Easy Potato Salad Recipe with Tips

This is an easy potato salad recipe. We love this stuff! Joanne and I would be happy to hover over a bowl of it any day. It has few extras thrown in, too. Jump to our Easy Potato Salad Recipe now or read on for more tips.

You’ll notice that we’ve made lots of suggestions for substitutions and mentioned where things are optional (like eggs). We love everything listed, but potato salad is personal. Always add to your likings and taste.

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How to Make the Best Potato Salad

Our recipe is pretty classic with just a few extras thrown in. Here are our best tips for making potato salad.

How to Make the Best Potato Salad

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Best Potatoes to Use and How to Cook Them

We like the potatoes to hold a little shape in the salad and not fall apart. We go for small, waxy and thin-skinned potatoes. Small yellow, white or red potatoes are perfect. They will take between 12 and 20 minutes to cook. At 12 minutes we check for doneness — if a fork can pierce through easily, they are done.

We try not to use russet (baking) potatoes — they aren’t as waxy and seem to fall apart. We have used them on occasion (they still taste great). If that’s all you have, don’t worry. If using russet potatoes, dice them before cooking — they are usually much larger and would take a long time if cooked whole. Keep everything similarly sized then cook until a fork can easily pierce the potato.

For smaller potatoes (we prefer these), we cook them whole. Dicing them up will make things go faster, but when you cook the potatoes whole, they maintain more of their flavor and natural sweetness. We’re also partial to the texture of whole cooked potatoes. Speaking of cooking potatoes, there’s really no need to boil your potatoes. When you do they violently bash against each other. Instead, bring the water with potatoes to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. The potatoes cook just as quickly.

Salting the water

No matter what potato you choose to cook, don’t forget the salt. We cover the potatoes with 1 1/2 inches of water then generously salt the water. Two teaspoons of salt per quart of water should do it. By salting the water, the flavor of the potatoes really comes out. They won’t taste salty, only like awesome potatoes.

Once your potatoes are done, drain them and stop the potatoes from cooking by adding them to an ice bath. After 2 to 3 minutes they will be cool enough to handle. Now, you have two choices: skin- on or peel them. We peel them. Since cook them whole, it’s really easy to peel the potatoes — just pinch the skin and pull it away. (So much easier than peeling raw potatoes).

Peeling the skins

After that, cut into bite-size pieces and mix with dressing and other ingredients in our or your favorite recipe.

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More Tips — Vinegar, Mustard, Pickles, Eggs and Herbs

Potato salad is a personal process and there are lots of opinions out there as to what makes it “perfect” or “the best.” The recipe below is our version — it includes everything we love. Here are a few things we love to add — remember that you can add none of it or more of it.

  • The Basics — The base to our recipe is pretty classic — a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise. We add more sour cream than mayonnaise to lighten things up a bit — mayo can be heavy.
  • MustardWe love adding mustard. It jazzes everything up. We’re partial to American-style yellow mustard, but Dijon or whole grain mustard work well, too.
  • VinegarWe learned this tip from Alton Brown. After cooking and cutting, scatter a tablespoon or so of vinegar over the potatoes. The vinegar really makes the potatoes stand out. In our recipe we call for apple cider vinegar, but white wine vinegar, white vinegar or even some dill pickle juice work.
  • Pickles — Our house isn’t stable without dill pickles in the refrigerator so adding them is a no brainer for us. If you don’t like them leave them out or replace with sweet pickles.
  • Eggs — Maybe it’s how we were brought up or what we’re used to. To us, potato salad without eggs is missing something. Hard boiled eggs add texture and extra creaminess. If you aren’t a fan, leave them out.
  • Fresh Herbs — The most common herbs are parsley and chives, but dill, cilantro and tarragon all work well. In our recipe below, we use two both dill and parsley. Experiment for yourself to see what you love. Add a tablespoon at a time then taste. Also, remember dill and tarragon are a little stronger than other herbs so add accordingly.

Easy Potato Salad Recipe with Tips

Recipe updated, originally posted May 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. – Adam and Joanne

Easy Potato Salad Recipe with Tips

  • PREP
  • COOK

Small yellow, white, or red potatoes are best for potato salad. The potatoes maintain their natural moisture and sweetness this way. If you’re in a pinch, you can chop the potatoes, just remember they well take less time to cook. Adding fresh herbs are a nice touch – we like to use a combination of chopped parsley and dill. Parsley, dill, chives, tarragon and cilantro all work well. Add about 2 tablespoons of herbs at first then add more to taste. Dill and tarragon are strong, so you may not need the whole 1/4 cup.

Makes 6 Servings

You Will Need

2 pounds small yellow, red, or white potatoes

1 tablespoon apple cider, wine, or rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise, try our homemade mayonnaise recipe

1 tablespoon yellow mustard, substitute Dijon or whole grain mustard

1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

3 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 medium dill pickle, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped, optional

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives, tarragon, or cilantro)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Cook Potatoes
  • Add potatoes to large pot and cover with 1 1/2 inches of water. Season with salt — use 1 teaspoon for every quart of water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork.

    Meanwhile, set up an ice bath. Add cold water to a medium bowl filled with ice. Drain the potatoes and add to the ice bath. Once cool, peel potatoes by gently pinching the skin and pulling it away.

    Chop peeled potatoes into bite-size chunks then add to a large bowl. Scatter the vinegar over potatoes and lightly season with salt.Potato-Salad-Recipe-Step-1

    • "De-flame" Onions
    • While the potatoes cook, add onions to a small bowl and cover with warm water. Wait 10 minutes then rinse. (This tones down the raw flavor of the onions).Deflaming the Onions

      • Make Potato Salad
      • Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and the mustard in a bowl.

        Add sour cream mixture, de-flamed onion, celery, pickles, eggs, and herbs to the potatoes. Gently stir to combine. (Try not to mash the potatoes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Substitute 1/2 cup crème fraîche for the sour cream.
  • Make-Ahead Tip: Make potato salad up to 3 days in advance.
  • For instructions on how to cook hard boiled eggs, visit our tutorial: How to Cook Hard Boiled Eggs.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Calories 250 / Protein 6 g / Carbohydrate 29 g / Dietary Fiber 4 g / Total Sugars 3 g / Total Fat 13 g / Saturated Fat 4 g / Cholesterol 75 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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169 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Nancy McCall April 8, 2015, 8:54 pm

    We hae swedish deli in Houston, TX. They are very popular and expensive. They use yogurt and some mustard in their potato salad. It is the best I’ve ever tasted.

  • bbmomof3 March 22, 2015, 3:25 pm

    Thank you for the recipe and video. It’s my first time ever making potato salad. I’ve always wanted to make it but didn’t feel confident so your step by step video was very helpful. I’ll be serving it in a few hours at my son’s 21st., family, birthday party. Can’t wait to try it after it’s refrigerated but so far it’s tasting delicious 🙂

  • Lucy February 19, 2015, 4:00 am

    I absolutely LOVE this. Only takes a few minutes to do as well which is always a big tick in my book!

  • Carla February 8, 2015, 9:57 pm

    I Made this tonight. I had 3 lbs of potatoes that needed to go! Turned out AMAZING! I am pretty sure i will never want store bought potato salad again!

  • Stella Shelburn February 1, 2015, 7:48 am

    I like to add minced jalapeño for some spice and I thin down my mayo mixture with pickle juice. Otherwise this recepie is like mine..bacon bits don’t hurt a thing either.

  • Trixie December 30, 2014, 1:54 pm

    Just found your site and had an immediate desire for potato salad. Followed yours (for the first time I used to vinegar and you are right!), except instead of pickles, I added sliced green olives. Generations of my family have made wonderful potato salads and always the green olives were a constant.
    Thank you for you great ideas!

  • lizard December 25, 2014, 3:13 pm

    I had leftover potatoes in the fridge and made this recipe for a potluck. I substituted green onion for the red onion, and chopped parsley was my fresh herb.

    It was delicious! It really is just the right amount of dressing (and mayo/sour cream ratio) – not too creamy.

    My mom said it tasted very close to a salad that her Polish aunt used to make. I will definitely be making this again! Thank you.

  • Ceci October 23, 2014, 5:17 pm

    I love potato salad. I usually use russet because that’s what I usually have on hand. I leave out the celery and onion. I don’t use sour cream but sometimes use some ranch dressing. I also add garlic powder and onion powder. I like my salad a little sweet/sour. I use some sugar and sweet pickles with the juice. I also leave out the vinegar. Sometimes I’ll add diced chicken. I’ve never had it with bacon but that sounds like something I’d like to try.

    • Joanne October 24, 2014, 12:04 pm

      Ranch dressing is a great idea! Might need to try that soon.

  • Ronda October 19, 2014, 3:12 pm

    I made this potato salad it was the best salad I have ever tasted.What a nice recipe.I will be making it all the time.

  • Barbara October 15, 2014, 9:56 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your recipe. It brought back so many memories of summer BBQs with my family. My mother’s potato salad was wonderful. It’s a mustard salad with sweet pickles, eggs, mayo and onions. She also adds a bit of pickle juice to the mix. Yum! Nothing better. Loved reading all the other comments and different variations too. Store bought potato salad just doesn’t compare!

  • Apple October 10, 2014, 1:34 pm

    Thx Joanne!! This is a good recipe and very tasty. I had cook 4 times already. OMG! My husband loves this very much with fully surprised by putting parsley, dill n celery in it (grown up with classic plain potato salad). Great job n thx for sharing this. Totally love!! =)

  • Jane Greenfield September 27, 2014, 10:42 am

    I have been cooking for over 55yrs. Have had my own catering business. One thing however that I’ve never really felt comfortable with was getting the potato’s cooked just right, and you’ve managed to master the trick to perfection!
    I use red potatoes for Hot German potato salad and white or yellow for American.
    I decorate the top with quartered eggs, paprika, and finely chopped parsley(curly leafed). Thanks for all the tips, even us old timers can use hints and tips to improve favorite family recipes!
    Thanks again!
    Emily J

  • Joan September 12, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Made a double batch last weekend for potluck and lots of people commented how good it was! Making another batch this weekend at my husband’s request for another gathering. This is a keeper! Love the dill pickles, mustard and fresh herb additions. Lots of other recipes on your site I look forward to trying.

  • Daisy September 12, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Hi, I omitted the eggs, but added 1/4 cup crumbled feta.

  • Sarah September 8, 2014, 2:57 pm

    My mother-in-law makes great potato salad and all she could give me were the ingredients that she uses. I am so thankful that I came across this one because it is very similar to hers. I added the sour cream and cut out some mayo and added a touch of ranch dressing. It is great! Thank you for posting this, and thank you for the link to “how to hard boil eggs”- I am a beginner in the kitchen and I love how easy this recipe was to follow!


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