Can you Freeze Chicken Salad?

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Versatile and easy to make, chicken salad is a great lunch meal. However, it is all too easy to make too much, so what can you do with the leftovers – can you freeze them?

Why not make your very own Old-Fashioned Chicken Salad Recipe so that you can freeze it? Or just make this Classic Cobb Salad Recipe instead?

Table of Contents
  1. Can you Freeze Chicken Salad?
  2. Things To Consider When Trying To Freeze Chicken Salad
  3. Mayonnaise Substitutes For Better Freezing
  4. Hold The Mayo Until You Are Ready To Freeze
  5. How To Prepare Your Chicken Salad For Freezing
  6. How To Freeze Your Chicken Salad
  8. Old-Fashioned Chicken Salad Recipe Recipe
chicken salad on a piece of bread with lettuce

Can you Freeze Chicken Salad?

Chicken salad is one of those meals that people make to provide a healthy, light option alongside usually heavier fare like BBQ meats or some of the denser potato side dishes at family lunches.

However, just like all meals designed to be prepared in bulk, it is always a tricky thing to plan for how much you want to make for anyone particular meal or special occasion.

This invariably results in a mountain of leftover chicken salad sitting in the serving bowl you mixed it in, festering in the hot sun.

But what if you could take a few extra precautions when serving your chicken salad so that you could freeze it and enjoy it later, instead?

Things To Consider When Trying To Freeze Chicken Salad

Unlike a lot of other big meals you can make for lots of people, chicken salad has a bit of a problem; it has a lot of mayonnaise in it.

Mayo is a fat emulsion, meaning that the whole thing really only works when the emulsion isn’t disturbed by very high or low temperatures. If you try and freeze a big glob of chicken salad that is full of mayonnaise, you may find that you notice some significant fat separation when you go to thaw it out.

To avoid this, you have two options – you can try and substitute the mayonnaise with something that freezes better, or you can avoid adding the mayo altogether.

Mayonnaise Substitutes For Better Freezing

Mayonnaise may be super tasty and an excellent binder for your chicken salad ingredients, but it just doesn’t freeze very well.

If you notice a lot of fat separation in your frozen salads, try subbing out the mayo for something like whipped salad dressing or a simple vinaigrette instead. The ingredients in those substitutions don’t clump up and separate in the freezer like mayo does, resulting in a much better freezing experience, though mayonnaise is vital in the chicken salad.

chicken salad on two pieces of bread with lettuce

Hold The Mayo Until You Are Ready To Freeze

The other thing you can do if you are concerned about losing all of the great flavors that mayo offers is to simply not add the mayonnaise to the salad when preparing it.

When serving it, simply take a portion of the other ingredients and put it into a bowl, and then from there, add the requisite amount of mayonnaise and give it a mix.

This keeps the mayo separate from the rest of the ingredients, letting you bag up any leftovers without mayonnaise and easily freeze them for later.

How To Prepare Your Chicken Salad For Freezing

The other thing to keep in mind when trying to freeze chicken salad is that you need to get it ready for freezing well in advance of serving it.

A big problem with trying to store something as volatile and quick to decompose as chicken salad is that the longer it stays out, the less you are going to want to keep it for later.

To help avoid your chicken salad going bad, why not try and keep it protected from the elements?

Some plastic wrap put over the top of the bowl is the very least you should probably do, but you can also keep it out of the sun, or even just keep it in the fridge and only take it out when people actively want to take a portion for themselves to make a sandwich.

Just try and make sure that your chicken salad doesn’t go bad before you go to freeze it – it would be a real shame to defrost some chicken salad in a week’s time, only to discover it was already pretty off before it ever saw the freezer.

How To Freeze Your Chicken Salad

Assuming you did all of the necessary steps to ensure that your chicken salad is safe to eat and ready to freeze, actually getting it frozen is pretty simple.

If you plan on eating all of the leftovers at once, like at a family dinner or even another big social event, you can just freeze the whole bowl or, if the bowl is too big to fit in your freezer, in a big Ziploc resealable bag.

However, you could also freeze them in individual portions to end up with some handy lunch portions of homemade chicken salad!

Just portion out how much chicken salad you think you would want as a lunch portion into either a Ziploc bag or a freezer-safe container with a sealable lid. This lets you take out and enjoy a small and convenient portion of chicken salad whenever you like!

If you went down the route of removing the mayonnaise to make it more freezable, you could even add the mayo when you go to eat your lunch portion, saving even more on freezer space!

Looking for more How-To guides? Why not try these recipes:

Can You Freeze Sour Cream?

Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Happy cooking




Tips and hints on the easiest way to freeze any leftover chicken salad that you may have left over.
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Old-Fashioned Chicken Salad Recipe

This classic Old-Fashioned Chicken Salad Recipe is the best way to use up leftover chicken!
5 from 34 votes
chicken salad on a piece of bread with lettuce
Prep Time
10 minutes
Total Time
10 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


Salad Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chicken chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice this is to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika


  • Place the salad ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
  • Stir together the dressing ingredients in a bowl, adjusting the lemon to taste. Add to the salad ingredients and gently stir them until the ingredients are well combined.
  • Use in lettuce leaf wraps, in sandwiches or just by itself!

Recipe Notes

Optional ingredients:
  1. diced apples
  2. diced hard boiled eggs
  3. sliced grapes 
Use light mayo to keep the fat and calories down.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 167kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 493mg, Potassium: 203mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 139IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 13mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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