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

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


  • 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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245 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Donna Miller November 30, 2019, 9:48 am

    Really great recipes, love the tips!

  • Lori J Chapman November 27, 2019, 11:53 am

    My grandmother swore by salad dressing rather than mayo for her potato salad. She (well, my grandpa) peeled the potatoes and cubed them on the smaller side, trying hard to keep them the same size! My grandmother made the dressing with ‘salad dressing’, which gives the potatoes just a touch of sweetness, and then equal amounts of milk and vinegar. She didn’t use mustard. I still crave her potato salad, after all these years! I have adjusted it a bit. I do use some yellow or other mustard, depending on my mood, and I adopted Alton’s method of sprinkling vinegar on the warm potatoes, then just adding a bit of milk to the salad dressing to thin it out when I mix it all together. Another thing she insisted on is making the potato salad the night before, it helps! I love the egg on top, but my dad never did, so I used to split my recipe and add egg to half.

  • JamyV October 19, 2019, 3:16 am

    Thanks for sharing how to boil the potatoes and on how to put the apple cider vinegar. I love the crunchiness of the celery in the potato salad that I prepared.

  • Donna October 11, 2019, 8:14 pm

    Thank you so much for an awesome recipe! Can you add green olives to this recipe?

    • Joanne November 27, 2019, 1:03 pm

      Yes, that would be lovely.

  • Stephanie Hawkins September 8, 2019, 3:58 pm

    Add about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of sugar at the end. Gives it a really good flavor.

  • Patty September 8, 2019, 1:13 pm

    I have been making the same potato salad recipe for over 20 years, it is a family recipe. I decided to try a different recipe and yours caught my eye. Well, I have never received so many comments on something homemade in my life. My two sons said that I should make your recipe from now on. So I have put my family recipe away and yours has taken it’s place in my recipe book. It is amazing! My youngest son says, “Mom this potato salad is to die for”. Thank you for sharing your recipe with my family.

  • Diana August 22, 2019, 10:35 am

    This is one of the best potato salads I’ve ever made! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Mary August 2, 2019, 7:10 pm

    Great recipe! Love that there’s more sour cream than mayonnaise as I can’t tolerate much mayo. All your recipes are exceptional.

  • Paulette July 22, 2019, 7:09 pm

    Can you add diced apple to this one? Thanks for the help and for sharing!

    • Joanne July 23, 2019, 4:56 pm

      While we’ve never added apple to potato salad, I bet it would be a really lovely in this and would add a sweet crunch. Great idea!

  • LaNette July 21, 2019, 3:31 pm

    I love this recipe!! I used sweet relish in place of the dill pickle and it turned out amazing! Will make again and again!

  • 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. 🙂

  • 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.

  • Tammy Roundy June 13, 2019, 6:57 pm

    I bake my bacon in the oven, and cut it up in the potato salad I even put a little bacon grease over the potatoes. I have never used sour cream but I like it. Thanks a lot on the tips of how to cook the potatoes. Thanks Tammy


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