Recipe Review

Why I’ll Never Make Martha Stewart’s Famous Potato Salad Recipe Again

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Martha Stewart's potato salad in a bowl.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

Even celebrity chefs have misses sometimes. While Martha Stewart has some incredible recipes that we love to devour, like her beloved cozy fall soup and her one-pan pasta, there are a few recipes that are more of a miss than a hit — like her potato salad recipe. It might be her “favorite,” but with only a 3.4-star rating, it isn’t exactly a favorite for her readers. Curious as to why this recipe isn’t as highly rated, I decided to give it a try myself to figure out what the problem is with Martha Stewart’s favorite potato salad … and I think I found the solution.

How to Make Martha Stewart’s Favorite Potato Salad

Fill the bottom of a large pot with water and a pinch of salt, then place a steaming basket inside the pot. Cover and steam the potatoes until they are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Leave the potatoes to cool, then peel and dice them.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with distilled white vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss everything together and let them stand for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, and cornichons. (If you can’t find cornichons, you can use dill gherkins.) Pour into the large bowl with the potato mixture and toss to coat.

Refrigerate the potato salad for at least two hours, or until the mixture thickens. Garnish with flat-leaf parsley and sliced hard-boiled eggs, if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

First, I knew that this potato salad recipe called for way more potatoes than needed. Based on the amount of dressing it called for, I had a feeling the potato and dressing ratio was not going to work, so I admit that I used around three pounds of red potatoes instead.

However, while I do think this was the proper ratio for the potato salad, I wasn’t impressed by the taste of it — essentially because it didn’t have much taste at all. While the sliced cornichons, the sugar, and the distilled white vinegar do give this salad a little something, I wanted more.

Here’s what I think the problem is: I think the recipe needed an extra ingredient, and an a couple ingredient swaps. First, this potato salad did not include any garlic. While I know not everyone is a fan of garlic, this recipe could have benefited from it. Second, I think the buttermilk should be swapped out with a buttermilk ranch dressing. It might sound strange, but the dressing could have really elevated the flavor of this dish, while still getting that tangy buttermilk taste without simply pouring buttermilk into it.

I do think the ratings for this recipe are accurate; it is not the best or worst potato salad in the world. But I think with a few careful tweaks, it could be much better.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

Tips for Making Martha Stewart’s Favorite Potato Salad:

  • Prep everything in advance: There’s a lot of chopping that goes with this recipe, so I highly recommend you mise en place before getting started. It makes for a much more pleasant cooking experience when you do.
  • Boil the potatoes: Martha’s recipe calls for steaming the potatoes, but I don’t think that’s necessary to make a potato salad — especially if you don’t have a large-enough steamer like myself. Instead, I boiled the potatoes by covering them in a large pot with water with a heavy sprinkling of salt for flavor. Once they boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover them for 20 minutes. The potatoes should be tender enough to pierce a fork through them, but not falling apart.
  • Leave the skins on: I find that the skin adds an extra salty flavor to a potato salad, especially after boiling it in salty water. While you can absolutely peel your potatoes, you can also save yourself time and leave them on. Plus, who actually wants to peel hot potatoes?