Perfect Boil Time for Potato Salad

How long should you boil potatoes for potato salad? This is the most asked question online when it comes to making this classic side dish! And, the answer isn’t as simple as you may have thought.

Potato Salad

The quick answer is that if you cube the potatoes into 1-inch pieces, it will take between 10 and 13 minutes, making the potatoes perfectly fork-tender, which is perfect for potato salad.

If you want a detailed answer, let me deep-dive into the many aspects of boiling potatoes for the perfect potato salad. We’ll discuss how different potatoes and sizes will affect the ultimate time it takes to cook potatoes.

And, of course, I’ve also included a delicious and easy classic potato salad recipe you can try.

If you love potatoes, try my many potato recipes. Some of my favorites include Grill-Roasted Potatoes and these Steven Universe Potato Bites or, Bake Potatoes At 375 In Foil.

potatoes next to a pot

Which Potato Is Best To Use For Potato Salad?

Before considering how long it takes to boil potatoes for potato salads, let’s first look at your different options. There are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes; not all will be potatoes for potato salad!

So, as you can imagine, that’s quite a list to pick from, especially for potato salads. Now, I know that you don’t have all 4,000 options in front of you at the grocery store. However, most stores today sell at least four different kinds of potatoes.

So, which category of potatoes should you look at when buying specifically for making potato salad? I will tell you now that not all potatoes are created equal. To boil potatoes, you must know what kind of potato you need for your recipe.

different potatoes on a table

What is a Wax Potato?

Generally, waxy potatoes work best for potato salad because these are not starchy potatoes. These have high moisture content, which makes them very flavorful. Also, they cook quickly without losing their shape when they are boiling. You also don’t need to peel them; once cooked, they have a smooth, creamy texture.

Waxy potatoes are not suitable for making any crispy potatoes. So, I would not recommend them good for frying, roasting, or grilling. Some stores label these potatoes as “boiling” or “mashed” potatoes. Starchy potatoes are better for mashed potatoes but not for potato salad.

Some examples of more specific waxy potato varieties include Charlotte, Viktoria, Jersey Royals, Annabelle, Red Bliss, New Potatoes, French Fingerlings, and Russian Banana. Boil potatoes such as these for potato salad.

If you are looking for all-purpose potatoes for potato salad and mashed potatoes, consider Goldilocks or Yukon Gold. These potatoes contain a balanced content of moisture and starch. They are a perfect alternative if you add potato salad with mashed potatoes as an extra side dish.

Best Potato infographic

Additionally, explore my dessert recipes featuring sweet potatoes, such as Sweet Potato Brownies and Sweet Potato Pancakes.

Factors That Affect The Cooking Times

Okay, moving on to today’s main question: How long should you boil potatoes for potato salad? This question does have an answer that is relatively set in stone. There are a few factors to consider when boiling potatoes.

The only factor affecting the exact cooking time is the size of the potatoes you are boiling.

You can either boil potatoes whole or cubed. Potato salad doesn’t often use quartered potatoes or wedges. Additionally, whole potatoes will naturally take much longer to cook than cubed potatoes.

The size of the entire potato or potato cubes will also affect the cooking time.

Small potatoes will boil much quicker than large potatoes. Likewise, 1-inch potato cubes will cook faster than 2-inch potato cubes.

How Long To Boil Potatoes For Potato Salad infographic

How Long to Boil Potatoes For Potato Salad?

Now, potatoes used for potato salad shouldn’t be cooked to mush. Perfectly boiled potatoes should still be able to hold their shape well while maintaining their soft and creamy texture.

Another thing to remember is that the time to boil potatoes includes the time it takes to bring the water to a boil. So, 30 minutes of the time starts when you place the cold water and potatoes on the heat.

boiling potatoes in a pot

Whole Potatoes

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 (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, whole small potatoes weigh less than 0.31 pounds (140 grams). Depending on their exact size, small potatoes can take 15-25 minutes to cook.

Whole Potatoes in boilling water

Cubed Potatoes

Again, the size of the cubed potatoes will affect how long they will take to cook. Although, generally, if you cube your potatoes into 1-inch pieces, they take about 10-13 minutes to cook.

Preferably, cubed potatoes are best for potato salad recipes. This is mainly due to the fact that the boiled potatoes for potato salad are already cubed. Therefore, you do not need to struggle with cutting the whole boiled potatoes.

This process will be easier when it is time to cool your potatoes and assemble your potato salad.

Here is a blog post that breaks down the different boil times for different potatoes.

adding Cubed Potatoes to boilling water

To discover more potato recipes, check out this Quick And Easy Creamy Potato Soup or these crispy Air Fried Potato Wedges.

How To Test The Doneness Of Potatoes

  • Use a Fork: The best method to determine if potatoes are fully cooked is the “fork-tender” test. Aim for a texture that allows a fork to pierce through easily without breaking the potato apart, ideal for dishes like potato salad and mashed potatoes.
  • Fork-Tender Defined: A potato is fork-tender when it can be easily pierced without resistance yet doesn’t fall apart, indicating perfect doneness for potato salad.
  • Start with the Largest Pieces: Since larger potato pieces take longer to cook, testing them first ensures uniform doneness. If the largest pieces are fork-tender, the smaller ones are likely done as well.
  • Uniform Size for Even Cooking: Cutting potatoes into equal sizes promotes even cooking, saving time and ensuring consistency. However, note that different potato varieties may cook at varying rates, potentially leading to some being over or undercooked.
Cubed Potatoes 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. Besides, 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 to ensure that they are cooked evenly. 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 overcooking them. You will have to use your overcooked potatoes for mashed potatoes instead.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.

A top view of the Potato Salad with rosemary decor around it.

How Long to Boil Potatoes For Potato Salad? With Tasty Recipe

This is an incredibly quick and easy basic creamy potato salad. It is very versatile and you can effortlessly adjust the flavors of the recipe. You can also add some other ingredients, spices, and herbs.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4


  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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