As with any type of food, caution is always needed when freezing and defrosting. If you are on a health kick and are meal prepping, or if you simply made too much salad, you may be contemplating freezing it. But is this actually safe to do so?
In this article, we will be discussing whether or not it is safe to freeze chicken salad and the safest way to do so. We will also be discussing the best way to defrost the salad. If you would like to find out how then stick around!
Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
In short, you will be happy to know that you can freeze chicken salad. Thankfully, your leftovers or meal prepping will not go to waste. You can save some of your favorite salad for a day where you do not fancy cooking!
While you can freeze chicken salad, naturally, certain foods do not defrost as well as others. This is something to be aware of before you freeze your food. If you are planning on adding sauces, they may not have the same great taste as they did before they were frozen.
For the next part of the article, we will be discussing what parts of a salad taste different and lose their texture or flavor when defrosted.
Sauces And Dairy Produce
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the chicken that will cause the main issue, its the sauces! The biggest culprit of changing the taste of the salad is sauces such as mayonnaise.
Sauces, when frozen can quickly change in texture and not have the same quality, or taste. If for instance, you have made a chicken caesar salad with lashings of dressing, it is probably best to pop it in the fridge and eat it the next day instead of freezing it. Even then, it is likely you will notice that the sauce will change its consistency after a few hours.
Mayonnaise is particularly difficult to freeze because it is an emulsion. This means that the consistency of it is part fat and part water. When you freeze mayonnaise or let it sit for too long, the water and the fat separate, and this changes the consistency and taste of the sauce.
If you prefer to eat your salad with a sauce, we would recommend adding it to your salad once it has thawed completely and is just ready to be served.
If you want to save time by adding dressing to your salad before freezing, there are some better options to choose from that will freeze and thaw much better. These sauces included olive oil, pesto, or a sweet chili sauce.
Dairy is also another tricky one, like mayonnaise, most dairy products such as milk and yogurts tend to separate when frozen. These food items will taste better when added fresh instead of when thawed out.
Vegetables And Herbs
There are a handful of vegetables that lose their taste and consistency when frozen. Given this, it is probably best to avoid freezing them and only add them when you are ready to serve your salad so that they remain fresh and crunchy.
With particularly crunchy vegetables such as celery, when they are frozen and defrosted they lose all of their crunchiness. The best part about celery is its crunch, so if it loses this, it will make for a disappointing vegetable. Other vegetables, such as chives also do not thaw as well.
With herbs, it depends on the type you are using. If you are using dried herbs, they tend to thaw out reasonably well. If you are using fresh herbs, however, they will likely become soggy when defrosted.
How To Safely Freeze Chicken Salad
You want to ensure that everything is thoroughly cooked and the meat is cooled to a safe temperature before freezing. If your salad has been sitting at room temperature for too long it is not safe to freeze.
As soon as all of your salad ingredients are cool, you will need to freeze it.
How To Safely Defrost Chicken Salad
As this is a salad, you do not want to be warming it up by defrosting it in the microwave. Not only is this a dangerous way of defrosting food, but it will also make your salad rather soggy!
The best way to defrost your salad is in the refrigerator. Take your salad out of your freezer the night before you are planning to eat it and allow it to defrost slowly in the refrigerator.
If you leave the chicken salad to defrost on the kitchen counter, harmful bacteria will likely breed. By defrosting it in the refrigerator, the salad does not rise to unsafe temperatures.
We hope this article has helped you to know how to safely freeze and defrost chicken salad. As you can see, it is safe to do so and it is a fairly easy process. Freezing foods is a great option as it saves you time, it reduces waste produced and it will save you money in the long run.
As mentioned above, it is always best to defrost your food safely in the refrigerator to avoid any potential food-borne illnesses. Before you freeze your salad, always ensure that you are allowing your meat to cool quickly. Do not allow your salad to sit around for too long before freeing as this will encourage dangerous bacterias to breed.
It is better to freeze your salad without vegetables like celery as they can lose their crunchiness and become soggy when defrosted.
Sauces such as mayonnaise do not freeze well and will lose their consistency and taste. If you do want to save time by pouring your sauce on your salad before freezing, we suggest a better sauce to freeze, such as pesto.
Remember that if you do enjoy the crunchy salads, sauces, and dairy products that do not freeze well, you can always place them on your salad just before you are ready to serve.