The Best Type Of Potatoes To Use For Classic Potato Salad

When you take a bite of classic potato salad, your taste buds will likely be impressed by the creamy ingredients like mayonnaise and mustard, the crunchier counterparts like celery and onion, and the fresh herbs and seasonings that pull it all together. But you cannot have potato salad without, well, potatoes, even if the boiled bits of starch take a back seat and allow those other delicious ingredients to shine. That being said, you might think that any potatoes work for a classic potato salad recipe, but think again.

What makes an ideal potato for classic potato salad? The key is picking the right variety for your version of potato salad, but waxy varieties are thought to be the go-to starch. Waxy potatoes, including new potatoes, fingerlings, and red potatoes, have lower amounts of starch and higher amounts of water, which means they withstand all of the boiling and mixing that goes into making the side dish, have a creamier texture, and don't have to be peeled.

Picking the best potatoes for classic potato salad

If you want as little prep work as possible, those waxy varieties are a great option. Why? Because they have less starch, you can cut them before boiling and they won't retain much water and turn to mush. These potatoes are also smaller, so you don't have to dice them because cutting them in half is sufficient, which makes the process faster. Fingerling potatoes are oblong and can be cut lengthwise (or cut into four pieces if you want bite-sized potatoes). New potatoes are round and can simply be cut in half, and you could serve them whole in potato salad if they're small enough; the same goes for red potatoes. Another perk: Waxy varieties have smoother, thinner skins so you don't have to peel them if you're fine with eating skin-on potato salad. 

But you don't have to go with those options, even if they are ideal. The all-purpose Yukon Gold potatoes are also commonly used in potato salad because they hold up well when diced, boiled, and mixed with the other ingredients and therefore work well if you're making a creamier (Think: Lots of mayonnaise) potato salad. 

Be warned, however: There are some potatoes that you should stay away from, like russets, because they contain higher levels of starch and could turn into mush.