From choosing the right potatoes to dialing in the flavors and textures, here are our top tips for making your potato salad shine.

Megan O. Steintrager
July 02, 2020
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A cookout or picnic just isn't complete without potato salad. But it can't just be any old potato salad! It has to be a great potato salad, with perfectly cooked potatoes and just the right mixture of other ingredients for creaminess and crunch. Turn your potato salad from ho-hum to excellent with these tips from the EatingWell Test Kitchen.

Potato Salad 101

Choose the right potatoes

Waxy potatoes, such as red, yellow, fingerlings and Yukon Golds (rather than floury potatoes like russets) tend to make the best salad because they hold their shape when cooked. Try them in our Classic Potato Salad recipe.

To peel or not to peel?

We like to keep the potato skins on for more fiber and potassium. Your salad will look prettier too! Just scrub the potatoes well before cutting them up. But if you prefer the creamier consistency that results from potatoes breaking down a bit when cooked, go ahead and peel your potatoes before cutting them up. (Here's How to Peel and Slice Potatoes Ahead of Time.)

Balance the creamy and crunchy textures

The best potato salads have a nice balance of creamy and crunchy textures. For creaminess, mayonnaise is an obvious—and perfect—choice. But if you'd like to mix things up, using some plain yogurt (Greek or regular and anything from nonfat to full fat) is another way to add creaminess, along with a tangy flavor. Try it in our Creamy Red Potato Salad recipe. And if you are a fan of eggs in potato salad like I am, you know that their yolks add a wonderful richness and creaminess to the salad.

In terms of crunch, celery is a classic, but look to other veggies as well, like bell peppers (any color), red onions and even cucumbers, as in this New Potato Salad with Cucumber & Jalapeño.

Pucker up!

Save your potato salad from blandness by adding something briny for a pucker factor. Again, you can stick with the classics like sweet or sour chopped pickles or pickle relish. Or try adding tanginess with pickled peppers or capers. Adding some mustard to the mix is another great way to add some tanginess and perk up your salad.

Add brightness with herbs

To further brighten your potato salad, mix in some fresh herbs. Dill, parsley, tarragon and green onions all work well. Or add interest with cilantro or basil—really any herb you like can be used in your potato salad, so make it your own. Try this Potato Salad with Three Herbs.

Got cooking questions? Email them to us at testkitchen@eatingwell.com.