Easy All-American Potato Salad

4.55 from 309 votes
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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.

potato salad recipe perfect for summer barbecues and picnics

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.

potato salad recipe ingredients on a marble table

Potato selection

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.

Classic mix-ins

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!

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

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

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

Recipe Science

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.

All-American Potato Salad

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 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

Instructions 

  • 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 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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92 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! 🙂

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