How long does it take to boil potatoes for potato salad? It’s the most asked question online when it comes to making this classic side dish! And its answer isn’t as simple as you may have thought.
The quick answer is that if you cube the potatoes into 1-inch pieces, it will take them somewhere between 10 and 13 minutes to become perfectly fork-tender.
If you want a detailed answer, let me deep-dive into the many aspects of boiling potatoes for the perfect potato salad. We’ll talk about how different potatoes and different sizes will affect the ultimate cooking time.
And, of course, I’ve also included a delicious and easy classic potato salad recipe you can try.
Which Potato Is Best To Use For Potato Salad?
Before looking at exactly how long to boil potatoes for potato salad, let’s first look at your different options.
Today, there are over 4000 different varieties of potatoes! So as you can imagine, that’s quite a list to pick from.
Now, I know that you don’t have all 4000 options in front of you at the grocery store. However, most stores today sell at least four kinds of different potatoes.
There are usually potatoes for roasting, boiling, baking, and baby potatoes. None of these necessarily list a specific type of potato, but the characteristics within the category are usually the same.
So, which category of potatoes should you look at when buying some for making potato salad?
Generally, waxy potatoes work best for potato salad. These have high moisture content which makes them very flavorful.
And, they cook easily without losing their shape when they are boiling. You also don’t need to peel them.
Once cooked, they have a very smooth, creamy texture.
Waxy potatoes are not good for making any type of crispy potatoes. So, they aren’t good for frying, roasting, or grilling.
These potatoes are labeled at some stores as “boiling” or “mashed” potatoes.
Some examples of more specific waxy potato varieties include Charlotte, Viktoria, Jersey Royals, Annabelle, Red Bliss, New Potatoes, French Fingerlings, and Russian Banana.
I know, these names mean absolutely nothing when you read them. But if you do come across a store that sells specific varietals, these are some of the waxy options you can choose.
Factors That Affect The Cooking Times
Okay, moving on to the main question today: How long to boil potatoes for potato salad? This question actually does have an answer that is relatively set in stone.
The only factor that will affect the exact cooking time is the size of the potatoes you are boiling.
You can either boil whole or cubed potatoes.
Potato salad doesn’t often use quartered potatoes or wedges. Whole potatoes will naturally take much longer to cook than cubed potatoes.
Then, the size of the whole potato or potato cubes will also affect the cooking time.
Small whole potatoes will boil much quicker than large whole potatoes. And, 1-inch potato cubes will cook quicker than 2-inch potato cubes.
How Long to Boil Potatoes For Potato Salad?
Now, potatoes used for potato salad shouldn’t be cooked to mush.
They should still be able to hold their shape well and be soft and creamy. Using waxy potatoes will automatically help with this.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the cooking time for potatoes includes the time it takes to bring the water to a boil. So, your 30-minute cooking time starts the moment you place the cold water and potatoes on the heat.
Large unpeeled whole potatoes will take at least 40-45 minutes to cook. The time starts when the water and potatoes are placed on heat; not once the water starts boiling.
Any potato classified as “large” weighs more than 0.61 pounds each. That’s about 277 grams.
Medium potatoes weigh between 0.31 and 0.61 pounds (140-277 grams). These potatoes will take anywhere between 25-40 minutes to cook.
And finally, small whole potatoes weigh less than 0.31 pounds (140 grams). Small potatoes, depending on their exact size, can take between 15-25 minutes to cook.
Again, the size of the cubed potatoes will affect how long they will take to cook. But, generally, if you cube your potatoes into 1-inch pieces, they will take about 10-13 minutes to cook.
Remember, we are only looking at how long to boil potatoes for potato salad. So, this time frame only really applies to waxy potatoes.
Other types of potatoes often take a little longer to cook.
How To Test The Doneness Of Potatoes
The best way to test the doneness of potatoes is to use a fork. The term used is called “fork-tender.”
It means you should be able to easily pierce the vegetable completely. It shouldn’t break apart, but it should also not resist. Always test the largest potato piece first. If it’s fork tender, then the rest is as well.
But, this is also why it’s important to cut your potatoes into the same size. If they are very different, some may be overcooked while others are undercooked.
FAQs For How Long to Boil Potatoes For Potato Salad?
Is it better to boil cubed or whole potatoes for potato salad?
For potato salad, you should always cube your potatoes before cooking them. This way, you know what their final texture will be. And, it’s a bonus that the potatoes will take less time to cook.
Should you boil potatoes starting with cold or hot water?
Always start your boiled potatoes in cold water. If you start them in boiling water, the outside will be completely overcooked while the inside is still raw.
How do you avoid overcooking potatoes for potato salad?
Always start the cooking process with cold water. Then, follow the cooking times perfectly by setting a timer. You won’t forget about the potatoes and accidentally overcook them.
Another useful technique to avoid overcooking boiled potatoes is to place them in ice water as soon as they are finished cooking. It will stop residual heat from continuing to cook the potatoes.
How Long to Boil Potatoes For Potato Salad? With Tasty Recipe
- 8-10 medium potatoes, cubed into 1-inch blocks
- 2 tsp fine salt
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 1-2 cups diced bacon, cooked
- 2 red onions
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp white grape vinegar
- 4 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 8 Pickles
Boil your potatoes
- To start, place your cubed potatoes into cold water with two teaspoons of salt. Place them over medium-high heat and boil the potato cubes for 10-15 minutes.
- Test the doneness of the potatoes before removing them from the heat.
- Once finished, drain them from the hot water. Plunge them into some ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Allow them to cool completely, then drain them from the water. Leave the potatoes to dry a bit at room temperature.
Boil the eggs
- While the potatoes are cooking and cooling, you can also boil your eggs. Place a pot of water on high heat and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Add your eggs and reduce the heat slightly. Allow the eggs to simmer for about 7-9 minutes.
- Once the time has elapsed, plunge the eggs into cold water.
- After they are cooled, peel them. Mash the eggs with a fork to create a smoother egg mixture.
Prepare the rest of the salad
- While your potatoes and eggs are boiling, cook your diced bacon until it is crispy. Remove the bacon from the heat and set it aside to cool.
- You can make your potato salad dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
- To assemble your creamy potato salad, make sure that all the elements are cold. Then, fold together the cooked potatoes, mashed eggs, cooked bacon, red onion slices, pickels and dressing.
- Serve the potato salad chilled. It can last up to 3 days inside the fridge.