If you need a delicious side dish for your summer barbecue, look no further than this classic American potato salad. This simple and flavorful dish is a crowd-pleaser, and easy to make with a few ingredients that you probably have in your pantry and fridge!
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
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⭐ Origin Story
According to NPR, Spanish explorers first brought potato salad to the New World in the 16th century, after discovering potatoes in South America. The classic American potato salad (served cold, with mayonnaise) likely has roots in German cuisine, and often contained potatoes, oil, vinegar and herbs. Over time, as mayo-based salads became more popular (1920s and 30s), it's no surprise that the potato salad became a staple in many American households!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
Potato salad is a definitive show-stopper for any social gathering:
- Summertime staple. Potato salad is is an essential part of any warm-weather gathering (along with this rainbow summer slaw). This classic potato salad recipe will add a touch of nostalgia (along with lots of flavor!)
- It's quick and easy to make. Potato salad requires very little effort - all you have to do is boil, chop, mix, and chill. Plus, it tastes even better when made ahead of time so that all the flavors can mingle together overnight!
- It's super budget-friendly. Potatoes are almost always affordable, so you don’t have to break the bank to whip up a tasty side for your next event. It's also easy to scale to your needs.
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this American potato salad recipe, you'll need: potatoes, eggs, green onions, pickles, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, dried dill, and salt and pepper. You can also garnish with paprika and parsley (optional).
Notes and Variations
- Type of potatoes. You'll want to use waxy potatoes (e.g., Yukon gold potatoes, Red Bliss and fingerlings). These potatoes are creamier and keep their shape well after being cooked. I avoid Russet potatoes since they don't hold their shape well and often results in a really mushy potato salad. This is a bit different than the best potatoes for soups and stews!
- Skin on or off? I prefer to peel the skins off because it makes for a creamier potato salad. However, you can totally leave the skin on if you want (just make sure to wash them thoroughly!)
- Mayo substitute. Depending on your preference, you can opt for miracle whip or vegan mayonnaise as a substitute for your regular mayo.
- Extra dash of heat. Give your traditional potato salad a flavorful kick by adding some chopped red onion or radish! Swapping Dijon with yellow mustard can also amplify the heat in the dish.
- Extra zing or savoriness. Add some of the pickle juice or capers to the potato salad to amp up the flavor profile and add a touch of saltiness! You can also swap the white wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar for more vinegary flavor.
- Make it vegan: This recipe can be easily made vegan by eliminating the eggs and using vegan mayonnaise. The other ingredients are all naturally vegan!
📖 How to make classic American potato salad
Peel potatoes and then chop them into quarters (or even cubes). Add the potatoes and eggs to a pot filled with salted water and turn up the heat. Once at a rolling boil, turn down the heat and cook for 15-18 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender.
Mix the rest of the ingredients (i.e., chopped green onion, pickles, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, dried dill, and salt and pepper) in a large bowl until well combined.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain thoroughly. Then, toss the warm potatoes in a pinch of salt gently, and allow to cool completely. Peel the hard boiled eggs, roughly chop into quarters and allow the eggs to cool as well.
Once they are completely cooled, add the diced potatoes and egg to the bowl with remaining ingredients. Gently toss to combine all the ingredients and garnish with paprika and fresh chopped parsley.
👩🏽🍳 Tips To Make The Best Potato Salad!
Here are six tips and tricks for making a classic potato salad recipe that will stand out every time!
- Choose the right type of potatoes. For a classic potato salad, you’ll want waxy potatoes. Yukon Gold potatoes or red potatoes are the best because they hold their shape better than others.
- Cut them into equal sizes to help cook evenly. Cutting your potatoes into uniform pieces will help them cook evenly and prevent the overcooking of any part of the dish.
- Start potatoes in cold water, then gradually increase temperature. This helps the potatoes cook evenly (versus the outsides cooking too quickly, which can then lead to the potatoes breaking down).
- Get creative with your add-ins. Potato salads are a great way to get creative with your ingredients! Try adding crunchy elements such as celery or onions, sweet elements like corn kernels or peas, and salty elements like capers to round out your flavors.
- Allow it to chill (ideally overnight!) Mix your potato salad and let it chill before serving (but don't add the garnishes!) This will help ensure that all of the flavors meld together nicely and that none of them overpower each other. This also helps keep the potatoes from getting too mushy if they’re refrigerated after being cooked!
- Garnish with fresh herbs and a kick of spice. Don’t forget about the presentation! Garnish your potato salad with some fresh parsley or chives before serving for an added pop of color that will impress even the pickiest of eaters!
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting and FAQs
American and German potato salads differ in two ways: the former is usually tossed in a mayonnaise-based dressing and served cold. German potato salad is tossed in a vinegar-based dressing and is traditionally served warm (but I've served it cold too!)
Mayonnaise and potatoes are both highly susceptible to bacterial growth, and can make potato salad unsafe to eat after sitting out for more than two hours. To keep your potato salad fresh, store it in the refrigerator, and serve within an hour or two of taking it out of the fridge!
Allow your potatoes to cool completely before adding in the rest of the ingredients, and be sure to drain off excess liquid and moisture.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
Store potato salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a day or two (which makes this a perfect dish to make-ahead!)
I don't recommend freezing this potato salad recipe (as mayonnaise-based recipes don't hold up super well in the freezer!)
If you love potato salad, check out these awesome BBQ sides as well:
- Crunchy rainbow summer slaw
- Tortellini pasta salad with a pesto vinaigrette
- Tomato confit (to serve on bread, bruschetta anyone?!)
- Refreshing mango avocado salad
Did you make this recipe?! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Please leave a comment and a star rating and let me know how it went! We love hearing from you, thank you so much
Classic Potato Salad
- 2 lbs potatoes, peeled, cut into quarters
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup green onions, sliced
- 3-4 pickles, diced
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika, for garnish
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, for garnish
- Place the potatoes and eggs in a pot filled with salted water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat slightly to allow a rolling boil. Cook for 15-18 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
- Place remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
- When potatoes are cooked, strain them and allow to cool, along with the eggs.
- Peel the eggs and roughly chop into quarters.
- Once the potatoes and eggs are completely cooled, add them to the bowl with the remaining ingredients.
- Gently toss to combine all the ingredients and garnish with paprika and parsley.
- You'll want to use waxy potatoes (e.g., Yukon gold, Red Bliss and fingerlings). These potatoes are creamier and keep their shape well after being cooked. I avoid Russet potatoes since they don't hold their shape well but it does make for a more "mashed potato" like potato salad.
- Make sure to cut the potatoes evenly and start boiling them in cold water. This will help them cook evenly and hold their shape after cooking.
- I prefer to peel skins because it makes for a creamier potato salad. However, you can totally leave the skin on if you want (just make sure to wash them thoroughly!)
- This recipe can be easily made vegan by eliminating the eggs and using vegan mayonnaise. The other ingredients are all naturally vegan!