Chicken salad is a staple in most American households. If you made it for lunch and have a lot left over, you might be wondering how long it will stay good for.
Or you’re prepping meals for the week and wonder if you can make chicken salad now and eat it at some point during the week?
Whatever the case is, it helps to know exactly how long cooked chicken stays good for, because eating spoiled chicken can lead to a lot of problems. Read on for everything you need to know about storing chicken salad and how long it says good for.
How Long Does Chicken Salad Stay Good For?
Generally, chicken salad is safe to eat for 3 to 5 days after it was made, provided you store it in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated.
However, don’t expect to maintain the original quality and taste. How long it retains quality depends on what ingredients you used and their quality.
If you used mayonnaise as the base for your chicken salad, it should stay more or less the same for the entirety of 3 to 5 days. If you used a vinaigrette or a similar oil-based dressing, it might not taste the same after about 3 days.
It tastes best right after you mix all the ingredients together, and the taste deteriorates with time, no matter how you store it.
If there is a lot of moisture in your ingredients, it will affect the vegetables in the salad. They will lose the crunchy texture they had initially and start to wilt. If this matters a lot to you, switch to using mayo or avoid storing chicken salad.
Chicken salad does not last very long if you don’t refrigerate it. If you are taking it on a picnic, don’t let it sit out for more than 2 hours. If the weather is hot, it will only stay good for an hour.
Storing Chicken Salad
Chicken salad needs to be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated as soon as possible to preserve its quality. If you bought it from a store and the packaging can’t be resealed, transfer the salad to a different container and refrigerate it.
If there are a lot of leafy vegetables in your salad, like kale or spinach, make sure you use a much larger container, so the salad can be aired out rather than be scrunched inside the container. This keeps the greens fresh for longer.
If you plan on storing it in a container, use only clean utensils and don’t double-dip. This will reduce chances of microbial growth and you don’t have to worry about mold growing prematurely.
Can You Store Chicken Salad in the Freezer?
You can technically store the chicken salad in the freezer, but it is really not advisable to do so. There is a drastic reduction in taste and quality and you won’t enjoy eating it, which defeats the whole purpose.
While it is not unsafe to eat, freezing chicken salad will rob you of the initial taste and quality of the meal.
Here’s what happens when a chicken salad is frozen:
- Mayonnaise or any dairy products you used will separate.
- If you use egg whites, they will become rubbery.
- The vegetables will release water and wilt, making the whole salad soggy.
- If you use any fruit in the salad, it will go the same way as the vegetables and the texture of the salad will be soggy and unpleasant.
It is clearly not a good idea to put your chicken salad in the freezer. If you do want to freeze a chicken dish, you can absolutely freeze cooked rice and chicken. They keep well and retain their taste after thawing.
You can also cook the grains and chicken you need for the salad and freeze them. Thaw them and use them in a salad. This way, it takes less time to make and tastes fresh too.
How Do You Know If Chicken Salad Has Gone Bad?
Here’s what to look for if you suspect that your chicken salad has gone bad:
- If there is mold on the salad or any fuzzy growth, it belongs in the trash. It is unsafe to eat and will make you sick.
- A strange smell is a surefire indicator that the salad has gone bad. Trust your nose and chuck the salad.
- If the salad has been in the fridge for more than 5 days, throw it away even if it seems fine. Better safe than sorry!
- Sometimes you can store it perfectly and still have it go bad. If it tastes bad, you should probably throw it away.
Chicken salad can be stored for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator, as long as you store it properly. Freezing it is not a very good idea as it will not taste the same.
Having it fresh is by far the best option, but refrigerated chicken salad is a close second. It retains the taste, prevents wastage of leftovers and saves you time later.