How Do I Store Salad Made With Mayo?

Wondering how to store those mayo-based salads in the fridge so they don’t weep? The Never Cook Naked Guys have the answer.

A wooden bowl filled with mayo-based potato salad as an illustration of how to store salad made with mayo.

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Storing Mayo Salads

Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: Is there a way to save leftover chicken salad, coleslaw, or other mayonnaise-based salads? Won’t adding cream or something like that keep the mayonnaise from separating?–Dairy-Deprived

Dear Deprived: For this one time only, in the entire history of the universe, cream is not the answer.

Your mayo-drenched salad may weep, but you needn’t. By and large, the problem’s not the mayo. It’s everything else. The salt and other random acts of sodium in the salad pull moisture from the cabbage, carrots, celery, cukes, onions—even from the chicken and mayo, although that doesn’t account for much compared to the vegetable swamp.

That said, there’s an easy solution for coleslaw, albeit one that relies on preventative measures and not after-the-fact heroics. Before you make your slaw, just toss the shredded cabbage with 1 to 2 tablespoons salt and let it rest in a colander placed in the sink. Within minutes, you’ll see the cabbage start to exude moisture. After an hour, rinse the cabbage to get rid of the salt and squeeze it dry in handfuls before adding it to the dressing and other fixings.

But would that life was as easy as slaw! Other salads come more quickly to the crying game. If you anticipate having leftovers of a creamy, er, mayo-y salad, skip the water-sapping salt and let everyone sprinkle it on their individual portions. And bear in mind that low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise is made with far more water than the high-octane stuff. Use full-fat mayo for less soggy salads. Or make your own mayonnaise—which won’t have any water in the mix.

Still, you’re fighting a losing battle. So eat those creamy, full-fat leftovers sooner rather than later. You can save your weeping for later, when you step on the bathroom scale.

Our very clever, very clothed Never Cook Naked columnists are at your disposal, able to troubleshoot everything from questionable table etiquette to tricky cooking techniques (as well as, natch, proper cooking attire). Ask us your question in a comment below!

Originally published May 22, 2012



  1. I store my mayo based salads in the fridge for starters. Secondly, just mix the salad after taking it out of the fridge before serving and voila no liquid. I have been making mayo based salads for over 50 years and this has never been a problem and the first time I have ever seen a question like this.

    1. Thanks, Debbie. It does tend to be an issue in salads with a lot of high-moisture vegetables in them, but it’s great to hear that it hasn’t been a problem for you.

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