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Does chicken salad with mayonnaise freeze well?

Chicken salad is a classic picnic and potluck dish that’s simple to prepare. The typical recipe calls for shredded cooked chicken mixed with mayonnaise or another creamy dressing, along with various herbs, spices, chopped veggies, nuts, or fruits. It’s the perfect way to use up leftover cooked chicken. However, since it contains perishable ingredients like mayonnaise, chicken salad doesn’t keep for long in the fridge. So can you freeze chicken salad to extend its shelf life? Let’s take a closer look.

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze chicken salad containing mayonnaise. Freezing is an excellent way to store leftover chicken salad for later use. It pauses bacterial growth that could cause spoilage and food safety issues. With proper freezer storage, frozen chicken salad keeps safely for 2-3 months.

When freezing chicken salad, it’s important to use a mayonnaise-based dressing rather than a yogurt or sour cream-based one. The acids in mayonnaise help prevent bacterial growth at frozen temperatures. Just be sure the chicken and mayo have been refrigerated at 40°F or below prior to mixing. Proper refrigeration before freezing ensures maximum safety.

How to Freeze Chicken Salad

Follow these simple steps for freezing chicken salad:

  1. Make the chicken salad as desired, combining diced cooked chicken with mayonnaise, seasonings, and any chopped veggies or fruits.
  2. Portion the chicken salad into airtight freezer containers, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace to allow for expansion. Plastic freezer containers or zip-top bags work well.
  3. Seal the containers and label with the contents and freeze-by date (2-3 months from freezing date).
  4. Freeze the sealed chicken salad at 0°F or below until solidly frozen, at least overnight.
  5. Once frozen, transfer the containers to a freezer bag if desired. This prevents freezer burn.

With this method, frozen chicken salad can be stored for 2-3 months at 0°F. For best quality, use within 1 month. The frozen chicken salad can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Tips for Freezing Chicken Salad

Follow these tips for delicious frozen chicken salad:

  • Use fully-cooked, chilled chicken. Cook chicken to 165°F internal temperature before shredding.
  • Chill mayo-based dressing and chicken in fridge before mixing.
  • Avoid extra add-ins. Ingredients like grapes or apples could turn mushy when frozen.
  • Portion into freezer-safe containers, leaving headspace.
  • Label containers with contents and freeze-by date.
  • Freeze at 0°F or below for safe storage. Use within 1-2 months for best quality.
  • Thaw in fridge before serving.

As long as these guidelines are followed, frozen chicken salad retains its delicious fresh flavor and texture when thawed.

How Long Does Frozen Chicken Salad Last?

Properly frozen chicken salad keeps well for 2 to 3 months in the freezer at a constant 0°F. For best quality and flavor, try to use frozen chicken salad within 1 month. After thawing in the refrigerator, store thawed chicken salad in the fridge for 3 to 5 days and use within that time.

Here are some approximate freezer storage times for frozen chicken salad:

Freezer Temperature Frozen Storage Time
0°F or below 2 to 3 months
0°F to 15°F 1 to 2 months

At temperatures above 15°F, frozen chicken salad may only keep for 2-3 weeks before quality suffers. Maintaining a constant freezer temperature of 0°F provides longest frozen storage times.

How to Thaw Frozen Chicken Salad

Thaw frozen chicken salad slowly in the refrigerator. This helps maintain texture and prevents food safety issues.

Follow these steps:

  1. Place frozen chicken salad container in fridge.
  2. Allow to thaw overnight, or for 24 hours.
  3. If in a hurry, you can quick thaw in cold water, changing water every 30 minutes.
  4. Use thawed chicken salad within 3 to 5 days.

Do not thaw chicken salad at room temperature or in hot water. This allows bacteria to grow. Microwaving may create hot and cold spots. Refrigerator thawing keeps the chicken salad chilled at a food safe 40°F or below.

How to Use Thawed Chicken Salad

Thawed chicken salad can be used in all the same ways as fresh chicken salad straight from the fridge. Here are some tasty ways to eat thawed chicken salad:

  • Stuffed into a pita or sandwich
  • Topped onto greens for a salad
  • Scooped onto crackers as an appetizer
  • Added to wraps or stuffed into tomatoes
  • Served over lettuce as a mason jar salad

Thawed chicken salad also works great in pans like these:

  • Chicken salad stuffed peppers
  • Chicken salad potato skins
  • Chicken salad casserole

Let your imagination run wild with all the possibilities for thawed chicken salad creations!

Can You Refreeze Thawed Chicken Salad?

It’s not recommended to refreeze thawed chicken salad. Refreezing may allow bacteria to multiply to unsafe levels. Plus, the texture could become mushy with repeated freezing and thawing. Instead, refrigerate any leftover thawed chicken salad for up to 3 to 5 days.


Chicken salad with mayonnaise freezes extremely well for long-term storage. Simply mix cooked chicken with mayo dressing and freeze in airtight containers at 0°F. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving thawed chicken salad in sandwiches, salads, and dips. Follow proper freezer temperatures and food safety practices, and you can safely freeze chicken salad for 2-3 months.