How To Fix Undercooked Potato Salad

Potato salad is a fantastic option for meals, sides, and snacks. It is relatively easy to prepare ahead of time and usually goes down well with hungry guests and family. What happens if you’ve done all the preparation, have already added the dressing, and suddenly discover that the potatoes are undercooked? How do you fix undercooked potato salad?

Undercooked potatoes can be cooked again to achieve a softer consistency. Potato salad can be cooked in the microwave or in the oven for a few minutes. It is best to rinse off or remove most of the dressing before re-cooking potato salad since the oil in the sauce might separate.

All is not lost if you have accidentally undercooked the potatoes for your potato salad. There are ways to rescue the dish, and you will be happy to know how simple some are.

Let’s look at how to fix undercooked potato salad and answer the question, once and for all, about whether or not eating warm potato salad is a thing!

Check out my post on fixing undercooked potatoes in other recipes like mashed or baked potatoes.

Steps To Rescue Hard Potato Salad

Suppose you, like many of us, have accidentally undercooked your potato salad. In that case, you are likely wondering if you should toss the whole thing or if it can be rescued. Luckily, hard potato salad can be saved, and all it takes is a few simple steps to bring the magic back to your table.

1. Microwave The Potatoes

If you have cooked your potatoes and cooled them but have not yet added dressing, you can microwave them to make them a little softer. Microwave them for thirty to forty seconds at a time. Check the potatoes often to see if they are soft enough. Repeat the process until you are happy with the consistency.

If you have a large bowl of potatoes to microwave, consider splitting it into smaller bowls to save time. Another idea you can try is to cut the potato into smaller pieces. This will allow them to cook more evenly and quickly.

If you have already added the mayonnaise to your potato salad, watch the dressing as you microwave the salad. Mayonnaise contains oil that could split as it heats up. It may be beneficial to rinse all or most of the dressing off the potatoes before microwaving the salad. If you do this, you will ensure that the dressing is delicious when the potatoes are thoroughly cooked.

2. Boil The Potatoes

Suppose you have finished cooking your potatoes and have set them aside to cool, only to realize they are undercooked and hard. In this case, you can boil the potatoes again. You can rescue hard potatoes like they were initially cooked.

To boil the potatoes again:

  1. Add water and salt to the pot.
  2. Bring it to a boil and add the partly cooked potatoes to the water.
  3. Boil them for a few minutes, checking them from time to time.
  4. Insert a fork or knife to check if they are done. When potatoes are done, they are firm but soft enough to easily insert the fork or knife.

If your salad already has dressing on, you can still boil the potatoes again – just wash as much of the sauce off as possible. Once the potatoes are clean, cook them in water for a few minutes, checking on them to ensure they do not become overcooked.

3. Roast The Potatoes

Another way you can rescue hard potatoes is to roast them. If you choose to roast your potatoes, place them on a roasting pan and drizzle them with oil. Check the potatoes every five or ten minutes to ensure they do not burn.

If your potatoes already had dressing on, consider rinsing all or most of the sauce off before roasting them. Roasting them transforms the potato salad but makes for a really interesting dish with a little of the old dressing still on.

How To Prevent Making Undercooked Potato Salad

There are a few easy-to-use tips to prevent your potato salad from being undercooked again.

Our first tip is to cut your potatoes into small pieces for cooking. Large portions of potatoes can take a long time to cook. If your pieces are around bite-size, they should take between fifteen to twenty minutes to cook.  

The length of time your potatoes will take to cook depends on how many you are cooking in the same pot. If you make a large amount, you might consider cooking the potatoes in two or more separate pots. Cooking in this way will help the potatoes cook evenly and more quickly.

Tip number two is all about the water. I recommend you keep the water boiling rather than at a gentle simmer. All the energy from the water helps the potatoes cook evenly and get them done more quickly than if they simmer.

Our last tip to prevent making undercooked potato salad is to test the potatoes before taking them off the stove. I usually use a fork, but a sharp knife does the trick just as well. If you think the potatoes are cooked, simply insert the fork or knife into one or two.  

If the potatoes feel hard, keep cooking them for another few minutes and then test again. They are likely ready if they feel firm but soft enough to easily pierce.

Suppose you feel a little uncertain about how cooked the potatoes are. It may help to take a large one out of the pot, slice it open and taste a section from the middle. If it tastes good and feels soft, you will know the smaller ones are ready too.

Can Potato Salad Be Eaten Warm?

There is a little controversy around eating warm potato salad. While we typically serve and eat potato salad cold, some say it is perfectly fine to eat warm.  

Potato salad is often served as a warm side dish, and it turns out, it is delicious. You can bake your potato salad in the oven or reheat it in the microwave. Baking your potato salad should take around 45 minutes until the toppings become golden brown. 

Heating the salad in the microwave takes a few minutes. The difference in cooking times depends on how much you are heating and the strength of your microwave. 

If you are using this method, it is helpful to take the salad out of the microwave every one and a half or two minutes to give it a stir. While stirring the potatoes, you will also be able to assess if the salad is hot enough for your taste.


Discovering that you have undercooked your potatoes for a potato salad can be disappointing. 

However, it does not mean that the salad is ready for the trash. You can continue cooking the potato salad using various methods and even serve it warm if you run out of time to cool it down.  

If you re-cook the potatoes after adding dressing to the salad, consider rinsing the sauce off before re-cooking. Since the dressing contains mayonnaise, it could go oily if cooked.

Have any questions? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Boss The Kitchen. With a background in cooking and building websites, he enjoys running this site to help other cooks improve. About Tom Hambly.

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