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The Best Potato Salad

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My go-to classic potato salad recipe is easy to make, perfectly zesty and creamy, and always a crowd fave!

The BEST Potato Salad Recipe

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 In A Bowl

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.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: I always cook hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot nowadays, but you’re welcome to also make them the traditional way on the stovetop.
  • 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.

Classic potato salad in a bowl with spoon

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:

  1. Boil the potatoes. We’ll place them in a pot, cover with cold water, and boiled until fork-tender.
  2. 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!)
  3. Make the dressing. While the potatoes cool, whip up the dressing.
  4. Combine. Toss everything together very gently in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Season. Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. Chill. Transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to chill.
  7. 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.

The best potato salad in a small serving bowl

Potato Salad Tips

Here are a few quick potato salad tips to keep in mind when making this recipe!

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

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The BEST Potato Salad

The BEST Potato Salad!

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 176 reviews
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 6 -8 servings 1x

Description

My go-to recipe for classic, creamy, zesty, Southern potato salad.  See notes above for possible ingredient variations.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold or red potatoes*, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup dill pickle relish (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • half of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • optional toppings: smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning, chopped fresh chives, (extra) sliced hard-boiled eggs

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Make the dressing. Meanwhile, whisk together the mayo, celery salt, mustard and pickle relish in a medium bowl until evenly combined.
  4. Combine. Once the potatoes are ready to go, add in the mayo mixture, diced eggs, celery and onion.  Toss gently until evenly combined.
  5. 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.)
  6. Chill. Transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to chill.
  7. Serve. Serve chilled and enjoy! Leftovers can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Notes

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.

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257 comments on “The Best Potato Salad”

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  1. About how long do you cook the potatoes?

    • As Ali writes in the recipe, for about 5-8 minutes after the water has come to a boil. I use a metal skewer to check mine after 5 mins to judge when they are done, but still firm. You want them to hold their shape when folding in all the other ingredients.

    • Lol it says in the recipe..bring to a boil, turn heat down, then 5-8 minutes

  2. I like the flavor of pickle relish in my potato salad, but not the itty bitty pieces of pickle. I keep a jar of sweet gherkins in my fridge and use a teaspoon or two of the liquid in my potato salad.

  3. Oh, Ali! This is so like my MIL’s recipe (without the red onions, she hates them). I can almost taste this just looking at the picture, and it takes me back to the early days of our marriage (37 yrs ago) when we would travel to her home in the Mississippi Delta. She would ALWAYS have her delicious potato salad (and chicken salad) waiting for us. Thanks for bringing back a great memory. I will be making this SOON.

  4. This recipe looks a lot like the potato salads we do here in Brazil! I have a special hint for you: try to put some sliced apples in your potato salad (either fuji ou green apple) It’ll definitely put your potato salad in a whole other level!!!

  5. I fry my bacon the first thing in small pieces – very crisp! Take out of pan and lay on paper towel to drain. My potatoes are boiling – yes I take the skins off. I then cool down the potatoes in frig for a bit. Cut up my egg. Get my Mayo or whatever mayonnaise I am using. I mix the potatoes with mayo – a little dab of mustard – a little shot of dill seed – mix up with potatoes – little salt. Take the bacon in my hands and crunch it all up in little pieces and mix in with the potatoes and mayo. I then cut my eyes up nice and lay them on top of the potato salad. I then sprinkle the top with paprika – just for color. Now that is a potato salad.

    I never heard of vinegar in a potato salad or pickles or any kind of vegetable. This recipe comes from way back in my mother’s files, so it is the old kind of potato salad, but it’s good and I get nothing but compliments when I put it on the table.
    Amen!






  6. Where are the other 2 potato salad recipes? I have looked and looked and cannot find them.

    • Eggsactly. I looked for the other two recipes mentioned in the tease. Maybe it was the add bacon or omit the relish haha?

  7. Mayo is my go to salad mixer .






    • potatoes, eggs, chopped dill pickles, chopped onion, mayo, mustard, dill pickle juice, salt pepper, garlic and paprika..chopped pimentos. mix all together
      chill at least 4 hours
      ..the best

  8. I always use Real mayo when making potato salad or coleslaw. This the best. I learned this recepie from my mom 70 years ago.






  9. A very good potato salad. I will be making it again.






  10. Absolutely delicious! My husband kept saying “this is so good” after every bite! Thank you for the simple yet tasty recipe.






  11. Finally! The way a tater salad should be made! I add a dozen hard boiled eggs, use only Best Foods mayo, Walla Walla sweet onions and add a dash of liquid smoke, dill relish and poof! Every time there’s a BBQ happening, I get reuests for my salad, it’s the one thing I do well. Thank you for sharing!






  12. Why do you put vinegar in the boiled potatoes?

  13. I made this yesterday, and it turned out delicious. I did make a couple of changes to suit our tastes. I doubled the pickle relish (we LOVE pickles). I had never had potato salad with celery before so I was a bit hesitant. I added the celery salt but did not add the diced celery. Next time, I think I will add it. I also used a variety of red, purple, and gold potatoes straight from the garden. YUM!

  14. This is THE best potato salad recipe EVER!!! The white wine vinegar made a HUGE difference. Only change I made was I added some smoked Paprika, and a dash celery seed. Absolutely divine, thank you!






  15. Thank you for this delicious recipe, it was my first time making potato salad and this is better than what my mom and grandma used to make! Loved your pics and instructions, too.






  16. This was delicious!






  17. Thank you! The pictures and blog is lovely.
    Our potato salad turned out spectacular!






  18. This is the best potato salad I’ve ever had! I’ve never heard of putting relish (I diced some pickles, like some other commenters suggested) in potato salad and it was great!






  19. Just made this! Only minor tweaks, added small cut of the celery ends to boiled water for potatoes just for flavor. It doesn’t overwhelm. I didn’t have purple onions so added 1/2 a shallot. At the end it felt a tad acidic (not sure if it was the ACV or dijon) so I threw in some shredded carrots I had on hand and voila. Love the extra crunch. I also found that I had to boil my potatoes a tad longer. I used yukon gold tiny potatoes. Oh, I skipped the pickles since the hubby and daughter are not fans.






    • I will be making tomorrow as I love trying new recipes and I do like the carrot idea. I will be trying radishes from our garden?

  20. The first potato salad was exact what I made when I was a young wife between 21 and 31. All loved it and asked me to make it for each picnic I am now 84 and no longer cook much .

  21. Very delicious. My husband loved it!






  22. Do you peel the potatoes before dicing and boiling?

  23. This recipe is very good! If I don’t have sweet pickle relish or sweet pickles/sweet pickle juice on hand I add a small amount of sugar to the dressing mixture (in this recipe I would say about a scant tablespoon). The sugar is a real flavor enhancer & smoothes out the “tartness” of the vinegar…






  24. Made it taste wonderful!






  25. Yummy recipe! I added in basil and parsley from my garden and some garlic






  26. I’m 75 years old and have been making my potato salad just about the same. One thing I always add to it is sliced radishes. My children and grandchildren love it. Give it a try, you will be amazed.






    • Twyla the radishes add the most delicious zing to this already scrumptious recipe! Thanks for that!!






    • Hi Twyla. That’s how my mom made it too. Was very good! Thanks for that memory.

  27. Great potato salad! Thanks for the apple cider tip, which made it exceptional.






  28. May I just say that I have been trying out so many of your recipes and I have yet to be disappointed. In fact, I’ve been blown away! I’m not a fan of potato salad at all because everyone that makes it does it in a totally bland way and I’m always disappointed. So when my husband asked me to make some I thought I’d check out your site to see if you had a recipe posted. Alas, there it was and yet again, it was another winner! We all LOVED it! Thank you for what you do! My family and I are grateful!






  29. I agree with your blog post title – this really is the perfect potato salad! I love the crunch from the celery and onion, and slightly sour tang from the relish. Will definitely make this my go to potato salad recipe!






  30. This is the best potato salad I ever made! I used diced onions, Old Bay seasoning, fresh parsley and Dukes Mayo.






    • Dukes mayo is the best. I am a convert from the Midwest and grew up on Miracle Whip. Lol






  31. Will it be ok to boil the potatoes a day ahead and refrigerate them plain overnight before proceeding with the rest of the ingredients/recipe?

  32. Tripled this recipe for a block party, using unpeeled Yukon Gold, Hellmans mayo, and no relish. Everyone loved it!






  33. This is great base recipe for what I know to be Midwest potato salad. I like both mayo and whip, but for this style potato salad the miracle whip is better because it is tangy and sweet.

    You can achieve the same taste with adding white sugar to the mayo

    Enjoy






  34. I’ve made a certain potato salad for years and thought I would make this one. Honestly this salad was excellent. I’m going to make it from now on☺️






  35. The potato salad we grew up with a few tweeks….awesome!






  36. This is pretty much how I make mine too with a couple twists. I use both zesty garlic dills cut up and sweet gherkins cut up as it adds a great dill/sweet note and crunch. I also put in juice from pickles. Sometimes will use the dill juice sometimes sweet pickle. I do add garlic/onion powder too. That’s what I love about great recipes. You can add/subtract/ change it up or stick strictly to it!
    I also sometimes sub in scallions for the onion or put both in! It’s one of those recipes you can just make it your own! Thanks it’s a keeper for sure!






  37. I loved it, i learned a new way of preparing porato salad.

  38. Made this with the dill relish and celery seed instead of celery salt. It was fantastic! My husband thinks it’s the best potato salad he’s ever had, and he’s had a lot.

    • Dukes mayo is the best. I am a convert from the Midwest and grew up on Miracle Whip. Lol






  39. I am 90 years old an this recipe was just like what MY mother used to make I had lost the recipe an was SOOOO glad to find it it is the BEST,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!






  40. Flavors were awesome in this potato salad! I cut up a dill pickle instead of using relish and it added the perfect crunchy, vinegary tang. I thought it could get away with about a cup of mayo, but my husband thought it was JUST RIGHT the way that it was. Thank you so much for this recipe!






  41. This was quite good. I love a variety of potato salad types, and I certainly would choose this one again!






  42. Sooo good! The extra salty boiling water plus the vinegar really ramped up the flavor. I did use sweet pickle relish, had to use regular mustard … omg the smoked paprika was so spectacular on this potato salad that I pitched a little more everywhere.






  43. Love this! So good






  44. Absolutely delicious!!

  45. Boil the potatoes in a lot of salt water and I add fresh dill to the boil. Potatoes absorb the flavoring in the water as they boil. Adds a nice hint of dill flavor. (Can add just about any herb, garlic, onion to the water to get other flavors.)

  46. Could I get a ballpark calorie count on a serving?

  47. I think it is funny “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.” I always leave the skins on . I do boil my potatoes whol and cut the after being cooked! Was thinking of adding some pimento just to be different. :)






  48. This is very near the same recipe I’ve always used. Many people and all my grown children ask for the recipe. After I’ve drained the potatoes and returned them to the warm pot, I add the mayo/mustard sauce (I eliminate the vinegar.) to the potatoes while they are hot; so the potatoes absorb all the wonderful flavors of the dressing.

  49. I made this for our small Memorial Day BBQ and it turned out very well! Skipped the pickle relish, but might try it for next time. I love the flavor and the textures! The celery gives it crunch. Happy we made enough to eat over the course of multiple days :)