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No two cooks make potato salad the same way.
What you’ll need to make a classic potato salad
A potato salad is but a few choice ingredients away.
Ingredients for a potato salad
- 2 pounds red-skinned or new potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup dill relish
- 1/3 cup scallions (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a little extra for the cooking water
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Utensils for a potato salad
- large pot
- medium bowl
- box grater
- paring knife
- rubber spatula
- baking sheet
You’re all set. Let’s get potato-ing!
If you were to bounce from barbecue to barbecue all across America, you’d likely come across potato salad in a bunch of different forms, from the eggy to the vinegary to fanciful versions decked out with spices, pickles, and more.
We’ll break down how to make a classic potato salad the right way. Then, we’ll give you nine twists on the humble potato salad from all over the globe.
A creamy, mayonnaise-based potato salad with egg and diced celery is as essential to a barbecue spread as the meat itself. In fact, some might argue that it tastes best when you let it mix and mingle a bit with the runoff sauce from your ribs or chicken.
Here’s how to go full potato:
- Make sure you have all the ingredients and utensils above.
- Fill a pot with water and heavily salt it. Place the potatoes and eggs in the water and bring them to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until you’ve hard-boiled the eggs — this should take about 12 minutes.
- Transfer the eggs to a medium bowl and place it in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs until they’re cool enough to handle, and then set the bowl of eggs aside.
- Continue to simmer the potatoes until you can easily slip a paring knife into one — this usually means about 5 minutes longer. Drain the potatoes in a colander over the sink and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan or large plate and arrange them in a single layer. Place the eggs next to the potatoes on the sheet and refrigerate everything for about 1 hour, or until they’re completely cooled.
- Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix them together. Refrigerate this until you’re ready to finish putting the salad together.
- When the eggs and potatoes have cooled, peel the eggs, and then use the large holes of a box grater to grate them over the bowl of mayo mixture. Once you’re done, set it aside.
- Remove the skin from the cooled potatoes using your hands or a paring knife. (You’re welcome to leave the skins on for a more rustic salad.) Using your hands, break the potatoes into roughly 3- to 4-inch chunks and sling them in the bowl with the eggs and mayo mixture.
- Gently fold the potatoes and eggs into the mayo mixture using a rubber spatula, until everything is evenly combined and the potatoes are coated all over. You can serve the salad immediately or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Get our basic potato salad recipe.
1. Old-school potato salad: Swabian potato salad
Germany is home to a plethora of potato salad styles. But you’ll often find that German recipes call for letting the potatoes soak in a beef broth (along with vinegar), a step that seems to have gotten lost on this side of the Atlantic.
This Swabian-style recipe shows you how it’s done.
- 3 pounds small, firm potatoes (Yukon Gold or similar)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups water mixed with 4 teaspoons beef bouillon granules (or veggie bouillon for vegans)
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- a few splashes of vinegar essence
- 3/4 tablespoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1/3 cup neutral-tasting oil
- chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Get the Swabian potato salad recipe.
2. German-inspired (with a bunch of added stuff): Warm German potato salad with bacon
A lot of potato salad recipes try to riff on more traditional versions by bringing in a hodgepodge of add-ins. This one really runs with that idea.
Featuring bacon, capers, onion, bell pepper, spices, and more, it’s about as fully loaded as can be.
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 tablespoon good-quality vegetable oil, such as grapeseed
- 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch squares
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch squares
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup capers
Get our warm German potato salad with bacon recipe.
3. Russian-style potato salad (with Belgian roots): Olivier salad
Olivier salad is a favorite throughout Russia, but its origins may lie in the ingenuity of one Belgian chef.
The recipe has morphed over the years, but nowadays the salad is reliably stuffed with meat, pickles, and carrots. But it doesn’t need to be as beautifully composed as this one to taste phenomenal.
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 large carrot
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 pound lean boiled beef, bologna, or salami
- 3–4 small pickled cucumbers
- 4 ounces canned green peas
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- dill, for garnish (optional)
- mustard seeds (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 small cucumber (optional)
Get the Russian potato salad recipe.
4. Italian-Influenced potato salad: Marinated potatoes and fennel
Native to the Mediterranean, fennel adds a crisp bite and fresh anise-inflected flavor to potatoes marinated in red wine vinegar and olive oil.
Flat-leaf parsley provides another herbal note. If you want to go even further, try this Italian potato salad with olives, tomatoes, capers, basil, and oregano, or add any of those extra elements to our more stripped-down version. Either way, try it with grilled fish.
- 2 pounds assorted heirloom potatoes, such as Yellow Finn, Rose Finn, Yukon Gold, or Red Bliss
- 2 cups sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch celery, trimmed, strings removed, and thinly sliced
- 2 fennel bulbs, stalks discarded, bulbs halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Get our marinated potatoes and fennel recipe.
5. Japanese-inspired potato salad: Japanese potato salad
Japanese potato salad has an anything-goes philosophy: It’s not uncommon to find carrots, peas, and even quick-pickled cucumbers tucked into the mix. Based around Kewpie mayo, it’s especially sweet, creamy, and easy on the palate.
There’s a nice fluff factor too.
- 4–5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1/3 cup Kewpie (Japanese) mayonnaise
- 1/2 cucumber (preferably Japanese or English), thinly sliced
- 1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- sea salt
Keep these ingredients aside for a later step in the recipe:
- 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar (Japanese superfine sugar is recommended, but regular sugar is fine)
- 1/3 teaspoon karashi (Japanese spicy mustard)
Get the Japanese potato salad recipe.
6. Spicy and saucy: Malaysian potato salad
Perhaps “salad” isn’t quite the right word for this dish, but it’s not completely incorrect, either. Tender potatoes are cooked in a flavor-packed sambal of onions, tomatoes, ground chiles, fish sauce, palm sugar, and coconut cream for luscious dimension.
Sweet, spicy, salty, and deeply savory, this is like the food equivalent of fireworks — and therefore definitely deserves a place on your summer plate. It’s best served warm but is still delish at room temp.
- 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, washed and peeled
- 1/2 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 cup sambal oelek chili paste, or 6 fresh red jalapeños
- 6 tablespoons peanut oil or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or to taste
- 4 tablespoons palm sugar
Get the Malaysian potato salad recipe.
7. Korean fusion: Kimchi potato salad
Irresistible gochujang and fermented cabbage kimchi bring Korean style to this creamy potato salad, which also boasts crisp bacon, scallions, and black sesame seeds.
Pairing it with Korean-style BBQed meat or a veggie alternative would clearly work wonders, but it bangs alongside ribs or fried chicken too.
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
- 5 eggs
- 10–12 strips bacon
For the potato salad dressing:
- 1 (16-ounce) jar of cabbage kimchi, chopped, with juice
- 2 tablespoons gochujang Korean chili paste
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
- 1 cup scallions (white and light green parts only), sliced
- freshly ground black pepper
- kosher salt
For the garnish:
- sliced scallions (green parts)
- black sesame seeds
Get our kimchi potato salad recipe.
8. Herbed potato salad
If brats, sausages, or grilled meats are on the menu, a vinegar-based salad with plenty of herbs is the way to go. The tang helps balance out all those rich and robust flavors.
- 2 1/2 pounds golf-ball-size white or red new potatoes, scrubbed
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 medium shallot)
- 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon or dill leaves, or a combination
Get our herbed potato salad recipe.