Here’s my homemade potato salad recipe that’s perfect for summer barbecues and family picnics. I use russet potatoes with fresh ingredients and classic pantry staples to make this tasty side dish.
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Grilled burgers and main course items are not complete without a side of creamy potato salad. To maximize the taste of the spuds, I boil them first then marinate them in vinegar. It’s a simple step that seasons them throughout, not just on the surface.
Russet potatoes yield a flaky and creamy texture, which makes them an ideal base for the recipe. A mix of hard-boiled eggs, crunchy vegetables, and simple, bold pantry seasonings elevate the flavor. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make. Plus, you can prepare it in advance to save time on the day of serving.
Russet potatoes are the root vegetables of choice because they have a mealy texture due to the higher starch level. When they cook, you can sense a more crumbly and flaky texture that adds to the potato salad’s creaminess, just like mashed potatoes.
For a heartier and denser consistency, use waxy potatoes, like Yukon golds with a more buttery taste, or red potatoes. They have a higher sugar level, allowing them to hold their shape better when mixed, but will be less creamy.
Spud preparation and cooking
Learning how to make potato salad is easy, but the cooking step is critical to the final texture. Peel and cut the potatoes into large pieces, ¾-inch dice. This size retains nice chunks when stirred and later eating. Cook the potatoes in salted, cold water. Bring water to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
This process allows the flavor of the salt to be absorbed and gives an evenly cooked texture. However, don’t overcook! They should be fork-tender but still hold together when pierced, so they don’t fall apart entirely when mixed. I like to check every few minutes. It takes about 15 minutes to cook the potatoes.
Vinegar enhances the flavor
When the potatoes are warm, they are better at absorbing flavor. Toss in two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar right after cooking, stir and allow to sit for 20 minutes. The vinegar infuses into each piece, giving some acidity to the mild potatoes and balances the rich dressing’s creaminess. If desired, you can substitute apple cider vinegar for a milder taste.
The classic ingredients for potato salad are hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, yellow mustard (or Dijon mustard), dill pickle relish, chopped red onion, and celery. I usually skip the miracle whip and make homemade mayonnaise. I also use salt, pepper, and onion powder for seasoning. These elements create a balance of creaminess, tangy, and crunchy textures.
Customize the recipe
Feel free to sprinkle in some whole celery seeds or a few teaspoons of pickle juice. I also like sweet pickle relish or honey for a sweeter flavor. For a Hawaiian-inspired potato salad, add in chopped ham, pineapple, and Fuji apples.
I use this recipe as a base to make a healthier version with yogurt, or sour cream works well too. Don’t be afraid to play around to find your favorite combination!
Make it ahead of time
You can prepare and store this dish in an airtight container placed in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Otherwise, you can freeze portions in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month. To do so, spread in a thin layer and remove all of the air, then seal. Defrost in the refrigerator a day before using. I like to chop some fresh onions and parsley to garnish on the top right before serving.
Serve this with
The benefit of starting with cold water
Start the potatoes in cold water, then gradually increase the temperature for even cooking. This process prevents the outsides from cooking too fast. If not done correctly, the spuds can break down too much, which might be okay for mashed potatoes, but not when you want to retain chunks for the salad.
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All-American Potato Salad
- 2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for cooking potatoes
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup celery, ⅛-inch dice
- ¼ cup dill pickle relish, or sweet pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons red onions, ⅛-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard, or Dijon
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 hard boiled eggs, diced into ¼-inch cubes
- Peel the skin off the potatoes and cut them into ¾-inch cubes. Immediately place them in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover them by 1-inch.
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once it starts to bubble, add 1 tablespoon salt and stir to dissolve. Reduce to a simmer over medium heat, adjusting as needed. Stir occasionally and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and transfer them back to the warm pot. Add the vinegar and use a rubber spatula to combine. Let it sit and marinate for 20 minutes. The potatoes will still be warm.
- In a large bowl, gently stir together the potatoes, mayonnaise, celery, relish, onion, parsley, mustard, ¾ teaspoon salt, black pepper, onion powder, and chopped eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour before serving. Garnish with more parsley, celery, and onion if desired.
- Recipe Yield: About 5 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Freezing: Store in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month. Press into a flat layer, remove all of the air, and seal. Defrost in the refrigerator a day before serving.
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