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Can You Freeze Tuna Salad Mayo?

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Tuna salad is a staple food for many people. It’s easy to make, filled with protein from the tuna, and versatile to eat. You can enjoy tuna salad between two pieces of bread, scooped on top of a salad, or stuffed into a pita pocket.

With the busy schedules we all keep, making tuna salad ahead of time and freezing it can be a real-time saver. But can you freeze tuna salad with mayonnaise? Let’s take a closer look at how to freeze tuna salad correctly.

Should You Freeze Tuna Salad with Mayo?

Mayonnaise is an emulsion, which means it is a mixture of oil, egg yolks, and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar.

When you combine mayonnaise with other ingredients like tuna and vegetables to make a tuna salad, it creates a moist environment that bacteria love. This makes tuna salad with mayo very perishable.

Freezing tuna salad with mayonnaise can cause a few issues:

  • The mayonnaise can separate or curdle when frozen, resulting in a watery mess when thawed.
  • The emulsion can break down, causing the tuna salad to weep liquid when thawed.
  • Bacteria from the raw egg yolks and tuna can multiply to unsafe levels in a moist environment.

So freezing an already-made tuna salad with mayo is not recommended for food safety reasons. Your best option is to freeze the tuna and mayo separately.

How to Freeze Tuna for Later Use

To safely freeze tuna for tuna salad:

  • Purchase tuna steaks or cans of tuna packed in water, not oil. Oil causes tuna to spoil more quickly.
  • For tuna steaks, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or place them in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Squeeze out the air and seal.
  • For canned tuna, store the unopened cans in the freezer. There’s no need to transfer to a separate container.
  • Freeze tuna for up to 3 months for the best quality. Label bags or cans with the date.
  • Thaw tuna overnight in the fridge before using. Do not thaw at room temperature.
  • Use thawed tuna to make fresh tuna salad with mayo.
  • Do not refreeze thawed tuna.

Tips for Freezing Mayo

Mayonnaise can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze:

  • Place mayonnaise in a freezer-safe container or plastic freezer bag. Squeeze the bag to remove the air before sealing.
  • Label the container with the date and quantity.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator before using, not at room temperature.
  • Use thawed mayo within 1 week for best quality.
  • Do not freeze and thaw mayo more than 1-2 times, as texture may suffer.
  • Stir thawed mayo before using, as some separation may occur when frozen.

How to Assemble a Frozen Tuna Salad

When ready to make your tuna salad, simply thaw the frozen tuna and mayo overnight in the fridge, then mix up your tuna salad.

Here are some tips:

  • Flake the thawed tuna with a fork to break up any large chunks. Drain any excess liquid.
  • Add thawed mayonnaise and your favorite tuna salad additions like celery, onion, relish, lemon juice, herbs, etc.
  • Gently fold the ingredients together. Be careful not to overmix.
  • Add a dash of lemon juice or vinegar to help emulsify. The acid will also prevent the mayo from curdling.
  • Chill the assembled tuna salad for at least 1 hour in the fridge to allow flavors to blend.
  • Use chilled tuna salad within 3–5 days.

Ideas for Using Frozen Tuna Salad

Once assembled with the thawed ingredients, tuna salad can be enjoyed in many delicious ways:

  • Classic tuna salad sandwiches: Spread tuna salad on bread or rolls for quick lunches.
  • Lettuce wraps: spoon tuna salad into lettuce leaves for a low-carb option.
  • Tuna melts: top bread or English muffins with tuna salad and cheese. Broil until the cheese melts.
  • Tuna salad, stuffed tomatoes, or avocado halves
  • Scoop on top of fresh green salads
  • Serve on crackers or crisp vegetables for an appetizer.
  • Use as a protein boost in pasta or grain salads.

Freezing tuna and mayo separately allows you to whip up freshly made tuna salad anytime without worrying about food safety. Assemble with your favorite add-ins and enjoy tuna’s versatility.

FAQ About Freezing Tuna Salad

Is it safe to freeze tuna salad with mayonnaise?

No, do not freeze tuna salad that is already mixed with mayonnaise. The high moisture content creates an environment where bacteria from the raw tuna and egg-based mayo can multiply to unsafe levels. Always freeze tuna and mayonnaise separately.

Can I freeze canned tuna?

Yes, freezing canned tuna is safe. Store unopened cans directly in the freezer for up to 3 months. The cans keep the tuna protected. Thaw cans overnight in the fridge before opening.

What happens if I freeze mayonnaise?

Freezing mayo causes separation as the emulsion begins to break down. Thaw frozen mayo gradually in the fridge. Stir well before using, and add a dash of lemon juice or vinegar to help re-emulsify. Frozen mayo should be used within 1 week for best quality.

How do I thaw frozen tuna?

Always thaw tuna in the refrigerator, allowing 6–8 hours or overnight. Do not thaw at room temperature or in hot water. Cook raw tuna immediately after thawing. You can also cook frozen tuna directly without thawing it first.

Can I refreeze tuna after thawing?

No, thawed tuna should not be refrozen for safety reasons. Refreezing tuna can allow bacteria to grow. Only freeze tuna once before using it. Refrigerate thawed tuna and use it within 1-2 days.

Is it okay to freeze tuna steaks?

Yes, wrap fresh tuna steaks tightly in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer bag, removing the air. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Cook thawed steaks immediately; do not refreeze.

How long does frozen tuna last?

Properly frozen tuna keeps for 2–3 months in the freezer before the quality starts to decline. Canned and frozen tuna should be consumed within 3 months for the best flavor and texture.


Freezing tuna and mayo separately allows you to have home-made tuna salad ready in minutes. Follow these tips for safely freezing tuna salad ingredients and assembling them when you’re ready to make this classic lunch recipe.


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