Old-fashioned potato salad- just like mom used to make! Tangy, creamy, and a perfect summer side dish for your barbecue!

A scoop of potato salad on a paper plate with a hot dog in the background.

Summer is in full swing, and if you’re anything like me, that means you are doing your best to be outside, soaking up as much sunshine as possible!

And this means lots of grilling and al fresco dining. If being outside is great, eating outside is even better!

But when it’s hot, you want to enjoy simple dishes that are cool and refreshing. At my house, we like things like chilled crab dip, Cobb salad, and the occasional frozen mango margarita, maybe with a cool, creamy serving of strawberry shortcake for dessert.

And one of my favorite summer side dishes would have to be potato salad.

This potato salad recipe is exactly like I remember having, all throughout my childhood and beyond. It’s a real classic, with fluffy potatoes, crisp celery, sweet onion, and rich hard-boiled eggs in every luscious bite, all coated in a tangy, creamy dressing.

Close up image of a bowl of potato salad with a text banner above that reads "Potato Salad."

HOW TO MAKE POTATO SALAD

This recipe has 3 basic components:

  1. Potatoes,
  2. Add-ins, and
  3. Dressing

THE POTATOES

My favorite kind of potatoes for potato salad (or just about anything else, really) would be russet potatoes. They’re versatile (you can use them for anything from potato soup to scalloped potatoes to stuffed potato skins to mashed potatoes) and they always cook up fluffy and delish.

But you can use any kind of potatoes you like! I think Yukon gold potatoes could also work well here, as well as red bliss potatoes.

Leave the skins on or take them off? It’s entirely up to you. For the photos and videos you see here, I chose to peel the potatoes. But I also like a skin-on potato salad just as well. To me, it seems to make the potatoes taste even more potato-ey. Which I’m always down for.

Cubing potatoes into bite-sized pieces.

Peeled or unpeeled, the potatoes should be cut into bite-sized pieces, then immediately dropped into a big pot of cold water so they don’t discolor.

Dropping potatoes into a pot of cold, salted water.

Season the water liberally. Potatoes can be really bland and they’re best with a generous amount of salt.

Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring it up to a boil.

Then lower the heat and allow the potatoes to simmer and cook until fork tender.

This usually takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

Checking potatoes for doneness with the point of a sharp knife.

To check for doneness, insert the point of a sharp knife. If it goes in and comes back out easily, the potatoes are done.

Drain off the hot water and sprinkle the potatoes with a little bit of white vinegar. Do this while they’re still hot, so they really absorb that tangy flavor. This is a secret trick to making the best potato salad!

Tossing cooked potatoes in vinegar.

Toss the hot cooked potatoes in the vinegar, so every bite is well seasoned, then set them aside to prep the add-ins and the dressing.

THE ADD-INS

A classic potato salad recipe will most likely include the following add-ins:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Celery
  • Sweet onion

And these are my favorites and what I’ve included in the recipe card below.

But honestly, you can use anything you like. Here are some more suggestions:

  • Chopped pickles or pickle relish
  • Bacon
  • Chopped bell peppers or pimentos
  • Scallions
  • Herbs such as thyme, tarragon, or dill
  • Shredded cheese
  • Jalapeno peppers, for a spicy version

Just to name a few.

Or you can leave anything out that doesn’t suit your personal taste. It’s your potato salad, make it however you like!

THE DRESSING

Place your add-ins in a large bowl, and to that add mayonnaise, mustard, a little more vinegar, and celery seed.

Potato salad dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

Celery seed is, to me, what gives potato salad its signature flavor. When I taste it, it takes me back to every backyard cookout I’ve ever enjoyed.

For the mustard, I like plain old yellow mustard, but you could also use a dijon mustard or a grainy mustard, if you really want to take things up a notch. I think a dijon potato salad with fresh tarragon sounds lovely, and a grainy mustard version with bacon would be so hearty and delicious as well.

Stir everything together until it’s well combined, then gently fold in the cooked potatoes, taking care not to break them up too much or mash them.

Folding cooked potatoes into dressing.

Give it a taste to see if it needs any additional salt or pepper. I typically find that if the potatoes have been cooked in well-salted water, it doesn’t really need anything more, but you are the best judge!

As a final flourish, I love a light dusting of paprika and a sprinkling of chives, just to give some added color.

IS THIS DISH HEALTHY?

I’ve provided specific nutritional info in the recipe card below so you can judge for yourself (One serving should be about a half-cup per person, as a side dish.) but in terms of common dietary restrictions, I will point out that this dish is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.

It does however contain eggs, so if you are serving it to anyone with an egg allergy or sensitivity, you’ll want to omit the hard-boiled eggs and use a vegan mayo product. There are lots of options out there; here’s a link so you can shop around: Vegan Mayonnaise.

Overhead image of a bowl of potato salad on a weathered wood tabletop, with a serving spoon alongside.

CAN YOU MAKE THIS AHEAD?

I do like to make my potato salad at least a few hours before, so it has time to chill and for the flavors to meld. I’ll often even do it a day ahead of serving it.

I find it takes some of the harsh bite out of the onions too. They almost pickle in the dressing and become sweeter and more mild.

HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

Potato salad should be kept cold as much as possible.

Don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

It can keep for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

CAN YOU FREEZE IT?

I have read that it is possible to freeze potato salad, although I have never tried it myself and I’m not sure I would recommend it. It seems to me like the freeze/thaw process could alter the smooth, creamy texture of the dressing and maybe cause it to separate.

But if you do choose to try it, be sure to thaw it in the fridge rather than at room temperature, to keep it in that safe temperature range.

Potato salad on a plate with a blue checked napkin and a disposable fork.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE RECIPES TO ROUND OUT YOUR BARBECUE:

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Potato Salad
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Old fashioned potato salad- just like mom used to make! Tangy, creamy, and a perfect summer side dish for your barbecue!

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make potato salad, potato salad, potato salad recipe, potato salad recipes, potatoe salad
Servings: 12
Calories: 274 kcal
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds potatoes* (approx. 6 medium russets)
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar, divided
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 15 ounces mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. Cube the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large pot of cold water.

  2. Add the salt to the water and bring the pot up to a boil over medium-high heat.

  3. Reduce the heat and allow the potatoes to simmer until fork tender (approx. 10 to 15 minutes).

  4. Drain the potatoes and sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

  5. Place the hard-boiled eggs, celery, and onion in a large bowl along with the mayonnaise, remaining vinegar, mustard, and celery seed.

  6. Stir to combine.

  7. Fold in the potatoes, taste, and season with salt & pepper (if needed).

  8. Transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl and garnish with paprika and fresh chives, if desired.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*I prefer russet potatoes, but use any kind you like!  You can peel them or leave the skins on, but they should be cubed into bite-sized pieces.

Nutrition Facts
Potato Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 274 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 16g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 77mg26%
Sodium 340mg15%
Potassium 65mg2%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 165IU3%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 21mg2%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.