Friday, June 2, 2017

Perfect Potato Salad – Just Like Mom Used to Make

I can’t believe I haven’t posted a recipe for classic American potato salad, especially since it was such a childhood favorite of mine. As I mentioned in the video, this is the first food I can remember eating, and apparently was one of my favorite baby foods.

This is my take on my mother Pauline’s potato salad, but the actual “recipe” isn’t the main point here. This is more about what I think are the best practices for making potato salad. As long as you follow this basic procedure, it really doesn’t matter how you accessorize your spuds.

Speaking of which, onions are always a very controversial addition. If you use too many, or cut them with a dull knife, their sharp taste can overpower the salad. This can be exacerbated even more if you make it way ahead of time. So if you are going to use onions, I suggest a sweet variety like Vidalia, or Maui; and be sure to use a sharp knife.

The other major factors are making sure you use enough salt, and waiting for your potatoes the cool to room temperature before dressing them. If you’ve ever had a bad, greasy looking potato salad, I can almost guarantee it was mixed while still hot. So, don’t be in a hurry.

Other than that, not a lot can go wrong. So, whether you’re making this for your next picnic, or you want to save money on baby food, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 portions:
3 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed clean
- Boil in 10 cups of water with 1/4 cup of kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely diced sweet onions, optional
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3 large hard boiled eggs
For the dressing:
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus probably much more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
- After mixing, chill for 2-3 hours, before tasting and adjusting the salt. You’ll definitely need more, as well as usually another spoonful of mayo.


Brad Piper said...

On your next video, can you let us know what number video you are up to? Getting near 1200 by now?

mom of chef said...

Exactly what my Mother made but she only had Yellow Mustard (today's organic Yellow is very similar). Thank you Chef! Will make this weekend as it has been a while.

Bill Morash said...

I find that mixing everything except the eggs and then adding the eggs and mixing again, results in larger pieces of eggs in the salad.
Also. Or besides?
Pauline deserves every mention you choose to give.

shesfiction said...

Hi Chef John,
just wondering if this could (in theory) be made with creme fraiche instead of mayonnaise. there is a mayonnaise hater in our household.

L Rice said...

My favorite potato salad has chopped red onion, black olives, and radishes. I love the textures. Also, very important, add the juice from the can of black olives to the mayo dressing. Yum!

L Rice said...

Chef John is awesome!

vborden said...

What are your thoughts on substituting mayo for a healthier, and in my opinion more delisious option such as avocado? I used avocado as a substitute for mayo when I made deviled eggs and they were amazing. Love the videos.

vborden said...

What are your thoughts on substituting the mayo for a healthier, and in my opinion more delisious option such as avocado? I used avocado as a substitute for mayo when I made deviled eggs and they were delisious. Love the videos.

Angie M. said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I've been looking for a new classic potato salad recipe. I can't wait to try it!

Andy Block said...

No comments? This is what's wrong with kids/America these days! This recipe is a foundation of western civilization, and eastern civilization for that matter. We should be taking this as seriously as we do anything else that's ever been posted to a blog on the web! There should be 10,000 hotly worded replies to this article. When I was learning to cook the first thing my mom taught me was how to do scrambled eggs. I know that was a good idea (thanks mom) because it has only one ingredient, but potato salad, now THAT is a the dish to learn first because it involves the cleaning and cutting of vegetables, the slow careful but hard-to-mess-up cooking technique of boiling and the most important cooking skill of all (and life skill really) patience. I taught my niece to cook potato salad and so far she is turning out just fine. This is the best tutorial on potato salad I know of. Thanks Chef John for doing your part in maintaining the fabric of society.

Greeter said...

I can't tell you how many times I almost grabbed a fork to take a taste from the screen!

puttermuch said...

Same basic ingredients but, as usual, your technique is what will make MY next batch AWESOME !!!! Thanks again Chef :)

Anonymous said...

Hello! I only came across your channel a few weeks ago but I love it, your style and your voice, and of course the recipes. Loved the mustard marinated chicken thighs! I'm going to try the prison meatloaf now --- I'm saving these potatoes for later --- and wanted to say thank you for your honesty and encouragement in these videos.

cookinmom said...

Chef, don't judge me but I put the potatoes in the Pressure Cooker for 8 min. I had new potatoes, leeks, garlic & red onions from the garden. I made your recipe exact but (yes, I know) I had to add sweet relish, 1/4 cup of yogurt along with some pickle juice. Superb!!! You did it again! Tks!

By the way, I made your smashed cucumber salad because I had one English cucumber in the fridge and added 1 pickling cuc from the garden to make it 1 1/2 lbs. Score!

Do you think a few slices of sweet vadalia onion would be ok in the smashed cucs?

Jessi Lashakmitis said...

Thank you for this great recipe and the video!!! Classic recipes from childhood are usually the best. have to make it soon.

Misti said...

When in doubt, pinkies out! ;)

Icarus said...

Chef, could you make a mapo tofu video? I thought your take on it would be interesting after the char-siu video.

Maybe some other chinese foods too. But I'd really like to see mapo tofu.

Aaron Alexander said...

This does a classic justice! I'm not a fan of potato salad, but after making this recipe, I feel different about it! Thank you chef.

Artefaktum Artefaktum said...

Chef John, you recommend very large(!) potatoes : Aren't they too hard in the core and too soft in the edge after cooking?

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SRUN POR said...

Thank you Chef! Will make this weekend as it has been a while.
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Megan Blue said...

Made this to go with Jambalaya at a potluck tonight. It paired perfectly, everyone loved it. Thank you!

Megan Blue said...


Peggy Johnson said...

So, if it is 90 degrees outside, should I still put the potatos by an open window?

John Davis said...

For a non-traditional version, a restaurant I used to frequent offered "Fried potato salad". I believe the potatoes were par-boiled(i.e. pulled before being done), then diced and pan-fried before building the rest of the salad. One of the most popular items on their menu. YUM!

Sadly as it often is with small restaurants, they didn't make it. But I now almost always fry my 'taters before making 'tater salad.

Kris Whiteleather said...

Finished this up just this AM. Let the potatoes chill in the fridge overnight. Very distinct cubes after mixing, so I may have had them too cold when I mixed in the dressing portion.

Couldn't resist, given my German heritage....had to add 1 cup of crumbled, cooked bacon. When I see vinegar and onion I want to throw bacon in there. Resisted adding some sugar.

Anyhow it looks very good and tastes excellent now. Should be well received by my kids at lunch today.

Jiri Liska said...

This recipe doesn't work for me; missing small dices of pickles, missing some green peas … seems to be too heavy with all the mayo (while it can be thinned AND seasoned along with pickle juice) ... my wife makes it better.

Becca Hutchison said...

Chef John, this is the Nielsen’s Deli potato salad recipe, arguably some of the best in Houston, Texas. Instead of cider vinegar, they use white wine vinegar and they don’t mash the potatoes. Thank you for posting this.