It seems that each family has its own secret recipe for the well-known and loved egg salad. This creamy and rich salad is enjoyed as tasty snacks or as part of sandwiches for picnics and family gatherings.
The classic egg salad recipe has a pretty standard list of ingredients. Though many variations exist, it usually consists of hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, vegetables, lemon juice, salt, & spices. On average, it takes about 25 minutes to make. Egg salad has a delicious, creamy flavor with just the right texture.
Shortly after the invention of mayonnaise in the 18th century came the very first egg salad. Given that eggs were relatively cheap, someone was able to perfect the creamy goodness and serve it as a salad. Thanks to that, we now have our delicious egg salad.
Having leftover egg salad is a good problem to have. What people don’t quite agree on is how long it lasts. How long it lasts depends on how it’s stored. To make it last long, people sometimes stick it in the freezer. Should you do that though? Can you freeze egg salad?
The quick answer is no, you shouldn’t freeze egg salad.
Let’s take a look at why you shouldn’t freeze egg salad and discuss how to store it instead. Maybe we’ll be able to save a lot of leftovers from getting spoiled and stinky.
How Long Does Egg Salad Last?
I went to my friend’s house a week ago, and she offered me some egg salad. Something felt off, and I couldn’t help but ask how old this salad was. Her answer shocked me. Nine days old, she said. Nine days. She insisted it was okay because they were stored in the fridge.
This encounter made me wonder how many people keep their egg salads longer than they should. It’s essential to know how long this salad lasts in order to avoid eating unsafe food. And remember, it’s always best to eat food right after its preparation.
Egg salads are made with ingredients like egg, mayonnaise, onion, pepper and potato. These are known as perishable foods. Perishable foods spoil, decay, or become unsafe to eat if not refrigerated or frozen correctly. Examples of perishable items include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and cooked leftovers. These foods have a limited shelf life that is shortened with improper storage. It is shortened because improper storage allows rapid bacterial growth, leading to unsafe or spoiled food.
Food spoilage is the result of the reproduction of bacteria. Depending on how you store the egg salad, the reproduction rate will defer; thus, how long it lasts will defer. Usually, people store it in the refrigerator or freezer or leave it on the counter. Let’s look a bit closer at each.
I’ll cut to the chase. The ingredients in egg salad don’t do well at room temperature. Leaving your salad on the counter will cause it to go bad quickly. Leaving it at room temperature will allow bacterial growth to occur rapidly and reach dangerous levels that lead to food poisoning. That is why you can only leave it out for 2 hours before having to discard it. Please don’t be too shocked, let me explain.
At room temperature, you’re likely to be in the “danger zone.” This zone is a temperature level between 40 °F (5°C) and 140 °F (60°C) where bacteria grow most rapidly. Bacteria doubles in number after only 20 minutes in that range of temperatures. That is why we have the “2-hour rule.” This rule states that perishable items left at room temperatures for more than 2 hours should be thrown out. The egg salad should not be left for more than 1 hour at temperatures 90°F (32.2°C) or above.
According to the USDA, food left out in temperatures between 40 °F (5°C) and 140 °F (60°C) for more than 2 hours should be tossed out. I know you probably thought you had more time to enjoy that creamy egg salad recipe of yours, but don’t take the risk of eating it if you forgot it out.
How to make it last longer? You guessed it, put it in a temperature that’s not in the danger zone.
In the Fridge
Egg salad could be stored in the fridge. Bacterial growth still occurs in colder temperatures but slower. Place the leftover egg salad in the refrigerator within two hours after preparation to drag out the time before spoilage.
If you have stored your egg salad properly in the refrigerator, your egg salad is safe to eat within 3 to 5 days. However, if it is not directly refrigerated in a proper container, the salad will not last a day.
Some people put their left-over egg salad in the freezer. From a food safety standpoint, if placed in the freezer, it is safe to eat for up to two months. The real question is whether you actually should freeze your egg salad or not.
Can You Freeze Egg Salad?
You just had a fantastic Christmas dinner, but now you’re overwhelmed with the amount of egg salad left. Can you freeze it for later? Technically speaking, yes, you can freeze egg salad to prevent bacterial growth and make it last longer. But, should you, is the better question. You probably know the answer if you have tried freezing egg salad before. The answer is, unfortunately, no, you shouldn’t.
Egg salads should not be frozen unless you like them with a worse taste and texture. If you freeze your salad, it is still edible, but it has a greatly degraded taste and texture. So, I would advise you not to place your left-over egg salad in the freezer.
Egg salad is not suitable for freezing. Some of its ingredients are inferior freezing products. This means that, overall, egg salad does not freeze well.
If you are still persistent in trying to freeze your egg salad, make sure to do it correctly.
I want to warn you that you might want to throw frozen egg salad out after it has been thawed, though.
Don’t put salad that has already been in the fridge for a few days in the freezer; freeze it immediately. When you want to take it out, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, give it a good stir before trying to revive some of its texture.
Why Freezing Egg Salad Isn’t a Good Idea
Why is it not recommended to freeze egg salad? As I mentioned earlier, the ingredients in egg salad are not made to be frozen. Specifically, I’m talking about cooked eggs and mayonnaise.
Eggs and mayonnaise are delicate ingredients that don’t freeze correctly. After thawing, the egg whites in the salad become rubbery. But, the cooked eggs aren’t the biggest issue here. It’s the mayonnaise.
The freezer is not the place to keep any mayonnaise-based salads (this is also true for macaroni salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, ham salad and potato salad with mayo). When thawed, mayonnaise’s emulsion will break. This means that mayonnaise will separate upon defrosting. This happens with most dressings as well. The oil and vinegar or lemon juice in the salad will probably also separate.
After thawing, previously frozen egg salad will no longer be chunky, creamy, and delicious. Instead, with the textural alteration of eggs and the consistency change of mayonnaise, your salad will be a watery mess with a less than ideal texture, separated dressing, and soggy veggies.
The fresh taste of the salad will also change considerably. It will become mild and bland.
Remember that you are dealing with sensitive ingredients that are prone to spoilage when mishandled. Another reason why you probably shouldn’t freeze egg salad is that the defrosting process puts it at risk of bacterial growth and contamination. To stay safe, remember to keep it at a temperature less than 40 °F (5°C).
Long story short, freezing egg salad is not worth it. Even if you do, with its altered consistency and taste, you’ll probably end up throwing it out.
How You Should Store Egg Salad Instead
Having too much egg salad can cause anxiety about storing it properly. Proper storage of egg salad is essential to maintain freshness and edibility.
As discussed previously, don’t store egg salad in the freezer or at room temperature. The most effective method to preserve egg salads is by keeping them inside a sealed container in the refrigerator. The cold temperature of the fridge slows down bacterial growth without causing the salad to freeze.
To help sustain the egg salad’s freshness and safety, it is recommended to put it inside an insulated container or aluminum foil rather than in a regular box. They aid in limiting bacteria contamination and protect it from humidity, temperature, and the environment. Also, make sure to tightly seal the container and place it in the fridge directly after making the salad. The egg salad should also not be stored in a container that contains other food.
With the mentioned storage methods, your egg salad will last about three to five days. To help it reach five days, make sure to store it correctly, plan wisely, and add lemon juice or vinegar.
Try to finish your leftover egg salad as soon as possible by getting creative with how you eat it. Sometimes have it as a side dish, sometimes as a spread, and sometimes as a snack.
How to Tell if Egg Salad Has Gone Bad
It is critical to know when to keep egg salad and when to throw it out. So, how can you tell?
Your first instinct might be to give it the good old “sniff test.” But, unfortunately, this method isn’t entirely reliable because freshly boiled egg can sometimes give an “off” smell too.
To better assess if your egg salad is spoiled, this time, use your eyes. Take a good look at your salad to see if there are any visible indications of mold or changes in color.
If you notice mold or a change in color, it is time to throw out the salad. A spoiled egg salad will also be watery, have an unpleasant odor, and have an altered taste.