My Dad’s 1-Ingredient Upgrade for the “Best Potato Salad of Your Life”

published Jul 3, 2024
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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

During the 10 years I lived in New York, every single time I flew home to California I always asked my dad to make potato salad. It was the only version of the potluck side that I liked when I was growing up. And honestly, to this day, I’ve never had one better than his. It’s legendary in our family and it’s the thing I look forward to most at my parents’ annual Christmas Eve party. If potato salad in December seems odd to you, you haven’t had Rich Miyashiro’s recipe. 

I always thought my dad’s secret was pickles. Hard-boiled eggs are also non-negotiable. But upon further inspection of his recipe (that I never really make because I always want him to instead!), I realized that the ingredient that truly sets his recipe apart is chopped pimiento stuffed green olives. I immediately called him and he told me the idea actually came from my mom’s mom. Where my late grandma got the inspiration, my mom doesn’t know. I’m just grateful she did because, to be extremely dramatic, I don’t know what I’d do without my dad’s potato salad.

Credit: Lauren Miyashiro
Kitchn Love Letter cookbook

In 2020, my dad gifted a bunch of us a cookbook with all his favorite recipes. For his “Famous Potato Salad,” as he names it, the only quantities he provides are 4 pounds red potatoes, a red onion, and 9 hard-boiled eggs (8 chopped and 1 reserved for garnish). All the other ingredients — red wine vinegar, salt, white pepper, stuffed green olives, pickles, mayo, and lemon juice — are just listed. On the phone, I asked him how much of the jarred green olives to add and he laughed. The man doesn’t measure anything. When I finally work up the courage to make the recipe myself (and accept the fact that it’ll never taste quite as good as his), I’m going to start with a quarter cup.

I feel pretty neutral about olives. My husband, on the other hand, legitimately dislikes them. However, he loves this potato salad and has never once picked up on their presence. My working theory, having not eaten the potato salad since I realized they existed in the recipe, is that the stuffed olives add a briny, buttery touch that mingles perfectly with the chopped dill pickles. It’s subtle and I seriously doubt anyone would be able to detect them. My little sister (I texted her too) and I have been blissfully unaware for decades!  

The next time you make classic potato salad, give the Rich Miyashiro method a try. Throw in some chopped pimiento stuffed olives, and don’t skip the pickles or eggs either.