How long is Costco chicken salad good for?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long is Costco chicken salad good for?”, and how to tell if a chicken salad is rotten or spoiled?

How long is Costco chicken salad good for?

If stored correctly, Costco chicken salad stays good for about 3 days in the fridge, according to the USDA (1). You can freeze your Costco chicken salad but it does not mean that you should. 

Because the mayo separates when exposed to freezing temperatures and the quality of the chicken salad reduces considerably after thawing. If you freeze your chicken salad anyway, expect it to stay safe for up to 3 months in the freezer. Oil-in-water emulsions are thermodynamically unstable systems and sensitive to environmental changes, as for example cooling and freezing. When an oil-in-water emulsion is stored at low temperature, crystallization of both the oil and water phase may occur. These phase transitions may lead to destabilization of the emulsion (2).

Frozen Costco chicken salad is best consumed within 1 month of storage. Read on if you want to know how to make this rich and moist goodness at home.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths are caused by foodborne illnesses each year in the United States. Salmonella alone accounts for 1.35 million illnesses, 26,600 hospitalizations, and 421 deaths in the United States annually. 96% of Salmonella outbreaks are caused by foodborne transmission. Chicken salad is a possible food vehicle for bacteria transmission (3).

How to tell if a chicken salad is rotten or spoiled? 

A bad chicken salad can be identified using the following signs. 

Discoloration: If fuzzy and discolored patches appear on your chicken salad, it is done for. Fungus grows in the form of green fuzzy spots or patches on the surface of the chicken salad. If you do not notice any organic growth, you will see that the color of the chicken salad looks dull. Bacteria causes discoloration as well and may form a slimy film on the meat surface (3).

Moist: An overly moist or watery salad is a spoiled salad and it does not go unnoticed. Separation of the mayonnaise occurs.

Rotten smell: The rotten smell of chicken is terrible and it cannot be ignored. If your chicken salad gives off a funny or putrid smell, it has gone bad. A strong buttery or putrid odor can be detected, there is formation of gas, which can cause distention of the container lid (3).

Bad taste: If all else looks fine, you can taste only a bit of the suspected chicken salad. If the taste is off, discard your chicken salad right away. 

Copycat Costco chicken salad recipe 

Ingredients 

  • Rotisserie chicken (1/2 bird)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped finely
  • 1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped finely
  • Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Parsley
  • White vinegar – 1 tbsp

Instructions 

  1. Separate the chicken from the bones and discard the skin. 
  2. Take about ½ of the chicken from a Costco rotisserie chicken and chop it up using a food chopper. 
  3. Finely chop celery and sweet onions in the food chopper as well.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, sugar, lemon juice, parsley, and vinegar until homogenous. 
  5. In a separate bowl, mix chicken, celery, and onion. Then stir in the prepared dressing.
  6. Refrigerate your Costco chicken salad for a couple of hours before serving for best results.

Add-ins for chicken salad 

Chicken salad does not need to be boring. You use your favorite add-ins to enhance the appeal and flavor profile of the otherwise basic chicken salad. 

For example, you can use chopped roasted walnuts, almonds, or cashews for adding texture and crunch to your chicken salad. 

Similarly, you can scallions, olives, pickles, diced carrots, bell peppers for a color pop in your chicken salad. Finely chopped veggies add a lot of flavor and texture to your chicken salad. 

If you have a sweet tooth, go ahead and use mandarin oranges, diced peaches, seedless grapes, and dried fruits to enhance the flavor of your chicken salad. 

What to serve with chicken salad? 

Chicken salad is an excellent stand-alone meal but you can pair it with something light and refreshing to complement its savory flavors. A fruit or a vegetable platter rounds up the meal pretty well. 

If you want bread alongside your chicken salad, go with a baguette. Moreover, feel free to improvise and test new combinations. 

Other serving options for chicken salad are potato chips (low-fat), deep-fried potato chips, quick and easy dill pickles, a loaded green salad, cheese straws, creamy sweet macaroni salad, wild rice salad with dried fruit and almonds, creamy bacon potato soup, etc.

Can you freeze potato salad made with mayonnaise? 

Mayonnaise, celery, and eggs do not freeze well. When the mayo will separate during freezing, the potatoes will start to brown. Therefore, you should never freeze a prepared potato salad with mayonnaise. 

The quality of mayonnaise is often reduced by separation when exposed to environmental stress, such as freeze-thawing which is an issue during transportation through regions of varying climates. The egg yolk proteins in the mayonnaise fail to keep the emulsion stable, thus limiting the freeze-thaw stability for longer time periods (4).

What you can do instead is to freeze the potatoes separately. Freezing and frozen storage can be used for the long term preservation of cut potato products. Freezing decreases the water activity, inhibits microorganism growth and reduces enzymatic activity, resulting in extended shelf life of the product. However, the ice crystals developed during freezing may cause cell damage and break down the physical structure, resulting in lower product quality after thawing (5). 

 When you are ready to serve the salad, defrost the potatoes in the fridge, make the dressing, and toss your potatoes in the freshly prepared dressing. Do not refrigerate the leftovers of your potato salad for more than 3-5 days (1). 

Other FAQs about Salad that you may be interested in.

How to bottle salad dressing?

How to keep fruit salad fresh?

How long does potato salad last in the fridge?

How to tell if Coleslaw is bad?

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question “How long is Costco chicken salad good for?”, and how to tell if a chicken salad is rotten or spoiled?

References 

  1. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
  2. Magnusson, Emma, Christer Rosén, and Lars Nilsson. Freeze–thaw stability of mayonnaise type oil-in-water emulsions. Food Hydrocoll, 2011, 25, 707-715.
  3. Greening Jr, Bradford, et al. Public Health Response to Multistate Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Associated with Prepackaged Chicken Salad, United States, 2018. Emer Infect Dis, 2022, 28, 1254.
  4. Höckergård, Annica. The Freeze-Thaw Stability of Mayonnaise and the Effect of Octenyl Succinic Anhydride ModifiedStarch as Emulsifier. 2011. Linnæus University in Kalmar. 
  5. Bilbao‐Sainz, Cristina, et al. Effect of isochoric freezing on quality aspects of minimally processed potatoes. J Food Sci, 2020, 85, 2656-2664.