How Long to Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad – The Perfect Cooking Guide

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Nothing brings people together like a tasty potato salad during the summer months! But how long should you boil your potatoes to get that perfect texture and taste? Boiling times can vary greatly depending on the type, size, and quantity of potatoes used. To ensure that your potato salad is just right, here we’ll give you all the tips for boiling potatoes as well as our foolproof recipe for deliciousness! So break out those spuds and get ready to wow your friends at your next cookout – it’s time to make some killer potato salad!

How Long to Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad

Potato salad is a classic dish that can be found on any picnic or backyard barbecue, but there’s more to it than just slathering mayonnaise on boiled potatoes. One important step in making the perfect potato salad is to ensure that the potatoes are boiled just right. So how long should you boil your potatoes for potato salad? We recommend slicing medium to big potatoes into large bits before boiling them for potato salad. After they’ve been cooked, cut them into bite-sized pieces to help them cook more evenly and stay together. If you wish, you can dice the potatoes before boiling them (though they are more likely to become soggy), or you can cook them whole (which takes longer).

  • Large potato cubes should be boiled for 8 to 15 minutes, or until fork soft. Then, if wanted, peel.
  • Boil baby or chopped potatoes for 10 minutes, or until fork tender.
  • Boil whole large potatoes for approximately 20 minutes or until fork tender. After that, dice it into smaller pieces.

Boil Potatoes

Potato Salad’s Best Potatoes

While some might think any ol’ potato will do, true potato salad connoisseurs know that certain types of potatoes lend themselves best to this classic dish.

The best potatoes for potato salad are those that have a firm texture and are less likely to turn into mush when boiled or mixed with other ingredients. Varieties like Yukon Gold, new potatoes, and fingerling potatoes are perfect for potato salad because they hold their shape well and offer a slightly creamy texture that pairs perfectly with tangy dressings and crunchy veggies.

So if you want to take your potato salad game to the next level, be sure to choose the right potatoes for the job.

Is it Necessary to Peel Potatoes for Potato Salad?

Peeling potatoes for potato salad is largely a matter of personal preference and it’s not strictly necessary. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Texture: Potato skins add a bit of texture to your potato salad. If you prefer your potato salad to be completely smooth, you might want to peel your potatoes.
  2. Nutrition: The skins of potatoes contain many of the vegetable’s nutrients. If you’re looking to get the most nutrition out of your potato salad, leaving the skins on is a good choice.
  3. Appearance: The skins can give your potato salad a rustic, hearty look. If you prefer a cleaner look, peeling the potatoes would be the way to go.
  4. Flavor: The skins can add a slightly earthy flavor to your salad. Some people like this, while others prefer the taste of the potato without the skin.
  5. Type of Potatoes: If you’re using new or red potatoes, which have thinner skins, you might find the skins to be less noticeable in your salad. On the other hand, if you’re using a type with thicker skin, like russet potatoes, the skin will be more noticeable.

Remember to wash the potatoes thoroughly before using them, especially if you decide to leave the skins on, to remove any dirt or pesticides.

Potato Salad: How to Boil Potatoes

  1. First, choose potatoes that are similar in size so that they cook evenly.
  2. Wash the potatoes and place them in a pot.
  3. Cover them with water and add a generous amount of salt to the pot.
  4. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
  5. Cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork, typically 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
  6. Drain the water and allow the potatoes to cool before adding to your favorite potato salad recipe.

How to Boil Potatoes

How can I tell when my potatoes are done boiling?

Check the softness of your potatoes with a fork or a knife to see if they are done boiling. Insert a fork or knife into one of the potato pieces; if it easily goes in, the potatoes are ready. They should be soft enough to be pierced yet strong enough to keep their shape without coming apart.

Overcooking potatoes can cause them to become mushy, especially if you want to utilize them in dishes like potato salad. Also, smaller portions will cook faster than larger ones, so cut your potatoes into evenly sized-pieces before boiling them to ensure they all cook at the same rate.

Start testing for doneness around the 10-minute mark of boiling to avoid overcooking. Continue to test every few minutes until you’re satisfied with their tenderness.

Remember to always use caution when dealing with hot water and steam when testing your potatoes.

Recipes for potato salad

Classic Potato Salad Recipe


  • 2 pounds of potatoes (Yukon Gold or red potatoes are great choices)
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped red onion
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  • Paprika for garnish (optional)


  • Put the potatoes in a big pot after rinsing them. Fill the saucepan halfway with water, just enough to cover the potatoes by an inch.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cook the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until soft when pricked with a fork.
  • Allow the potatoes to cool after draining. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel them or leave the skins on if you like. Potatoes should be cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, celery, and onion in a large mixing basin. Stir until thoroughly blended.
  • Combine the chopped potatoes with the mayonnaise mixture in a mixing dish. Gently toss the potatoes until evenly covered.
  • Stir in the chopped hard-boiled eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • If desired, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and a bit of paprika for garnish.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate the potato salad for at least one hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together.

Potato Salad Seasoning

Potato salad seasoning can be as simple or complex as you like, depending on the flavor profile you’re aiming for. Here’s a basic seasoning blend for a classic American-style potato salad, followed by some variations.

Basic Seasoning:

  • Salt: to taste
  • Black Pepper: to taste
  • Mustard: a spoonful of Dijon or yellow mustard adds a tangy flavor.
  • Vinegar: a spoonful of apple cider or white vinegar provides acidity.
  • Fresh Herbs: a handful of finely chopped parsley or dill can add freshness.
  • Onion: finely chopped red or white onion adds a touch of pungency.
  • Celery: finely chopped for a bit of crunch and subtle flavor.
  • Paprika: a sprinkle of this adds a mild sweet pepper flavor and a nice color.

Optional Additions/Variations:

  • Garlic: a clove or two of minced garlic adds depth of flavor.
  • Pickles: chopped dill pickles or pickle relish can add tanginess.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs: these can be considered a part of the seasoning or as an addition, they add a creamy texture and a distinctive taste.
  • Green Onions: these can be used in addition to, or in place of, regular onions for a milder flavor.
  • Mayonnaise: the base for many potato salads, this can be seasoned with the above ingredients.
  • Bacon: crumbled cooked bacon adds a smoky flavor.
  • Chives: add a mild onion flavor, they are great for garnishing the salad.
  • Cayenne Pepper: for those who like a little heat, a pinch of cayenne can add a nice kick.

How to store potatoes salad

It is critical to store potato salad properly in order to keep it fresh and safe. Here’s how to go about it:

Make sure your potato salad has cooled to room temperature before storing it. However, if you leave it out for more than two hours, bacteria will multiply.

Transfer to an Airtight Container: After the potato salad has cooled, place it in an airtight container. Using a container with a tight-fitting lid will help prevent flavors from leaking into your potato salad. If you don’t have an airtight container, tightly wrap a bowl in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate: Store the potato salad in the refrigerator. Potato salad should be kept at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or colder.

Eat Within 3-4 Days: For the best quality, eat your potato salad within three to four days of making it. If you can’t remember when you made it, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it out. If it smells bad, looks off, or if there’s any doubt about its freshness, it’s better not to eat it.

Stir Before Serving: When you’re ready to serve your potato salad, give it a good stir. This will redistribute the dressing and the flavors. If the salad seems a little dry, you might need to add a bit more mayonnaise or dressing.

Conclusion: How long to boil potatoes for potato salad

To sum up, it’s important to choose potatoes that are best suited for potato salad. Smaller potatoes with smoother skins work well and should be boiled for 10-15 minutes to ensure they are well-cooked but not too soft. It is also important to consider the type of potato one wants in their potato salad. Some recipes require potatoes peeled while others don’t. Finally, once the potatoes are boiled it is important to season the potato salad with salt, pepper, and other spices according to taste. Cutting the potatoes into evenly sized cubes or slices can help keep them intact when mixed with other ingredients for a delicious and healthy side dish. With all these guidelines in mind, it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming to create an amazing homemade potato salad!


Should I cut the potatoes before boiling them?

Yes, it’s usually recommended to cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces before boiling. This allows them to cook more evenly and quickly.

Should I start boiling the potatoes in cold or hot water?

It’s best to start boiling potatoes in cold water. This allows the potatoes to heat and cook evenly all the way through.

Can I overcook the potatoes for a potato salad?

Yes, overcooking the potatoes can lead to a mushy texture. It’s better to check them frequently and remove them from heat as soon as they’re tender.

Do I need to let the potatoes cool before making potato salad?

Yes, it’s usually best to let the potatoes cool before mixing them with other ingredients. This helps to prevent the mayonnaise or other dressing from melting or separating.

What type of potatoes should I use for potato salad?

Waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or red potatoes are often recommended for potato salad because they hold their shape well when boiled.

Should I salt the water when boiling potatoes for potato salad?

Yes, adding salt to the water can help to flavor the potatoes as they cook.

Can I boil the potatoes ahead of time when making potato salad?

Yes, you can boil the potatoes ahead of time. Just make sure to cool them completely before storing them in the refrigerator. They can be stored for up to 3-5 days before being used in your potato salad recipe.

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