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How to Make the Best Potato Salad: Easy Recipe

VirginiaLynne has been experimenting in the kitchen for almost 50 years. She loves to share her recipes, cooking tips, and reviews.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

Make It Flavorful!

Fabulous homemade potato salad is the crowning touch at any picnic or barbeque, and with this easy recipe, you're sure to get compliments from the crowd. Best of all, you can easily make a fat-free variation that is so flavorful, no one will know the difference.

These are the brands I use, but you can use any brand you prefer.

These are the brands I use, but you can use any brand you prefer.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

20 min

40 min

Serves 8 people (1/2 cup serving)


  • 6 medium potatoes, or 4 cups boiled, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing, bottled or use Nicole's Homemade Italian Dressing (recipe below)
  • 3 eggs, hardboiled, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or sour cream, regular, light or fat-free
  • 1 tea garlic salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tea pepper, or to taste
  • 1 TB lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup any combination of: olives, chopped celery, capers or grated carrots, optional


  1. Boil potatoes and eggs: Put potatoes in one pot, and eggs in another. Cover both with water and put at a medium temperature on the stove until boiling. Boil eggs 12 minutes. Take off heat, pour off the hot water. Fill with cold tap water until eggs are cool to touch. Peel eggs and dice with a knife. (See below for step-by-step photo instructions on preparing eggs and potatoes.)
  2. Boil potatoes 20-30 minutes or until a knife can be inserted easily and skin peels back. Pour off hot water and fill the pan with cold tap water until potatoes can be handled. Peel with a knife (skin should come off easily). Dice with the knife and put in a bowl.
  3. Pour Italian salad dressing on warm, diced potatoes, and mix together. Add eggs and mix.
  4. Add chopped onion, sweet relish, and mayonnaise (or sour cream).
  5. Add garlic salt, pepper, and lemon juice (adjust these ingredients to your taste).
  6. Add optional olives, chopped celery, capers or grated carrots.
  7. Chill before serving. Tastes best if chilled overnight.

Tips for Best Results

  1. Don't cook the potatoes too long. You want them to remain firm, not mushy.
  2. Peel the warm potatoes, dice them and immediately put on a marinade of Italian dressing (this adds a lot of flavor).
  3. Try making Nicole's Homemade Italian Dressing using my simple recipe and fresh herbs for the best taste.
  4. Chill the mixed potato salad overnight for the best flavor.
  5. Use more salt, pepper, lemon juice, and/or Italian dressing to add more flavor if you are doing a fat-free version and your final mix seems too bland.
  6. You can vary the taste by using different types of Italian or French dressing (I like Newman's Light Balsamic).
  7. Try adding olives, capers, celery or carrots for a unique twist.

Tips for Quicker and Easier Prep

  1. Boil the potatoes and eggs at the same time.
  2. Gather your other ingredients while potatoes and eggs are boiling.
  3. Drain eggs and potatoes, and then cool them with tap water (add ice if you want to), so that peeling is easy.
  4. Use bottled Italian dressing and sweet relish.
  5. Buy already chopped onions.
  6. Mix everything in while potatoes are warm and then set in the refrigerator to cool (or, marinate potatoes and eggs in Italian Dressing overnight and add the rest of your ingredients the next day).
Enjoy the best potato salad at your next picnic!

Enjoy the best potato salad at your next picnic!

Nichole's Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

Want a really superior potato salad? Make your own Italian dressing with fresh herbs.

My French mother-in-law, Nicole, never used bottled dressings. Instead, she always made her own. She called it "French Dressing" but it is just like what I call Italian or vinaigrette. Especially if you use fresh herbs, there is nothing better. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, so if you really want an impressive potato salad, you might want to whip this up and use it instead of bottled dressing.


  • 1/2 tea. salt
  • 1/8 tea. pepper
  • 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tea. mustard (dijon is best)
  • 3/4 cup oil (olive, walnut, or vegetable)
  • 1 TB chopped garlic
  • 2 TB chopped fresh herbs (or 2 tea. dried herbs) such as: basil, thyme, marjoram, savory, Italian herb mix, or Herbs de Provence (my favorite)


  1. In a jar or bottle, add salt, pepper, vinegar (or lemon juice), and mustard. Shake to mix.
  2. Add oil and garlic. Shake to mix.
  3. Add fresh or dried herbs. Shake to mix. The dressing is now ready to use in the potato salad recipe, or on a green salad.


Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 14, 2012:

Thanks Helena--I'm not always good at mixing up flavors for cold salads, and so I find using salad dressings I like always brings a better flavor!

Helena Ricketts from Indiana on July 14, 2012:

I would have never thought of using Italian dressing in potato salad but it sounds yummy! I'm going to pin this because it sounds too fantastic to pass up.

Shannon Paigah from Irvine, CA on July 04, 2012:

That looks yummy, I can't wait to try your recipe! Do you have any others (for potato salad)? Thanks.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 04, 2012:

Thanks John--I ended up not following my own advice when making some potatoes for homemade fries today--so hard to cut them and not have them mush!

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on July 04, 2012:

Virginia, this is a great hub. Wow...you're so smart in saying not to cook potatoes for too long. I've notice this is a mistake that many people make when attempting "potatoe salad." I'll have to try your recipe one of these days.

Take care


Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 04, 2012:

akirchner--Greek yogurt sounds good. We are trying to go low fat these days. I've tried sour cream but yogurt would give a good tang. I've never had Pennsylvania Dutch potato salad-I wonder if that is like German potato salad which my dad loved. Thanks for commenting!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on July 04, 2012:

Virginia - it looks like you "nailed" potato salad~ Fantastic photos putting it all together too. I've never tried capers in potato salad - I'm afraid mine is pretty boring - just potatoes, celery, sweet gherkins, eggs and some mayo though now I substitute plain Greek yogurt for most of the mayo--and onions...but my fav of all time is Pennsylvania Dutch potato salad. I'll have to give YOUR recipe a try though as just about anything with Newman's or Italian dressing is a fav of mine as well.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 03, 2012:

Virginia, if this was in my house right now I think I too would be having trouble not eating it!

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 03, 2012:

Thanks Janine--I'm having trouble holding back from serving it tonight. I made it for a 4th of July picnic tomorrow! Maybe I have some more potatoes....

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 03, 2012:

This looks so delicious. Seriously another pin for this and of course sharing and voting up!