How to Thaw Potato Salad

Potato salad is a cold food that can be frozen to eat months later. Because potato salad contains perishable goods such as mayonnaise and eggs, special care must be taken when thawing it to reduce the risk of contracting bacterial infections.

Food Safety Information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends keeping your food cold as you defrost it as it minimizes the risk of bacteria growing inside of the food as it thaws. The recommendation is to keep the temperature of your potato salad at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Anything higher than this, even if the potato salad is partially thawed, can cause bacteria to grow that can cause food poisoning.

Refrigerator Thawing

If you do not plan to eat your potato salad for at least a day, thaw it out using the refrigerator thawing method. Thawing your potato salad in the refrigerator can take up to a day to defrost. Once you defrost your potato salad in the refrigerator, you can refreeze any uneaten portions, so long as the temperature of the potato salad doesn’t increase past 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Simply sit your frozen potato salad on any shelf in your refrigerator and make sure the temperature is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold-Water Thawing

If you’re dishing out your potato salad in less than 24 hours, you might want to use the cold-water thawing method instead of the refrigerator-thawing method. You can either place your frozen potato salad in a sink of cold tap water in its original container or in a leak-proof frozen food bag. Empty the water every 30 minutes and fill up the sink with fresh cold water. Repeat this process until the potato salad is fully thawed.


Once your potato salad reaches more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit you cannot refreeze it. Do not defrost your potato salad in the microwave. Heating the potato salad can cause bacteria that were naturally present in it to grow. The only way to destroy this bacteria is to fully cook your food, and because this is not possible with potato salad, cold thawing methods are recommended.

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