How to make a great, classic creamy potato salad, worthy of any Summer BBQ! With lots of options to tweak it to your taste.
I imagine there are many opinions about what constitutes a great, classic potato salad, but this is my version. It’s everything I want when I crave potato salad.
My best potato salad includes yellow-fleshed potatoes, a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing, lots of chopped, hard-boiled egg, celery, some red onion and a bit of finely diced dill pickle.
That said, there’s always room for you to put your own spin on it, or to swap out one thing for another, to make it your own or the way your Mom made it :)
Ingredient Notes for Classic Creamy Potato Salad
Potatoes: I almost always use yellow-flesh, Yukon Gold potatoes. White-fleshed red potatoes are another good option, as they also hold their shape will and won’t get mushy when boiled. Be sure to cut your potatoes into equal-sized pieces, so they will cook evenly. Cut your potato chunks slightly larger than you want your finished chunks in the potato salad to be.
Eggs: I personally think that potato salad is just kind of bland and uninteresting without egg, but if you feel otherwise, feel free to leave them out.
Red Onion: I prefer red onion in potato salad, but you can use a yellow onion, if you prefer.
Mayonnaise: I know this is controversial, but I always use Miracle Whip™ for potato and macaroni salad. I love Hellman’s™ just about everywhere else, but in cold Summer salads, I find it heavy, too rich and a bit cloying. Your call though. Use what you prefer.
Celery seeds: If you have celery seed, great! If you have celery salt, it will work, too. Just add a little more, to equal the celery taste of celery seed. You will likely need a bit less salt in the end, due to the extra bit of salt in celery salt.
Mustard: I use regular, yellow Prepared Mustard myself (the stuff you put on hot dogs :), but if you’d like to experiment with Dijon or grainy mustard, that’s fine, too. Dried mustard powder is also an option.
Dill Pickle: I love dill with potato salad, so I get that with chopped dill pickle. You could also use chopped sweet pickle or even a bit of relish, if that’s what you prefer. You could also omit the pickle and add a bit of fresh dill to the salad instead.
Salt: Salt in a potato salad is not optional. In fact, it may be the single most important ingredient. Proper salting ensures that all the flavours of your salad really shine. Taste and season as needed! Don’t forget to salt your potato boiling water, too!
Cook’s Notes for Classic Creamy Potato Salad
You don’t want to add the mayonnaise dressing to hot potatoes, as the mayonnaise may split and become oily. Wait until the potatoes have cooled for at least 30 minutes before dressing. That said, the sprinkling of vinegar on the hot potatoes not only infuses them with a bit of flavour, but it prevents the potatoes from browning.
As mentioned above, salt is important to really bring all the flavours together. If you taste your salad and it tastes bland, add more salt!
How long with potato salad keep in the fridge? Your prepared potato salad will keep well, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
How far in advance can you make potato salad? You can easily make your potato salad the day before. Cover well and refrigerate. Check the day of serving, as the potatoes will have absorbed some of the dressing. If necessary, add a touch of mayonnaise to loosen it up.
More Potato Salads You Might Like …
Classic Creamy Potato Salad
Classic creamy potato salad, with mayonnaise, onion, celery, egg and a bit of pickle!
- 4 cups yellow-fleshed potatoes diced (about 4 large)
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 3 large eggs hard boiled and chopped
- 3/4 cup red onion diced
- 3/4 cup celery diced
- 2-3 Tbsp dill pickle finely diced
- 1 cup mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip™)
- 2 tsp yellow Prepared mustard
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Chopped parsley
Do ahead: Place 3 eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water, covering by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water is fully boiling, boil eggs for 7 minutes. Remove eggs to a bowl of cold water and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or longer) until needed. To use later, peel and chop.
Peel potatoes and cut into equal-sized chunks, just slightly larger than you want the chunks to be in your finished salad. Place in a large pot. Cover with cold water, covering potatoes by 3-4 inches. Add some salt to the water. On the stove-top, bring to a boil over high heat. Continue boiling potatoes, checking often, until potatoes are tender. *Check potatoes by piercing with a sharp knife. They are done when the knife passes through the potato with no resistance.
Drain potatoes well and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp white vinegar. Allow to cool about 30 minutes, at room temperature.
Meanwhile, chop the Additions ingredients and prepare the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients until well combined.
When potatoes have cooled, add the chopped celery, onion and hard-boiled eggs to the bowl. Pour the dressing over top. Toss to combine and coat the potatoes. Garnish the top with a bit of paprika. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled before serving, about 3-4 hours, at least. Garnish with fresh parsley to serve, if desired.
Potato salad will keep well, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Be sure to read the “Ingredient and Cook's Notes" included with this recipe’s post, where I share more detailed tips, variations and substitution suggestions for this recipe!