BBQ's, potlucks, holidays...everybody loves a good potato salad. The thing is, there always seems to be too much of it. Potato salad and chicken salad always seem to be made in proportions no ordinary family could possibly consume. So, the question is raised...can you freeze potato salad?
Yes, you can.
But it isn't as simple as covering the container and throwing it in the freezer. In order to freeze potato salad for optimal flavor and texture preservation, certain steps should be taken. To help you along the way, we've put together a simple guide to storing, freezing and thawing your potato salad.
We have also included some of our favorite potato salad recipes that freeze and thaw better than others.
Should you Freeze Potato Salad?
In most cases, the benefits of freezing potato salad do outweigh the consequences. It should be noted however, thawing takes considerable precautions. The consistency of potato salad is delicate and can easily become compromised when thawing. Potatoes are cheap, and a frozen potato salad will never be as good as a fresh one.
But there may be the occassion where you get the recipe just right, with all the ingredients and spices coming together into a blissful masterpiece. You have a ton left over. So, I recommend you give it a try.
If you're going to freeze your potato salad, it should be done soon after making it (within the first few days). If it's been sitting outside at a picnic all day, it's probably safer to keep it in the fridge and finish it over the next few days. Never leave your potato salad out at room temperature for more time than is needed to serve it.
- Leaving your potato salad out on the counter to thaw could lead to more rapid bacteria growth. Thawing in the fridge is your safest bet.
- If your potato salad is made with dairy products, it will expire more quickly, and will likely not have the same consistency once frozen and thawed.
- If your potato salad has a oil-base and is dairy-free, it has a better chance of surviving freezing & thawing.
- Take into consideration which ingredients are in your potato salad, and the shelf life of each.
How to Properly Freeze Potato Salad
1) Make sure your potato salad is still fresh and hasn't started to expire, or else freezing will be pointless. If you're going to freeze it, do it when your potato salad is at it's freshest point possible.
2) Place your potato salad in a freezer-safe bag, or an airtight container, leaving an inch of extra space at the top (frozen food expands). Label and date it.
3) If you do decide to preserve potato salad in the freezer, it definitely needs to be thawed and consumed within a 3 month period.
Thawing Potato Salad
Always thaw overnight in the refrigerator for best results. Leaving it out at room temperature, or trying to heat it up rapidly may cause quick bacteria growth. Even after slowly thawing overnight, your salad may not contain the same consistency once thawed, so be warned. Once completely thawed, always smell and do a taste test to see if your potato salad is still desirable.
Types of Potato Salad: What's in it?
If your potato salad has onions, mayonnaise, eggs, cream or tartar sauce in it, the shelf-life will not be as long, and thawing must be done very slowly to avoid bacteria growth. Because potato salad is usually made with cooked potatoes that are moist, this will also speed up bacteria growth. The potatoes get mealy once frozen, and draw out moisture from others vegetables, such a pickles or onions, resulting in a runnier dish.
Nothing in potato salad has a very long shelf-life once cooked and mixed together, hence, you must be careful with this dish. Once frozen, mayonnaise tends to seperate, and when you thaw it, the flavors and textures will not be the same, and may even be pretty gross.
If you are going to be making a lot of potato salad, where you might possibly need to freeze some leftovers, try a dairy-free recipe made with an oil-based vinaigrette, such as this one, or this classic vegan recipe. These may hold up better once defrosted after freezing.
If your salad has an oil or vinegar base, it may take on a cloudy look when the oil seperates, but it should be OK once fully thawed and mixed in.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How Long can You Keep Potato Salad in the Fridge?
Whether your potato salad is homemade or store bought, if stored properly, it should stay good for up to 5 days in the fridge before starting to go “off.” If you are left with a small amount left, it is smarter to toss it, rather than trying to preserve it in the freezer. It’s tricky and probably not worth it to try to preserve most potato salads, but we will leave this decision up to you.
What Can You Do with Leftover Potato Salad?
Grill it! There are so many recipies to help you give those leftovers a facelift. Maybe you have overdosed on your potato salad, but are still left with a good amount in your fridge. You can grill it in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, or in a preheated 425°F oven for about half-hour, shaking the pan every 10 minutes to distribute evenly.
That's it! Give your leftover potato salad a new life.
*If you are going to grill your leftovers, make sure it isn't too liquidy. If you find it is on the moist side, give it a quick rinse in a strainer so it will grill better.
Personally, we don't usually recommend freezing potato salad, but in your case it might be worth a try. Some things can be frozen and preserved without losing their flavor profile or consistency, but potato salad is not one of them.Freezing will most likely change the taste and consistency of your salad, and there's nothing worse than something not tasting like it should. If you have loads of potato salad left over, you can try properly storing it in the freezing, and slowly thawing it overnight in the fridge to see how it turns out.
We hope this article helped you make an ultimate decision. Please feel free to comment with any further questions or concerns.
Founder of Robust Kitchen