The One Potato Salad Rule You Should Never Break

From the hotly debated correct way to eat a KitKat to the best method to bake chicken for an at-home Sunday dinner, there are countless food rules people are ready to fight for. And like many other delectable dishes enjoyed across the United States, potato salad has a strict rule that you must follow when preparing it.

Wait, you may be asking, potato salad, one of the breeziest and most customizable recipes out there, has a rule? That's right. Sure, potato salad can be made with or without eggs, as noted in a recipe from The Kitchn, and it can even have a pop of spicy flare if you're in the mood to make something Cajun-style (per Southern Living). There are different ways to make potato salad to put your own spin on it according to your tastes. 

However, it still has a rule you can't risk breaking, and it involves the potatoes themselves. Here's the simple way to ensure your spuds are prepared with the respect they deserve so they reach their ultimate flavor potential.

Boil your potatoes in seasoned water

According to Real Simple, salting the water you boil your potatoes in will season them in the process. And if you don't season your potato water with salt, your spuds will be flavorless. It won't matter how much mayo or celery you put into your recipe if your base — the potatoes — isn't full of mouthwatering flavor. 

Proper seasoning is one of the most essential parts of preparing any dish, and potato salad is no exception. In fact, failing to salt the boiling water is also one of the top mistakes everyone makes when making megamenu potatoes

According to Bon Appétit, spuds are so dense and bland in their natural state that they need plenty of time in that heavily salted water to soak up more flavor. Fortunately, it only takes a small change to make a significant difference. Season your potatoes liberally, and you'll end up with a stellar potato salad that will earn rave reviews at your next summer cookout.

Pick the right potato for your salad

There are a few other rules that will make your potato salad even better, too. You may not have known this if you're a first-timer in the world of potato salad, but the idea that your average russet potato will shine in your salad just as well as it turns into megamenu potatoes may not hold water. In reality, there are some potatoes that fare much better in a salad than others.

According to Taste of Home, the types of potatoes that are better suited for potato salad are ones that tend to be more "waxy," such as Yukon golds, red potatoes, or fingerlings. Food Network explains that these types of potatoes are less starchy than other varieties, which means they'll hold their structure better when boiled. In other words, you'll get discernible chunks of potato in your salad, rather than a spoonful of soggy, half-megamenu potatoes.

Still, this isn't to say that starchy spuds, such as russet potatoes, don't have a place in potato salad. If you want a creamy, smoother potato salad, you're free to use these starchy varieties. If you want a chunkier, more rustic style of potato salad, however, then waxy potatoes are your go-to tuber. It all depends on your tastes and preferences.

Make potato salad in the right order

Most salads are simply a collection of different greens, crunchy vegetables, and other toppings all chopped and tossed together. There doesn't seem to be any real order you have to add the ingredients in — after all, it all gets mixed together in the end, right? While this train of thought may fit other salads, you may have to be a little more methodical when making potato salad.

According to The Kitchn, the process of making potato salad is a seven-step process. This involves tossing the potatoes and dressing while the potatoes are still warm, which Martha Stewart's website confirms helps them absorb the dressing much more efficiently, leaving you with a more flavorful salad. The Kitchn also recommends adding herbs and other "crunchy" ingredients last after the salad has cooled, to keep them from wilting when exposed to the still-warm potatoes. 

Lastly, you may want to let your potato salad sit for a few minutes before serving it to allow all the flavors to meld together. Then, you'll have one more chance to taste it for salt, acid, and other elements before digging in.