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For Fluffy, Flavorful Potato Salad Every Time, Follow Our Master Recipe

Learn how to perfect this essential summer side dish.

Assistant Editor
classic potato salad
Photography by: Ren Fuller

Potato salad is Americana in a bowl. Fine-tune it with our tried-and-true tips—evenly cut spuds for consistent bites, grainy mustard for zip—and it’ll be the hero of your next picnic or block party. Also critical: using the right cooking technique for the potatoes. Steaming is a popular method but can produce too-soft exteriors and undercooked centers. Our test kitchen favors starting in cool water and boiling, which ensures evenly textured spuds that are seasoned to the core.

 

Grocery List

  • Russet potatoes
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Mayonnaise
  • Whole-grain mustard
  • Celery
  • Cornichons
  • Scallions
Get the Classic Potato Salad Recipe
cut-up potatoes on cutting board
Photography by: Peter Ardito

1. Prep Potatoes

Peel 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 6 medium). Slice lengthwise into 1-inch-thick planks. Lay flat and slice again into 1-inch-thick strips. Stack strips together and cut crosswise into even cubes.

classic potato salad how-to
Photography by: Ren Fuller

2. Cook & Season

In a large pot, cover potatoes with at least 2 inches of water and season generously with kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high and continue boiling until potatoes are tender and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons vinegar; season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

two bowls of potato salad ingredients
Photography by: Peter Ardito

3. Dress to Impress

Meanwhile, whisk together 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons mustard, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Stir in 1 cup finely chopped celery (from 3 stalks); 1/2 cup sliced cornichons (from about 20); and 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions (from 3). Gently fold mayonnaise mixture into cooked potatoes; season with salt and pepper. Serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 day (bring to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes).

 

Get the Classic Potato Salad Recipe
russet yukon gold and new potatoes
Photography by: Peter Ardito

Top Taters

Every kind of potato has good qualities, but we like three in particular for this dish. Once cooked, starchy russets will stay intact if handled gently, yet easily break down for a semi-mashed finish (shown above). Yukon Golds are a great all-purpose spud with a creamy bite. And waxy new potatoes (the densest, least starchy option) stay firm, so they’re ideal if you prefer a more structured salad.

 

 

2 More Ways to Work Potato Salad

    Test Kitchen's Favorite German Potato Salad
    Photography by: Ren Fuller

    Try a Warm German Style

    Use scrubbed, unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces, in place of russets. Boil until fork-tender, about 6 minutes. Let cool slightly. Whisk together 2 tablespoons each melted butter and extra-virgin olive oil with 3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar and toss with warm potatoes (omit white vinegar, mayonnaise, and mustard). Replace celery and scallions with 1 cup crumbled cooked bacon (from 8 ounces), 2 thinly sliced shallots, and 1 teaspoon toasted caraway seeds. Season with salt and pepper; serve warm.

     

    Get the Warm German-Style Potato Salad Recipe
    fresh and herby new potato salad
    Photography by: Ren Fuller

    Go Fresh and Herby

    Replace russets with unpeeled whole mixed new potatoes, boiled until fork-tender, about 9 minutes. Drain and lightly smash. Toss with 2 tablespoons each red-wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest, and 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (omit white vinegar, mayonnaise, and mustard). Let cool completely. Replace scallions and cornichons with 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion, and stir in 1/2 cup each roughly chopped parsley and celery leaves, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano. Season with salt and pepper; serve.

     

    Get the Fresh and Herby Potato Salad Recipe

    Watch our Everyday Food host Sarah Carey whip up this bright, tangy new potato salad with red-wine vinaigrette: