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How Long To Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad

Perfect, tender, amazing potato salad comes from knowing exactly how long to boil potatoes for potato salad! I mean, seriously, it’s the base of the entire thing! 

plastic picnic bowl of potato salad

how long to boil potatoes for potato salad


Why This Recipe Works

  1. Easy
  2. Fast
  3. Informative
  4. Makes perfect potatoes for potato salad recipe every single time! 

Here’s How It’s Done

STEP 1.  Boil Water . It’s just like How to Boil Cauliflower!

Put on about 3 quarts of water to boil! Add 3 Tbs of Kosher salt and let it come to a good boil! 

A photo of boiling water

how long to boil potatoes for potato salad

STEP 2. Cut the Potatoes (peel them first). 

Peel your potatoes and cut them into chunks about this size – 2″. 

Potatoes on a cutting board with some cut into 2" pieces

how long to boil potatoes for potato salad

STEP 3.  Add the potatoes to salted water.

These are whole potatoes boiling but you will want to bring your cut potatoes up to a simmer like what is shown in this photos.

potatoes boiling in water


STEP 4.  Mix up the Potato Salad

Bowl of potato salad with hot dog and iced tea in the background


How Long to Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad

Given that the potatoes are cut into 2” cubes and are all the same size, that you are using Russet or Idaho potatoes and potatoes are peeled, then you will want to cook them for 10-15 minutes over medium high heat. You will know the potato is done when a fork easily pierces the flesh when poked. 

If you are cooking with the skin on, a larger potato or a different kind of potato, it may take a different length of time. 

That said, potatoes are ready when a fork pierces the potato easily

What to Serve with Potatoes for Potato Salad

We love perfect hot dogs, chicken stripsbeannie weenies and peach pie with pecan brown sugar crumble

Frequently Asked Questions for How to Cook Potatoes for Potato Salad (FAQ’s)

Do You Cut a Potato Before Boiling It For Potato Salad? 

Yes, cut the potato into 2” cubes. Make sure that all of the pieces are about the same size so that they cook evenly. 

What Kind of Potatoes Do I Use For Potato Salad? 

Actually, any kind of potato will work for potato salad. Most people use Russet or Idaho Potatoes but red potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes work well too. The skin on red and yellow potatoes is thinner and can be left on for the potato salad, thus avoiding the problem of peeling the potatoes.

Note: We aren’t using a sweet potato here. (smile)

Do I Have to Peel the Potato Before I Boil the Potato? 

If you are using a Russet or Idaho Potato (standard baking potato) then, yes, you need to peel the potato before you boil it. The skin on Idaho and Russet Potatoes are just too thick to leave the skin on. So, use peeled potatoes!

How Long Do You Boil Potatoes With The Skin On For Potato Salad? 

Boil potatoes with the skin on (red potatoes and yellow type waxy potatoes) for about 20 minutes if the potatoes are about 2” chunks or whole potatoes. When the potato is done for potato salad, a fork will pierce the flesh easily when poked. 

cut up potatoes on a cutting board

Why Does Potato Salad Get Runny? 

Potato salad gets runny for a few reasons that include:  

  • Potatoes weren’t drained enough
  • The potatoes were overcooked.
  • The potato was a high liquid content potato to begin with (red or yellow potato). Use a Russet to help keep this from happening. 
  • A low fat dressing is used. Often these tend to be more watery.

How Long Does Potato Salad Keep in the Fridge? 

Homemade Potato Salad will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. Do NOT allow it to sit out for more than 2 hours.  

Can I Freeze Potato Salad?

Nope.  Potato salad doesn’t freeze well. Go ahead and eat it all now. Share it with a neighbor! Mayonnaise and sour cream don’t work well for the freezer. 

Do I Need To Wash The Potato Before I Boil it for Potato Salad? 

Yes, wash the potatoes before boiling them in a large pot for potato salad. Potatoes often have quite a lot of residual field dirt and while it probably won’t hurt you, it is crunchy and has a terrible taste/ mouthfeel

Do I Need To Salt The Water Before Boiling a Potato? 

Yes, salt the water with more salt than you think you will need. Use 1 Tablespoon of Kosher Salt per quart. This is the same with boiled potatoes as with mashed potatoes. 

How Do I Cut Up a Potato Before Boiling It For Potato Salad? 

First, peel the potato. Then cut it in half long ways, then cut it in half the other way. Now cut those halves into halves until you have 2” near cubes. 

Want To Learn More About Potatoes? 

The USDA Snap info has a TON of info on Potatoes

Can I Add Broccoli to My Potato Salad? 

Yes! Absolutely! Do IT if you LOVE broccoli. (Just know that it isn’t really the first thing that people think of when they think potato salad).

You will want to cook the broccoli a little first so that it isn’t raw. 

cut up broccoli on a cutting board

If You Enjoyed This Recipe for How Long to Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad, you might enjoy these other potato recipes at Loaves and Dishes…

How to Microwave a Baked Potato

How to Make a Perfect Steakhouse Baked Potato

Grandma’s Stewed Potatoes

Fried Potatoes and Onions

Garlic Dill Potato Salad

How To Cook Canned New Potatoes

Classic Mashed Potatoes

Want To Really Help Out Other Cooks? 

Leave a comment and a 5 STAR rating in the comment section below. That helps others find Loaves and Dishes and know that this is the best place for learning to cook and terrific recipes. Here’s my favorite basic potato salad recipe!

Garlic Dill Potato Salad

How Long To Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad

Perfect, tender, amazing potato salad comes from knowing exactly how long to boil potatoes for potato salad! I mean, seriously, it’s the base of the entire thing!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how long to boil potatoes for potato salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 226kcal


  • 2 Lbs Peeled Potatoes Cut Into 2” Cubes
  • 3 Tbs Kosher Salt
  • ½ Cup Mayonnaise
  • ½ Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Tbs Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 ribs of celery diced small
  • 4 stalks green onion white and green parts - chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar


  • Fill a 5 quart stock pot with 3 quarts of water and put over high heat to bring to a boil. Add 3 Tbs Kosher salt to the water.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, peel the potatoes and cut into 2” pieces.
  • When water is boiling, use a large slotted spoon or kitchen spider to lower the potatoes into the water.
  • Bring the water back to a simmer and cut the heat to medium high.
  • Cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes until a fork can easily pierce the flesh of the potatoes. You want the fork to slide into the potato easily, however, don’t cook the potato so long that it falls apart when you slide a fork in.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander and then place them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Allow to rest in the cold water for 3-5 minutes.
  • Drain the water again and allow to drain well.
  • Put the potato pieces into a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl mix the remaining ingredients together until well mixed. Pour these over the potato pieces and GENTLY mix with a spatula or spoon.
  • Refrigerate for several hours, it's best if left overnight.


  • You will want to use Russet or Idaho potatoes for this recipe.
  • Be careful not to overcook the potatoes. Test several pieces of potato with your fork.
  • Remove the potatoes JUST as a fork slides into the flesh easily.
  • If you are using table salt, cut the amounts by 1/2 .
  • Add 3- 5 boiled eggs for a change in taste.
  • You can substitute lemon juice for the cider vinegar if you prefer.


Nutrition Facts
How Long To Boil Potatoes for Potato Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 226 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 4g20%
Cholesterol 13mg4%
Sodium 3049mg127%
Potassium 531mg15%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 203IU4%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 60mg6%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @loavesanddishes or tag #loavesanddishes!


Sometimes I just need to hear this and be reminded. Maybe you do too? 

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

Wendi is the writer, CEO and dishwasher at Loaves and Dishes! When not in the kitchen or behind the computer, you can find Wendi serving on International Food Conference Boards, Speaking at various conferences, Leading and Cooking for the local Arts Council's "Taste of Stokes" events or donating home cooked goodies to various local non profits such as the Danbury Songwriters and Stokes Partnership for Children. Wendi is also a Registered Nurse with a Master's Degree and serves on her town's board of councilmen.

Recipe Rating


Saturday 10th of July 2021

Love potato salad and now I know how to use boiled potatoes rather than baked. Thanks!!!

Wendi Spraker

Monday 12th of July 2021

Yay! So happy!


Saturday 3rd of April 2021

Great pointers. Thanks.

Wendi Spraker

Saturday 3rd of April 2021

You are welcome!


Saturday 3rd of April 2021

I love potato salad and your recipe sounds delicious. What I don’t like is lumpy potato salad. Do I need to cook the potatoes longer or just follow your steps and prepare it the same way without the lumps?

Wendi Spraker

Saturday 3rd of April 2021

Hi Barbara, My potato salad has the chunks of potatoes in it, so if you don't like the chunks of potatoes you might try whizzing it up with a mixer. That would make it more like the consistency of mashed potatoes. Wendi


Sunday 28th of March 2021

Very thorough discussion,IMHO.I am making potato salad today, using red potatoes ( with the skin on!)and believe it will turn out very well.Thank you for your diligence and 'Amen' to Ephesians 4:32.

Wendi Spraker

Tuesday 30th of March 2021

Hi Scott! I hope they turned out perfectly!

Lee Lee

Wednesday 28th of October 2020

Thank you Soooo Much! This comes out perfect everytime. I add a few black olives to it & it's my husband's favorite 😋

Wendi Spraker

Wednesday 28th of October 2020

Hi Lee Lee, Thanks for coming back and leaving a comment, I appreciate it so much. I'm glad your husband loves it!


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