Potato Salad

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Our favorite Potato Salad with Yukon gold potatoes, celery, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, sweet onion, and the best creamy dressing with fresh chives.

Pair this salad with other potluck favorites like this macaroni coleslaw salad, creamy grape salad, or our favorite tuna macaroni salad.

Overhead view of someone holding a large bowl of Potato Salad.

Our favorite summer salad

Potato Salad was always my dad’s very favorite salad at a potluck, cook-out, or regular summer dinner. He instilled a love for this salad with all of his children — we’re obsessed with it!

 The “perfect” potato salad for us had tender chunks of potatoes, plenty of sweet pickle relish, lots of hard-boiled eggs, and an ultra-creamy mayo-based dressing. This is our absolute favorite Potato Salad ever!

Identifying the “best” potato salad can be a highly personal experience, depending on what you’re used to and prefer. That said, one of the best parts of making a this salad from scratch is that you can customize ingredients and add exactly what you want to make it the perfect potato salad.

Process shots: View of washed Yukon gold potatoes; potatoes in a pot, covered with cold water; simmering the potatoes until fork tender; cooling the potatoes and then chopping them

How to make Potato Salad from scratch

Boil potatoes

  • I recommend using small, waxy potatoes with thin skins. Our favorites are baby Yukon golds, but any small potatoes (yellow, white, or red) will work. Fingerling potatoes are another good option. Small potatoes cook quicker and chop easily; they also have thinner skins, so they don’t need to be peeled. While any potatoes work, I wouldn’t recommend russet potatoes since they are prone to disintegration after being boiled.
  • Speaking of peeling, I usually leave the skins on the potatoes. I like the color they add and the slight textural add. Plus, I don’t find it worth the trouble to peel them; with thin potato skins, there isn’t much of a difference.
  • Salt the water. Once the water comes to a boil, generously salt the water. This will flavor the potatoes, which in turn will make the salad that much more flavorful. If the potato salad tastes flat or bland, it’s likely because the potatoes were under-seasoned. A quick rule of thumb is to add 1 teaspoon salt to every 4 cups of water.
  • After the potatoes have cooled (in an ice bath) we toss them with apple cider vinegar. The vinegar brightens the flavors of the potatoes.

Whisk the dressing ingredients

  • A lot of potato salad recipes call for just Mayo or MiracleWhip®, but similar to my chicken salad recipe, I love adding sour cream into the dressing. Sour cream adds a delicious creaminess and lightens up the mayo. You can even use lite or fat-free sour cream without too much difference in flavor or creaminess.
  • I highly recommend real, full-fat mayonnaise. Skip any low-fat varieties for the ultimate creamy dressing.  Hellmanns/Best Foods® is my favorite brand.
  • Instead of Dijon mustard, we use regular yellow mustard. The mustard adds a slight tang and some color to the dressing. If you’d like, you can use half Dijon mustard and half yellow mustard.
  • The dressing also calls for a good amount of sweet pickle relish. Our favorite brand to use in this salad is Heinz® (not sponsored).
  • Don’t forget the celery seed!  It’s a spice often used in salads, dressings, and sauces that adds an extra little something special. It’s a small seed (about the size of a poppy seed) with a light brown color. You’ll find celery seed with other seasonings in the grocery store.

Prepare remaining salad ingredients

  • Beyond the potatoes, we add celery, sweet onion, hard boiled eggs, and pickles to the salad. These are our favorite additions, but feel free to omit any of the additions or increase any to personal preference!
  • We love bread and butter pickles best; they’ve got the perfect balance between tangy and sweet. They have a great crisp texture and complement the soft potatoes nicely.
  • The sweet onion is mild– a bit less sharp than using a red onion. A red onion can certainly be substituted in, but if you’re worried about the sharpness of the flavor, soak the red onion in cold water (with a pinch of salt) to take away the bite. Drain and add it into the salad.
  • As easy as it is to make hard boiled eggs, it still takes a bit of time to prepare them, so if we’re in a time pinch, I’ll pick up a bag of hard-boiled eggs at the store. Typically hard-boiled eggs can be found near raw eggs or in the produce or deli sections of the store. To make homemade hard boiled eggs, check out directions in my deviled egg recipe. The eggs add additional creaminess, a great texture, and amazing flavor. To make a potato salad without hard boiled eggs, simply leave them out — no other recipe changes necessary.

Overhead view of the ingredients: cooked and chopped Yukon gold potatoes, diced celery, onion, hard-boiled eggs and pickles.

FAQs

How far in advance can you make potato salad?

This potato salad is better made in advance! We like it best after being chilled for at least an hour. It can be made up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Leftover potato salad will stay good (properly stored) for 5-7 days.

Should I cut potatoes before boiling for potato salad?

I recommend cooking the potatoes whole instead of chopping them beforehand. I find the the texture and flavor is to be better with whole cooked potatoes. The whole cooked potatoes maintain more of their natural sweetness and the texture is better because the individual pieces of potatoes don’t become waterlogged. 

If you opt to use large potatoes (as opposed to baby potatoes), I recommend cutting them down to quarters, so the boiling doesn’t take forever. After that, the quarters can be further cut down into bite-sized pieces.

How long should I boil potatoes?

The potatoes are covered in cold water and then the water is brought to boiling point. At this point, we salt the water and then actually reduce the heat to medium low or to a rolling simmer. Potatoes will cook in the same amount of time in the simmering water as in the boiling, but they won’t mash up and bounce around as much. For the baby potatoes, 12-17 minutes is enough. For larger potato quarters, it can take 20-25 minutes for the potatoes to be tender.

You’ll know the potatoes are finished cooking when a fork easily pierces through a potato. 

Process shots of making the dressing: ingredients in a bowl; mixing the ingredients; pouring over the ingredients; gently stirring it all together.

Potato Salad tips

  • Make in advance. While this salad isn’t a major time drain, it may take longer than you think. The potatoes take a good amount of time to prepare, cook, and cool enough to chop. After the potatoes are finished, the salad also needs to chill for a bit. Allow plenty of time so the salad isn’t rushed and needing to be served at room temperature. As the salad chills, the flavors intensify and meld so everything tastes better cold instead of at room temperature.
  • Add a garnish. Minced herbs add brightness and freshness to the salad. We like chives and Italian parsley best, but dill and tarragon are popular herbs in Potato Salad. Use your favorite fresh herbs and add slowly to taste. We also like to add a hefty sprinkle of paprika over top of everything for flavor and a touch of color.
  • Make sure to thoroughly drain the potatoes. Drain the potatoes after simmering and again after sitting in the ice bath. I highly recommend giving them enough time to drain and dry before using them in the salad–otherwise you may end up with a watery, less-flavorful potato salad.

Overhead photo of fully dressed Potato Salad.

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Potato Salad

5 from 2 votes
Our favorite Potato Salad with Yukon gold potatoes, celery, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, sweet onion, and the best creamy dressing with fresh chives.
Print Recipe

Potato Salad

5 from 2 votes
Our favorite Potato Salad with Yukon gold potatoes, celery, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, sweet onion, and the best creamy dressing with fresh chives.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Potato Salad
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 8 -10 servings (as a side)
Calories 290kcal
Cost $4.81

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds (1360g) baby Yukon gold potatoes (See Note 1)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (165g) regular mayonnaise (we like Best Foods/Hellmans)
  • 1/3 cup (67g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (137g) sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced (~1 cup; 117g)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (90g) bread and butter pickles, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup (36g) sweet onion, finely diced
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons fresh chives or freshly chopped parsley, additional paprika

Instructions

  • COOK POTATOES: Wash potatoes (no need to chop yet!). Add potatoes to a large pot, cover with 1 and 1/2 inches of cold water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water (add 1 teaspoon salt for every 4 cups of water.) Then reduce the heat to medium-low so potatoes are simmering (potatoes will cook the same speed). Simmer 12-17 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork (about 13-14 minutes for me).
  • FINISHING POTATOES: Meanwhile, set up an ice bath. Add cold water to a large bowl filled with ice. Drain the potatoes and immediately add to the ice bath. Once cooled, drain throughly and transfer to a cutting board. Chop the potatoes into bite-size 1-inch chunks and add to a large bowl. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar over potatoes and add a pinch of salt. Toss and set aside.
  • DRESSING: In a medium-sized bowl, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, mayo, sour cream, pickle relish, yellow mustard, celery seed, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Whisk until smooth and combined.
  • ASSEMBLY: Coarsely chop the hard boiled eggs (See Note 2), finely chop the celery, the pickles, and the sweet onion. Add to the large bowl with the potatoes. Pour the dressing over everything and gently stir to combine. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours before eating. Garnish with fresh chives or parsley if desired.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: We like to leave the peel on the potatoes for texture and color. With Yukon gold potatoes, the peel is very thin. If you aren't using baby potatoes, quarter large potatoes and then boil. I don't recommend using russet potatoes for this recipe.
Note 2: To save time, you can buy hard-boiled eggs at the store. Otherwise, click here for instructions for hard boiling the eggs.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.5g | Protein: 6.2g | Fat: 15.6g | Sodium: 274.7mg | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugar: 7.5g

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I really liked this recipe. I wanted a change from my great grandma’s recipe, which is yummy, but pretty sweet. This is tangy and creamy but not too sweet. Only changes that I made were that I used red potatoes, which I had on hand, and half the amount of salt in the dressing. It’s just what I was looking for. Thanks Chelsea.

  2. 5 stars
    I learned something new today. Always used to cube my potatoes before cooking, This time boiled them whole. What a difference it made, they came out so sweet naturally!!!

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