How to Counteract Too Much Vinegar in Potato Salad

by Laura Reynolds

The potato is a versatile vegetable, suitable for more than solo presentations in baked, mashed or scalloped sides. Potato salads may use red, white, yellow, new or fingerling potatoes and be served hot, warm or cold. Most salads use a vinaigrette-based dressing. If too much vinegar makes it into the dressing, correct it by using a bit of kitchen chemistry.

Store the salad in the refrigerator as long as possible before serving to allow the potatoes to absorb vinegar. Pour off the fluid produced by the potatoes as they absorb vinegar before tasting them to determine if further seasoning is needed.

Add a bit of sugar, a teaspoon at a time. Mix thoroughly before tasting. If you prefer to use artificial sweetener, remember that 1 teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to as little as 1/8 tsp. of some sweeteners. Read the labels on artificial sweeteners for teaspoon equivalents.

Add mayonnaise to American potato salad, a tablespoon at a time. Mayonnaise plus vinegar and sugar makes the creamy salad dressing that folks use on sandwiches, so your potato salad may taste as is you’ve used salad dressing rather than mayo.

Add more boiled potatoes as a last resort. Unless you add proportional amount of vegetables and other ingredients -- minus the vinegar -- the final result will taste a bit different from the original recipe, but the excess vinegar will be absorbed by the potatoes.


  • Make American potato salad a day ahead if possible. The potatoes will soak up salt and vinegar, often making additional seasoning desirable before serving. German-style potato salad uses a vinaigrette-type of dressing that may be easily altered by adding more ingredients. Reheat German potato salad before adding the sugar to reconstitute the vinaigrette. When you correct American potato salad with sugar or allow it to sit in the refrigerator for a day, some clear fluid will collect around the edges. This is the water formed by the chemical reaction between vinegar and potatoes or sugar. Just pour it off before serving. Avoid adding additional celery, which contributes even more water.


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About the Author

An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.