Whether it's for a potluck, picnic, or BBQ, chicken salad is an easy and delicious dish to make in bulk to feed a large group of people. It's an easily customizable dish, and there are all sorts of ways to elevate your chicken salad, like using brown sugar as your secret ingredient, or cooking your chicken sous vide for the juiciest chicken salad ever, but depending on just how big a batch you made, you might still end up with more leftovers than you could possibly finish in the five days that your chicken salad would remain good for in the refrigerator.
Luckily, it is possible to freeze chicken salad for later use. Assuming your chicken salad hasn't been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, as advised by the FDA, you can store chicken salad in a plastic bag or airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. However, it's important to know that there are certain factors that will affect how well your chicken salad will freeze and thaw out, including how well the chicken salad will retain its texture and taste. Here's what you need to know before freezing chicken salad.
Many people make their chicken salad with mayonnaise. If you're planning to freeze your chicken salad though, you'll want to rethink using mayonnaise as your base. That's because mayonnaise doesn't freeze well and will likely separate when thawed out, which will definitely affect the texture and taste of your chicken salad, according to Robust Kitchen. Similarly, yogurt, including Greek yogurt, doesn't freeze well and will separate when thawed. If you know you're going to freeze your chicken salad, it's best to use a whipped salad dressing like Miracle Whip, which won't separate when frozen and thawed, or to wait to add mayonnaise or yogurt until after the frozen chicken salad has been thawed out, recommends Can You Freeze This.
The addition of other ingredients to your chicken salad could also be problematic if you plan to freeze it, including egg whites (which become rubbery when frozen, though egg yolks are fine), and crunchy vegetables or fruits like celery, scallions, onions, apples, and grapes, which tend to lose their crispness and instead becomes mushy and soggy messes after being frozen and thawed. If you must use these ingredients, it's best to wait to add them until after you've thawed out your frozen chicken salad.