Easy Creamy Potato Salad with Tips

Hands down, this is my favorite creamy potato salad recipe (and so many of our readers agree, just read the reviews). See how to make our homemade potato salad with a simple classic dressing. Jump to the Easy Potato Salad Recipe or watch our quick video showing how we make it.

Watch Us Make The Recipe

How to Make the Best Potato Salad

There’s no need to be intimidated. Potato salad is very simple to make. With a few tricks, you’ll be making it like a pro in no time. While we’re on the subject of potatoes, you should know that we love them around here! Here are a few more favorite recipes: Our go-to mashed potatoes, these easy baked sweet potato fries, and our smoky roasted fingerling potatoes with a dipping sauce inspired by this potato salad recipe!

How to Make the Best Potato Salad // Honestly, this is the best creamy potato salad recipe (and so many of our readers agree, just read the reviews). See how to make homemade potato salad with our simple classic dressing.

The Best Potatoes For Potato Salad

Small, waxy and thin-skinned potatoes are best for potato salad. Small yellow, white or red potatoes are perfect (fingerling potatoes work, too). They are quick cooking, and since they are already small, there’s no need to chop them before cooking them.

Leave the potatoes whole. Whole cooked potatoes maintain more of their flavor and natural sweetness. We’re also partial to the texture of potatoes when they are cooked whole compared to chopped.

If you don’t have small, waxy potatoes available, other potatoes will work in their place; the texture will be slightly different. We try not to use russet (baking) potatoes since they tend to fall apart. If that’s all you have, don’t worry. Chop them before cooking — they are much larger and take a long time when cooked whole.

How We Cook The Potatoes

We simmer potatoes whole in salted water when making potato salad. Here are our top tips for doing it:

Salt the cooking water. It’s important to add a generous amount of salt to the cooking water. By salting the water, the flavor of the potatoes comes out. They won’t taste salty, only like excellent potatoes.

How to cook potatoes for potato salad // Salting the water
For the best potato salad, salt the cooking water.

Simmer, don’t boil. When it comes to cooking potatoes for potato salad, there’s no need to boil. When you do they violently bash against each other. Instead, bring the water with potatoes to a boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. The potatoes cook just as quickly.

Potatoes are cooked when you can push a fork through the center. When they are done, drain the potatoes and add them to an ice bath, which stops them from cooking. After 2 to 3 minutes they are cool enough to handle.

While I love using skin-on potatoes for mashed potatoes, I like to remove the peel from the potatoes for potato salad. Since I use small potatoes, peeling them before cooking would be a frustrating task. Instead, I cook my potatoes with the peel on, let them cool, and then peel. Since the potatoes are cooked, the peel comes off easily (you can see us do this in our video above).

How to Make the Best Potato Salad -- Remove the skins
Since the potatoes are cooked, the peel comes off easily.

A Quick Recap For The Best Potato Salad

  • Small waxy potatoes are best — they cook quickly, and there’s no need to chop them.
  • Cook the potatoes whole. They taste better and don’t get waterlogged.
  • Bring the water to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer.
  • Add a generous amount of salt to the cooking water. Without salt, the potato salad won’t taste very good.
  • Cook potatoes until fork tender, drain them then add to an ice bath, stopping them from overcooking.

My Favorite Dressing For Potato Salad

Our potato salad recipe airs on the classic, more traditional side, but we do have a couple of tweaks. (If you are looking for a non-creamy dressing, take a look at our green bean and potato salad with feta and olives or this herby potato salad.)

For the potato salad dressing, we use mayonnaise and sour cream. Both make the dressing extra creamy, but mayonnaise can be heavy by itself. Adding the sour cream lightens up the dressing a bit. If you’re used to only using mayonnaise, try adding a bit of sour cream next time. It’s a game changer.

When I really want to up my potato salad game, I use homemade mayonnaise. It’s easier than you might think. Here is our mayonnaise recipe with a video that walks you through how to make it.

We also add regular yellow mustard, which adds an extra kick of flavor as well as a bit of color. I usually use Dijon mustard in our recipes, but when it comes to potato salad, regular yellow mustard wins.

We add vinegar as well, but not to the dressing. Instead, we sprinkle vinegar over the cooked potatoes. We learned this tip from Alton Brown. After dicing the cooked potatoes, scatter a tablespoon or so of vinegar over them. It’s incredible how much of a difference the vinegar makes. Use apple cider vinegar, white or red wine vinegar or even dill pickle juice!

Instead of adding vinegar to the dressing, we toss it with the cooked potatoes. This makes such a difference in flavor!
Instead of adding vinegar to the dressing, we toss it with the cooked potatoes. This makes such a difference in flavor!

The Rest Of The Ingredients

Now we have perfectly cooked and seasoned potatoes and a creamy dressing, it’s time to add some extra ingredients. Potato salad is a personal process, and there are lots of opinions out there as to what makes it “perfect” or “the best.” The potato salad recipe below is our version — it includes everything we love, but remember that it’s your potato salad, so add what you like!

Celery and Pickles — The celery adds a lovely crunch and 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 pickles in potato salad leave them out (you can also replace them with sweet pickles).

Red Onion — I love the sweetness and crunch of red onion in potato salad. To make sure that the onion doesn’t overpower the salad with raw onion flavor, I “deflame” the onions. It’s a simple process, simply add cool water to chopped onion and set aside for 10 minutes. The time in the water takes the raw edge off the onion.

Hard Boiled Eggs — Maybe it’s how we were brought up or what we’re used to but, potato salad without eggs is missing something. Hard boiled eggs add texture and extra creaminess.

Fresh Herbs — The most common herbs are parsley and chives, but dill, cilantro, and tarragon all work well. In our recipe below, we use 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.

Potato Salad Ingredients

What Our Readers Are Saying

If you don’t believe that our recipe helps you achieve the best homemade potato salad, take a look at what our readers are saying about the recipe! More reviews are in the comments section below.

“I’ve made this so many times!! Always so yummy and a big hit with even the pickiest eaters!!” – Pam

“Best potato salad ever!!” – Melinda

“Excellent. Tastes delicious! It’s so much better than the potato salad purchased at the store.” – LouAnn

“I LOVED this potato salad!” – Paula

Easy Potato Salad Recipe with Tips

More Easy Side Dishes

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 Creamy Potato Salad 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, remember they will 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 two 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 place the potato salad in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so before serving. This extra time helps the flavors mingle and makes for a better 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 one 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 easily 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. When 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.

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

      • Make Potato Salad
      • Mix 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 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: Serving Size 1/6 of the recipe / 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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227 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Rachael St. Clair July 20, 2019, 1:08 am

    LOVE IT!!! This is the second time I’ve made this salad and I am becoming rather famous in my neighborhood because of it. The creamy mayo sauce is soooooo good. Thank you for such a reliable go-to summer salad recipe! Real cooks = real food. 🙂

    Reply
  • Ashley N July 3, 2019, 5:36 pm

    Just made it for 4th of July- I almost didnt leave enough for the holiday since I couldn’t stop tasting this amazing salad! Wow!! The homemade mayo was fantastic as well.

    Reply
  • Kristina June 13, 2019, 5:38 pm

    Always a hit at home!! Perfect recipe, all I add is black olives and it officially feels and tastes like summer☀️

    Reply
  • Billy May 13, 2019, 1:15 pm

    So excited to try this at home! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Judith J Berman May 10, 2019, 7:39 am

    I made a few adjustments because we love baked potatoes. I added chopped bacon and shredded sharp cheddar…yum.

    Reply
    • Adam May 11, 2019, 4:42 pm

      Chopped bacon and cheese would be great on this soup!

      Reply
  • Jeannine Canales April 19, 2019, 4:57 pm

    I don’t have wine vinegar just regular vinegar is that okay to still use

    Reply
    • Joanne April 19, 2019, 5:39 pm

      Hi Jeannine, Regular vinegar will work in place of the cider vinegar.

      Reply
  • Renate Tekook March 23, 2019, 10:30 am

    The dill pickle juice is essential in a “White” German Potato Salad dressing. You named it in your own recipe and I thank you. There is another way in Germany, the “Southern” German Potato Salad, which is made with Vinegar, Oil and Broth(!) as a vinaigrette. Very nice and popular too. With Love, Renate

    Reply
  • Elle January 18, 2019, 7:57 pm

    Excellent!! I knew it’s be good when I saw the name Alton BRown. Your instructions were fantastic, I usually chop my taters up never cooked them whole but tried it today. You must be a real down to earth person, it comes thru in the recipe. Much thanks!!!

    Reply
  • Meti Mazis December 23, 2018, 11:48 pm

    This is the 3rd time I have made this potato salad. It’s Christmas tomorrow and I’ve had to triple the quantity for tomorrow’s gathering. No matter how much I make there is always none left and of course, as always someone is going to ask for the recipe and I’ll just send them to your site.

    Reply
  • Shana November 21, 2018, 2:38 pm

    I love how versatile you made this recipe!I also appreciate the tips, I’m teaching myself to cook…I didnt read all the comments but I wanted to suggest tarragon vinegar, it gives dishes a unique oomph. A splash even goes well in egg salad!

    Reply
  • Mike November 19, 2018, 12:47 pm

    I’ve tried lots of different potato salad recipes and this beats them all hands down. The sour cream base is much creamier & lighter than a full on mayo dressing. Also, the use of waxy potatoes (vs starchy one like Russets) keep the potato chunks from falling apart. And the tip of sprinkling vinegar over the potatoes (rather than mixing it in the dressing) is awesome. This is definitely my new ‘go to’ potato salad recipe and method now.

    Reply
  • Pammygirl November 18, 2018, 7:59 am

    I’ve made this so many times!! Always so yummy & a big hit w/ even the pickiest eaters!! You must try 🙂

    Reply
  • Monique November 15, 2018, 4:52 pm

    I found this recipe and used it for my church dinner. I needed a recipe because I have never had it before. It was so easy, and everyone loved it. There wasn’t any left. Next time I will make 3 batches. I really appreciate this recipe!

    Reply
  • sam September 10, 2018, 4:20 pm

    Yum! I’m a big fan of potato salad, and this was my favorite recipe for it so far! I added some red pepper flakes for a little extra kick! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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