Best American Potato Salad Recipe

4.55 from 309 votes
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This is my go-to potato salad recipe for summer barbecues and family picnics. I use russet potatoes, fresh ingredients, and classic pantry staples to make this tasty side dish.

Potato salad recipe perfect for summer barbecues and picnics.

Recipe Science

  • Russet potatoes, with their higher starch content, provide a crumbly texture that boosts the creaminess of potato salad.
  • Start cooking the potatoes in cold water and gradually increase the temperature to prevent excessive breakdown.
  • Distilled white vinegar permeates each potato, adding acidity to the mild potatoes and balancing the creamy richness of the dressing.

Why It Works

Grilled burgers at a BBQ are not complete without a side of creamy potato salad. To maximize the taste of the spuds, I boil them first and then marinate them in vinegar. This simple step seasons them throughout, not just on the surface.

Russet potatoes yield a flaky and creamy texture, making them an ideal base for the recipe. A mix of hard-boiled eggs, crunchy vegetables, and simple, bold pantry seasonings elevates 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.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Potato salad recipe ingredients on a marble table.
  • Potatoes: Russet potatoes are the root vegetable 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 homemade mashed potatoes.
  • Vinegar: Distilled white vinegar infuses each piece, giving the mild potatoes some acidity and balancing the rich dressing’s creaminess.
  • Mayonnaise: The creamy base for the potato salad sauce.
  • Mustard: Yellow mustard adds the characteristic pungent flavor to the salad and a hint of color.
  • Vegetables: Add a crunchy combination of diced celery, tangy dill pickle relish, diced red onion, and freshly chopped parsley.
  • Eggs: A few chopped hardboiled eggs add texture and richness from the yolks.
  • Seasoning: The potatoes are seasoned with salt water, and then again when making the salad. I also add black pepper and onion powder to enhance the savory taste.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

Now that you have the base for a classic potato salad, feel free to switch up the flavor!

  • Potato Options: Other types of potatoes can be used for a heartier and denser consistency. Use waxy types of potatoes. I prefer Yukon gold potatoes, which have a buttery taste, or red potatoes. They have a higher sugar level, allowing them to hold their shape better when mixed, but they will be less creamy.
  • Vinegar Swap: Substitute apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar for a milder taste.
  • Mayonnaise Substitute: Use this recipe as a base to make a healthy potato salad with yogurt, like Greek yogurt or plain unstrained. Sour cream works well, too.
  • Mustard: Add Dijon mustard for a milder pungency or whole grain mustard for a burst of flavor.
  • Relish: For a sweeter taste, add sweet pickle relish or add some honey with the dill relish.
  • Seasoning: Feel free to sprinkle in some whole celery seeds, capers, or a few teaspoons of pickle juice. Make it spicy with cayenne or chipotle powder. Add sriracha or chili oil.
  • Vegetables: Add sliced green onions, chives, pickled red onions, shredded carrots, cucumber, or avocado.
  • Fruit: Add pineapple chunks or diced apples for a hint of sweetness.
  • Protein: In addition to the eggs, add diced ham, smoky bacon, or tuna.

How to Make Potato Salad

Person using a Y-peeler to remove the skin from a russet potato.

Step 1: Prepare the Potatoes

Peel the potatoes to remove the skin, providing a smooth texture.

Person using a chef's knife to dice a piece of peeled potato into cubes.

Cut into uniform ¾-inch dice pieces to ensure even cooking.

Pro Tip: Consistent sizing also helps the potatoes absorb the dressing uniformly, enhancing the overall flavor of the salad.

Cubes of potatoes being added to a pot of boiling water.

Step 2: Cook the Potatoes 

Start the potatoes in salted, cold water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. This process allows the salt flavor to be absorbed and gives the potatoes an evenly cooked texture. However, don’t overcook!

Tips for Perfect Execution: The potatoes 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. Once simmering, the potatoes take about 10 minutes to cook.

Draining chunks of potatoes in a colander.

Step 3: Marinate with Vinegar

Drain the potatoes and return them to the warm pot. When the potatoes are warm, they absorb flavor better.

Tossing vinegar and cooked potato cubes with a rubber spatula.

Right after cooking, toss in two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar, stir, and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.

Chopped onions, celery and pieces of potatoes and eggs in a white bowl.

Step 4: Combine the Ingredients
In a large bowl, combine the cooked potatoes, mayonnaise, celery, relish, onion, parsley, mustard, salt, black pepper, onion powder, and chopped eggs. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper according to your taste preferences.

Experimentation Encouraged: For a Hawaiian-inspired potato salad, add chopped ham, pineapple, and Fuji apples. Don’t be afraid to play around to find your favorite combination!

Large chunks of potato salad with sliced egg in a white bowl

Step 5: Chill, then Serve 
Cover the potato salad and place it in the refrigerator to chill for approximately one hour before serving. If you prefer, garnish with additional parsley, celery, and onion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is classic potato salad made of?

The classic ingredients for potato salad are hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, 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. Add some sweet or smoked paprika for a southern-style potato salad.

Which type of potato is best for potato salad?

The best type of potato for potato salad is the Russet variety. Their higher starch content gives them a mealy texture, resulting in a crumbly and flaky consistency when cooked, which enhances the salad’s creaminess. However, if you opt for waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold, you’ll get a smoother texture with firmer chunks, which can also be delightful in potato salad.

Should you start cooking the potatoes in cold or hot 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.

Should potatoes cool before adding the mayonnaise?

For optimal texture and flavor in your potato salad, it’s best to let the potatoes cool before adding the mayonnaise. Cooling allows the potatoes to firm up slightly, preventing them from becoming mushy when mixed with the creamy dressing. Additionally, it prevents the emulsified egg and oil in the mayonnaise from separating, ensuring a cohesive and smooth consistency.

Can the potato salad be prepared ahead of time?

Prepare and store this dish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Freeze portions in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month. Spread in a thin layer, remove all of the air, and seal. Defrost in the refrigerator a day before using. I like to chop some fresh onions and parsley to garnish the top right before serving.

More Potato Salads

If you tried this Potato Salad recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Best Potato Salad Recipe

Homemade potato salad recipe that's perfect for summer barbecues and family picnics. This tasty side dish will be the talk of the party.
4.55 from 309 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for cooking
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup celery, ⅛" dice
  • ¼ cup dill pickle relish, or sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons red onions, ⅛" 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, ¼" dice

Instructions 

  • Prepare the PotatoesPeel 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.
  • Cook the Potatoes – 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.
  • Marinate with Vinegar – 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.
  • Combine the Ingredients – 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.
  • Chill then Serve – Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour before serving. Garnish with more parsley, celery, and onion if desired.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 10 servings
Calories 193kcal (10%)Carbohydrates 21g (7%)Protein 4g (8%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Trans Fat 1gCholesterol 42mg (14%)Sodium 347mg (14%)Potassium 486mg (14%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 142IU (3%)Vitamin C 7mg (8%)Calcium 118mg (12%)Iron 4mg (22%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




93 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Once again my go to potato salad. Turns out wonderful every time. I just made a batch for my husband to take to the men’s Bible study BBQ tomorrow night. Jessica you are always the first place and last place for me for recipes that please. XO Judy

  2. Judy says

    This is the best potato salad recipe. Each amount is precise to get the most flavor. I have made this many times and I just added it to my Recipe Keeper. I printed it and I am making it AGAIN – smile for Sunday night when our son and his buddy show up for a weeks visit. They are coming from different states and his friend is bring a freshly smoked brisket for dinner that night. I’ve invited the family over and I know everyone is going to love this potato salad.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much, Judy! It sounds like you have an exciting and delicious weekend planned with family. Have a great time!

  3. Melony Beaird says

    Best potato salad!!! I made it this past weekend and didn’t even have all the ingredients and it was fabulous! I can’t wait to make it again. Who knew adding vinegar (and pickle juice) to the potatoes would be life changing! 🙂

  4. Maria T. says

    Made this today for tomorrow’s grilled chicken thigh dinner because it’s going to be really HOT. Already tastes great so it’ll be even better tomorrow. Used your boiling technique for the hard boiled eggs. Love creamy, bright yellow yolks without the sulfur ring, which is so unappetizing.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I can’t wait to hear how the pairing goes with the chicken! I love the potato salad even more the next day.

  5. Rita says

    Excellent! Made it for the first time today had to substitute chives for the parsley because I didn’t have parsley and I added a bit of extra dill pickle juice & relish. Used the suggested Dijon. This is so delicious and I will definitely make it again!!

  6. Christian Dalbavie says

    I made this recipe for our block party. Skipped the pickle relish and added crispy bacon. It was a hit! Neighbors asked for the recipe!

  7. Sierra says

    This is an amazing potato salad! I have made it several times now- and everyone loves it. I think the vinegar added to the warm potatoes really gives it a good zing. Not too much- just right. I will forever use this recipe! 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you, Sierra! I’m so happy that you love this potato salad recipe. What do you usually serve it with?

  8. Kim says

    Jessica, for step 2 – returning to the warm pot. You mention letting it marinade. Is it just the potatoes and vinegar? Do I need to add water to cover the potatoes for the marinade part? Thank-you, Kim

    • Janet says

      Yes, it’s just the potatoes and vinegar at this point. Drain the potatoes, then sprinkle on the vinegar and let them marinate.

  9. Mrs Charli says

    So glad I stumbled across this recipe! It truly is an All American potato salad, so perfect. I follow WW lifestyle & it’s so point friendly! I’ve made this the last few weeks in my food prep & will continue. Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for making the potato salad recipe! I’m so happy that you enjoy it and it’s fitting into your WW lifestyle!

  10. Wendy says

    I am using organic russet potatoes. Is it ok to leave skin on the potatoes…I think it might increase nutritional value?

  11. Patti says

    WOW, Jessica! This was hands down the BEST potato salad that I’ve ever made! I followed the recipe to the “T” with the only exception was adding tiny cubes of sharp cheddar cheese (because cheese makes everything better in my book)! Again, fantastic recipe!

  12. Ann says

    Hello, I have made this recipe once already and it was a great success. I am going to make it again today and I am wondering if I can use pickle juice instead of vinegar on the potatoes. Thank you for creating this new family favorite!

  13. Carly says

    Have you tried using seasoned rice vinegar? Its one of my favorites, but am curious if anyone has tried it in this recipe.

  14. Judi says

    I just made this for my husband’s Birthday barbecue tomorrow. It is so delicious! I’m hoping it will be even better tomorrow!

  15. V says

    Anyone make this without the egg? My son hates eggs (!) and I’m wondering if flavor would still be good.

  16. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,

    We had family over last night and grilled steaks and I made this potato salad for the third time. All the ingredients are spot on. It tastes like my moms only better due to the crunch of celery and red onion. Also the onion powder.

    Thank you
    Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for making the recipe, Judy! You are so sweet to share the potato salad with family, what a great pairing with steak!

  17. Thaddaeus M. Poe says

    I’ve been searching for the best potato salad recipe. This beats the pants off anything in food network and epicurious.
    Thank you.

  18. Deann says

    At the very top of the article it says sweet pickle relish put in the ingredients it says dill pickle relish???

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can add either to the recipe, I use dill pickle since it’s a little less sweet, but you can use the sweet pickle relish as well.

  19. Melinda says

    I have never found a potato salad recipe as easy or as GOOD as this classic. It is my go to ever since I discovered it via Pinterest last year. Getting ready to make it again so just had to stop by and comment.

  20. Jessica R Parks says

    Thank you! I needed a good recipe to use for a school project. I am doing a thanksgiving project, and needed to find a recipe and “buy” the ingredients. I’m not actually making it, but it I ever decide to make potato salad, this will definitely be first on my list of recipes. 😀

  21. Alyce Sica says

    I am 68 years old and have never made potato salad. I tried this recipe but left out the dill relish. It came out delicious. I will be making this again. I cooked the potatoes in my pressure cooker for 4 minutes then released the pressure. They were perfect for potato salad. Loved it and I will be making it again very soon.

  22. Shirley says

    I made this today and it is the First Time I have ever been pleased with making my own potato salad! I used sweet vidalia onions ’cause I had them on hand. I like a little sweetness so I added a few blobs of Frank’s Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, which made it perfect and also gave it bright red flecks to compliment the green of the celery. It is absolutely Delish …. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  23. Barb Beardsley says

    Thanks Jessica,
    Anxious to try the potato salad. On another note……the beautiful picture of your lettuce is a Kodak moment wanting to be framed.
    Thanks also for your wonderful website.

  24. Barb says

    Just made this. It’s awesome!
    Thank you for sharing. I am not a cook and depend on bloggers to fulfill my meal plan adventures. Thanks very much for the great directions.

  25. Lora Nordgreen says

    Definitely a crowd pleaser! I had to find a potato salad recipe for girl scouts camp. This one was amazing. So easy. Made 15 pounds of this recipe. I use my recipe app to get me to the correct measurements. I know if I use Jessica Gavin in my Google search for a reliable recipe I’m confident that it’s always a success.

  26. Jessi says

    This is my absolute favorite potato salad!! The ingredients are great, tastes amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing. My husband isn’t much of a hard boiled egg fan so I put extra in so he won’t eat any of it and I can have it all to myself! Bravo!!!!

  27. Cecilia says

    This was super easy to follow. I didn’t have an onion or celery, so I swapped those out for black olives and crunchy dill pickles. Yum! Thank you!

  28. BillyeJean says

    I never cut up my potato’s before cooking. I am told i make the best. When asked I always tell tell them they can’t believe I cook potatoes while and skin still on cool a little block them when cool enough to handle and go from there never mushy or over cooked. Always use russets or baking potato. Normal American recipe

  29. Sarah says

    Hi! How far in advance can I make this potato’s salad? I have a barbecue on Sunday but would like to make it either the Friday night or Saturday morning before. Is this too early? Thanks in advance!

  30. Mariaelena Yeow says

    Wow Had to try this Potato Salad I usually do the one in my cook book but had to change it as I’m using it all the time, I loved it a little different to what I use to and taste great. Everyone who came to the BBQ commented on the Salad, yes I took the credit for it sorry. Will be doing this at the next BBQ,

    • Mary Clay says

      Thanks for the tip about the vinegar. I followed the directions which is normally how I make Potato Salad but the addition of the vinegar put it way over the top. PS I used advice. I will be using this from now on.

  31. Pam S says

    Big hit! I had Wickles Pickles on hand so I used the juice and chopped up some pickles. Trying it again today with red potatoes. Hope it’s just as good.

  32. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,

    This is a follow-up to my earlier post and your response. This is now my go to recipe for Potato Salad. It tastes exactly like my moms which has always been my favorite and my husband loves it too. Your recipe gave me exact measurements on the mayo and relish which is an area I always over added or under added. Following your recipe it has been perfect each time and I have made it. I’m sharing it with all my kids as well.

    Thank you,
    Judy

  33. Kimberley says

    I’m American and was curious to see what American potato salad looked like in Australia. This is almost exactly what I make but I use chopped dill pickles instead of relish and the dill pickling liquid instead of vinegar. I really enjoy your blog and am trying lots of new (to me) Japanese recipes–thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I love the idea of using dill pickles and the juice for the potato salad Kimberley! Thank you so much for following my blog and trying new recipes 🙂 If you ever have any questions, please let me know!

  34. Jane says

    This reminds me of my mom’s famous potato salad. At least we thought it was! She added finely chopped green olives (w pimentos) and it just gives it a different delicious taste.

  35. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,

    I printed this out. It is very similar to the recipe I have used for years for my moms which is our family favorite. I never knew how much mayo or mustard she put in though and always felt I overdid the mayo so I am excited to have your recipe. I’m making this today.

    Have a wonderful day and thank you for another great recipe. If you have a good German potato salad recipe I’d appreciate that too. I have never had it but my husband had it years ago and still talks about how good it was.

    Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m so glad that you found a recipe similar to what your mom would make for your family! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the recipe, please let me know how it turns out. I’ll have to do some research on the flavor profiles of German potato salad, fun!

  36. Adam says

    This was a really good and simple recipe. I wasn’t sure whether the recipe called for sweet relish or dill relish, but dill sounded better. So I chopped up some good kosher dills, and it was great. I also think that some crumbled thick-sliced bacon would be a nice addition – but I was too lazy. In sum, I really liked this and will make it again.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Adam! I have used sweet relish in the past but I LOVE the idea of fresh chopped dill pickles. I’m sure the flavor and texture was even better! Bacon would definitely be a good add if you have time 🙂

  37. Nancy says

    This recipe was easy and super delicious. I had a couple of unused baked potatoes and used these (cheated) instead of cooking potatoes as per the recipe. The salad still came out tasting great. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe my family and I enjoyed!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great idea Nancy! Any shortcuts you can use, the better 🙂 So happy to hear that everyone enjoyed the recipe!