How To Make the Best Classic Potato Salad

updated Oct 4, 2023
4th of july

Master the classic cookout side dish, all-American potato salad, made with tender red-skinned potatoes, crunchy celery, and hard-boiled eggs.

Serves6 to 8

Makesabout 7 cups

Prep15 minutes

Cook8 minutes to 12 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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No cookout, picnic, or backyard party is complete without a giant bowl of potato salad on the table. And there’s no better time than now to master this easy recipe for all-American potato salad. This classic potato salad is made with tender red-skinned potatoes, crunchy celery, and diced hard-boiled eggs tossed with mayonnaise and mustard.

I have never met a potato salad that I didn’t like. While I’ve swapped the mayo for Greek yogurt and tossed potatoes with a warm bacon dressing, I always return to the original. Let’s get down to basics and master the classic potato salad before your next barbecue.

Key Ingredients in Potato Salad

  • Potatoes: Waxy potatoes, like Red Bliss, are the best potatoes for potato salad. They hold their shape when tossed with the mayo mixture and have the perfect creamy texture.
  • Mayonnaise: Use mayonnaise and a touch of mustard to bind the potatoes and mix-ins together.
  • Celery: Add some crunch to the potato salad with chopped celery.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: Classic potato salad recipes often include diced hard-boiled eggs. The eggs add richness and another texture to the potato salad, but can be omitted.
  • Herbs: Add 1/4 cup of scallions or your favorite herbs. Parsley, tarragon, or dill would all work well.
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

What Potatoes are Best for Potato Salad?

Waxy potatoes are really the best potatoes for potato salad. Waxy potatoes include red-skinned (Red Bliss) and new potatoes, which hold their shape after cooking and have a soft, creamy texture. For a slightly softer “mashed” texture in your salad, you can also try using an all-purpose potato, like Yukon Gold which have a good balance of waxy and starchy characteristics.

Should You Peel Potatoes for Potato Salad?

Before you boil potatoes for potato salad, decide whether to peel them or not.

  • Unpeeled potatoes. The thin skins are usually tender after cooking and add color to the potato salad. Dice unpeeled potatoes into uniformly-sized pieces. Place in cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender.
  • Peeled potatoes. Place whole, skin-on potatoes in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender. Once the potatoes are cooked, the skins slip off easily. Finish by cutting the potatoes into pieces.

How to Safely Serve Potato Salad

If you’re serving potato salad at an outdoor gathering, keep it out of sunshine and don’t leave it out for longer than 2 hours (or 1 hour in warmer temperatures).

More Potato Salad Recipes to Try

Best Classic Potato Salad Recipe

Master the classic cookout side dish, all-American potato salad, made with tender red-skinned potatoes, crunchy celery, and hard-boiled eggs.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes to 12 minutes

Makes about 7 cups

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pounds

    waxy potatoes, such as red-skinned potatoes

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 2 medium stalks


  • 1

    large shallot or 1/4 small onion

  • 1/4 cup

    chopped scallions, fresh parsley, tarragon, or dill, plus more for garnish

  • 3

    hard-boiled large eggs (optional)

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Cutting board

  • Chef's knife

  • Large saucepan

  • Strainer

  • Mixing bowl

  • Spatula or long-handled spoon

  • Plastic wrap


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  1. Cut the potatoes. Cut 2 pounds waxy potatoes into large, bite-sized chunks. (Alternatively, boil the potatoes whole, then peel, if desired, and dice them after cooking.)

  2. Prepare for cooking. Place the potatoes and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover them by about 1-inch.

  3. Cook the potatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender all the way through when pierced with a fork, 8 to 12 minutes depending on the size and type of potatoes.

  4. Prepare the other ingredients. Meanwhile, dice 2 medium celery stalks (about 3/4 cup), mince 1 large shallot or 1/4 small red onion (about 1/4 cup), and chop 1/4 cup scallions, fresh parsley, tarragon, or dill. Peel and dice 3 hard-boiled large eggs, if using.

  5. Drain and cool the potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cool water. Drain well again, then transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.

  6. Add the dressing. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard to the potatoes, and fold to combine.

  7. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Add the celery, shallots, scallions (or herbs), and eggs, if using, and stir until thoroughly combined. Taste and season with more kosher salt or black pepper.

  8. Serve the potato salad. Serve the salad while still warm, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The potato salad can be made up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.