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Cooking Hacks

No Mushy Potato Salad! Cook Potatoes Perfectly Every Time By Dunking Them in Cold Water


No spring or summer cookout is complete without a delicious potato salad. It’s the perfect side, and so easy to make — or so we thought. If you start by dunking your potatoes in already-boiling water, turns out it’s time to change up your technique. Otherwise, you risk making mushy potatoes, which will ruin just about any potato salad.

According to chefs Angela Persicke and Mark Perlioni, authors of cookbook Mangiamo (Buy on Amazon, $21.99), the key is to add potatoes to the pot while the water is still cold.

“When boiling potatoes, you should always start them off in cold water,” Persicke and Perlioni say. “If not, the potatoes will have a tendency to cook unevenly and the starch will react in a way that can be gummy and waterlogged.”

Other potato lovers agree with this technique. “If you boil the water first, the outside will cook faster than the inside, resulting in an uneven texture,” explains the team.

So, the next time you boil whole potatoes or chunks, try this step-by-step approach:

  1. Scrub potatoes (and peel, if desired).
  2. Place in a pot of cold water.
  3. Set heat to high and wait for the water to boil.
  4. Turn heat down to medium (or low, if it is still boiling). Cook until potatoes are fork tender.

And how long will this take? states that potato cubes will take about 15 minutes, while whole tubers will take 20 to 25. As Perlioni suggests, however, try not to look at a timer. “A [cooking] time is very hard to give since pots are different sizes and stoves give out different power,” he says.

Use your fork to do the testing, and you should be able to cook your potatoes to a perfect texture without any mush. Bonus tip: Don’t throw out that potato water — it’s liquid gold.

And if you’re looking for the perfect potato salad instructions, check out these 44 different recipes to satisfy any flavor palate.

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