How to Make the Best Potato Salad: Easy Recipe

Updated on June 19, 2019
VirginiaLynne profile image

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. | Source

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. | Source

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: Serves 8 people (1/2 cup serving)

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Step-by-Step Photo Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Step 1: Boil, peel and chop potatoes and eggs and mix together in a bowl. Pour Italian salad dressing on potatoes and eggs and mix gently. (Note: You can refrigerate at this point and finish later if you want)Step 2: Add chopped onion, sweet relish, and mayonnaise (regular or fat-free). Step 3: Mix gently with spatula. Step 4: Add pepper, garlic salt and lemon to taste.Optional: Add optional combination of olives, capers, chopped celery, or carrots.  Garnish with fresh herbs.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Step 1: Boil, peel and chop potatoes and eggs and mix together in a bowl. Pour Italian salad dressing on potatoes and eggs and mix gently. (Note: You can refrigerate at this point and finish later if you want)
Step 1: Boil, peel and chop potatoes and eggs and mix together in a bowl. Pour Italian salad dressing on potatoes and eggs and mix gently. (Note: You can refrigerate at this point and finish later if you want) | Source
Step 2: Add chopped onion, sweet relish, and mayonnaise (regular or fat-free).
Step 2: Add chopped onion, sweet relish, and mayonnaise (regular or fat-free). | Source
 Step 3: Mix gently with spatula.
Step 3: Mix gently with spatula. | Source
Step 4: Add pepper, garlic salt and lemon to taste.
Step 4: Add pepper, garlic salt and lemon to taste. | Source
Optional: Add optional combination of olives, capers, chopped celery, or carrots.  Garnish with fresh herbs.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Optional: Add optional combination of olives, capers, chopped celery, or carrots. Garnish with fresh herbs. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. | Source

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! | Source

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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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.

Perfect Boiled Eggs and Potatoes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Step 1: Cover eggs with water in pan.  Put on stove.  Heat to boiling.  Boil 12 minutes. Take off the stove and pour off the hot water. Put eggs in ice water (which helps the shell to separate from the egg and makes peeling easier).Step 2  (do at the same time as step 1): Cover potatoes with water in pan.  Put on stove.  Heat to boiling.  Boil 20-30 minutes or until knife goes into potato easily and skin peels back.Step 4: Peel and chop eggs. Place in covered bowl.Step 5: Prepare potatoes.  When potatoes are done, pour off hot water and fill pan with cold water until potatoes can be handled.Step 6: Peel potatoes with a knife.  The skin should come off easily.Step 7: Dice potatoes by cutting in half, then crosswise as you see in the picture.Step 8: Put potatoes and eggs in a bowl.  Add the Italian dressing and chill to finish later, or add all the ingredients if you will be eating it that day.
Step 1: Cover eggs with water in pan.  Put on stove.  Heat to boiling.  Boil 12 minutes. Take off the stove and pour off the hot water. Put eggs in ice water (which helps the shell to separate from the egg and makes peeling easier).
Step 1: Cover eggs with water in pan. Put on stove. Heat to boiling. Boil 12 minutes. Take off the stove and pour off the hot water. Put eggs in ice water (which helps the shell to separate from the egg and makes peeling easier). | Source
Step 2  (do at the same time as step 1): Cover potatoes with water in pan.  Put on stove.  Heat to boiling.  Boil 20-30 minutes or until knife goes into potato easily and skin peels back.
Step 2 (do at the same time as step 1): Cover potatoes with water in pan. Put on stove. Heat to boiling. Boil 20-30 minutes or until knife goes into potato easily and skin peels back. | Source
Step 4: Peel and chop eggs. Place in covered bowl.
Step 4: Peel and chop eggs. Place in covered bowl. | Source
Step 5: Prepare potatoes.  When potatoes are done, pour off hot water and fill pan with cold water until potatoes can be handled.
Step 5: Prepare potatoes. When potatoes are done, pour off hot water and fill pan with cold water until potatoes can be handled. | Source
Step 6: Peel potatoes with a knife.  The skin should come off easily.
Step 6: Peel potatoes with a knife. The skin should come off easily. | Source
Step 7: Dice potatoes by cutting in half, then crosswise as you see in the picture.
Step 7: Dice potatoes by cutting in half, then crosswise as you see in the picture. | Source
Step 8: Put potatoes and eggs in a bowl.  Add the Italian dressing and chill to finish later, or add all the ingredients if you will be eating it that day.
Step 8: Put potatoes and eggs in a bowl. Add the Italian dressing and chill to finish later, or add all the ingredients if you will be eating it that day. | Source

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Kearney 

        7 years ago from United States

        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 profile image

        Helena Ricketts 

        7 years ago from Indiana

        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 profile image

        Shannon Paigah 

        7 years ago from Irvine, CA

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

      • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Kearney 

        7 years ago from United States

        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 profile image

        John Sarkis 

        7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

        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

        John

      • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Kearney 

        7 years ago from United States

        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!

      • akirchner profile image

        Audrey Kirchner 

        7 years ago from Washington

        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 profile image

        Janine Huldie 

        7 years ago from New York, New York

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

      • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Kearney 

        7 years ago from United States

        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 profile image

        Janine Huldie 

        7 years ago from New York, New York

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

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