In brief: Yes, you can freeze potato salad, but only if it does not have a creamy dressing, eggs, or water-rich vegetables, and if you use waxy potatoes. Otherwise, it is better to freeze the cooked potatoes without dressing and add it later.
Whether it comes in the traditional mayo-laden creamy variety, lightly seasoned with herbs, or mixed with veggies, who doesn’t love a good potato salad? Potato salad is a popular side dish at summer barbecues, Sunday lunches, and holiday festivities.
But, what can one do to preserve leftovers for the future? If you’ve ever been tempted to freeze potato salad you’ve probably noticed that homemade potato salad just doesn’t have the same appeal after being thawed than it did at the barbecue spread. Here is exactly what you need to know about the freezing and thawing process.
Can Potato Salad Be Frozen?
When it comes to freezing, not all potato salads are the same. Since mayonnaise and dairy denature and separate on freezing, creamy potato salad is not ideal for storage in the freezer. The potatoes will also discolor due to the separation of the mayonnaise and ice crystal formation which makes it look very unappetizing.
Potato salad that does not include a creamy dressing, eggs, or egg yolks, will result in a much better product once thawed. When freezing potato salad, it is important to take note of what other ingredients are in the salad. Water-rich vegetables such as onions, celery, and bell peppers will turn mushy on defrosting.
Your best bet, when cooking large batches of freshly boiled potatoes for salad in advance, is to freeze the cooked potatoes without dressing, and to add the fresh dressing after defrosting, just before eating.
Waxy varieties of potatoes freeze best due to their low moisture content which prevents them from becoming too mushy after defrosting. For the best results use varieties such as white or yellow potatoes, and round red potatoes in your potato salad.
Thawed potato salad does not always have the same consistency as it did before freezing. In this case, you can still reinvent the potato salad, served warm in a cooked dish or as a warm potato salad that can be heated up with other veggies or herbs.
How To Freeze Potato Salad
Freshly made potato salad that contains a creamy dressing such as mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or sour cream will not freeze well. Follow the below steps to freeze plain potatoes that you have pre-cooked for a potato salad or to freeze a French-style or German potato salad with an oil or vinegar-based dressing.
Note: Potato salad that has not been stored properly and that has been left out for a few hours at a BBQ or picnic at normal temperature should not be frozen. Bacterial growth can cause foodborne illness when it is not kept in storage containers in the fridge.
Step 1: Portion
Divide the potato salad into portion sizes suitable for defrosting to avoid waste and having to defrost an entire large batch that you may not be able to use at once.
Step 2: Pack
Place the portions into freezer friendly plastic bags, preferably reseable ones. Leave about an inch of space at the top to avoid overfilling.
Step 3: Remove Air
Lie the plastic bag flat and lightly squeeze the air so that there is no excess air left in the packet. Contact with air and moisture can cause freezer burn. Close the seal.
Step 4: Label
Label the bag with a permanent marker with the contents and date so that you can keep track of how long it has been in the freezer. If you are using a sticky label just be careful that it doesn’t come off while in the freezer.
Note: Do not use aluminum foil to freeze the potatoes as this will cause them to discolor.
How To Thaw Frozen Potato Salad
The first step when thawing potato salad, is to remove the freezer bag from the freezer and place it straight into the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Do not thaw potato salad at room temperature as this can lead to bacterial growth.
Once thawed, give the potato salad a good stir which will fix a slightly cloudy appearance caused by oil-based dressings. You can also revive your potato salad by adding fresh ingredients, miracle whip, herbs, dressings or use it in a cooked dish such as breakfast casserole, mashed potatoes, stew, or added to warm vegetable bake.
Types of Potato Salad
The variety of potato salad recipes are endless, but when it comes to freezer suitability, they can be divided into two main categories:
#1. Creamy Potato Salad
As its name suggests, creamy potato salad is laden with a creamy dressing, usually mayonnaise. Traditionally, a mayonnaise-based potato salad will also include eggs and pickles, however, there are so many varieties that one can include any ingredients as long as there are potatoes and a dairy- or mayonnaise-type dressing.
#2. Oil- and Vinegar-Based Potato Salad (French-style)
A French-style or German potato salad does not include a creamy dressing but rather oil- and vinegar-based dressings. These types of potato salads are a good option for healthy eating and come mixed with a variety of herbs, vegetables, and salad ingredients.
Depending on the type of potato salad leftovers you have on hand, you can freeze it and use it in many delicious ways in the future.
For the best result we do not recommend freezing potato salad that has a creamy dairy- or mayonnaise-based dressing. The potato salad taste and texture will change and it will not be edible once defrosted. But undressed, or French-style potato salads can be frozen and kept for up to three months in the freezer.
Now, there’s no need to send any potato goodness to the bin after your next holiday feast. Store your spuds with care and enjoy them again.
Up Next: Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?
*Image by depositphotos/studioM