Can You Freeze Macaroni Salad: Things To Consider

Can You Freeze Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a staple dish that is very quick, easy, and fun to make. And more often than not, we end up making more than we need. But then what do you do with the leftovers? Can you freeze macaroni salad? The short answer is yes, you can! Transfer your salad to an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator to freeze. But there are “buts” and “ifs.”

In this article, we have thoroughly discussed those alongside how to freeze Macaroni Salad properly, things to consider while freezing it, how to know if macaroni salad has gone bad and so on. So, continue reading!

How to Freeze Macaroni Salad?

There are 2 ways you can approach the process of freezing your macaroni salad. 

(1) If you’re freezing your salad in advance, it is best to store the salad dressing separately. Whenever you need your salad for a quick meal, simply defrost all the containers, mix, and you’re ready to go!

(2) If you want to store leftover macaroni salad, however, it might require a bit more of your effort and precaution.

To freeze your leftover macaroni salad:

  1. First, let the salad completely cool down to room temperature.
  2. Transfer your salad to an airtight container.
  3. If using plastic freezer-safe bags, remove as much air as possible. If using Tupperware containers, place a cling wrap sheet on top before closing the lid.
  4. Put this in the refrigerator to freeze.

Things To Know While Freezing Macaroni Salad

  • Frozen macaroni salads will never taste exactly like freshly prepared salads. The longer you keep it in the refrigerator, the more it’ll impact its taste and texture.
  • The mayonnaise and eggs in your salad won’t freeze well. They will still be safe to consume, but they’ll affect the taste and texture of your salad.
  • Frozen egg white becomes a rubbery mass once thawed. Avoid adding eggs to your macaroni salad. And if you do, add small chunks so that the texture is barely noticeable.
  • Avoid adding fish to your macaroni salad if you wish to freeze it. Substitute bacon or chicken instead.
  • Freeze your containers in small quantities first to determine if the quality of the thawed salad works for you. If it does, go ahead and freeze large batches.
macaroni salad served in a bowl
Image credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

How to Thaw Macaroni Salad?

Thawing your frozen macaroni salad is pretty easy.

Simply place your container in the refrigerator overnight and let it gradually shift temperature.

If you’re freezing ahead of time and are not using fully cooked macaroni, you may be able to use the microwave to quickly defrost your salad. However, with leftover salads, you run the risk of overcooking your pasta.

While the above method is easy, you do run the risk of bacterial growth while you wait for your salad to cool down again. The best way to go is to heat your macaroni salad just enough to defrost it, instead of completely warming it up.

In any situation, if you need a quick solution, place your container in a bowl full of cold water. Wait for some time and then change the water. Keep repeating this until your salad achieves the desired amount of temperature.

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How Long Can You Freeze Macaroni Salad?

How long your macaroni salad will last in the freezer will depend upon a couple of factors.

  • If you’re looking to freeze leftover macaroni salad, you might want to use it within a week of freezing.
  • If you’re making your salad and intending to freeze it, freeze all ingredients separately. This way, your salad will last up to a month!
  • Ingredients like mayonnaise, eggs, seafood, and shellfish will lower the shelf life of your macaroni salad when frozen. If your salad contains any of the following, consume it within a week of freezing.

How to Tell If Macaroni Salad Has Gone Bad

First and foremost, if your salad was left out at room temperature for more than two hours, discard it right away. It might seem safe to eat, but it most likely won’t be.

Macaroni salad will immediately develop an off odor, or change of color, once it has gone bad. But since it is difficult to identify this when it is in a frozen state, you should let it come to room temperature and then do a quality check.

Macaroni salads can sometimes even develop a weird texture or mold. In such situations, you should never even taste your salad. Discard it right away.

tips and tricks to freeze macaroni salad
Tips & Hacks for Freezing Macaroni Salad: A Snapshot

Why You Shouldn’t Freeze Macaroni Salad!

Hear me out. You absolutely can freeze your macaroni salad. But there are a couple of reasons you probably shouldn’t. For most people, these things are a big mood spoiler. 

Macaroni salad will most often contain mayonnaise, if not the other ingredients. Freezing mayonnaise separates its oil and fat contents from the egg yolk. There’s no telling if your mayonnaise will separate in the freezer or not. 

The cream/dressing in your macaroni salad also thickens when you freeze it. Thawing it, later on, won’t guarantee a smoother texture.

While freezing macaroni salad does not make it uneatable at all, it sometimes produces significant changes as compared to the original quality. If it doesn’t bother you much, by all means, you should freeze it!

You may also like: Can You Freeze Oysters

Tips to Make Macaroni Salad Last Longer  

Now that I have mentioned why you shouldn’t freeze your salad, I would also like to tell you how you can. These little caveats will maximize the outcome of freezing your macaroni salad.

  • The best way to freeze your salad in advance is to cook it al-dente, firm rough to hold its shape, and not too soggy.
  • As a general rule of thumb, whether you’re making your salad in advance or whether you’re making it fresh but might have to store the leftovers, add mayonnaise to your salad at the very last step. Do not add it to the whole batch. This way, should you want to freeze it, you can freeze it without mayonnaise, thus extending its shelf life.
  • Try mayo-free recipes! This recipe in particular substitutes mayo with mustard!
  • Freeze your macaroni salad in small batches, and avoid thawing more than you will need.


How long can you keep macaroni salad in the fridge?

Macaroni salad will last in the fridge for 3-5 days, considering it is stored right in airtight containers and away from moisture.

Can you freeze macaroni salad containing Tuna?

Macaroni salad, or any salad, that contains fish or shellfish will not freeze well. It will turn fishy and unpleasant after thawing. The best thing to do is keep it in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Is it safe to eat frozen macaroni salad?

Yes, it is. However, if you feel it smells funny or doesn’t taste right, the best thing to do is discard it.

Can you refreeze macaroni salad?

Don’t. Instead, thaw the desired amount of salad at a time.

Final Thoughts

People have very mixed opinions when it comes to freezing salads for longer use. But one thing is true, it is always better to refrigerate or even freeze your food instead of carelessly throwing it away. As long as it is safe, you can always find ways to store it.

When it comes to macaroni salads, I’d suggest two things. If freezing leftovers, consider freezing it as the very last option. It would be better to just distribute your leftovers among family and friends. Or, if freezing in advance, always freeze each ingredient separately!

I hope this post helped you make up your mind about freezing macaroni salad. If you should need any further assistance, feel free to drop by.

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