As a mum of two young kids getting to eat healthy lunches is almost impossible, especially if I need time to prepare them, this always leads me to snack unhealthy foods.
Chicken salads I love; they are nutritious, healthy, full of flavor and the combinations are endless.
This got me thinking one day, can you freeze chicken salad? Whether or not you’ll be able to freeze chicken salad will depend on the type of ingredients that you are using. If you are using mayo or hard-boiled eggs, it’s best to avoid freezing. If you don’t use these ingredients, you’ll be able to freeze the salad. Depending on the way that you package it, the chicken salad should be able to last for up to three months in the freezer.
Are you questioning what types of things you can freeze or why freezing mayonnaise is a bad idea? You might be wondering what’s the best container to use when freezing chicken salad to keep it fresh? If so, keep reading, we’ll get answers to these questions and much more.
Is It Safe to Freeze Chicken Salad?
In most cases, it will be perfectly safe for you to freeze chicken salads. However, if you have ingredients like mayonnaise or hard-boiled eggs it’s best to avoid freezing it. Also, if it’s been sitting at room temperature for a few hours, you might not want to freeze it.
The types of ingredients that you are using in your chicken salad will tell you whether it’s a good idea to freeze it or not.
To show why I think this, let’s look at mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise does not freeze well as it tends to split apart; with the egg, oil, and water separating. This will result in an unpleasant watery substance and smell, that will make your salad less than appealing.
Another thing that you should remove before freezing your chicken salad is hard-boiled eggs.
Technically, hard-boiled eggs can be frozen as they do not cause any risk to health after they have been defrosted. But you probably won’t want to. They release excess moisture when they are frozen causing the whites to become very hard and chewy.
Before deciding whether you’ll be able to freeze your chicken salad, it’s important to consider your safety.
If you have made more than you can consume in one sitting, put the salad into the freezer, rather than leaving it sitting out on the bench. If it’s spent more than two hours at room temperature, you might not want to freeze it.
Warning: The FDA recommends that cooked foods are not left at room temperatures for longer than 2 hours, as these will induce the natural bacteria from the food to grow at dangerous levels increasing the risk of food poisoning.
Finally, after you have frozen and defrosted your chicken salad, you may want to smell it before you start eating it.
This is the best way to make sure that it’s safe to consume. You shouldn’t have any problems, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check. If it smells off, it’s safest to throw it away. Obviously, if you can see any kind of mold or growth on the salad you should throw it away.
How Can You Prepare A Chicken Salad for Freezing?
If you are planning on freezing it, leave it in the fridge. Then toss it and put it into an airtight bag/container. Write the date on the package and put it in the freezer.
While this seems like a fairly simple procedure, there are a few things that you should think about:
First, never leave the salad out on the bench for more than 2 hours. As we mentioned previously, this increases the risk of food poisoning.
Then, follow the steps below to make sure the salad is frozen properly:
Write the date and content on the bag.
Trust me, you want to do this before you add your salad in the bag or container; it will be a lot easier before they get greasy or have any water on them.
The content will avoid unidentified meals in your freezer. Sometimes foods are difficult to identify once they are frozen.
The date will allow you to keep an eye on when you need to use the salad by. Do not eat a salad that has been stored in the freezer for more than 3 months.
Give the salad a good toss before you freeze it. This will ensure that all the ingredients have separated properly.
Using a large spoon, put the salad into your sealable bags or airtight containers.
You want to be careful to avoid overfilling them. You only need to fill them to about halfway. Overfilling the bag can mean that it takes longer to defrost, and can rupture the bag.
The bag serves as a protective layer from freezer burns.
While freezer burns do not cause a health risk, it will change the texture of the salad ingredients; making the salad unpalatable
if you are using a ziplock bag; push down on the bag to remove excess air. If you have a vacuum suction machine, this is a great time to use it. With airtight containers, you do not need to worry about this step.
On a side note, if you do not have a FoodSaver I truly recommend one.
They preserve the food amazingly, they help you save space in the freezer (by not having to use bulky containers) and, unlike ziploc bags; you can truly remove the air from them ensuring your salad will not suffer from freezer burns.
I use the "FoodSaver V4840 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer Machine". It works great, it is easy to use and the best feature; it also seals bottles of wine. Perfect for those nights when you only fancy a little cheeky glass. No need to waste the rest!
How Should You Defrost Chicken Salad?
When thawing a chicken salad, you will want to take it directly from the freezer to the fridge. Don’t try to speed up the process by leaving it out at room temperature or putting it in the microwave. You’ll also want to check that the salad is completely dethawed before you start eating it.
The way that you defrost the chicken salad will have a big impact on the type of flavors that you’ll be able to achieve.
Put it in the fridge and leave it to defrost. Chicken can be dense meat and you don’t want to risk biting into a chunk that still has an icy core. The salad can often take between six to eight hours to fully thaw out when left in the fridge.
I know it can be tempting to leave it out on the bench or stick it in the microwave. But good things come to those who wait. If you try to speed things up, you will find that the salad loses its texture and flavor.
However, there are times when you are in a rush and don’t have time to wait for it to thaw in the fridge. In these moments, put the salad in a waterproof bag (if you haven’t already. The likelihood is that whatever bag/container you are using to freeze your salad is waterproof), and submerged the bag into a bowl of tap water. This will speed up the process, without losing as much flavor.
When you’re thawing it out, you might notice some liquids start to form. Typically, there will be a thick layer and a thinner watery layer. Some people try to mix these together. I don’t. I recommend carefully pouring it down the sink. If you leave these liquids in, you’ll often notice a foul taste.
Finally, you’ll have a chicken salad that’s ready to eat. I add in a few fresh touches before digging in. For example, you might want to chop up some fresh vegetables. In other cases, you might want to put on some fresh topping or simply add some roasted almonds to add some crunchiness!.
How Long Will A Chicken Salad Last in The Freezer?
A chicken salad will last for up to three months in the freezer. However, it’s often recommended that you try to eat it within a month.
Once you’ve frozen the chicken salad, you need to decide how long it will be able to last. As long as you prepare it properly, you should be able to eat it after three months in the freezer.
However, after so long in the freezer, some of the flavor and texture might be lost. As a reminder, if something smells off when you are thawing out the salad, it’s best to dispose of the whole salad and move on.
To get the best flavor, you should try and eat it within a month of freezing it. By doing this, the chicken will be as fresh as possible.
You can freeze chicken salad, keeping it for at least three months.
However, this will only work on some chicken salads. If it contains mayonnaise or hard-boiled eggs, you might not be able to freeze it. These ingredients can often cause a change in texture and flavour when you defrost the salad.
It is also important to make sure that you are careful about the way you treat the salad before you freeze it.
If you left it out on the bench for a few hours, bacteria can start to grow in the meat causing the meat to get contaminated, posing a potential health risk.
Follow the simple rules provided to you in this article, and you shouldn’t have any problems with freezing your chicken salad.