Can You Freeze Potato Salad

Potato salad, like other perishable foods, cannot be left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. So, should you store it or throw it out? 

Here’s the catch. Nobody likes wasting food. Especially snacks like potato salad, which has mayo or sour cream in it. Perhaps you prepared that potato salad with lots of effort, and you don't feel like throwing it away.

No matter how tasty it is, you'll likely end up with leftovers. So you've decided to keep it in the fridge until the next meal time. 

We all know freezing is the best way to keep any leftovers last longer. But can you freeze potato salad? Is it a genuine idea to freeze it for weeks? How exactly can you do it? 

If these questions have been bothering you, too, you've come to the right place. Technically, you can freeze potato salad, but it's quite complicated.

Continue reading as we explain whether you can freeze potato salad. We'll also give you a quick guide on how to freeze and thaw it. 

What Is Potato Salad?

Potato salad is a famous Western cuisine dish that goes well with any main course or picnic snack. This dish is believed to have originated in Germany and is widely used across Western countries, including the United States, where European settlers introduced it.

Potato salad is usually made from boiled potatoes topped with dressings. Other core ingredients include hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, mayonnaise, and sometimes pickles. 

It is usually served cold or at room temperature. Since potato salad can turn bad in a matter of two hours when left out of the fridge, it has to be refrigerated if not eaten immediately.

By day three, we assure you're not going to even look at it (it looks and tastes terrible!). So the logical solution is to freeze them, i.e., to store them in a freezer. 

Types of Potato Salad: 

You might have seen different varieties of potato salads. Some of the popular ones are: 

  • German potato salad (made with bacon, onion, vinegar, seasoning and herbs)
  • Mayo-based potato salad (made with olive oil mayonnaise, egg yolk, mustard, pickle)
  • Dairy-based potato salad (made with celery, green onion, mayo)
  • Vinaigrette-based potato salad (made with vinaigrette dressing, mayo, greek yogurt, dijon mustard, onion)

There are other recipes for potato salad that you can check online and prepare according to your preferred ingredients. 

Is Potato Salad Healthy?

Mostly no. Be it store-bought or homemade, most potato salads are usually unhealthy. This is because they are typically made with plenty of mayonnaise and/or sour cream, both of which are heavy in fat (unhealthy fat).

Moreover, they are high in calories, which can make you gain weight

To make it healthy, you can use greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has the same creaminess as mayonnaise but with added health advantages such as protein, vitamins and calcium. 

Can You Freeze Potato Salad?

Yes. You can certainly freeze potato salad, but it depends a lot on what you're putting in it. Scientifically speaking, low temperatures are proven to prevent the growth of disease-causing germs.

That is why freezing is one of the most effective and simple ways to extend the shelf life of your potato salad. 

In the case of mayo-based potato salad, freezing can actually make it worse. Because of what happens to foods like mayonnaise and sour cream when they freeze, using those ingredients will be disastrous, but if you use a potato salad with mustard or oil, you can pull it off.

That means mayo and sour doesn't freeze well. As you may know, mayonnaise is an emulsion, which means that its ingredients are unwilling to stick together in the first place, and freezing it gives it even more reason to separate completely. 

Now, regarding sour cream-based potato salad, a similar thing happens. Sour cream is not actually an emulsion but has a mix of liquid and fat. That means its two ingredients naturally separate out when you freeze.  

German potato salad works pretty well if you want to freeze it, as it contains oil or mustard. So you can freeze it without any worries. 

Also, bear in mind that its taste and consistency may change after freezing – Usually, it has a sour taste and pale color. However, it doesn't mean you can prepare a large batch of potato salad once and freeze it for months. 

It's generally advised to prepare less or sufficient potato salad so that it doesn't get wasted. At the end of the day, fresh food is always the best! 

How Long Does Potato Salad Last In The Fridge? 

If we talk about storing potato salad in the refrigerator, it can last up to 3 to 4 days, provided it has been cooled to 70°F within two hours of preparation and 41°F within four hours of making it. The sooner you refrigerate your potato salad, the higher the chances of keeping it fresh.

Not to mention, it must be stored or covered in a freezer-friendly airtight container. This is particularly true if your salad has boiled eggs.

Dairy-based dressings (such as mayonnaise & sour cream) cannot last as long in the freezer as oil-based dressings. When freezing a salad, dairy dressings provide a larger danger since the ingredients are more likely to contain harmful bacteria. 

In addition, when mayonnaise is defrosted, it can separate into its constituent ingredients; this is true for vegan and egg-based varieties. Yogurt and sour cream can also separate. 

These dressings can be stirred back together, but their appearance and consistency might change compared to before. Note that if the salad has developed a rancid or strange smell after a few days, it's time to toss it out.

What Are The Dangers of Freezing Potato Salad? 

Although one can freeze and consume potato salad after thawing it, it's generally not recommended. That's because there are some dangers and risks to it. 

  • Potato salad is often cooked with mayonnaise or oil. When the right temperature is not maintained, they provide a breeding habitat for foodborne germs such as salmonella and listeria in potato salad. 

The US FDA says foods can be safely eaten after being in the danger zone for up to two hours. Yes, it takes approximately 2 hours for bacteria in foods to grow to hazardous levels, which is why you want to limit the amount of time food is in the temperature danger zone, i.e., between 40°F and 140°F. 

On warmer days or days when the temperature is above 90°F, and you're eating outside, that duration reduces to 1 hour.

  • Another disadvantage of freezing potato salad is that the potatoes will become messy and probably turn gray. Unfortunately, reheating the potato salad does not reverse the color of the potatoes, resulting in a bland appearance. 

Still, even with all these dangers, if you have no choice but to freeze potato salad instead of discarding and wasting it, all you have to know is how to freeze it properly. Let’s get into it. 

How To Freeze Potato Salad Properly? 

First of all, you need to remove the ingredients that don't freeze well. For example, eggs, herbs, or green salad. 

To freeze homemade potato salad, spread it out in a single layer in a freezer-safe bag, press out as much air as you can, and then lay it flat in the freezer. Use the same procedure to store store-bought potato salad by transferring it to a freezer-safe bag.

The first step to freezing mayo-based potato salad is dividing it up into equal portion sizes. Make each portion small enough that you will be able to eat it all once you have thawed it.

Do not forget to set the temperature of your freezer to or below 0°F for optimal storage conditions. Here’s how you can freeze quickly: 

Method 1 – Ziplock plastic bag 

  • Transfer the portions of potato salad to a ziplock plastic or freezer-friendly bag. 
  • Do not fill it completely. 
  • Squeeze the air out before sealing it to keep it fresh. 
  • Stick a label or mark the bag with a date to help you monitor how long it's been in the freezer.
  • Lay it flat in the freezer. 

Method 2 – Airtight container 

  • As said, split the potato salad into multiple equal parts and store them in an airtight container. 
  • Make sure the lid is securely closed and leave about 2 inches free. 
  • Use a sticker or mark it with a date and keep it in the freezer. 

A freezer bag is recommended because it allows you to spread the potato salad more uniformly, ensuring that no portion is overly thick. 

Note that it should be frozen for a maximum of seven days. Also, once it has been left at room temperature for three hours, do not freeze it, as it will most likely spoil. You don’t want to deal with food poisoning, after all! 

How To Thaw Potato Salad After Freezing? 

So, what's the next step after freezing potato salad? Thawing or defrosting. 

Thawing is basically the process of changing the food from a frozen state to a liquid so that it can be eaten. 

After you take the potato salad out of the freezer, you should know how to thaw it properly. Do not consume it straight out of the freezer. It's too hard and cold, after all. 

The basic advice is to just keep it in the refrigerator overnight and allow it to defrost naturally. Due to low temperature it begins to melt down. 

It is recommended that you do not thaw it at a temperature below 40°F as this can promote the growth of bacteria and, eventually, food spoilage. 

Here’s how you can thaw your potato salad: 

  • Remove the potato salad from the freezer and place it in the fridge.
  • Allow it to defrost for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Stir it before serving.

If you’re in a hurry or running out of time, you can try cold water thawing. 

All you need to do is fill the sink with cold water and keep the frozen potato salad. Make sure it's in a container or bag so that water doesn’t go inside. Refresh the water every half hour until it thaws. 

Note: Never use hot water to thaw potato salad (or any food), even if you’re in a hurry. This will promote bacterial growth surrounding the food while the inside remains frozen. Also, avoid using the microwave to thaw; it can mess up the texture.

After thawing, you'll notice slight differences in taste and texture. Its consistency will be a bit watery, which might not be as tasty as it was before. 

This is simply because the freezing process may cause the water content in the potatoes and other ingredients to separate out, which results in a somewhat different texture. 

How To Find Out If Frozen Potato Salad Is Bad? 

As we said, potato salad can go terrible if left at room temperature for too long. Here are some signs that indicate frozen potato salad has to be discarded immediately:

  • The liquid, which is usually creamy and thick, separates out. 
  • A sour, rancid, or funky smell begins to develop. 
  • Appearance of green or white mold – Salad becomes slimy in texture. 
  • Bad texture, typically slimy or mushy.

When making potato salad, pick potatoes with a waxy consistency. Starchy potatoes may become quite mushy, making your salad soggy. So, stick to waxy potatoes, which are more prone to defrost at room temperature. 

Final Lines

So, can you freeze potato salad? Turns out, you can. But mostly, it's not recommended. While freezing is the easiest way to extend the shelf life of food, there are some dangers to it. 

From a food safety perspective, potato salad is perfectly fine to freeze and eat as long as you thaw it slowly in the refrigerator and don't refreeze it afterward. It can last for up to three months, but one must know to freeze and thaw it the right way. 

When in doubt, throw it out even if it looks, smells, and tastes fine. So, if you're planning to freeze mayo-based potato salad, make sure it's prepared with ingredients that can freeze without any complication. Nobody likes to have messy food, anyway! 


1. Does potato salad freeze very well?

Ans: Yes, potato salad freezes very well. But you need to store it in a ziplock plastic freezer bag and squeeze out the air. This frozen salad can last about three to six months.

2. How long will potato salad last in the refrigerator?

Ans: Potato salad (homemade or store-bought) can last about five days in the refrigerator if stored properly. 

3. Can you freeze potato salad with mayonnaise in it?

Ans: Potato salad with mayonnaise doesn't freeze well. The mayonnaise will separate out, and the potatoes will turn mush. The same goes for celery and eggs. 

4. What makes potato salad go bad?

Ans: When potato salad is kept at a danger zone (40°F and 140°F), certain bad bacteria begin to grow rapidly and spoil it.

5. How do you freeze homemade potato salad? 

Ans: You should store homemade potato salad in a freezer-safe bag in a single layer, squeeze out as much air as possible, and keep it in the freezer.

6. Can you heat up frozen potato salad?

Ans: Yes. You can reheat the frozen mayo-based potato salad. As long as they are covered with water, potatoes won't oxidize. So it's safe to heat them.

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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

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