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 recipe!

How to Make the Best Potato Salad

The Best Potatoes To Use

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 this. 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

  • 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 potatoes 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

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, mayo-free version.)

For the 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 this 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 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 this. 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 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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282 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Sherrie September 10, 2020, 12:48 pm

    I have been looking for a great and simple potato salad recipe for years! My daughter makes the best and was the first person I had ever heard of that used sour creme! Her potato salad recipe has become one of her signature dishes. With that said,I made your potato salad this morning and talk about fabulous, that is what it is! I did not have all the ingredients you used and only used potato’s and eggs, but did use the tip of pouring the vinegar over the potato’s and it took it to next level! The dressing is so simple, but above all it taste excellent!!!! I will be making this again and again for family and friends and keep a bowl in the frig for myself! Thanks again!!!!

  • annie September 8, 2020, 5:34 pm

    Perfect! Had to sub heavy cream for the sour cream, green onion for the herbs, and threw in a bunch of chopped roasted leftover veg. Everyone LOVED it.

  • Elizabeth Jones July 31, 2020, 1:44 pm

    Brilliant potato salad. If it can impress a group of Russians, then I’m sold! They ate the lot. I used tiny new potatoes from my garden and didn’t peel them because they were so small, and I used only mayonnaise, with no sour cream. Also added a touch of chopped mint. But yes, this recipe is definitely a keeper, thank you.

  • Lizzie July 22, 2020, 8:50 pm

    This was my first time making potato salad. The tips you gave were really helpful and all in one place! Thanks! I didn’t have sour cream, so I experimented with plain Greek yogurt. The next day it was still creamy, so it keeps well overnight and the flavors really came through. De-flaming the red onion made them perfect! Still crunchy but not too sharp. I have never had deli-bought potato salad even come close to this.

  • Cindy Georgie July 13, 2020, 11:56 am

    I made this for the first time last night and the family loved it. I believe even the non-potato person in my family enjoyed it. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Staci ANDERSON July 8, 2020, 4:21 pm

    I made this potato salad recipe today and it is the best type of potato salad ever hands down! I will continue to make this for any and all occasions easy peasy thank you for the recipe

  • Patts July 4, 2020, 1:36 pm

    Wish I’d read this recipe/tips BEFORE making this weekend’s potato salad. It tasted blah so I did a little research and found this recipe with the vinegar directly on the potatoes before dressing. Too late this time, but I am using this recipe next time. Thank you! Great blog.

  • Tara July 2, 2020, 9:07 pm

    Outstanding! That trick with the vinegar on the potatoes first was divine.

  • Carol July 2, 2020, 6:40 pm

    Fabulous recipe with wonderfully detailed instructions and tips. I look forward to hearing everyone rave about my potato salad at our 4th of July BBQ this weekend. Thank you so much!

    • John July 5, 2020, 12:10 pm

      This is probably one of the best potato salad recipes I have come across. My wife doesn’t even like potato salad, but absolutely loves this.

  • Tamie June 30, 2020, 9:52 pm

    This was a lot more time consuming than my regular potato salad but it was delicious!

  • Lisa - Austin, TX June 29, 2020, 12:26 pm

    I had never made potato salad before. I found this recipie and gave it a shot. WHAT A HIT IT WAS! I had several people ask me for the recipie (which I shared) and even had some ask to take some home. I definitely found my go-to for homemade potato salad.

  • Laura June 24, 2020, 9:01 pm

    Best potato salad ever. Followed instructions including making the mayo and adding the sour cream. Used dill as my herb. Turned out great, and the amount made was perfect. Can’t say enough. This will be my new go to recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  • Danielle Cason June 23, 2020, 8:30 pm

    I have a question for the potato salad I don’t have sour cream so do I substitute the sour cream with the mayonnaise or just the amount of a need to call for and I am making my own off of your recipe boiling potatoes now so hopefully you can get to me before I’m done thank you sounds delicious

  • Juliana June 21, 2020, 11:49 am

    I was out of sour cream so I substituted plain yoghurt. I didn’t have red onions or celery so I substituted green onions and radishes. It was great! Saving to make again. Thank you!

  • Patty O June 9, 2020, 3:25 pm

    Hello, I made your wonderful creamy potato salad and to date my husband has not liked one of the potato salad recipes I have tried and I have made numerous, all have failed his approval. Well, this past Sunday I tried yours and he absolutely LOVES it! My husband is the pickiest person I have ever known when it comes to food and his exact words were, “I think you should try all of the recipes on that website because this potato salad is to die for”. Well, it is a good thing I was sitting down or I would have fallen down. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. The wife of Mr. Picky. Patty

    • Fran June 14, 2020, 7:28 pm

      Best potato salad ever 👍


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