Tuna salad is easily the most delicious meal one could make in a limited amount of time. When you’re late for work, or too busy to prep ahead of time, tuna salad will save your day.
But what about the days you are so busy you don’t even have time to make a quick tuna salad? What if I told you there is a way you could make it ahead of time? Can you freeze tuna salad?
Can You Freeze Tuna Salad?
Most people I know would ask you not to. Tuna Salad, or any salad even, does not freeze well. And very obviously, salads are best served fresh. And if frozen wrong, your tuna salad will most likely turn into a soggy mess.
That being said, it is not a lost cause at all. There are ways you can freeze your salad without compromising on its quality or taste.
How Can You Freeze Tuna Salad?
The reason tuna salads don’t freeze well is the excessive amount of mayonnaise in them. Mayonnaise, when kept in the freezer, separates from all its other ingredients, leaving behind a floaty liquid on the top of the yolks and vinegar. This spoils the other dishes.
But if you reduce the amount of mayo added to your salad, or eliminate it, your tuna salad should freeze pretty well!
To freeze your tuna salad ahead of time:
- Transfer the contents of your salad to an airtight container or a resealable bag.
- Avoid adding too much mayo or veggies that could turn watery.
- Remove any air from the bag, as much as you can, and seal it.
- If using a bag, lightly spread the salad around the bag by applying pressure from the outside. Freezing your salad flat will save a lot of space, and allow easy defrosting.
- Your tuna salad is ready to be frozen!
But what if you have a pre-made salad that you can’t finish? Can you freeze tuna salad from your leftovers?
You can, to be sure. But you shouldn’t.
What you can do is store all the components of your salad in separate air-tight containers. Keep the tuna in a freezer bag, separate the veggies, and if possible limit the amount of oil and mayonnaise in your salad.
How Can You Freeze Tuna Salad To Stop It From Going Bad?
The main reason tuna salads don’t freeze well is the mayonnaise in it. Mayonnaise contains eggs which, when frozen, separate from the oil and other ingredients. While that does not automatically make it harmful or unsafe to consume, it changes the texture and/or taste of your food.
In order to customize your salad so it lasts longer, you have two very easy options.
- Opt for veg mayonnaise. Egg-free mayonnaise will eliminate the risk of the egg yolk separating once frozen. Veg mayo might still alter the texture of your salad if frozen, but it will be safer to consume.
- Substitute mayonnaise with hummus or avocado! Completely vomiting the mayonnaise in your tuna salad can extend its shelf life by a lot! Not only does it make the salad better to freeze, it is also a much healthier option! You can check out this recipe for my personal favourite tuna salad recipe!
Can You Store Tuna Salad In The Refrigerator?
Sure, you can freeze your salad if you won’t be needing it for a while. But what about storing it for immediate use?
Fortunately, storing your tuna salad in the refrigerator is a piece of cake, no hassle at all! You don’t even need to keep a watch on the amount of mayonnaise you add, or which vegetables will be better frozen.
All you need to do is keep your salad in a glass or ceramic jar and cover it with cling wrap. Takeaway containers would do too.
To further extend the shelf life of your tuna salad, keep these things in mind:
- Store your salad in an airtight container.
- Refrigerate within two hours of making it.
- Keep your refrigerator at a stable temperature of 40F-140F.
How Long Does Tuna Salad Last For?
If kept in the refrigerator, your tuna salad will typically last from 3-5 days. It is safe to consume it before that. However, it is important you also follow your gut instinct. Tuna salad will immediately catch a bad smell once it goes bad, do not eat it if that is the case.
If you’ve chosen to freeze the salad, you’ve extended its shelf life to a month! While people are still debating over what the exact period should be once you freeze your tuna salad, it is best you use it as soon as you can. Using it within a week would be ideal.
But before you go ahead and make a whole batch of tuna salad, have a look at how you should thaw it the right way.
How to Thaw Tuna Salad
Fortunately, tuna salad doesn’t take as much time as other food items do when thawing.
Tuna salad is a food item that is already eaten cold. Once taken out of the freezer, you may directly eat it. Or you could place it in the refrigerator for an hour and then take it out. Your salad should be ready to eat.
Can You Heat Up Tuna Salad?
Typically, tuna salads are to be served cold.
But what about when you want to thaw your salad, or if you make a tuna sandwich melt and are worried you might ruin the tuna salad filling if you heat it?
When it comes to eating Tuna salads on their own, even while thawing them, it is best to avoid turning to a microwave. An already frozen mayonnaise sandwich does not do very well in the microwave, and you do not want to risk ruining it.
Tuna sandwiches, (or tuna melts)- a warm version of a sandwich containing tuna salad- are a fan favourite these days.In these cases it is okay to heat your leftover tuna melt. But once again, avoid using the microwave.
Tuna Salads do not go bad when heated in a sandwich because they’re not exposed to direct heat. They’re prepared using the grilled cheese technique. Reheating them should be simple too. Place them on a pan and heat them at the lowest temperature setting for 3-4 minutes, flipping it halfway.
This will make it melt-in-your-mouth warm, without ruining it’s texture or taste.
Can You Freeze Tuna Salad? How to Tell if It Has Gone Bad?
Let’s say you freeze your tuna salad. You take it out to defrost and are ready to eat it. How do you tell it’s still safe to consume?
To be sure, tuna salad can last in your refrigerator for 2-4 days, and in the freezer for up to 1 month. But it is advised you still check for any signs of spoiled food before you blindly eat it.
Look for the following signs in your salad:
- Smell– Tuna salad that has gone bad develops an unpleasant, fishy smell. Do not confuse it with Tuna’s naturally strong smell. A spoiled tuna salad will feature a smell that is completely off-putting and unappetizing, unlike that of Tuna’s natural smell.
- Appearance– If your tuna salad spots discoloration, however little, it is best to discard it off. The most common indicator is green/ dark brown spots on the surface. Do not eat your salad if this is the case.
- Texture– Tuna salad, or any salad that contains mayonnaise, will immediately change its texture once it goes bad. If your salad has become watery or soggy, or if it spots a layer of separated mayonnaise and water, do not even taste it. Throw it away.
Can you microwave frozen tuna?
Yes, you can. But only under the defrost setting of your microwave, and in the lowest heat setting.
How long does canned tuna last in the refrigerator?
Canned tuna, once opened, will last for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. If frozen right, it may last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Can you freeze tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches?
Do not freeze any sandwiches which contain mayo. You can freeze your sandwich without any condiments, and then later add mayonnaise on the top.
While you can freeze tuna salad, it is best you don’t. Salads are meant to be consumed fresh, and it is certainly okay to have a leftover salad from last night after a day, it is not ideal to freeze them for more than that.
If you do choose to freeze them, however, eliminate the use of mayonnaise. Your salads will freeze better, and taste better! I hope this blog helped you. For any further questions, feel free to drop a message!
Eva M. Smith is the owner of this website. She is a 4 year old mother of two and a professional chef. Eva loves to cook for her family, but being a working mom has a lot of challenges. From squeezing in time to do the groceries to make three meals for the day. Eva knows how challenging cooking can be without a kitchen gameplan.
That’s why she perfected techniques of preserving staple ingredients and several foods so that you have something pre-cooked or pre-baked to use for an array of meals. And they do not come short in flavor! And she does not want to sacrifice flavor with convenience. That’s why she is the best person to ask.