My go-to classic potato salad recipe is easy to make, perfectly zesty and creamy, and always a crowd fave!
I’m returning to my Midwestern roots today to pay homage to the potluck dish that will forever be a nostalgic favorite…my classic potato salad recipe. ♡
There are of course a million different takes on how to make potato salad. But if you grew up in the Midwest or South and spent any amount of time at backyard barbecues, church basement dinners, or summertime picnics, you know exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to a “classic” creamy potato salad. We start with freshly-diced potatoes, boiled until perfectly tender and then tossed with a hint of vinegar. Then to the potatoes, we add the classic building blocks of hard-boiled eggs, crisp celery and tangy red onion. A big scoop of pickle relish adds a deliciously briny kick, although some may argue it’s optional. Then everything gets tossed with a rich and creamy dressing spiked with mustard, celery salt, vinegar, and paprika to bring everything together. Potato salad perfection.
Now I know that there are strong opinions out there on the topic of Miracle Whip versus mayo, so you do you! Feel free to also add in any extras you might like, such as bacon, avocado or fresh herbs. And while I personally love leaving the potato skins on for extra texture and nutrients, you’re totally welcome to peel the potatoes here if you prefer.
Let’s make some potato salad together!
The BEST Potato Salad Recipe | 1-Minute Video
Potato Salad Ingredients
Here are some quick notes about the easy potato salad ingredients you will need for this recipe:
Potatoes: I prefer buttery Yukon Gold potatoes or red potatoes in this recipe because they hold their shape well and won’t get too mushy, but any other variety of potatoes can work well too.
Mayo or Miracle Whip: Up to you! Miracle Whip (a lighter, slightly sweeter and spicier mayo “dressing”) was always the standard for this potato salad in the Midwest. But feel free to use mayo instead (I would recommend Duke’s), or you could use a 50/50 mix of the two. To lighten things up, feel free to also also sub in some plain Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream for part of the mayo.
Vinegar: I make this salad with apple cider vinegar, but red wine vinegar or white vinegar would also work well.
Pickle relish (optional): If you love pickles, a good scoop of relish (or you can dice your own pickles) adds an irresistible sweet tang to this salad! If you’re not into pickles, no worries, just leave it out.
Veggies: Raw celery and onion add a classic bit of crunch to this potato salad.
Seasonings: We will use Dijon mustard, celery salt, paprika (I prefer smoked paprika), fine sea salt and black pepper to season the creamy dressing. I also recommend sprinkling the salad with a hint of extra smoked paprika before serving.
How To Make Potato Salad
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here are the basic steps for how to make potato salad:
Boil the potatoes. We’ll place them in a pot, cover with cold water, and boiled until fork-tender.
Drain the potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, return them to the pot, drizzle with vinegar and let them cool for awhile. (If you need to speed up this process, you can rinse the potatoes in cold water until chilled before returning them to the pot!)
Make the dressing. While the potatoes cool, whip up the dressing.
Combine. Toss everything together very gently in a large mixing bowl.
Season. Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Chill. Transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to chill.
Serve. Then serve and enjoy! ♡
How To Store Potato Salad
Potato salad unfortunately does not freeze well. So if you are making a batch in advance or have leftovers to store, simply place the potato salad in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Potato Salad Tips
Here are a few quick potato salad tips to keep in mind when making this recipe!
Don’t overcook the potatoes. In order to avoid a mushy potato salad, regularly check the potatoes while they are cooking. Once they can easily be pierced with a fork, they’re ready to go!
Be sure to add some crunch. Celery and onion are the classic additions to creamy potato salad. But if celery isn’t your thing, try adding in some radishes, bell peppers, cucumbers, fennel or carrots instead to the salad to give it some nice texture and crunch.
Give it time to chill. All of these delicious flavors will continue to meld as the potato salad sits, so it will be even more delicious after it has chilled in the fridge for a few hours.
Adjust seasonings to taste. Everyone has their own opinions about how homemade potato salad should taste, so please feel free to adjust any of the seasonings (or any of the larger ingredient ratios) to taste!
Potato Salad Variations
Add bacon: Add crumbled crispy bacon just before serving.
Add cheese: Add shredded cheese, such as cheddar, smoked gouda, crumbled feta or Parmesan.
Add fresh herbs: Add chopped fresh chives, dill, parsley, basil, or thyme to taste.
Add extra veggies: Add bell pepper, carrots, cucumber, fennel, green onions, peas, radishes, or sweet corn.
Add olives or capers: Add your favorite olives or capers for some extra briny flavor.
Use baked potatoes: Chop up leftover baked potatoes instead to turn this into a baked potato salad.
Make it vegan: Omit the eggs and swap in your favorite vegan mayo to make this a vegan potato salad recipe.
More Potato Salad Recipes
Looking for more make-ahead salad inspiration for summertime? Here are a few more favorite recipes:
optional toppings: smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning, chopped fresh chives, (extra) sliced hard-boiled eggs
Boil the potatoes. Place the diced potatoes in a large stockpot and add enough cold water so that the potatoes are covered by 1 inch. Cook over medium-high heat until the water reaches a boil. Reduce heat to medium to maintain a simmer, then continue cooking the potatoes for 5-8 minutes or until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Try to avoid overcooking the potatoes.
Drain the potatoes. Drain the potatoes thoroughly in a colander. Return the potatoes to the stockpot, drizzle evenly with the vinegar, and let the potatoes rest for 20-30 minutes* or until cool enough to handle.
Make the dressing. Meanwhile, whisk together the mayo, celery salt, mustard and pickle relish in a medium bowl until evenly combined.
Combine. Once the potatoes are ready to go, add in the mayo mixture, diced eggs, celery and onion. Toss gently until evenly combined.
Season. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. (Also feel free to add in a tablespoon or two of pickle juice if you would like.)
Chill. Transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to chill.
Serve. Serve chilled and enjoy! Leftovers can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Potatoes: Feel free to peel the potatoes if you would like. I prefer to leave the skins on to add extra texture to the potato salad.
Time-saving method: If you are in a hurry, you can rinse the potatoes immediately with cold water until chilled. Then drain the potatoes thoroughly in a colander, return them to the stockpot, drizzle evenly with the vinegar, and continue on with Step 3.
Boiled potatoes cause the salad to go watery if left in the fridge too long. Baked potatoes work better because they are dryer.
Very good recipe! The only changes I made were Vidalia onion instead of red and sweet relish instead of dill, but I’m sure the other way would be great too. Now I always get asked to bring the potato salad!
I made this and it was excellent. I used a variety of potatoes including purple. The variety in color made it look better. I also salted the potatoes while boiling. So in the end I only added a half teaspoon salt. I used quite a good amount of pepper. One teaspoon smoked paprika and about a quarter cup of chives. This brought a lot of color and flavor to the dish.
Thank you for this! I would also like to add that you are my go to for both culinary and travel inspiration.
My recipe for potato salad is very similar, but just slightly different. The biggest difference I learned from Julia Child and The Food Lab. J.C. makes a standard vinaigrette and dresses the hot diced potatoes to absorb the tang of the vinegar. The good olive oil also reduces the need for too much mayo and makes the salad just a little lighter tasting. The biggest difference I have learned is in the cooking of the potato. Instead of boiling, I bake the potatoes. I put them all on a pan sheet and seal with foil. This prevents the potatoes from absorbing water from boiling and allows for a more potato-y flavour; makes them less water logged. Makes all the difference in the world! Incidentally, I bake the potatoes for mashing as well. Cheers, marina
Making it and told my hubby it was going to be the best ever of course…the sauce looks amazing and can’t wait to try it and impress my friends at church tomorrow! Thank you for the fun in making this and not overwhelming 😁
Never could make a decent potato salad…UNTIL NOW! Great tasting potato salad…!!! (Do you happen to have the nutritional info for the basic recipe?…though I would imagine it varies somewhat as to what personal choice “add-ins” you use…but do you just have a ‘general’ guideline as to how many calories are in the recioe, as written) THANK YOU!
I always think celery makes the salad get watery quick…dont even miss it, celery seed suffices….
I swapped out the relish and vinegar for pickle juice and added chopped radishes. I also added a bit of honey (to taste) to the dressing to balance the tangy ingredients. Sprinkled with finely shopped fresh dill. YUM!!
I always look forward to your recipes posts, although of course, those with your son and stories of your adventures are a favorite. I love potato salad and also use the IP to speed up the process. However, I don’t add onions or pickles (dislike both), and add drained chopped pimentos or fresh diced bell peppers for more crunch. In the mayo dressing I add a touch of cayanne (we love hot and spicy food) and a bit of Poupon mustard. It’s time to make potato salad again.
This might be my new favorite potato salad! Did a few things differently like boiled potatoes whole and peeled skins afterwards. I sliced them thick. Also did the pickle relish half dill and half sweet. Added chives and a couple of extra cooked eggs for decoration. Hope my potato salad is a hit at tomorrow’s cook out.
This is the go to recipe for homemade potato salad in my household. I have been making this one for several years and it’s delicious and keeps very well in the refrigerator.