A creamy All-American potato salad perfect for summer barbecues and picnics. Tender russet potatoes combined with hard boiled eggs, celery, red onions, mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and mustard for a tasty side dish.
When you think about summertime, potato salad is one essential item that always makes it on the table, especially when serving barbecued food. This All-American potato salad is the ultimate recipe that will have everyone coming back for another serving!
When researching cooking techniques for making a creamy classic potato salad, there is an abundance of options. I found a technique from Cook’s Illustrated that started cooking of the potatoes in cold water, followed by a marination in vinegar step to maximize the taste of the spuds.
The creaminess of russet potatoes combined with traditional ingredients and seasonings found in your pantry makes this dish easy to prepare. This potato salad recipe is so tasty that I used it as a base to make a healthier version with yogurt. No matter what variation you try, using this basic potato cooking technique will give you delicious results every time!
How to make potato salad
- Peel and cut potatoes into ¾-inch cubes.
- Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with cold water.
- Bring water to a boil, add salt and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook until fork-tender then drain.
- Add potatoes back to the pot and combine with vinegar.
- Let potatoes sit for 20 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine the potatoes, celery, mayonnaise, relish, onion, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Cover, chill and garnish with parsley, onion, and celery.
- Russet potatoes are the root vegetable of choice because they have a more “mealy” texture. When they cook, you can sense a more crumbly and starchy texture that adds to the creaminess of the potato salad, just like mashed potatoes.
- Yukon gold potatoes can be used instead for a more buttery flavor.
- Red potatoes are a tasty choice but are more waxy texture, meaning they will hold shape better but be less creamy.
The cooking process
Start cooking the potatoes in cold salted water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. This process allows the flavor of the salt to be absorbed into the potatoes and give an evenly cooked texture. Don’t overcook otherwise they may fall apart completely when mixed. I always check a few times to make sure the chunks are fork-tender. It takes about 8 minutes to cook the potatoes.
When the potatoes are warm, they are better at absorbing flavor. Toss in two tablespoons of vinegar right after cooking, stir and allow to sit for 20 minutes. The vinegar slowly infuses into each piece giving some tartness with each bite to compliment the creaminess of the dressing. Apple cider vinegar can be substituted for distilled vinegar for a milder pungency.
The essential ingredients
The classic ingredients for potato salad are hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard (or yellow mustard), dill pickle relish, red onion, and celery. I usually skip the miracle whip and make my own homemade mayonnaise. These elements create a balance of creaminess, tangy, sweet and crunchy textures.
Salt, pepper and onion powder is used for seasoning. Feel free to sprinkle in some whole celery seeds, or a few teaspoons of sweet pickle juice. For a Hawaiian-inspired potato salad add in some chopped ham, pineapple, and Fuji apples. Don’t be afraid to play around to find your favorite combination!
Make it ahead of time
This potato salad can be prepared and assembled up to 2 days before serving. I like to shop some fresh onions and parsley to garnish on the top. Onions that have been pre-cut tend to smell more sulfurous.
More potato recipes
The benefit of starting with cold water
The potatoes should start in cold water then gradually brought to a boil, then simmer to finish cooking. This culinary school tip I learned prevents the outside from cooking too fast and the interior taking more time. This is important for when you want to retain chunks of potato.
All-American Potato Salad
- 2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for cooking potatoes
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- ½ cup celery, ⅛-inch dice
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup dill pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons red onions, ⅛-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons dijon mustard, or yellow mustard
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 hard boiled eggs, diced into ¼" cubes
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into ¾-inch dice. Immediately place them in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch.
- Boil water over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer. Stir a few times, until potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and transfer back to the pot.
- Add vinegar and use a rubber spatula to toss gently to combine. Let stand for 20 minutes, the potatoes will still be warm.
- In a large bowl, gently stir together potatoes, celery, mayonnaise, relish, onion, parsley, mustard, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, onion powder and chopped eggs. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour before serving. Garnish with more parsley, celery, and onion if desired.
- Potato salad can be made up to two days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.