Can You Really Freeze Potato Salad?

Yes, you can freeze leftover potato salad. But should you?

Sour Cream Potato Salad
Photo: Hector Sanchez

So you invited 50 people to your cookout, and only 15 came. Sorry to hear that! And now you have a potato salad problem on your hands. According to, prepared potato salad—whether homemade or store-bought, dressed with vinegar and oil or mayonnaise—will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days if stored properly. But by day three of your own personal all-you-can-eat potato salad buffet, we guarantee you're not going to want to even look at another potato for the foreseeable future.

The next logical thought is to store it in the freezer. That said, just because you can freeze potato salad doesn't mean you should. Even if you store it properly, it doesn't taste the same when it's defrosted and served cold. The texture of defrosted potatoes is somewhat soggy, and they may even look a bit gray. So, should you freeze your potato salad?

Should You Freeze Potato Salad with Mayonnaise?

Potato salad doesn't freeze well, especially if it's mayonnaise or sour cream-based. Mayonnaise tends to separate once frozen. The texture and flavor will taste off when it defrosts.

Do Other Potato Salad Freezes Better?

You'll have better luck freezing potato salad with a non-dairy oil-based vinaigrette dressing, like a German potato salad, or a casserole-like hot potato salad that you can reheat. Store leftover potato salad in a ziplock plastic freezer and squeeze out as much air as possible without squishing the potato salad. Use within three months of freezing.

A warm potato salad will fare better because you can heat it back up, but cold, defrosted potato salad is a lackluster version of its former self.

Is There a Difference in Freezing Homemade or Store-Bought Potato Salad?

You want to place the potato salad in an airtight freezer bag in both instances. For store-bought potato salad, you want to remove it from its original container, so the entire dish freezes evenly. Using a freezer bag allows you to distribute the potato salad more evenly, laying it flat, so no area is too thick.

What To Do After Freezing Potato Salad?

If you made the bold choice of freezing potato salad, you must know how to properly thaw it before eating it. The best way to do this is to place it in the refrigerator and let it naturally thaw for as long as it takes—overnight is usually a suitable timeframe. To speed up the process, you can soften the potato salad in cold water. Make sure the container or freezer bag is airtight if you choose to do this, or else all your efforts will have been for nothing.

Share your leftover potato salad with neighbors, use it as an excuse to throw another cookout, or you can even try roasting it. Just don't bother freezing it.

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