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POTATO SALAD +need help

This is probably the wrong place to ask but I need to ask about "Potato Salad"....It's fine the day it's made but store it overnight in the refrigerator and it gets quite 'watery'. Does anyone know why this happens? I use cold cooked potatoes, onion. celery, sweet peppers, carrots hard boiled egg and the seasonings...salt & pepper, vinegar, miracle whip and sour cream. A couple of people have suggested using celery salt(instead of fresh), onion powder(instead of fresh)...the feeling is that they 'shed water' when diced? It's my Summer food dilemma!

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  1. The onion will indeed add water, but if you dry them well on a paper towel after dicing, it will help a lot.

    1. First off, I would stop using Miracle Whip. It contains a ton of water. In fact, its more water than any other ingredient. Not sure what type of potato you are using but it's important to use a waxy potato such as a new potato or red skinned potato. Cooking with skins on and peeling after will help but not necessary. I think you will find your major culprit to be the MW. so go with some good old fashioned mayo.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LeTimmy

        I like to make potato salad with a combo of Mayo and plain yorgurt, its great that day, but it does not keep (gets watery). If you need to keep it longer, just use all Mayo (and I like a little mustard mixed in).

      2. Some suggestions:

        - Cook the potatoes in their skins, be careful not to overcook, and peel after cooking
        - Use Spanish-type onions and dry on a towel. Do not use onion powder - yuk. Do not use very sweet onions (Vidalia, Maui, etc), which contain much more water than other varieties
        - Use celery seed instead of the celery. Do not use celery salt - again yuk
        - Use real mayo, such as Hellman's. Don't use Miracle Whip, which is watery
        - Use real sour cream (Western is good) and use a high fat variety (you can get up to 30% bf). Then drain the sour cream (cheesecloth; a coffee filter) for several hours. The lower the butterfat, the more watery the cream, but all sour cream will separate
        - You do not need the vinegar at all
        - Be sure to dress the potatoes while still warm. Then chill.

        1. It is the salt that pulls the water out of the potatoes etc. I sprinkle my warm potatoes with red wine vinegar, and then dress them while warm with hellmans mayo, splash of rice vinegar, a little touch of mustard, a couple pinches of sugar, black pepper, onion, celery, and sometimes I do add hb egg. I've not had the problem of the potato salad getting watery because I do not add salt. I salt it at serving - this has always worked for me.

          1. Did you use Idaho potatoes or waxy (red, yukon gold) potatoes? I have found that the Idahos will suck up a lot of water while cooking, then expel it all once they get cold.

            1. Make your own mayo, but make it thick. Don't use sour cream.

              Or, you can make potato salad with a simple vinagrette.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Thanks so much for all of your suggestions...one of the 'common' themes seems to be to use Mayo and not Miracle Whip (I always liked the 'tartness' of MW...oh well). I'll be experimenting all summer........ thanks again to all.

                1. re: pearlD

                  If you like the tartness of Miracle Whip, try adding a splash of the juice from a jar of dill pickles.

              2. I don't think you shoule use cold potatoes. I cook my potaotes, drain them, and sprinkle liberally with vinegar while they are still hot. Then I make the salad as soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle. The potaotes will soak up the dresong and vinegar and will not get soggy. As a matter of fact, I usually try to make my potato salad the day before I am serving it- seems to meld the flavors. But I for sure would not use cold potatoes. And, as just a personla preference, I use Hellmans, as we do not like Miracle Whip- though I am not sure if the MW makes it watery.

                2 Replies
                1. re: macca

                  These tricks have always worked for me. And, if your using Mayo as opposed to MW and still want that zing, adding jsut a dash of red wine vineagar to the potatoes (just out of the pot and sliced...still piping hot) will add that kick you so desire.

                  1. re: ashes

                    Yup- I put the vinegar on the hot potatoes as soon as I drain them. Then leave them sit until they are just cool enough to handle.

                2. Try mashing some of the potato with the MW before adding it to the salad.


                  1. Try either raosting the boiled potatoes or used baked ones to begin with.
                    My mom taught me this years ago. Roast the potatoes the day before, cool on the counter and or chll them if you want a cold potato salad.
                    But working with them at room temperature works better for me if using mayonaise. She used MW I don't refer Best Foods,I like them both. My other recipes are to make a German style or Portugese which those use both use vinegars. I don't have a problem with water such as you describe so it could be the MW or it could be that the potatoes are cooked too long and not drained enough.
                    Would you share your recipe? Or is it a by taste? My mother used to make one similar to yours and she did use fresh celery and then also celery salt for another flavor.
                    Your potato salad sounds good to me!

                    1. Personally, I think it is the eggs. I often have a problem with egg salad getting watery after 2 days so I go very, very, very light on the Hellman's (mayonaise, not Miracle Whip) and add more the first day if necessary. So you could try adding just enough h.b. eggs for what you are serving that day/or sprinkle them on each serving.

                      1. pearlD, salt pulls water/moisture out of veggies - potatoes....onions...etc. Limit your salt products until serving and you should do much better. I've been making mine this way for years and I just don't seem to run into this watery problem.

                        1. Wow, I don't think I've ever had my potato salad go watery on me the next day, if anything I try and make the potato salad the day before because it's usually better the next day. Maybe the Miracle Whip and the sour cream are indeed the culprits, as that's where our recipes vary the most, but I would also think that all the fresh veggies (onion, celery, peppers, carrots) would be to blame also as the peppers especially have a high water content. I agree with everyone who suggested the following: use real mayo, use a generous splash of pickle brine from the jar and dress the potatoes when they are still quite warm so they can absorb flavors better. Instead of regular onions, I will often use scallions, for great color and flavor.

                          Just for reference, my "recipe" (I made it up) uses small, red-skinned potatoes (boil them whole with the skins on, then quarter them leaving the skins on), good mayo, mustard (preferably whole grain), a dash of sherry vinegar and pickle brine (not from sweet pickles!), chopped dill pickles, hard boiled eggs, scallions, diced jalapeno, rough chopped cilantro and some bacon. Salt and pepper to taste and a little extra cayenne for heat and color.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ballulah

                            that sound pretty darn good ballulah! A version of Mexican potato salad - delicious!

                          2. You could try the Korean version of potato salad.
                            Have a recipe for it if interested.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: hannaone

                              Well I know loving potatoes as much as I do would love your recipe! Thanks!

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Korean Style Potato Salad (Potato Egg Salad)

                                5 large russet potatoes ( or 8 to 10 medium reds)
                                8 eggs
                                2 Fiji apples (or sub semi sweet American apple)
                                1 nashi pear
                                1/2 teaspoon salt


                                2 cup mayonnaise
                                1 Tablespoon sugar
                                1 teaspoon pepper

                                Optional Ingredients

                                3 or 4 green or spring onion
                                2 large carrots
                                toasted sesame seed
                                2 sweet pickles



                                Fill a pot with cold water, gently add the eggs and bring to a boil over high heat.
                                Cook for 4 minutes, remove from heat and cover.
                                Let stand until cool.

                                Wash the potatoes then peel and rinse in cold water.
                                Cut into about 1 inch by 1 inch cubes and rinse again.
                                Bring a large pot of water to a full boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cubed potatoes (add 2 cubed carrots now if desired).
                                Boil until semi tender (chopstick or fork passes through with slight resistance).
                                Drain and let cool.


                                Set 8 or 9 of the cooked potato cubes aside and add the rest to a large mixing bowl.
                                Peel and cube 4 of the boiled eggs, then add to bowl.
                                Peel apple and nashi pear, then cut into about 1 inch by 1/2 inch pieces and add to bowl.
                                Toss until well mixed.

                                Make the dressing

                                In a medium mixing bowl mash the remaining eggs and potato cubes together.
                                Add the mayonnaise. (finely chop 2 green onions and/or 2 sweet pickles then add now if desired)
                                Add the sugar and pepper (start with smaller amounts and add to taste) then mix well.
                                Dressing should have a stiff texture.

                                Final Mix

                                Add dressing to potato mix and stir until well mixed.(You can add a little more mayonnaise if the dressing is too stiff to mix well).
                                If desired garnish with one or two finely chopped green onions and or toasted sesame seed.
                                Chill and serve cold or at room temperature.

                                1. re: hannaone

                                  Thanks hannaobne!
                                  This looks nice with the addition of the crunch from the apples to the potatoes, lovely. I love apples in all salads, and put them in most salads because they are great for texture and taste.
                                  I like the options as well, I will give this a try this summer, would be nice with my Korean BBQ ribs!

                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    If you are lucky enough to live in the South, by all means use only DUKE'S mayo. Better than Hellman's

                                    1. re: steakman55

                                      No I'm nt but I can get it at the Cost Plus Market here.
                                      Thanks for the reminder, I think it is better too!