So you prepared too much tuna salad and you’re now wondering: can you freeze tuna salad? The most straightforward answer to this question would be: yes, freezing a tuna salad is possible and actually quite easy. There are a couple of things you should know about, especially if you haven’t tried to do it before; I aim to take you through the whole process, so let’s start from the top:
Why Should You Freeze a Tuna Salad?
The primary purpose of freezing a tuna salad is to make it edible and tasty for the next couple of days or weeks. Although well-preserved raw tuna can maintain its taste and (partially) structure for up to a few months, the other ingredients usually won’t.
Personally, I won’t freeze my tuna salad if I’m using a quick, simple recipe. A bit of mayo to keep the chunks together and some sprinkled bits of garlic usually require about 10 minutes to make anyway.
However, if I’m preparing a tuna salad dish, I find it simpler to freeze it than to spend hours searching for specific ingredients and making the meal from scratch.
Basic Tuna Salad and When to Freeze it
The way tuna tastes, it’s effortless to build simple meals around it with basic ingredients. If you’re not that fond of mayo, I recommend trying it with feta or tofu cheese instead. I don’t think it sits well with cheddar or mozzarella, but it’s absolutely magnificent with almost any type of cream cheese.
In my book, that’s where the list of basic tuna salad recipes ends. If you’re using a single ingredient to essentially bind pieces of tuna and add an extra flavor to it, you could do it in minutes and maybe shouldn’t bother with freezing the dish.
If you still wish to do it, let’s take a quick look at how long can some of the more popular tuna salad dressings last:
- Cream cheese – up to two months (find out more about freezing cream cheese)
- Mayonnaise – up to six days
- Gorgonzola cheese – up to six months (more about freezing Blue cheese)
- Ketchup – almost an entire year, but I don’t recommend it
- Salted butter – up to nine months
- Mustard – up to a full year, but better to keep it up to 4 months tops (here you’ll find more on freezing mustard).
More Complex Tuna Salad and How to Freeze it
One of the main reasons most people even think about freezing a tuna salad is because they’ve enriched it with dozens of different toppings, which shouldn’t go to waste. If you’ve spent hours and a decent sum of money to whip up a winter tuna delicacy, I encourage you to keep leftovers in the freezer.
You should keep in mind that a tuna salad can only remain in the freezer for as long as its least freezer-friendly ingredient can endure. As I mentioned earlier, going with mayonnaise as your chosen dressing makes this difficult, as it can’t even last a week.
For practical purposes, let’s list some of the most popular tuna salad toppings and how long they can be kept in a freezer:
- Frozen Raw onions – up to 8 months
- Parsley – between 4 and 6 months
- Curry – a few days shy of 3 months
- Tomatoes – up to 6 months
- Frozen Cheddar Cheese – 2 to 3 months
- Carrots – up to a full year
You can add whichever topping you want in your tuna salad; corn, beans, radish, and spinach are among my favorites for this time of the year.
Just keep in mind, the more water there is in a particular topping, the less it can stay in the freezer without spoiling.
Storing Your Tuna Salad in the Freezer
One of the most important things you need to do is keep the dish in a sealed bag or container before putting it in the freezer. Without it, your food is exposed to the cool air, and individual bits will harden.
The best option is to go with specific freezer bags or freezer wraps. Airtight containers dictate the quality of your frozen tuna salad, so it may be wise to invest in quality bags for meat and foil.
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As far as positioning goes, certain freezers tend to work better in certain areas. It has always happened at the back of the freezer during my bachelor years, so I always keep the meals I want to eat in the next few days closer to the entrance. High-quality freezers rarely have this problem, though.
Manually Thawing Your Tuna Salad
The thawing process is pretty easy, although you may not be completely satisfied with the results depending on what toppings you’ve used and how much time has passed since you’ve frozen your salad.
The first thing you should do is remove the container and immediately place the now-frozen salad in your fridge. Depending on how strong your freezer settings have been, this could last the night up to the day after.
It is done to help the salad transition from sub-zero temperatures to slightly chill temperatures before exposing it to room temperature. Premature thawing will introduce unnecessary liquids to your meal and have a good potential to ruin it.
Even for practical purposes, I don’t recommend changing your fridge temperature for the sake of thawing your tuna salad faster. You may buy an hour or two this way, but you risk spoiling the other contents of your fridge.
Thawing Your Tuna Salad in a Microwave
Although I don’t particularly like to thaw any meal using my microwave’s defrost function, there are quite a few scenarios where I make an exception. For instance, if you’re having unexpected guests and need to prepare a quick meal with limited resources, this is one of the ways to go.
To thaw your tuna salad in a microwave, one of the most important things to do is to make sure you’ve put the salad’s contents in a microwave-compliant bag. The container may otherwise catch fire or even explode.
Better-quality microwaves have specific defrost options, and you’re looking for ‘fish defrosting’ for your tuna salad. Set the timer on 30 minutes and pull the salad out every couple of minutes to simulate the ‘manual’ thawing process. It should be done after roughly 15-20 minutes; since the timer is on anyway, place the salad back in if needed.
Tuna salad can be frozen, stored, and thawed using this simple guide. As I mentioned earlier, be mindful of the ingredients you put in a salad you want to freeze, but also feel free to experiment. As a general rule of thumb, greens freeze better while meaty ingredients retain their original taste more consistently.
I hope this brief guide was useful to you and that you feel more confident about how to freeze the tuna salad you made.
Good luck preparing tuna delicacies, don’t hesitate to check out the other guides available on the site.