Tangy, soft, sweet and crunchy, this classic American-style Potato Salad Recipe is a summertime must. Perfectly boiled potatoes, crunchy celery, pickled olives, and piquant onions are tossed with a silky mayonnaise and dijon mustard dressing for an absolutely delightful side dish.
Table of Contents
About Potato Salad Recipe
I love everything about the humble spud and have dozens of Potato Recipes to prove it. This easy-to-make potato salad has become one of our favorite dishes because it’s so tasty.
I always make Salad Recipes to go with my main dishes as they make great sides and add to the overall nutrition and experience of the meal. This creamy potato salad is a bit heartier than others, so I’ll sometimes eat a bowl as a light lunch.
Made in just 30 minutes with only 12 simple ingredients, this is a recipe you can make on even the busiest of days. It’s an excellent pairing for sandwiches or rolls/wraps, and is a perfect side to bring to any potluck, cookout, or picnic.
My version of this American classic uses homemade eggless Mayonnaise, so it’s actually vegan. Feel free to use any high-quality store-bought mayo that you prefer to cut back on prep time.
Along with the smooth texture of the mayo and potatoes, the salad also has a great crunch and freshness coming from the onions, celery and parsley.
Word to the wise – do not skip these three ingredients or you’ll risk having a bland salad! That said, you can substitute shallots, scallions or spring onions for the onions and cilantro (coriander leaves) for parsley.
Usually in a classic American potato salad, chopped cucumber pickles (gherkins) or pickle relish are added for a tangy, salty and umami flavor. Since cucumber pickles aren’t readily available where I am, I used green olives to get a similar flavor. They work beautifully! I also added some dijon mustard for a bit of pungency.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Mayonnaise: Use your favorite mayonnaise, homemade or store bought. Just remember that it is the primary ingredient in the potato salad dressing, so use a mayo that has a good taste.
- Type of Potato: Any potato variety can be used to make this potato salad recipe, just be sure not to overcook them. Depending on the variety of potato you choose and the size of the pieces you cut, the time to cook potatoes will vary (see tips on boiling potatoes below).
Also, please note that wax potatoes (e.g. red potatoes or Yukon gold) will hold their shape better than russet potatoes. Depending on what you use, either can be considered the “best” for potato salad. Experiment with both and see which you prefer!
- Mustard: If you do not have dijon mustard, feel free to use ground mustard paste or mustard powder instead.
- Onions: Onions are an essential ingredient in the potato salad so do not skip them. Use onions that are not too pungent; I typically prefer red or sweet yellow varieties. Green onions (aka spring onions) can be used instead.
Pro Tip: If you only have spicy onions on hand, chop them first, then give them a 10 minute soak in cool water to remove some of their bite.
- Celery: Apart from a deep herby flavor, celery also adds some crunch in to the salad. For this reason, its best not to skip it. Feel free to use the leaves, so long as you chop them like the parsley.
- Parsley: Parsley adds freshness to the salad. If you do not have parsley, use cilantro (coriander leaves) instead. You can definitely add your choice of fresh or dried herbs.
- Cucumber Pickle or Pickle Relish: You can add cucumber pickles if you prefer them. As a substitute for pickles, I have used green olives. Olives can be skipped altogether or you can add kalamata olives or black olives instead.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV adds a lovely bit of sweet tanginess to the dressing. You can also use the juice from a jar of cucumber pickles, lemon juice, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar instead.
- Sweet Paprika: For a touch of earthiness. Feel free to swap in red chili powder or cayenne for a slight touch of heat.
- Sugar: You don’t need much, just a bit to balance out all of the acidity from the pickles and vinegar. You can swap in any sweetener of choice here.
- Salt & Pepper: Everything needs seasoning! Make sure to use freshly cracked black pepper for the best flavor.
How To Make Potato Salad
1. Pour 4 cups water in a pan or pot.
2. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
3. Next add 1 teaspoon sugar.
4. Next add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
5. Stir and set the pan aside.
6. Rinse 500 to 550 grams of potatoes or 3 to 4 large potatoes in running water very well. Brush off any mud from the skins and rinse them thoroughly.
Then peel and dice them into 1-inch cubes. In total, you will need 3 cups of diced potatoes.
7. As soon as you dice the potatoes add them to the water in the pan.
8. Cover the pan with its lid and keep it on a medium heat.
9. Simmer and cook potatoes covered with a lid. You can open the lid and check them, but otherwise keep it covered.
10. The potatoes will take about 12 to 15 minutes to cook.
11. Cook potatoes until they are fork-tender. This means a fork or a knife should pass easily into them without any resistance.
12. Strain the potatoes in a colander or strainer.
Make Mayonnaise Dressing
13. While the potatoes are cooking, peel, rinse and finely chop 1 small onion, 1 stalk of celery, some parsley leaves and 5 to 6 pitted green or black olives.
You will need ¼ cup finely chopped onions, 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery and 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley. Some parsley can be kept to the side for garnishing.
14. In a large mixing bowl, add 6 tablespoons of mayonnaise (vegetarian or vegan) and 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard. I have used homemade mayo and it had a slight pouring consistency.
Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or ½ to 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Next add finely chopped onions, celery, parsley and olives.
Tip: One minced garlic clove (small-sized) can also be added.
15. Season with ¼ teaspoon sugar. Also, add ¼ teaspoon of sweet paprika. You can add smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, or red chili powder instead of sweet paprika if you prefer.
16. Mix very well. Check the taste of the dressing and add more dijon mustard or lemon juice if needed.
Mayo and dijon mustard already have salt in them, so go easy on the salt and add it after you add the potatoes.
Assemble Potato Salad
17. Add the cooked potatoes to the dressing. I suggest adding the potatoes while they are still warm as they’ll soak up the dressing better.
We also like to eat potato salad while it is still warm, but you can also serve it chilled.
18. Mix and gently toss the potatoes with the dressing.
19. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper and salt as required. Mix gently again. Check the taste and add salt. After taste testing, you can add more seasoning if required.
20. Serve potato salad garnished with some chopped parsley and sprinkled with 1 to 2 pinches of sweet paprika, red chili powder, or crushed black pepper if you prefer.
If not serving immediately then refrigerate and serve the potato salad later. You can have potato salad as a meal or serve as a side with your main dish. Enjoy!
- Boiling the Potatoes: Typically potatoes are boiled in plain salted water. In this recipe, some vinegar and sugar are added to the water to infuse them with a bit of sweet, tangy flavor.
- Do not overcook the Potatoes: While boiling potatoes, first make sure you have chopped or diced them evenly. Depending on the size and variety, chopped potatoes take between 12 to 20 minutes on a medium heat to cook until tender. Strain them from the water as soon as they are fork tender. Overcooking potatoes can result in a mushy potato salad, and we don’t want that!
- Scaling the Recipe: You can easily double or triple the recipe. Use the recipe card below to scale the ingredients.
- Leftovers: Refrigerate the leftover potato salad for up to 1 day. You can serve the salad chilled or can warm it in an oven or microwave if you prefer.
- Spice it Up: Add your favorite spices or sauces. Worcestershire sauce or red chili paste are nice additions. You can also put an Indian spin on it by using spices & herbs like roasted cumin powder, cilantro (coriander) powder, chaat masala, cilantro (coriander leaves), and/or mint leaves.
- Herby, Mayo-Free Potato Salad: Adding a lot of fresh herbs or dried herbs with some extra virgin olive oil, mustard and a bit of mashed garlic can make a simple, yet tasty salad that is well suited for picnics or packed lunches.
- Creme Fraîche or Sour Cream: For a tangier-tasting salad, either creme fraîche or sour cream work well in place of the mayo. You can flavor it up with some herbs and seasonings of your choice.
- Yogurt Salad: A creamy and smooth dressing can also be made with yogurt or curd. Your choice of herbs and spices can be added to the yogurt seasoning, but dill is an excellent place to start.
If you are using a softer potato (like russets), you may prefer to boil them whole then peel and chop them afterward. For sturdier waxy potatoes, I typically peel and cut them before boiling so they cook more quickly.
Well, you don’t rinse them when they’re done, but you do rinse them to clean them beforehand. Also, make sure to start your potatoes in cool water; adding them directly to boiling water will cause them to cook too quickly on the outside and leave you with an undercooked middle.
It depends on how small the pieces of potato are and what variety of potato you use. If you follow the recipe and cut the potatoes into roughly 1-inch cubes, they should cook in 12 to 15 minutes.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Potato Salad Recipe With Creamy Mayo Dressing
For cooking potatoes
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 500 to 550 grams potatoes or 3 to 4 large potatoes or 3 cups diced potatoes
For mayo dressing
- 6 tablespoons Eggless Mayonnaise – vegetarian or vegan
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard or add as required
- ½ teaspoon sugar or add as required
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice – sub with ½ to 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup onions – finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons celery – finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon parsley – finely chopped
- 5 to 6 green olives or black olives – pitted, sliced or chopped
- ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika or red chilli powder or cayenne pepper – add as required
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder or add as required
- salt as required
- 1 teaspoon parsley – finely chopped
- 1 to 2 pinches sweet paprika or red chilli powder or cayenne pepper – optional
- Take the water in a saucepan or a pot.
- Add salt, sugar and vinegar. Stir and keep the pan aside.
- Rinse potatoes in running water very well. Brush off the mud if any from the potatoes skin and rinse them thoroughly. Then peel and dice in 1-inch cubes.
- As soon as you dice the potatoes add them in the water in the pan.
- Cover the pan with its lid. Heat on a medium flame.
- Simmer and cook potatoes covered with the lid.
- Potatoes will take about 12 to 15 minutes to cook.
- Cook potatoes till they are fork-tender – meaning a fork or a knife should pass easily without any resistance.
- Strain the potatoes in a colander or strainer. Drain the water well.
Making mayonnaise dressing
- While the potatoes are cooking, you can peel, rinse and finely chop 1 small onion, half a stick of celery, parsley leaves and 5 to 6 pitted green olives.
- In a bowl take mayonnaise (vegetarian or vegan), dijon mustard, lemon juice.
- Next add finely chopped onions, finely chopped celery, finely chopped parsley and chopped olives. You can even add one minced garlic clove (small to medium-sized).
- Season with ¼ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika. You can even add smoked paprika, cayenne pepper or red chilli powder instead of sweet paprika.
- Mix very well. Check the taste of the dressing and add more dijon mustard or lemon juice or sugar if needed.
Making potato salad
- Add the cooked potatoes. The potatoes can be warm when you add them.
- Mix and gently toss the potatoes with the dressing.
- Sprinkle ground black pepper and salt as required. Check the taste and add salt. After taste testing, you can add more pepper if required.
- Mix gently again.
- Serve Potato Salad. Serve garnished with some chopped parsley and sprinkled with 1 to 2 pinches of sweet paprika. If not serving immediately then refrigerate and serve later. It keeps well for 1 day in the fridge.
- Use your favorite mayonnaise. It can be homemade or store brought.
- Any type of potato variety can be used to make potato salad. Just do not overcook them.
- If you do not have dijon mustard, then add ground mustard paste or mustard powder.
- Use onions which are not too pungent. Scallions or spring onions can be used instead.
- Celery imparts a deep herby flavor in the salad. So do add and avoid skipping it.
- If you do not have parsley, use cilantro (coriander leaves) instead.
- You can add cucumber pickles if you prefer them.
- You can easily double or triple the recipe.
- The leftover salad stays good in the refrigerator for about 1 day. While serving, you can serve the salad chilled or can warm in an oven for some minutes.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Potato Salad recipe from the archives, originally published on September 2019 has been updated and republished on March 2023.