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How to Keep Potato Salad from Getting Watery

author image Natalie Smith, Ph.D.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.
How to Keep Potato Salad from Getting Watery
Potato salad is a tangy meal suitable for a potluck or picnic.

Potato salad is a summertime staple in the United States. The tender potatoes blend with creamy mayonnaise and tart vinegar to make a hearty, zesty side dish that few can say no to. Making potato salad isn't as simple as you might believe, however. One wrong step and you could be left with potatoes suspended in a watery mayonnaise base that looks unappetizing and tastes like boiled potato. It is difficult to fix a watery potato salad, but you can take steps as you make the salad to keep the salad rich and creamy.

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Step 1

Place the potatoes in a large stockpot and cover them with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Allow the potatoes to boil for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are tender enough to pierce with a fork.

Step 2

Drain the potatoes into a colander after you cook them and allow them to cool until they are lukewarm or cooled completely. Potatoes will continue to sweat if you mix them while they are hot, and this can make the mayonnaise watery. Allowing the potatoes to cool will also prevent the potatoes from falling apart when you mix them with the other ingredients.

Step 3

Drain the pickle relish well. While some of the fluid is desirable because it contributes to the taste of the potato salad, adding too much can make the salad watery.

Step 4

Place the cooled potatoes in a large bowl. Mix the potatoes with 1/2 cup cooked peas, 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions, 2 large chopped hard-boiled eggs, 1/4 cup chopped celery and 1/4 cup drained pickle relish, if you are using them.

Step 5

Mix the ingredients with 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tsp. cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and 1 tsp. parsley.

Step 6

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the potato salad for at least fours hours. Some recipes need time to set, and the dressing will become thicker and more flavorful as it chills; the potatoes also absorb some of the dressing.

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