Updated: Jan 11, 2021
I'm a firm believer that recipes ruin dishes like potato salad- it's too personal a preference to stick with exact measurements. It's those dishes that benefit from a few tricks or techniques that can make a big difference. So here's 5 tips that'll wow your next backyard cookout:
5 Tips for Perfect Potato Salad
1. Sometimes You Choose the Potato, Sometimes the Potato Chooses You
Not all potatoes are equal. In general, waxy potatoes (think red, new, or Yukon Gold) will hold their shape better than your average Russet. These potatoes also have a thinner skin, which allows you to skip the step of peeling. If the skin is thick or starchy, you'd better peel ahead of time or you'll have fibrous bits floating around your salad.
2. It's What's on the Inside that Counts
Boiling your potatoes in plain water won't make then any less plain, even if you end up slathering them in mayo. Try generously seasoning your boiling liquid with salt and half a cup of pickle juice for tang and actual potato flavor.
3. Give'em the Cold Shoulder
While we're talking about it, make sure your cooking liquid is cold when your potatoes go in. This makes sure the potatoes heat evenly instead of the outside turning to mush before the inside is cooked.
4. Season of Love
Once potatoes are cooked through, they turn into sponges. Be sure to strain them right away, transfer back to the still-hot pot, and let them cool and dry for a minute or two, then make sure there's plenty of flavors for them to soak up. Taste a piece. Does it need salt? Add it now, along with your mustard and pickles before the mayo creates a barrier between the potato and everything else. Add your mix-in's too- think seasoned shrimp, bacon crumbles, or finely-diced jalapeno.
5. You May-o or May-not like this, but:
... mayo is a dressing, not a seasoning. When you love, love, love how your potato-and-fixin's base tastes, add just enough mayonnaise for everything to come together.
P.S. My favorite mix-in are pickles and seasoned, boiled shrimp. What do you add? Let me know in the comments below!