Can you Freeze Potato Salad?

Sometimes, things begin to sit a little too long, or you realize that you’ve made way too much potato salad than makes sense. That’s when the thought strikes you- Can you freeze potato salad?

Can You Freeze Potato Salad?

The quick answer is yes, you can freeze potato salad. You can thaw it out and eat it without anything bad happening. Non-dairy will freeze and thaw without any major issues with the taste and texture. 

But a better question might be “Is it a good idea to freeze potato salad?”

The answer to that question is a resounding no unless it is a non-dairy recipe. It’s not a good idea to freeze potato salad made from sour cream or mayonnaise for several reasons, and this article will explain each one of them. But here’s a fast look:

  • The Defrosting Process is a Project
  • Mayo Doesn’t Take Well to the Freezing / Thawing Process
  • Sour Cream Also Separates when Thawing

How Long Does Potato Salad Last?

This is a question that has been asked by at least one person at any given cookout, barbeque, or outdoor event. People tend to start getting nervous about eating food that’s been at either outdoor temperature or room temperature for too long. 

The ugly and diet-promoting truth is that bacteria begin to do their work once the food starts sitting out for too long. The warmer the setting, the smaller window of time you’ll have before having to throw it back in the fridge. 

A cookout on a relatively warm and comfortable day, it will be safe to keep the potato salad out for anywhere between one to two hours. However, the warmer it gets, the closer you get to that one-hour max timeframe before things start thinking about going bad. 

For cookouts, it may be a good idea to pack the potato salad in a cooler just after people take their initial plate of food, and let them know where it’ll be if they want more. If closer to the home or an indoor function, you can just eliminate the issue and throw it back into the fridge at intervals. If it’s people you know well, welcome them to go and grab it if they want more.

How Long Does Potato Salad Last in the Fridge?

This is a question where the answer greatly depends on the quality and temperature of your refrigerator. It also hinges on how well the potato salad was stored before being thrown in the fridge.

However, a good target date would be about four to five days from when it was made. This timeframe is reliable with an average fridge and stored in a container with as little air trapped inside as possible. 

Any longer than that and you’re rolling the dice. You’ll see it getting a little discolored before you smell anything different, especially if there are strongly scented ingredients added to the recipe such as vinegar or onions. 

Better Safe than Sorry

If it starts to get a little darker, it’s beyond the point of no return and needs to be thrown out. To stay safe, keep track of how long it’s been since you made it, or knock a day or two off of the recommended time (five days) if you purchased it premade from the store.  

Can you Freeze Potato Salad- What if I Have To?

You have labored diligently, toiling to make the perfect potato salad for an event, but one-third of the people showed up than expected. You have too much leftover to keep in the fridge, so the “waste not want not” rule kicks in. 

As stated at the beginning of this article, yes, you can freeze potato salad, but it won’t be 100% the same as when you first made it. This goes for taste as well as texture to a certain degree.

Freeze Potato Salad Properly

  • Before doing anything, grab freezer bags and date them (or it). 
  • Place the potato salad in a freezer bag (or freezer bags depending on how much you have leftover). 
  • Make sure to press all of the air out of the bag before sealing it closed. 
  • Put it in a safe place in the freezer where the bag will not get punctured.

All of this will be much easier if you are lucky enough to own a vacuum sealer. Otherwise, do the best you can to get the air out as doing so will make a big difference in the end. Potato salad can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.

Why you Shouldn’t Freeze Potato Salad

This section relies heavily on the ingredients used to make the potato salad, primarily dairy-based. There are other forms of potato salad that don’t contain dairy products, and they don’t suffer the same problems with the freezing and thawing process. 

Dairy Doesn’t Handle Freezing Well

Potato salad is often made using dairy products such as mayonnaise or sour cream. What happens is, after freezing, the chemicals used to make either of these products begin to break down and separate when thawing. 

It is still safe to eat, as the ingredients that make either mayonnaise or sour cream will be fine. But separately, the ingredients aren’t nearly as palatable- and it certainly won’t taste like the same potato salad that you put into that freezer bag.

Thawing Process is Slow

Get the microwave straight out of the equation when it comes to thawing potato salad. The thawing process is long and slow. The larger the freezer bag, the longer you’re going to have to wait for it to be thawed out. 

The best way to thaw out the frozen salad is to fill a container or the sink up with cool water, and submerge the bag into it, checking it once in a while. This can take a considerable amount of time with one-gallon freezer bags. 


When it comes to freezing potato salad, you can do it if you have to, just don’t expect it to be the same on the other end of the thawing process. And if you think that you can just pop it out of the freezer, thaw it for a few minutes and eat away, you’ll be sorely disappointed- and more than likely very hungry.