Potato salad is typically made with a mayo-based dressing. When frozen, mayonnaise looks normal, but when it thaws out–you’re in for a watery surprise.
This is because mayonnaise is made from an emulsion of oil, egg yolks, and vinegar. When it is frozen and thawed, that emulsion separates, making your dressing very liquidy.
More than that, potato salad is eaten uncooked. That means when you eventually take out your potato salad from the freezer, you won’t have a chance to kill any bacteria that may have formed.
All that said, we recommend freezing potato salad for up to only 2 to 3 weeks. And to avoid any major texture changes, you have to know how to freeze potato salad correctly.
Keep on reading to find out more about freezing potato salad the right way.
Can You Freeze Potato Salad?
Yes, you can freeze potato salad just like almost any other food. Potato salad can last up to 3 months in the freezer.
But is freezing potato salad a good idea?
If you’re only keeping your potato salad in the freezer for a week or two, the chances of bacterial growth are lower. More than that, the potatoes are less likely to turn mushy after you thaw them out.
Otherwise, long-term storage of potato salad is generally not a good idea. Going off from the points we’ve made above, keeping potato salad for too long can make it unsafe due to bacterial growth that you won’t get to kill through cooking.
And aside from that, potato salad will turn mushy and liquidy after it has been in the freezer for too long. So, it’s better to just make fresh potato salad instead of freezing a batch for more than 2 or 3 weeks.
Still, want to freeze your potato salad? Well, it’s best to do it the right way:
How Do You Freeze Potato Salad?
To start, we highly suggest freezing potato salad as soon as you make it. If your potato salad has been in the refrigerator for a few days, bacterial growth may have already taken place.
Do not freeze potato salad that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Illness-causing bacteria grow the fastest at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F.
Freezing only stops the growth of bacteria; it does not kill them. So, if your potato salad has been sitting out for more than 2 hours, throw it out. (*)
But if your potato salad is freshly made or has been stored in the fridge for just a few hours, here’s how you can freeze it:
- If your potato salad has eggs, remove the eggs before freezing. Eggs develop a highly unpleasant texture once frozen. Better yet, don’t put eggs in your potato salad if you plan to freeze it.
- Scoop your potato salad into an airtight container or freezer bag. If you are using a bag, flatten the salad into a single layer and squeeze out as much air as possible.
- Label the container with the current date before putting it in the freezer. It should freeze completely within a few hours.
To enjoy your potato salad at its best quality, eat it within 2 to 3 weeks. Although it may last way longer than that, the texture and flavor of potato salad degrade drastically the longer it is frozen.
Tip: If you’re making potato salad specifically for freezing, keep the dressing and potatoes in separate containers. This will help your potatoes stay firm.
So, what do you do when you’re ready to use your potato salad? Here are our best defrosting tips:
How Do You Thaw Frozen Potato Salad?
Defrosting potato salad is easy. All you have to do is leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
However, you may notice that the dressing has become quite liquidy. This happens because freezing destabilizes the emulsion, which causes the different ingredients (e.g. mayonnaise, vinaigrette, hollandaise sauce, etc.) to separate. (*)
You can fix an emulsion by rapidly whisking egg yolk or lemon juice into the mixture, but this is not possible with potato salad. So, the best thing you can do is to mix your potato salad up so that the separate layers of your dressing somewhat recombine.
Another defrosting method is putting your potato salad in the microwave. But if you enjoy your potato salad cold, stick to the fridge thawing method.
So, can you freeze potato salad? Of course. But that doesn’t always mean you should.
Potato salad is eaten raw, so keeping it for too long may not be entirely safe. More than that, your dressing will most likely separate, which will lead to an unpleasant texture.
All that said, we recommend freezing potato salad for only a short time. Better yet, keep it in the fridge!
If you want to read more food guides like this, don’t forget to check out our blog where we have all the tips and tricks you need!