The Reason Your Potato Salad Is Watery

Nobody — not even you — wants to touch that watery bowl of potato salad you brought to the party. Not when it's wedged between a heaping plate of corn on the cob (which was definitely not boiled), and a bowl of buffalo chicken dip. Heck, even the broccoli salad is starting to look appetizing.

How did this happen? You could have sworn a few hours ago that your homemade potato salad had all the right qualities: tender, creamy, cool, and well-seasoned. There are a few reasons your potato salad has somehow morphed from scrumptious to soggy. To find the answers, we went to the most serious potato experts in town — the Idaho Potato Commission. The decades-old commission is a state agency that promotes Idaho's famous spuds, and its members know the in and outs of what can make or break your potato salad.

The Idaho Potato Commission lists a few possibilities: If you use the wrong type of spud, overcook your potatoes, or mix the potatoes with the wrong ingredients, you can find yourself in the unappetizing territory of watery potato salad.

Choose your spud wisely for the best potato salad

Have you ever heard that factoid about how there are thousands of potato varieties in Peru? Peru doesn't mess around, and neither do potatoes (via The Guardian). If you choose a starchy potato, chances are it will dry out quickly and fall apart, creating some not-so-tasty mush in your potato salad. Opt for potatoes that are more waxy than starchy: like fingerlings, or those buttery Yukon golds. These won't crumble, but will hold their solid, tender texture (via The Kitchn).

And it's helpful to chop up your potatoes before cooking them, rather than plopping the entire spud into your pot of salted water. This will allow the potatoes to cook more evenly, resulting in less "mush," according to the Idaho Potato Commission.

By the way, while we detest watery potatoes, we want to note that potato water is actually quite useful. That salty, starchy water you used to cook your potatoes can be repurposed for whipped potatoes, potato bread, and even soups and gravies (via The Spruce Eats). Sustainable cooking, anyone?

Your potato salad add-ins can affect its texture

One of the greatest things about potato salad is its versatility. The Idaho Potato Commission reminds us of this versatility by featuring more than 100 potato salad recipes on its website (something we find both exciting and slightly terrifying). Whether you're decking your salad out with dijon mustard, homemade vinaigrette, fermented cucumbers, or garlicky aioli, you've got to really think about how each ingredient will affect the overall picture (via Country Living).

As the commission reminds us, too many watery ingredients can lead to a watery potato salad. So if you catch yourself adding ranch dressing, olive oil, white vinegar, and pickle brine all at once (which we seriously don't suggest), you shouldn't be surprised when your salad appears, well, watery. Switch some of your liquid ingredients with heftier foods: Swap the runny, honey mustard dressing with a thick, homemade honey mustard. Replace the tabasco sauce with some sriracha. Try incorporating mayonnaise and hard-boiled eggs — the yolks will contribute to the creaminess (via Allrecipes).

And, we beg you, keep that bowl refrigerated before showtime.