Classic Potato Salad Recipe

Potato Salad is fun to get creative with, because, potatoes are just that way, and there are tons of different versions. However, this Classic Potato Salad Recipe never fails. It’s always welcome at every picnic and barbecue and it’s just an essential part of summer.

potato salad in a glass bowl

What Exactly is a Classic Potato Salad?

This can be a tough question because the answer is different for every family. Everyone has a recipe that their grandmothers and mothers made, and is served at family gatherings. However, in a nutshell, what we consider a classic potato salad is one that includes hard-cooked eggs, some crunch, and a mayonnaise-based dressing.

This is opposed to a German potato salad, which usually includes bacon and a vinegar-based dressing. In fact, potato salad probably originated with German immigrants to North America, then customized by creative cooks. 

Both potato salad versions are delicious, but I do lean toward the classic version if I get to choose.

Glass bowl full of classic potato salad on a red & white checkered napkin

Which Potatoes Are Best For Potato Salad?

The best potatoes for Potato salad are the waxy thin-skinned ones, for example, creamers, fingerings, new potatoes, or Yukon gold. The waxier potatoes hold their shape and texture after cooking and hold up well for a potato salad.

For potato salad, stay away from thick-skinned, starchy potatoes, such as russets. These potatoes tend to fall apart when cooked and will end up mashed, and watery. Not ideal for a potato salad. 

When shopping, look for small potatoes that are all about the same size. This way they will cook evenly.

How To Cook The Potatoes For Salad

We don’t want the potatoes to be mushy for salad, so it’s important to limit the amount of water they absorb. Boiling them whole and unpeeled is a good way to do it.

And here’s my trick: once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them in a colander, and then place them back into the hot pot. Shake the pot over the still-warm stove burner for a minute to dry the potatoes out. Then place the potatoes to cool on a tray or board in a single layer, turning them every so often to reduce condensation.

Also, be sure to dry your celery and peeled eggs with a paper towel before adding them to the salad bowl.

What Else Goes in a Potato Salad?

Besides the potatoes, of course, your salad definitely needs some crunch. For classic potato salad, this usually means celery. However, you can also use radish, thinly sliced, or diced bell pepper.

For this classic potato salad recipe, you also need eggs, hard-boiled and chopped, both the whites and the yolks. And mayonnaise. Only real mayonnaise will do, and the classic has lots of it. A little chopped pickle lends the perfect amount of tang, and paprika is a must for garnish.

Let Your Potato Salad Chill in the Fridge

Potato salad needs to be cold. It also tastes much more delicious after everything has melded together in the fridge. And even better the next day. As with any dish, potato salad should not be left out of the fridge for long, especially on warmer days. Use a cooler packed with ice for picnics.

How Long Will Potato Salad Keep In The Fridge?

Mayonaisse-based potato salad with eggs will keep for three to five days in the fridge under optimum conditions. However, you may want to read this post to learn about the variables involved with keeping it food safe. Food Storage – Homemade or Store Prepared

What to Serve Potato Salad With

We all know that potato salad is perfect with everything summer, picnic, and grilled. It’s the side dish that you need for Saucy Barbecued Baby Back RibsGrilled Pork Tenderloin, Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks, Chipotle BLT Cheeseburgers or Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken Thighs. Just to name a few.

Two bowls of potato salad with red and white checkered napkins



Classic Potato Salad Recipe

This classic recipe for potato salad is a delicious summer side dish and always a must for every picnic or barbecue.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 12
Calories 139 kcal


  • 24 small potatoes about 2 lb
  • 6 hard-cooked eggs cooled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle diced (about one large pickle)
  • 3/4 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chives chopped
  • paprika


  • Put potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes
  • Drain and allow to cool
  • Peel and cut potatoes into cubes
  • In a large bowl combine celery, onion, dill pickle, mayonnaise, mustard and salt
  • Add potatoes and hard-cooked egg, stirring gently to combine
  • Garnish with chives and paprika
  • Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours


If you have thin-skinned potatoes, you can choose not to peel them. Cut them right after draining so that they dry out while cooling.


Serving: 1gCalories: 139kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 3gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 263mgPotassium: 59mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 211IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
Keyword eggs, mayonnaise, potatoes
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23 thoughts on “Classic Potato Salad Recipe

  1. Potatoes are my all time favorite too. It’s looks so yummy and delicious.Love a good potato salad! Thanks for sharing recipe…

  2. Who doesn’t love a good potato salad recipe! It is one of my favorite dishes for summertime bbqs. Thanks for sharing your recipe, it’s always nice to switch it up a bit!

  3. Everything about this post says summer! I haven’t had potato salad in ages and now I have a great recipe to make for our next BBQ. Thanks so much!

  4. Ooh, I like the idea of adding fresh radish to a potato salad. Thanks for the recipe! My husband is a huge potato salad fan.

  5. That pickle really makes it! I know it may seen minor, but don’t leave that out folks. 🙂 Thanks for another great recipe Colleen!!

  6. We grew up with mashed potato salad and it was pretty basic, but delicious. Until I left home at 18, I honestly thought it was the only kind that existed…lol! But there are millions and this one looks fantastic. I love the addition of pickles, I would never ever think of that. Great recipe!

  7. Classic is classic for a reason! This is just how I remembered it but with a nice bit of texture from the onion. Great recipe 🙂

  8. Summer isn’t summer without a good potato salad! I grew up on the German version but always loved a good homemade North American version like this. Yum!

  9. One of our favorites in the summer! I can’t wait to have some BBQ’s on the patio and make this salad! Love the addition of the pickles!

  10. This is getting me so excited for picnic season! I love this classic side dish 🙂 Thanks for the tasty recipe!

  11. Best and delicious salad option for any special day. Potatoes are my all time favorite too. Looks yum.

  12. I think you are right. What defines classic is what you grew up on and I actually grew up on an oil and vinegar based potato salad.

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