Should Potatoes For Potato Salad Be Peeled Before Or After Cooking
It depends on the potato you’re cooking. Since we recommend always cooking starchy russets whole, they should be peeled after cooking.
Waxy and all-purpose potatoes can go either way, and its a matter of personal preference. We have recipes that call for peeling before, and others that call for peeling after.
Picking The Right Potatoes
The potatoes you use will make all the difference in the texture of your salad. Some cooks prefer waxy potatoes such as Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold, and red potatoes because they hold their shape when they’re cooked and keep their firm texture in the salad when they’re chopped up and tossed with dressing.
Russet or Idaho potatoes have a drier, starchier texture and tend to break down during cooking, chopping, and tossing with dressing. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This kind of potato soaks up dressing like a sponge and tends to yield a softer, creamier potato salad. Read up on how to choose the right potato for the recipe.
Tater Tip: Potatoes can add color highlights to your salad. Red potatoes are red on the outside and creamy white on the inside, while purple potatoes hold their color all the way through. You can also use sweet potatoes to add a cheerful touch of orange, as in this Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad.
Related: Get recipes for red potato salads.
How To Cook Potatoes For Potato Salad
One of the biggest potato salad controversies is do you cut potatoes before boiling for potato salad? My mom says, no.
My mom cooks her potatoes whole with the skin on. I follow her lead, or will quarter them before cooking. The other method to cooking the potatoes is peeling and cutting the potatoes before cooking as suggested in the comments below. But, my mom says that method allows the potatoes to absorb more water, and so I do what mama says.
To cook the potatoes, add them to cold water and bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat, rather than adding the potatoes to hot, boiling water. Boil the potatoes until fork tender and the skin just begins to crack, about 20-25 minutes.
Another cooking method a reader suggests is steaming the potatoes in 1 inch of water for 30 minutes, which works too. Just be sure to watch you dont boil your water away and burn the pan.
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What Our Readers Are Saying
If you dont believe that our recipe helps you achieve the best homemade potato salad, take a look at what our readers are saying about the recipe! More reviews are in the comments section below.
Ive made this so many times!! Always so yummy and a big hit with even the pickiest eaters!! Pam
Best potato salad ever!! Melinda
Excellent. Tastes delicious! Its so much better than the potato salad purchased at the store. LouAnn
I LOVED this potato salad! Paula
Pick The Right Type Of Potato:
If you want your potatoes to hold their shape after they have been cooked, then it is best to choose a waxy potato, such as red, new or fingerling potatoes. These potatoes have a low starch to water content, meaning that after they have been boiled, they wont fall apart when mixed with the other ingredients.
They also have thin skin and dont necessarily need peeled. This is a great option for those who would like to get added nutrition from their side dish or for those who are short on time.
However, I prefer to use an all-purpose potato when making potato salad. It is well known that my favorite potato variety to use in the kitchen for most of my recipes is Yukon Gold.
These potatoes are considered to have a medium starch to water content. That means that they hold up well when cooked, and can be used in a variety of potato dishes.
They also have a thin skin that doesnt require peeling if you prefer to keep the skins on. And the slight buttery taste and creamy texture of the inside of the potatoes pair perfectly with the other ingredients.
However, Russet potatoes are not the best choice for potato salad as they have a high level of starch. This means after they have been cooked, they will crumble and not retain their shape. This is the reason that many people use them to make mashed potatoes.
Therefore, if you ask me what the best potato to use for making potato salad, my answer would be Yukon Gold potatoes.
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Southern Macaroni Salad Ingredients
So, whats the secret to a crave-worthy macaroni salad recipe?
It takes the right blend of ingredients to create a salty, slightly-sweet bite that is balanced in spice and tang.
Along with the traditional mayo-based dressing and elbow macaroni, I like to add:
- Roasted Red Peppers Slightly acidic, with a smoky-sweet taste.
- Sweet Pickle Relish For a tangy-sweet flavor
- Scallions The perfect amount of onion taste
- Cooked Bacon Salty, bacon-y goodness goes well with anything.
- Garlic Who doesnt love garlic? It enhances any dish.
- Hot Sauce Choose your favorite kind!
- Kale Let me explain
Rule #: Choose The Right Potato
Your spud of choice all depends on how your like your potato salad. Some folks prefer it super-creamy, but may not want to add gobs of mayo. If that’s your style, choose russet potatoes. They’ll break down a bit when boiled, and their starch will add to the overall texture of the finished dish. They also tend to absorb dressing a bit more easily.
If you prefer your salad with more contrasting textures firmer potatoes with a creamy dressing choose moderately waxy potatoes like Yukon golds or red potatoes, which hold their shape and don’t break down as quickly.
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When To Use Large White Or Yukon Gold Potatoes For Potato Salad
Yukon Gold and all-purpose white potatoes are the middle-of-the-road potato. They have less starch than a Russet potato, but enough so that they can be cut up and cooked in salted water for mashed potatoes or potato salad. And true Yukon Golds are a lovely yellow color that shows through many potato salad dressings. Literally any potato salad recipe that calls for waxy potatoes can be made with Yukon Gold potatoes.
Potato Salad For A Crowd
What I love about potato salad is that it serves a lot of people without a lot of effort, and it’s so easy to make a good one.
I love using Yukon golds, though you can use any potato. My dad likes using russets in his potato salad. This recipe is for potato salad with sour cream – using it as a binder makes it extra creamy.
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The Best Way To Cook Potatoes For Potato Salad
Waxy potatoes and all-purpose potatoes can be boiled whole or cut starchy potatoes must always be boiled whole.
When cooking any potatoes, add them to a pot, cover them with cold water by an inch, add a big pinch of salt and turn the heat to high. When the water boils, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes until they are firm but tender when pierced with a fork or paring knife. Test cut potatoes as soon as the water comes to a boil, it doesnt take long to cook small pieces of potato, especially if theyre slices. Whole Russet potatoes will take longer to test, remove one from the pot with tongs and pierce it with a paring knife, which should slide into the center of the potato easily. For a step-by-step guide complete with photos, head over to our story, How to Boil Potatoes.
To peel the skin from potatoes, use a paring knife and gently tug off large pieces. The hotter the potatoes are, the easier they are to peel we suggest wearing 2 pairs of disposable gloves to protect your hands from the heat. After peeling, cut the potatoes in cubes.
What Is Potato Salad Made Of
There are many iterations of potato salad, including ones with creamy dressing or tangy dressing. Below, we outline the common ingredients most potato salads share.
- Potatoes: waxy or starchy potatoes
- Dressing: creamy or oil-and-vinegar
- Acid: a splash of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar intensifies the flavors of the potato salad
- Crunchy vegetables: celery and onion are the most common
- Protein: hard cooked eggs and ham or bacon are popular, but not necessary add-ins
- Extra flavors: mustards, herbs and spices and hot peppers are frequently used
- Salt and pepper: potatoes are starchy, so you need salt in the cooking water and in the salad
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How To Make Potato Salad:
Heres how to make the best potato salad recipe its so easy!
More Easy Side Dishes
- Here is my favorite way to make coleslaw. With a generous amount of acidity from apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard.
- Our broccoli salad with bacon has cranberries, red onion, and a zesty dressing made with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar.
- I love crunchy salads. This vinegar-based cucumber salad is addictive.
- This pasta salad with orzo is full of goodness. Theres a simple lemon vinaigrette, cucumber, olives, artichokes, tomato, and fresh herbs. Or take a look at our easy pasta salad with mozzarella and parmesan .
Recipe updated, originally posted May 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. The recipe video has also been updated. To watch the original video , watch it on YouTube Adam and Joanne
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How To Make Red Potato Salad
- Bring a large pot of cold water to boil. Generously salt the boiling water and add the cut red potatoes. Boil until you have tender potatoes checking every couple minutes towards the end of cooking. Drain the waxy potatoes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar. Pour the warm potatoes into the vinegar mixture and gently mix with a rubber spatula to combine.
- Whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Pour over the potatoes and gently fold in.
- Add the hard boiled eggs and other remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours. Enjoy!
The Rest Of The Ingredients
Now we have perfectly cooked and seasoned potatoes and a creamy dressing, its time to add some extra ingredients.
Potato salad is a personal process, and there are lots of opinions out there as to what makes it perfect or the best. The recipe below is our version it includes everything we love, but remember that its your potato salad, so add what you like!
Celery and Pickles The celery adds a lovely crunch and our house isnt stable without dill pickles in the refrigerator so adding them is a no-brainer for us. If you dont like pickles in potato salad leave them out .
Red Onion I love the sweetness and crunch of red onion in this. To make sure that the onion doesnt overpower the salad with raw onion flavor, I deflame the onions. Its a simple process, simply add cool water to chopped onion and set aside for 10 minutes. The time in the water takes the raw edge off the onion.
Hard-Boiled Eggs Maybe its how we were brought up or what were used to but, potato salad without eggs is missing something. Hard-boiled eggs add texture and extra creaminess.
Fresh Herbs The most common herbs are parsley and chives, but dill, cilantro, and tarragon all work well. In our recipe below, we use both dill and parsley. Experiment for yourself to see what you love. Add a tablespoon at a time then taste. Also, remember dill and tarragon are a little stronger than other herbs so add accordingly.
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Dress Your Potatoes While They Are Warm
This might be the most important tip of all, and one that may be new to you, but dressing potatoes while theyre still warm is the key to flavor. When the spuds are warm, ingredients can penetrate the flesh.
Keep in mind, you should only add vinaigrette-based dressings while warm. If you add a mayo-based dressing, the hot potatoes will melt the dressing and the salad with be oily.
To add flavor to the potatoes while theyre still warm, toss them with apple cider vinegar and spread them out on a baking sheet to cool for at least 30 minutes before adding the creamy sauces and remaining ingredients.
This step guarantees great flavor, a buttery-soft texture and allows any excess water to evaporate, which ensures that the creamy dressings will cling to the spuds.
Prepping And Cooking Potatoes
To peel or not to peel? If you’d like to add a little extra color and texture to your salad, leave the skins on. Just be sure to scrub them thoroughly with a vegetable brush before you cook them. Once you’ve either scrubbed or peeled your potatoes, cut them into bite-size chunks, place them in a large pot, and cover them with water. Use a large enough pot to allow for several inches of head room to accommodate the boiling, starchy water. Bring the potatoes to a boil, then generously salt the water. Reduce the heat if necessary to keep the pot at a gentle boil.
How long to boil potatoes for potato salad? Depending on your definition of “bite-size,” the potatoes will take between 8 and 15 minutes to cook. As soon as they’re tender enough to cut through easily, drain them and let them sit in the strainer for a bit to let the steam evaporate excess moisture. Remember that the residual heat will continue cooking the potatoes a little bit even after they’ve been drained.
Hot or not?
Beyond boiling. Boiling’s not the only way to cook potatoes for potato salad. Try some of these other methods:
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The Best Types Of Potatoes For Potato Salad
Lets start with the potatoes. What type should you use? Not Russets. Potatoes are divided into three general categories based on their texture: starchy, all-purpose and waxy.
Russet potatoes are starchy, which means theyll likely fall apart during cooking or when youre combining ingredients.
All-purpose potatoes, like white and Yukon Gold, are less starchy than Russets and will work. But the absolute best potatoes for potato salad are the low-starch, waxy varieties, because they hold their shape during cooking.
For the best results, use New potatoes, Red Bliss or Fingerling.
S To The Best Potato Salad Ever
- 3 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, divided
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 6 hard-boiled large eggs, divided
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Step 1: Gather all your ingredients.
Having everything on the counter ready to go makes the cooking part go so much more smoothly. If you dont have hard-cooked eggs on hand, you can make them in no time.
Nick knows the recipe off the top of his head: Place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover them with about an inch of cold water. Bring it just to a boil. Pull the pan from the heat, put on the lid, and let it stand for 13 minutes. Drain the water and quickly dunk the eggs in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. They turn out perfectly every time! See?
Step 2: Try this toothpick trick
Use a toothpick to skewer a peeled clove of garlic. This does two things: It helps you find the garlic clove later among all the potatoes, and it releases some of that garlicky goodness into the cooking water . Cooking the garlic mellows its flavor, too.
Step 3: Stick it all in the Dutch oven
Step 4: Get cookin
Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tenderabout 10 minutes. While the potatoes cook, whip up the dressing by whisking together the mayo, sour cream, paprika and remaining vinegar and salt.
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Making A French Red Potato Salad Recipe
In hindsight, I often find that improvisations birth many of my best kitchen creations. As Plato said, Necessity is the mother of invention.I say necessity keeps you open-minded, at least in the kitchen!
In my heart, moms potato salad will always be #1. But I do love this new variety, tremendously. Since that day, I have swapped dried Herbs De Provence, for fresh rosemary, thyme and lavender. This creates a brighter floral, french-countryside quality.
Ive also taken to roasting the potatoes instead of boiling them, producing a much better color and texture.
As with all potato salad, the longer it sits, the better it gets. I like to make the French Red Potato Salad Recipe the night before its going to be served.
That way, the flavors have time to fully absorb into the potatoes. However, if you just cant wait, it will still taste wonderful moments after mixing!