Bobby Flay’s Simple Trick for Superior Potato Salad

updated May 27, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

I learned a great deal watching many hours of stand-and-stir cooking television in the ‘90s — like how and why to salt pasta water, and that people put things other than jarred red sauce on their spaghetti. And it seems I’m not the only one: In a piece on Cup of Jo, Jenny Rosenstrach discusses a trick she learned from an old Bobby Flay episode that makes all the difference in making a great potato salad.

The season of potlucks and picnics and barbecues is upon us, and the best way to flavor your potato salad is to dress the potatoes while they are still hot. If you are making a potato salad that includes bacon, make the bacon while the potatoes boil, saving some of the crumbled pieces for garnish. Hold off on the herbs that would wilt in the heat, but otherwise stir together the dressing before the potatoes are done — vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, and bacon grease.

Right after you fully drain the potatoes from the boiling water, immediately dress them. The heat makes them more absorbent, letting the dressing penetrate deeply into the open pores of the hot tubers. Then, as with any potato salad, you let the mixture cool down to room temperature before dressing it up with the reserved bacon bits as well as any other garnishes (she suggests chopped dill and a bit of scallion). Adding the bits and bobs at the end not only keeps the greens from wilting in the heat of the warm potatoes, but it also makes sure that your salad ends up looking good — and nobody likes it when the best parts of the salad sink to the bottom. 

Kitchn’s Kelli Foster also shared a tip about dressing potatoes while they’re still hot in her article on potato salad mistakes to avoid, though Foster advises only doing this when using a vinaigrette — when making a mayonnaise-based potato salad, she advises letting the potatoes cool before dressing them since the hot potatoes will cause the mayonnaise to melt and become oily. But when your dressing calls for oil and vinegar, use this easy tip for a more flavorful summertime side.

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