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The Best Potatoes for Potato Salad

When you know what the best potatoes for potato salad are, you’ll be crowned the king or queen of this year’s BBQ season.

And spoiler alert – it’s waxy!

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Homemade Potato Salad with Onions, Egg and Paprika

Potato salad is a staple at every backyard bash, but it’s so easy to go wrong with this simple side.

The main culprit? Using the wrong kind of potatoes.

Sadly, you can’t just use whatever potato you have in the fridge or pantry because they’re not all created equal.

But don’t worry – I’m here to explain everything. So read on to find out the best potatoes for potato salad.

What Are the Best Potatoes for Potato Salad?

Did you know that there are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes on earth? That’s a lot of spuds!

But the good news is, you can narrow them down into three categories. From there, it’s simple to pick the right kind for potato salad.

And if you’re in a rush, here’s the answer:

The best potatoes for potato salad are waxy, such as new potatoes, French fingerlings, and Red Bliss. They have lower starch contents but higher moisture content. This means they cook well without losing their shape. Plus, their skin is thin and soft enough that they don’t need to be peeled.

Now, let’s dive into the three varieties of potatoes and discuss how and when they should be used.

Basketful of Waxy Potatoes

1. Waxy Potatoes

Fingerling, red, and new potatoes are almost always used for potato salad because, as mentioned, they have lower starch contents than other varieties.

And since they’re high in sugar and water, they hold their shape really well after a spin in boiling water, giving you a firm yet tender bite.

In addition, the skin of waxy potatoes is thin, so they don’t need to be peeled before cooking. That’ll save you a ton of prep time! 

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Starch Potatoes on a Cloth Sack

2. Starchy Potatoes

Also known as “mealy” potatoes, starchy potatoes have a higher starch content than other varieties (but you probably guessed that already!). 

Varieties include Russet and Idaho, and they’re easy to spot due to the long oval shape with smooth, light-colored skin. 

They’re drier and flakier than others, which makes them ideal for baking and frying. 

However, their low moisture content means they’ll usually break apart when cooked. This makes them perfect for fluffy mashed potatoes. 

For potato salad, though, expect a creamier dish with less definition in the potatoes because they’ll soak up the dressing and break apart when mixed.

So if you want chunks of potato with a nice bite, skip this variety.

Brown sack of All-Purpose potatoes

3. All-Purpose Potatoes

All-purpose potatoes are exactly what they sound like – potatoes that can be used for practically any dish. 

Varieties include Yukon Gold and Purple Majesty, and they’re known to sit in the middle when it comes to starch and moisture content.

So whether you want to make a hearty stew or a simple roasted potato, these spuds are up to the task. 

They have a fairly neutral flavor, so they won’t overwhelm other ingredients. Best of all, they’re widely available and very affordable. 

Potato Salad on a White Bowl

How to Pick the Best Potatoes for Potato Salad

So we’ve already decided that waxy potatoes are best for potato salad. But how do you pick the right one when there are so many?

It’s easy, really. Just follow the steps below!

  1. Look for potatoes that are firm and free of blemishes. You want clean and smooth potatoes, no matter what dish you’re making.
  2. Pay attention to the skin and try to find potatoes with as few blemishes as possible. Some potatoes have thin skins that are easily bruised, while others have thick, rugged skin that can handle a little more wear and tear.
  3. Perform the smell test. If they smell like soil, that means they’re freshly harvested. If not, they may have been sitting for a while.
    • You can also tell what type of potato it is depending on its scent!
    • Waxy potatoes have a milder smell, while starchy potatoes can smell earthy or nutty.
  4. Give them a squeeze. They should be firm to the touch, without any give.
  5. Check the size and shape. If you’re looking for bite-sized pieces, go for small, round potatoes. Opt for larger, oblong potatoes, like fingerlings, if you want something heartier. 

Tip: Waxy potatoes tend to be smaller and more uniform in shape, while starchy potatoes can vary widely in size and shape.

Lots of potatoes piled on top of each other

How to Store Potatoes

Store potatoes in a cool, dark place with good ventilation, like a pantry, cupboard, or closet.

It’s better to keep them inside a paper or cloth bag rather than a plastic one. This will allow them to breathe and prevent them from becoming soggy. 

Lastly, be sure to check on your potatoes regularly and discard any that have sprouted or look wrinkled and dried out. 

Best Potato Salad Recipes to Try

Amish Potato Salad
Paula Deen Potato Salad
Ina Garten’s Potato Salad
Hellmann’s Potato Salad

The Best Potatoes for Potato Salad

When you know what the best potatoes for potato salad are, you’ll be crowned the king or queen of this year’s BBQ season. And spoiler alert – it’s waxy!

Ingredients

  • Waxy Potatoes

  • Starchy Potatoes

  • All-Purpose Potatoes

Directions

  • Select your favorite potato for potato salad.
  • Try a fun and exciting recipe.
  • Enjoy!
Best Potatoes for Potato Salad

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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