Classic Potato Salad

updated May 31, 2024
4th of july
Best Classic Potato Salad Recipe

Master this classic cookout side dish with tender potatoes, briny pickles, crunchy celery, and hard-boiled eggs.

Serves6 to 8

Makesabout 6 cups

Prep20 minutes

Cook20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of potato salad in a white bowl with a blue rim, topped with dill
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Up until recently, I had a love-hate relationship with potato salad — I loved to eat it (I’ve honestly never met a potato salad that I didn’t like!), but I despised making it. Either my potatoes were overcooked, or it tasted like straight-up mayo. But I’m happy to say that I’ve finally mastered the basics. Now no summer cookout, picnic, or backyard party is complete without a giant bowl of THIS potato salad on the table. 

There are many potato salad variations out there, but this one is classic, with tender potatoes, briny dill pickles (trust me!), crunchy celery, and diced hard-boiled eggs tossed with mayonnaise and mustard. If you’re someone who’s been intimidated by making potato salad like me, I’m here to help you master this recipe. 

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s 100x more flavorful than most other recipes. Seasoning the hot potatoes with vinegar infuses them with even more tangy flavor. 
  • No mushy potatoes here! Starting the potatoes in cold water ensures that they’re perfectly tender and evenly cooked throughout. 
  • There’s lots of great crunch. I add diced celery, shallot, and dill pickles for texture. 

Key Ingredients in Potato Salad

  • Potatoes: Waxy potatoes like Red Bliss and all-purpose potatoes like Yukon Gold are the best potatoes for potato salad. They won’t fall apart while cooking and will hold their shape when tossed with the mayo-based dressing.
  • Pickles and vinegar: Both work to infuse the salad with tangy flavor. 
  • 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: You can opt to add scallions along with fresh parsley, dill, or a combination.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Potato Salad

  1. Boil potatoes. Peel if you like, and cut up your potatoes. Add to a large pot, cover with cold water, and simmer until fork-tender. 
  2. Make the dressing. Add diced hard-boiled eggs, dill pickles (or sweet pickle relish), celery, and shallot to a medium bowl, along with sliced scallions (if using), finely chopped herbs, salt, mayo, Dijon mustard, and vinegar. 
  3. Finish the potato salad. Drain and season the potatoes with vinegar and let cool to room temp. Combine the cooled potatoes with the dressing, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. 

Helpful Swaps

  • I prefer chopped-up dill pickle spears in my potato salad, but it’s just as great with sweet pickle relish (you’ll need just 1/4 cup). 
  • The recipe calls for apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar. If you only have distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar, either will work well too. 
  • If you’re low or simply out of Dijon mustard, toss in another mustard you like such as whole grain or spicy brown mustard. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

  • Make ahead: The potato salad can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.
  • Storage: You can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

What to Serve with Potato Salad

More Potato Salad Recipes to Try

Best Classic Potato Salad Recipe

Master this classic cookout side dish with tender potatoes, briny pickles, crunchy celery, and hard-boiled eggs.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Makes about 6 cups

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds

    red potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 3

    hard-boiled large eggs (optional)

  • 2

    dill pickle spears, or 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

  • 2 medium stalks

    celery

  • 1

    large shallot

  • 2 medium

    scallions, optional

  • 1/4 small bunch

    fresh parsley, dill, or a combination

  • 1/2 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons

    apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar, divided

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut 2 pounds red potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes into 3/4-inch chunks (peel first if desired). Place the potatoes and 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Peel and dice 3 hard-boiled large eggs if using; dice 2 dill pickle spears (about 1/3 cup, or measure out 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish) and 2 medium celery stalks (about 3/4 cup); mince 1 large shallot (about 1/4 cup); thinly slice 2 medium scallions if using (1/4 cup); finely chop 1/4 small bunch fresh parsley, dill, or a combination until you have 2 tablespoons; add remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar, and stir to combine.

  3. Drain the potatoes well in a colander, then transfer the potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar evenly over the potatoes. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

  4. Add the potatoes to the bowl of dressing and fold to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before serving.

Recipe Notes

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

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