Best Traditional Potato Salad Recipe: Easy & Delicious

Best Traditional Potato Salad Recipe: Easy & Delicious

Discover the perfect blend of tangy, salty, and sweet flavors in this creamy, crunchy, and fluffy potato salad that will elevate your next barbecue or picnic.

Potato salad is more than just a side dish – it’s a culinary masterpiece when done right. This recipe transforms humble ingredients into a show-stopping dish that’s light, flavorful, and unforgettable. Learn the secrets to achieving perfectly cooked potatoes and a dressing that strikes the ideal balance of flavors.

Many potato salads fall short due to common pitfalls, but we’ll address each one to ensure your salad is a crowd-pleaser:

Key Factors for Success

  • Proper seasoning: Potatoes need ample seasoning throughout to avoid blandness when served cold.
  • Optimal texture: We’ll show you how to achieve tender, fluffy potatoes that retain their shape.
  • Flavorful dressing: Cold dishes require bolder seasoning, and we’ll create a perfectly balanced dressing.

Let’s dive into the techniques that make this potato salad exceptional.

Perfecting the Potato

The foundation of great potato salad lies in properly cooked potatoes. We’ll start with cold water to ensure even cooking and add vinegar to prevent overcooking. This method results in potatoes that are tender throughout with slightly broken edges, adding extra flavor to the dressing.

Choosing the Right Potato

Russet potatoes are the star of this recipe. Their granular, open texture absorbs seasonings better than waxy varieties, resulting in more flavorful bites throughout the salad.

Balancing Flavors

Our dressing combines mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, whole grain mustard, and a variety of crunchy add-ins for a perfectly balanced flavor profile. The key is layering flavors throughout the cooking and mixing process.

Classic Potato Salad Recipe


  • 4 pounds (1.8kg) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (1 3/4 ounces; 50g), divided
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) rice wine vinegar, divided
  • 3 ribs celery, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium (8-ounce; 225g) red onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup, optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, washed and minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cornichons (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (more or less to taste)
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, combine 2 quarts water, potatoes, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons vinegar and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix remaining sugar, remaining vinegar, celery, onion, scallion (if using), parsley (if using), pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise. Fold in cooled potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days before serving.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This salad can be prepared 3 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

Cornichons are small salty pickles found in most grocery stores. If unavailable, regular dill pickles or pickle relish can be substituted.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
327 Calories
18g Fat
38g Carbs
5g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 327
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 22%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 377mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 14mg 71%
Calcium 42mg 3%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 904mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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