Easy Classic Potato Salad

5 from 2 votes

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This is a perfect potato salad, all-American and old-fashioned in the best sense of the word.

Spoon in a bowl of Potato Salad.

Ok, if I had to eat just one potato salad for the rest of my life, this might be it. I love potato salads of all stripes, with horseradish, with lemon, with egg, with bacon, with all kinds of twists and turns. But if forced to pick one…forever…this is the potato salad I would marry.

Green bowl of Potato Salad.

This is a very classic potato salad, all-American and old-fashioned in the best sense of the word.

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Traditional Potato Salad With Mayonnaise

This is a very classic creamy, mayonnaise-based potato salad, all-American and old-fashioned in the best sense of the word. Red onion, dijon mustard, celery, a splash of vinegar, parsley, and a generous scoop of mayo make up the dressing. Sweet pickle relish is optional, since I love it with and without. If you want to add other fresh herbs to the mix you can – try a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh basil, a tablespoon of chopped mint, or a teaspoon of thyme leaves.

You can make the whole thing in 15 minutes, if you pull together the dressing while the potatoes are cooking.

Potato Salad on a yellow plate.

Cooling Potato Salad

In my most perfect world, I make a potato salad and cool it only at room temperature, and never put it in the fridge. This keeps the dressing super creamy. So that would mean about 2 hours of cooling at room temp, which is not always the way your timing will work since most of the time, we are trying to make things ahead of time when we can. And potato salad is a great make ahead dish, so in that case you will chill it in the fridge for at least a few hours, up to a few days, and then bring it to room temperature before serving. Let it sit out for about 20 minutes and the dressing will get creamy again.

The Best Potatoes for Potato Salad

The potatoes you want here are waxy potatoes, Yukon golds, or yellow, white, or red-skinned potatoes. They also have thin skins, which some people like to leave on in their potato salads; peel or don’t peel — it’s completely up to you. Yukons have slightly more starch than other waxy varieties, but they still work well in potato salads.

While we all love a good russet potato baked or maybe turned into French fries, those aren’t the potatoes you want for potato salad. Russets (or all-purpose) potatoes are too starchy, and will get mushy and fall apart when cooked and toss with the dressing.

Potato Salad topped with chopped herbs in a bowl.

Cooking Potatoes for Potato Salad

I like to dice my potatoes and then simmer them, as opposed to cooking whole potatoes and then dicing them, but both are options. Cutting them before cooking means that you can get cleaner little cubes, and they cook faster than whole potatoes. When you add the cooked potatoes to the dressing, they will hold their shape better.

Once you bring the water to a boil, lower the temperature. Once the potatoes start to soften and become tender, they can fall apart if the water is bubbling too vigorously. Adjust the heat to keep the water simmering, but not getting to a full boil.

If you have leftover cooked potatoes, however, whether they be roasted or steamed or grilled or whatever, you can still make potato salad from them! They may have a slightly different texture if they were cooked another way, or of course if they are a different type of potato, but potato salads are a terrific way to repurpose leftover potatoes of all kinds.

Summer Salads

Below are a whole bunch of salads, which is such a great way to entertain during the summer months. Try the chicken and avocado salad and/or the shrimp tomato and avocado salad. The macaroni salad goes with everything.

Bowl of Potato Salad on a table with other salads.

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5 from 2 votes

Easy Classic Potato Salad

This is a perfect potato salad, all-American and old-fashioned in the best sense of the word.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

  • 3 pounds waxy potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red or white wine or cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (optional)

Instructions 

  • Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow the potatoes to simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain
  • While the potatoes are simmering, in large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the onion, celery, parsley and relish, if using, and stir. Add the drained warm potatoes and toss to coat with the dressing. Cover the salad and wither cool to room temperature or refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 4 days, to cool completely.
  • Remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving to bring the salad to room temperature.

Notes

This is a very classic creamy, mayonnaise-based potato salad, all-American and old-fashioned in the best sense of the word.  Red onion, Dijon mustard, celery, a splash of vinegar, parsley, and a generous scoop of mayo make up the dressing. Sweet pickle relish is optional since I love it with and without. If you want to add other fresh herbs to the mix you can — try a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh basil, a tablespoon of chopped mint, or a teaspoon of thyme leaves.

Nutrition

Calories: 258kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 1150mg, Potassium: 807mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 242IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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