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.

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. A teaspoon 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.

For more easy side salads, take a look at our Smoky Black Bean and Corn Salad, this Easy Broccoli Salad with Bacon and our Tangy Cucumber Salad.

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
  • TOTAL

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.

If you can, try to make the salad and set it aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so before serving. This extra time helps the flavors mingle and makes for a tastier potato salad.

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

Directions

  • 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. If you have the time, 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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189 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Ann Dupart June 20, 2018, 9:52 am

    I’m going to make this potato salad for a family gathering on Saturday. However, I noticed a contradiction in your directions. At the top of the instructions, you say to add 2t per quart to the cooking water. In the recipe, you say to add 1t per quart of water. Which amount is it? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joanne June 20, 2018, 1:44 pm

      Hi Ann, 1 teaspoon per quart should do it. Sorry about the confusion. As long as the water tastes salty like seawater, you should be good.

      Reply
  • David G June 14, 2018, 10:24 pm

    OUTSTANDING! I am a total noob at ‘tater salad but this was very easy to make and it tastes incredible! I only had russetts on hand – but fear not – the sour cream really helps smooth out any starchiness. For green herbs I used only fresh cilantro, some pre-ground dill and then added 1 Tbsp. chopped scallions, 2 Tbsp. chopped Red bell pepper for a bit of sweet contrast, and also a heaping tsp. of paprika to the Eggs. My oh my…. it was so freaking good that I ate about 10-12oz (while in a state of mild delirium) before it could be secured in-refrigerator for chilling:)

    Reply
  • Bonnie Moss May 14, 2018, 12:30 pm

    Wow!! This is great potato salad! I doubled this recipe, I used half dijon and half yellow mustard and this came out amazing. I made the night before I needed it and it was amazing! Thanks for the great tip for the onion. I have a daughter who is not a fan of raw onion but she loved this recipe!

    Reply
  • Kay May 13, 2018, 9:04 pm

    I’m not sure where I went wrong with the onion trick! I actually cut back the amount of onion since my husband and I aren’t huge onion fans, I only chopped about 2 tablespoons and soaked it in hot water for 10 minutes and the recipes instructs.. I actually only used about one table spoon of the onions I chopped, and ruined the recipe!!! The onion completely took over all of the other flavors and made it extremely spicy (the raw onion spicy). It had wonderful flavor when you first take a bite, then BAM, spicy onion takes over. I will definitely make this again and omit the onions!

    Reply
  • Marilyn Boes May 10, 2018, 6:37 pm

    I come from an Italian background, hence, not a lot of potato salad experience. My husband’s family take their p-salad very seriously. So…anxiety. I used 4 eggs and dill pickles and sweet relish, as it’s his family’s tradition. This was absolutely delicious, and, the tips made all of the difference for me. I wouldn’t have known how easy it was to peel the potatoes. Cannot WAIT to try your other recipes. Thanks so much 🙂

    Reply
  • Karen May 2, 2018, 4:36 pm

    If the potato salad should sit for 30 min before serving, I would think that should be added to the approximate times you have at the start of the recipe. I tried to make this quickly and only saw that last, unfortunately. Just a suggestion.

    Reply
    • Joanne May 2, 2018, 6:17 pm

      Hi Karen, I just added it to the beginning of the recipe. This step is not 100% necessary, the extra time in the refrigerator just helps the flavors to mingle, making for a tastier potato salad.

      Reply
  • Debi Griffin April 3, 2018, 1:40 pm

    The BEST potato salad for me was made with Red Potatos, mayo, dijon, celery, red onions,boiled eggs and fresh garlic and dill pickle. Crazy good…

    Reply
  • Barry b March 30, 2018, 7:15 am

    I like potato salad and I like the recipe that I have read but I think I may add more pickles and onions and I have never did sour cream but I am going to give it a try , after all all it does sound likes a good addition!!!! The very much. But I am looking for a good recipe for a tangy deviled egg starter.

    Reply

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