At some point in their lives, everyone has had to deal with leftovers. But, what if the leftover is a portion of macaroni salad? At that point, you’ll probably be wondering if you can freeze macaroni salad.
Luckily for you, we have the answer.
Can Macaroni Salad be Frozen?
More often than not, macaroni salad never tastes as good as before it went in the freezer. The flavors and textures may change slightly. However, this is not to say it becomes unenjoyable.
If your goal is to prepare your macaroni salad days ahead, we recommend freezing the individual ingredients. By doing this, you have a better chance of preserving the flavor and texture of your eventual macaroni salad.
If your macaroni salad is the excess of a just-completed meal, then you’d have to freeze the entire portion.
But, can you freeze macaroni salad? The answer is yes. However, it does take some technical know-how. Here are a few things to consider:
The Texture of the Pasta
The macaroni noodle itself, eggs, and most significantly, the mayonnaise does not undergo perfect freezing. Therefore, their texture may change when they come out of the freezer.
Generally, cooking your pasta al dente will give it a better fighting chance in sub-zero freezer conditions.
Whole wheat, bean, and regular white flour macaroni usually fare better against the softening effects of freezing and thawing.
Rethink Freezing Salad with Mayo
It is usually better not to freeze your macaroni salad with mayonnaise in it. Mayonnaise is an emulsion of several liquid ingredients. Therefore, when it freezes, the individual ingredients will separate. And when you thaw it, it will lose its creaminess.
If you have to, freeze mayonnaise separately, as you can usually whisk it back into its normal texture.
What About Eggs?
Finally, let’s not forget the eggs. Not everyone uses eggs in their macaroni salad. If you do, you should know the white of a boiled egg doesn’t stand well to freezing as it becomes rubbery.
On the bright side, egg yolk freezes perfectly. So, they are the better option if you plan to freeze macaroni salad. Otherwise, keep the egg-white pieces tiny such that their texture is barely noticeable.
Although the considerations listed above can affect how well your macaroni salad freezes, you now know that freezing is a viable option.
Next, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to freezing macaroni salad without losing significant consistency, quality and taste.
How to Freeze Macaroni Salad
We recommend keeping your macaroni salad on ice for no longer than two weeks. Any longer than that, and it will start to taste different when it thaws.
That said, here are some tips on how you can freeze macaroni salad:
Cool the Macaroni Salad
Wait for the macaroni salad to cool down completely. Otherwise, residual heat can cause a humid environment in the storage container, thereby encouraging bacteria growth.
Separate the Leftover
Divide the leftover salad into smaller quantities.
Smaller amounts of macaroni salad will freeze faster, thereby causing less damage to the salad’s quality. A good rule of thumb is to portion serving sizes.
Use Freezing Containers
Transfer the separated portions into freezing containers. You may use a freezer-safe Ziploc or a plastic Tupperware container.
Make the Containers Airtight
Make sure to pack the containers as tightly as possible. Understandably, you may be unable to fill either Ziploc or Tupperware completely.
But, you must reduce the air in the container as much as possible (including air pockets hiding in the macaroni).
If you’re using a plastic container for storage, you can lay a plastic wrap on the surface before closing the lid. Doing this gives your macaroni salad extra reinforcement against air exposure.
Label the Storage Containers
Finally, label the date on your storage container. Remember, macaroni salad does not last very long, even in the freezer. To ensure it doesn’t lose its taste, only freeze for about 5-14 days.
So, labeling your storage packages will help you keep track of how long your macaroni salad stays frozen. Don’t forget. You don’t want to let it go beyond two weeks.
Here’s a warning note for you: there’s no point freezing macaroni salad if there’s shellfish or shrimp in it.
The reason is macaroni salad won’t be able to retain the natural seafood taste after thawing. This will end up ruining the taste of the entire portion.
How to Thaw Frozen Macaroni Salad
Here’s a bonus point for you. When the time comes to get your macaroni salad out of the freezer, it is usually best to thaw it in the refrigerator.
The reason for this is simple. Macaroni salad is highly perishable, and placing it on the kitchen counter to thaw may invite mold.
Besides, rapid changes in temperature can affect the consistency of your macaroni salad. So, put your frozen salad in the refrigerator and give it a couple of hours.
If you’ve been wondering if you can freeze macaroni salad, you now have your answer. Macaroni salad can indeed be frozen without any obvious change in its taste.
However, freezing macaroni salad can be complicated. You must be careful to follow the above tips so you can get the best possible result.
Also, do not forget how long frozen macaroni salad is good for — never go beyond two weeks! When in doubt, it is usually safer to trash the leftovers than risk falling sick.