mayonnaise tends to separate and become very runny and unsavory after thawing.
With that being said, if one does intend to freeze chicken salads of any sort, mayonnaise and/or yogurt should never be added. So yes, you can freeze chicken salad. But there are many rules that have to be followed for a good outcome.
It’s important to note as well that the texture of chicken salad that has been frozen will change, and the thawed product might not be good to eat on its own. It can however be used in sandwiches, pastas or even be re-purposed as a casserole.
Why Freeze Chicken Salad?
Chicken salad is a staple in many homes and is the go to meal of choice for feeding a large cross section of individuals. Since chicken salad is versatile and often reusable in many other meals, preparing it ahead of time for a quick and easy snack in the upcoming week is often a common option for the busy homemaker. Stocking your freezer with options such as chicken salad is a thrifty move for saving time and energy, as it cuts down on time spent in the kitchen and helps to prevent waste of valuable resources. If you’re preparing chicken salad for a party or other big event and you want to prepare it ahead of time, this is definitely a possibility, as long as you follow the rules for freezing outlined below.
Steps For Freezing
If you intend to make chicken salad for freezing and reuse at a later date, there are many ingredients that you will have to avoid. Using the correct ingredients will ensure that the salad does not separate or become excessively watery after thawing.
With that being said, you should never add mayonnaise, whipped cream or any other creamy substance to salad that will be frozen for use at a later date. Avoid ingredients that have a high water content – onions and celery are a definite no if your intention is freezing.
Once you have prepared your salad taking into consideration the specifications above, follow the steps below for freezing:
Give the salad a good stir to combine the ingredients. This will minimize separation of the ingredients during freezing.
Pour the stirred salad into a large freezer bag and squeeze the bag to remove the excess air. If you have a vacuum dealer, then this can also be used.
Flatten the freezer bag to allow for effective storage by stacking, and place it into the back of your freezer.
Frozen chicken salad should be consumed within two months of storage for best taste consistency.
Thawing Your Frozen Salad
Chicken salad should be removed from the freezer and thawed in the refrigerator for the best results. Thawing overnight is usually the best idea, however thawing for approximately six hours should be enough to defrost the salad.
Once the thawing process is complete, you will need to drain the excess water that may have accumulated during the freezing process. Add a teaspoon of cornstarch to improve the texture of the salad and stir to combine the ingredients.
Since you did not add any binding agent (mayonnaise, whipped cream etc), you can now add these to your mixture. Add ingredients such as celery and onion before serving as well.
Note: Chicken salad should never be thawed at room temperature as this can breed dangerous bacteria. Eat within three days of Thawing and never refreeze the thawed chicken salad.