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

Easy Potato Salad

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!

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. (We use the same varieties of potatoes for our favorite roasted potatoes recipe.)

How to 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).

Removing the skins from cooked potatoes
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 Potato Salad 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!

Tossing potatoes with vinegar
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

More Easy Side Dishes

Here is my favorite way to make coleslaw. With a generous amount of acidity from apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard.

Our broccoli salad with bacon has cranberries, red onion, and a zesty dressing made with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar.

I love crunchy salads. This vinegar-based cucumber salad is addictive.

This pasta salad with orzo is full of goodness. There’s a simple lemon vinaigrette, cucumber, olives, artichokes, tomato, and fresh herbs. Or take a look at our easy pasta salad with mozzarella and parmesan (it’s so good).

Recipe updated, originally posted May 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. The recipe video has also been updated. To watch the original video (from 2013), watch it on YouTube – 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 is 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

Watch Us Make the Recipe

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 a 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 the 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.
  • You can use dried herbs for this salad, we recommend adding a heaping tablespoon of dried herbs (I especially love dill and chives).
  • 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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334 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Karen L Hilliard June 24, 2021, 3:57 pm

    This potato salad is the bomb, just the best ever!

    Reply
  • Diana June 16, 2021, 3:07 pm

    When you say yellow mustard do you mean French’s American mustard or Coleman’s English mustard ? And do you use Dijon mustard too? Thanks

    Reply
    • Adam June 23, 2021, 12:26 pm

      Hi Diana, We mean American yellow mustard. You can use Dijon mustard if you like.

      Reply
  • Michele Wilson June 13, 2021, 12:15 am

    Made easy creamy potato salad for a party and came home with no leftovers. Got raves that it was the best potato salad they had ever had.

    Reply
  • Beth May 31, 2021, 2:08 pm

    Perfection! I haven’t made potato salad for years because the way my mom made it was delicious but too time consuming with peeling, chopping, soaking in cold water, then cooking russet potatoes. Your method of cooking small thin skin potatoes whole and peeling after? Saves at least an hour!! The vinegar tip was new to me as well – great addition! The only changes I made were: added chopped bell pepper and chopped micro radish shoots because I had some I needed to use up. Also added some cayenne cuz we like a little kick. Loved the addition of a little yellow mustard! This was absolutely delicious and pretty easy (for potato salad). I will be making this often throughout the summer. Thank you!!

    Reply
  • Nancy Murray May 28, 2021, 12:02 pm

    This recipe is excellent! Everyone loved it! The first time I made it I did not have sour cream so I substituted Tsaziki and it was delicious. I have made it several times since and have used the sour cream which is equally good. Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
  • Diane April 6, 2021, 3:32 am

    I made your potato salad for my family yesterday and I must say, Best potato salad I’ve made so far !! Even my daughter who never eats potato salad had it and throughly enjoyed it 😊 Thank you for this amazing recipe

    Reply
  • Julia March 31, 2021, 4:42 am

    Tried this today. It was excellent. I particularly like the cider vinegar tip. I am not a fan of ready made mayonnaise, so adding double the amount of Crème fraîche was superb improvement for me.

    Reply
  • Cara Eliza Cangco March 20, 2021, 2:16 am

    Hi, I forgot to add the vinegar to the potatoes before mixing it into the sauce. Would it still be okay to add the vinegar afterwards?

    Reply
    • Adam June 23, 2021, 12:29 pm

      Oh bummer. Don’t worry, just add it afterwards. It will work both ways but we like how the potatoes taste when they absorb the vinegar when you add it directly to them. It will taste really good either way though 🙂

      Reply
  • Aleesha D Gunther January 21, 2021, 4:26 pm

    I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Salad was amazing! Everyone loved it.

    Reply
  • Far December 22, 2020, 10:07 pm

    1 tbsp of mustard might be a tad strong for people who aren’t really accustomed to it. Would suggest putting first 1/2 tbsp first then adding as needed. Also added in a good tbsp of sugar because I found the mix too acidic. I think the hardest part of making these salads is getting the dressing just right. Turned out great!

    Reply
  • James December 19, 2020, 9:48 pm

    This is by far the best potato salad recipe ever! I made mine with extra eggs and added bacon. Everyone loved it, would definitely recommend it!

    Reply
  • Vishesh December 1, 2020, 12:38 pm

    I made this today, my first try at potato salad, with slight variations of my own.. and boy, i hit it out of the park !! My wife and kid just loved it, it came out that amazing !!
    Thank you for this receipe, one great factor is its sheer simplicity.

    Reply
  • 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!!!!

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • Michael August 11, 2020, 6:52 pm

    Made this twice several months ago, I couldn’t remember all the details so I actually spent 20 minutes scrolling though my history trying to find THIS recipe. Because, yeah, it’s THAT good.The potatoes were perfect (the second time, I under-cooked a bit the first time and they were a bit overly firm, but that’s on me). I had no onions or celery. It was a VERY basic salad – clearly. (OK, this is because I’m on the up all night pandemic schedule and had a craving for potato salad long after all the stores were closed) The sauce came out phenomenal! Creamy, tangy, and with no more spices than salt and pepper this is the best potato salad I’ve ever had. And the absolute best part – you’re not going to believe this, but no one else in the house actually likes potato salad!! It was ALL MINE! Now, where are the stars? I need to check off some stars!

    Reply

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