The Best Potato Salad Recipe (easy & creamy!)
This traditional creamy potato salad recipe is the best! Learn how to make easy potato salad for a perfect summer side dish.
Enliven your summer meals with homemade potato salad: creamy potatoes, crunchy celery and red onion, crisp bits of bacon, hard cooked eggs, graced by a tangy mayonnaise and mustard dressing flecked with sweet pickle relish.
There are a lot of potato salad recipes but I modestly think this creamy potato salad recipe is the best!
I know it’s super easy to stop at the deli and pick up a container of ready-made potato salad, and I’ve done just that plenty of times, but trust me, you want to learn how to make your own. Homemade is so much better!
While potato salad takes a little time to prepare, there’s nothing difficult about it, and the result is so delicious. I’ve included some helpful make ahead ideas to make things even easier. Try it today!
About this potato salad:
There’s nothing fancy about the ingredients in this recipe. I’m sure you probably have almost everything you need already.
What kind of potatoes are best for potato salad?
Choose a thin-skinned, waxy variety of potatoes for the best results, i.e. Yukon Gold, red potatoes, new potatoes, or fingerlings. Starchy potatoes such as Idaho or Russet tend to fall apart and will soak up a lot of dressing. It’s your choice whether you want to peel the potatoes. I like to leave the peelings on.
Cook your potatoes until they are just tender. (Make sure to read the recipe notes for Instant Pot directions. I love that you can cook the eggs right with the potatoes with this timesaving method.) You’ll want to cool the potatoes down before mixing them with the rest of the ingredients.
Meanwhile fry up some bacon, or even better, make easy baked bacon. Chop the onion, and get it soaking in ice water to remove some of the strong flavor. Chop a few stalks of celery, and prepare the dressing.
The dressing is so easy: simply mix mayo, yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, a dash of lemon juice, dried dill, salt, and pepper.
Okay, now you have all the elements of your potato salad ready. In a big bowl, gently mix everything together. That’s it! You did it! Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the best. potato. salad. ever.
How to make this recipe your own:
There are so many ways to make this southern style salad your own. I’m sure you have something in mind already, thinking about your grandma’s version of this recipe or something you’ve read about in a magazine. Here’s a few ideas for you:
- Add different vegetables. Many recipes include sliced radishes. Green peas would be good, too. You could add diced bell peppers, corn, or sliced green onions. Add chopped dill or sweet pickles, or black olives.
- Omit the bacon for a vegetarian potato salad. Or increase the bacon, if you’re a bacon lover,
- Leave out the eggs. Or mix in half the eggs, and garnish the potato salad with sliced eggs.
- Like cheese? Mix in sharp cheddar cheese for a less traditional potato salad. Kind of like cheesy potatoes, right?
- Tweak the dressing. More mayo, less mayo, relish, no relish, yellow mustard or Dijon, whole grain, or horseradish, whatever you like. Make it just the way you like it. Maybe you like tons of dressing. Or maybe not so much. You decide. Try adding a teaspoon of celery seed. Taste it along the way and season accordingly!
- Add a quarter cup of fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, dill, or chives.
To make ahead: Cook the potatoes, eggs, bacon, chop up the celery and onion, make the dressing, and so on. Refrigerate the ingredients separately overnight until you’re ready, and then simply stir everything together.
Or prepare the recipe completely, cover it well, and refrigerate overnight. It’s just as good the next day!
Other summer salad recipes:
You’ll love these delicious summer salads and they’re perfect for picnics! Try:
- 2 ½-3 pounds potatoes (see note)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 eggs, hard boiled
- 1 ½ cups chopped red onion (see note)
- 2 cups chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
- 1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
- 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup yellow mustard
- ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Cut potatoes in halves or quarters so they are evenly sized. Put potatoes in large saucepan, add water to cover, and add 1 teaspoon salt. Over high heat, bring to boil. Turn heat down to medium low, cover pan, and boil potatoes 10-12 minutes, or until just tender but still firm.
- Drain potatoes well; place in a bowl to cool for at least one hour or overnight.
- Peel and chop eggs.
- In a large bowl, gently mix potatoes, eggs, onion, celery, and bacon.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, mustard, relish, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Pour dressing over potatoes, eggs, onion, celery, and bacon; gently fold in until potatoes are well coated and everything is mixed together. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Store in refrigerator, covered tightly. Serve chilled.
- Choose a thin-skinned waxy variety of potatoes for best results, i.e. Yukon Gold, red potatoes, new potatoes, or fingerlings. It’s your choice whether you want to peel them. I like to leave the peelings on.
- If you prefer, don’t stir in all of the bacon. Reserve ½ cup to sprinkle on top for a garnish. Or garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or paprika.
- If you soak the chopped onions in ice water for about 30 minutes before adding them to the salad, it takes the bite out of them and makes the onion flavor less strong.
- Instant Pot cooking method: You can cook the hard boiled eggs and the potatoes together. Cube potatoes and place in Instant Pot with ¾ cup of water and 1 teaspoon salt, place eggs in with potatoes, whole. Set to High Pressure for 5 minutes, when done, do a quick release. Remove the eggs and immediately place in ice water until ready to peel. Drain potatoes well.
- To prep ahead: Cook potatoes and eggs using desired method; chill in fridge overnight. Prepare the dressing and store separately. Cook bacon a day ahead.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 of 12
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 385Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 730mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 9g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.
Husband’s take: Potato salad isn’t even really Ben’s “thing,” but he likes this version a lot!
Changes I would make: None are necessary, but it’s definitely a recipe you can have a little fun with.