What Potatoes Are Best For Potato Salad?

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Would you like to know what the best potatoes for potato salad are? Well, we have researched this question and have answers for you. It is helpful to know this so you can make the best potato salad possible!

Red potatoes are best for potato salad because their reduced starch content allows them to keep their shape better. You can still make a great potato salad with russet potatoes but, it requires proper technique to keep them from becoming soggy or mushy.

In this article, we will learn what the best potatoes for potato salad are. We will also learn the answers to other interesting related questions such as: is it better to boil potatoes whole or cut up for potato salad, and how do you keep potato salad from getting mushy? Keep reading to learn more.

red potatoes in burlap sack on a blue wooden table, What Potatoes Are Best For Potato Salad?

What Potatoes Are Best For Potato Salad?

In the United States, there are over 200 kinds of potatoes sold. These 200 kinds of potatoes fall into seven major categories; Russet, Red, Purple, Yellow, White, Petite, and Fingerling.

It can be challenging to decide what potatoes are best for potato salad with so many potatoes to choose from. To select the best potato, you need to understand what common problems befall potato salads and which potatoes can help you avoid these pitfalls.

The bane of potato salads is mushy or soggy potatoes. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to choose a potato that is naturally resistant to this, and that is the red potato.

Red potatoes have lower starch content and are often described as being waxy. The waxy texture of a red potato repels water when boiled to keep the potato from becoming waterlogged. The lower starch content also helps keep the potato from falling apart, giving you well-defined cubes in your potato salad.

While most people agree that red potatoes are the best for making potato salad, it is a common misconception that russet potatoes do not. Most people believe this because, without the proper knowledge of making potato salad with russet potatoes, your potato salad will not turn out well.

How To Make Potato Salad With Russet Potatoes

To make a good potato salad with russet potatoes, you will want to keep the potatoes from becoming mushy or soggy. Let's learn how to properly prepare russet potatoes to avoid these issues.

Avoiding Soggy Russet Potatoes

Russet potatoes become soggy because too much water soaks into the potato. Many don't know that this only happens once the potatoes start to become overcooked.

To avoid soggy potatoes, taste potato pieces often when they are getting close to finished cooking. When the potatoes are mostly but not completely cooked, remove them from the stove and drain the water.

The potatoes will continue to cook for several more minutes but, if they are in the water when they become fully cooked, they will become waterlogged. This trick will ensure you never have soggy russet potatoes.

Avoiding Mushy Russet Potatoes

The other issue that russet potatoes have is becoming mushy when mixing them with the other ingredients. There is also a trick to this, to avoid mushy potatoes.

First, you will add everything except the potatoes to your potato salad and mix it. The trick is to have every other ingredient thoroughly combined to reduce the amount of mixing you will need to finish your potato salad.

Then mix in the russet potatoes and stir only enough to mix everything. If you minimize mixing your russet potatoes, your potatoes salad will not be mushy.

Is It Better To Boil Potatoes Whole Or Cut Up For Potato Salad?

Fresh potatoes on wooden kitchen board

There is a debate in the world of potatoes on whether to boil them whole or cut up for potato salad. While cooking them whole makes removing the peels easier, that is where the advantages end.

When you boil a potato whole, the outside of the potato gets cooked long before the inside, leading to one of two problems. Either the inside of your potato is undercooked, or the outside is overcooked.

Undercooked potatoes will not taste savory and will be harder to chew. Overcooked potatoes will be mushy and are susceptible to becoming waterlogged. What you want when cooking potatoes is an evenly cooked potato.

To achieve an evenly cooked potato, it would be best if you cut up your potatoes before boiling them.

What Is The Best Way To Cut Potatoes For Potato Salad?

Now that we know it is best to cut potatoes before you boil them let's learn the best way to cut potatoes for potato salad.

When deciding how to cut potatoes, the potato pieces must be cooked evenly. So any way you cut potatoes that leaves you with an asymmetric shape should be avoided.

To achieve symmetric pieces, slice your potatoes into quarters lengthways. This will leave you with four pieces of potato that resemble a triangle with a curved edge when viewed from above.

The next step is to decide how far apart these pieces should be cut along these quarter pieces. The options are in the form of a ratio of the width and length of each piece.

If you cut the pieces longer than the width of the quarter piece, then you will get a surface that resembles a rectangle. If the ratio between width and length is similar, you will get a surface that resembles a square. You will also get a rectangle if you slice the pieces narrower than the quarter piece.

The best-shaped piece of potato to ensure the most evenly cooked potato is the one that resembles a square on two sides. Matching the length of your cuts with the width of the quartered potato ensures that you have the best-shaped potato for an evenly cooked potato salad.

Should You Peel Potatoes For Potato Salad?

Color image of a young woman peeling potatoes in the kitchen of her home.

Whether you should peel potatoes for potato salad is more of a preference. You can make a great potato salad with either peeled or unpeeled potatoes.

Most people opt to peel their potatoes for potato salads is two-part. The first reason is that they believe the potato skins will ruin the texture of an easy-to-eat potato salad.

Potato skins making your potato salad tough to eat is a misconception. As long as they aren't too large, boiled potato skins are easy to eat and often don't change the texture. Boiled potato skins are also very nutrient-dense, containing many vitamins and fiber.

People don't want unpeeled potatoes in their potato salad because of the look. Most people want their potato salad to look tasty and feel potato skins look less appetizing.

The only reason that potato skins look less delicious is because of unfamiliarity. Human brains have an affinity for things we are familiar with and repulsion to something we are unfamiliar with.

The solution to getting over this bias is to try something new. If you make potato salad with the skins now and again, you may find that you enjoy not just the look but the taste as well.

Can You Boil Potatoes Ahead Of Time For Potato Salad?

You can boil potatoes ahead of time for potato salad, as long as you store them properly. Being high in starch, potatoes can go bad faster than other foods.

To store your potatoes properly, be sure to cover them with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap will keep airflow down slow the speed of decay.

Also, be sure to store them in the refrigerator to keep bacteria from multiplying quickly. While storing your cooked potatoes in the fridge dramatically extends their lifespan, you shouldn't store cooked potatoes in the fridge for longer than three days.

The amount of time your potatoes are in the fridge subtracts from the amount of time you can safely store your potato salad. Potato salad, like potatoes, should only be stored in the refrigerator for three days because of its high starch content.

If your potatoes were already stored in the fridge for two days before making your potato salad, then that potato salad should only be kept in the refrigerator for one day to ensure it's safe.

While you can boil potatoes ahead of time, it would be best to use fresh potatoes since potatoes have such a short life in the fridge after being cooked.

How Do You Keep Potato Salad From Getting Mushy?

potato salad with fresh radishes in a white bowl

The trick to keeping your potato salad from getting mushy is the same as when keeping russet potatoes from becoming mushy.

When potatoes are mixed, they start to become mush because they are so soft. While this is what you want with mashed potatoes, you should avoid this with potato salad.

When making the potato salad, mix all the ingredients except the potatoes first. Doing this will ensure that you don't over mix the potatoes.

Then, when mixing the potatoes into the other ingredients, only mix as much as is required to blend the ingredients evenly. As soon as the potato salad looks well mixed, stop stirring it.

Your potato salad will never be mushy again if you follow these instructions.

Final Thoughts

red potato

In this article, we learned that red potatoes are best for potato salad but that russets will work well with the proper technique. We also learned that you don't necessarily have to peel your potatoes for potato salad.

Remember when mixing potato salad to not over mix, to avoid mushy potato salad.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you want to learn more, check out some of these other posts.

Can You Make French Fries With Red Potatoes?

What's The Best Pot For Boiling Potatoes?

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