This Classic Potato Salad features Yukon Gold Potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, crisp green celery, and a simple recipe for an old-fashioned potato salad dressing.
- What Variety of Potato Is the Best for Potato Salad?
- What is the Best Way to Cook the Potatoes?
- How to Prepare the Potatoes, Eggs, and Celery
- How to Make the Potato Salad Dressing
- How to Finish Making the Potato Salad
- My Top Tips
- Carry-Over Cooking
- How Long Does Potato Salad Keep?
- Can You Freeze Potato Salad?
- More Delicious Side Dishes
- 📖 Recipe
This is my mom's potato salad recipe that I have made nearly the exact same way she did for many years. As a matter of fact, all our neighbors made the same recipe during the 1960s. It is a simple, no-frills recipe and has withstood the test of time.
This old-fashioned and truly classic recipe contains just the right amount of ingredients to make a tasty salad you will want to make over and over again. Her recipe contains potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and celery and the potato salad dressing contains Miracle Whip, sweet pickle relish, yellow mustard, salt, and pepper. That is only 8 ingredients for the whole salad including the dressing!
Over the years, I have made only one change to my mom's old-fashioned recipe, which is the use of Yukon gold potatoes. I love these potatoes for their natural sweetness and firm texture. My mom didn't use them because the Yukon gold potato did not exist before 1966 and only became available to consumers after 1980. She used russet potatoes that were widely available during her prime potato salad-making days.
So, if you are craving a creamy, traditional potato salad, this is it. It's easy to make and once you've learned how to make the potato salad dressing, this key recipe will be your go-to for simple meals, tailgating, and cool weather picnics.
So, let's cook!
Here's What you Need to Make My Classic Potato Salad:
- Small Yukon Gold Potatoes - 2 to 3-inch potatoes will quarter into nice bite-sized chunks.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs - Make these in advance or on the same day as the salad.
- Celery Stalks - Choose fresh, bright green stalks for optimum crunch and flavor.
Potato Salad Dressing:
- Miracle Whip Salad Dressing - Use Miracle Whip for fantastic flavor, lower calories, and easy freezing.
- Sweet Pickle Relish - Your favorite brand will always be the best choice.
- Yellow Mustard - Just plain yellow mustard that you would use for hot dogs. No need to use honey mustard, Dijon mustard, or any other fancy-schmancy mustard.
- Fine Sea Salt - Fine salt will incorporate easier into the potato salad dressing. Note that potatoes frequently need more salt than other vegetables. So, feel free to use more salt according to your taste.
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper - Freshly ground black pepper always is more flavorful with a lovely floral aroma.
- Chopped Parsley - Optional but will bring a pop of green color and a fresh look to the salad.
- Sweet Paprika - Optional and very traditional. A sprinkling of sweet paprika looks pretty and is a very traditional garnish. This is the garnish my mom always used because she always had it on hand in her pantry. It is also very economical as a little bit goes a long way.
What Variety of Potato Is the Best for Potato Salad?
If you want your potatoes to be firm and still hold their shape after cooking choose Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes. Each of these starchy potatoes will hold its shape and they peel easily if you decide you don't want the skins on. The Yukon gold potato has a sweet creamy flavor, which has made it my favorite potato to use in making classic potato salad.
Russet potatoes can also be used if you prefer the potato to be less firm. These potatoes have a fluffier texture and will break apart as you cut the potatoes and mix the salad. Russet potatoes also cost less than other potato varieties and are a great choice if you are watching your budget.
Lastly, choose potatoes that are similar in size to ensure that they cook evenly. A large potato among smaller ones will take longer to cook and the smaller potatoes will be overcooked.
What is the Best Way to Cook the Potatoes?
Some cooks recommend a "speed method" of cutting and or peeling the potatoes before boiling them which I do not recommend. It is easier to peel a cooked potato and the potatoes will have the best texture if you do not cut them before cooking.
Simply put the whole, unpeeled potatoes in a pan large enough to hold no more than 2 layers of potatoes and then cover them with at least 1 inch of cold water. Bring the potatoes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender but not soft. A toothpick, fork, or knife will easily pierce a potato when it is cooked. If the peel of the potato is wrinkled, the potato will be overcooked.
Do not add potatoes to already boiling water. The potatoes will cook unevenly, and the surface of the potato will be cooked long before the center is cooked.
How to Prepare the Potatoes, Eggs, and Celery
Wash the potatoes and put them in a large pan. Add water to cover the potatoes and cook the potatoes until just barely done. Potatoes are done when they can be pierced easily with a toothpick or a fork.
Immediately drain the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Allow the potatoes to cool completely.
While the potatoes are cooling, peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs and dice the celery. Next, quarter the cooled potatoes. Place the potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and diced celery in a large mixing bowl.
How to Make the Potato Salad Dressing
In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the Miracle Whip, sweet pickle relish, yellow mustard, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
How to Finish Making the Potato Salad
Pour the dressing over the potatoes, eggs, and celery and mix well.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley or paprika, if desired.
My Top Tips
Make this classic potato salad in advance. Like many dishes, the flavor of any potato salad improves with time. Starchy dishes need time to absorb flavors. Plus, the flavors in the potato salad dressing will have time to meld and marry. Make this no less than 4 hours before serving for better flavor and a day ahead for the best flavor.
Use best practices to cook and cool the potatoes. An important step in making classic potato salad is the cooking and cooling of the potatoes. Overcooked potatoes will not hold their shape when you mix the potatoes with the salad dressing.
The potatoes need to be cooked just until they are barely tender. The doneness of the potatoes is best tested by inserting a toothpick into a potato. The toothpick should enter easily but not break the potato.
Quickly cooling potatoes after determining that the potatoes are done is essential to keep the potatoes from becoming overcooked. They must be rinsed in cold water and then allowed to soak in cool or iced water until completely cool.
If potatoes are simply drained and allowed to cool at room temperature, carry-over heat will continue to cook the potatoes and they will be overcooked by the time they have cooled.
After food has been removed from a heat source, the surface of the food will be hotter than the interior. As food cools, the surface heat transfers to the interior of the food. This is called carry-over heat and the process of cooking food in this manner is called carry-over cooking.
Some recipes are so simple and classic, they are a key to understanding how to cook food and build flavor. A real bonus to learning how to make this simple potato salad recipe is there are many ways to vary it just by adding or substituting ingredients.
I've got you covered for at least a dozen variations and there are even more that can be imagined. By learning this one classic salad recipe you can create endless variations!
Substitute Hellmann's Mayonnaise for the Miracle Whip. Substituting mayonnaise is an excellent substitution but will come with a higher calorie count. If you live west of the Rocky Mountains, Hellmann's is called Best Foods. It is the same product, only the name is changed. I prefer this brand of mayonnaise because the flavor is very neutral and complements the fresh ingredients. But feel free to use the brand you prefer.
Substitute Small Red Potatoes for Yukon Gold Potatoes. Sometimes you just can't get small Yukon gold potatoes and red potatoes have a similar texture. You can also substitute a "gold" potato. The texture of an unbranded gold potato is also like the Yukon gold, but the flavor will be less sweet.
Substitute Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt. If you prefer a tangier flavor, swap sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for up to half of the Miracle Whip salad dressing. Greek yogurt will also add more protein to the salad.
Substitute Dijon or Honey Mustard. To change up the basic flavor profile the most change some or all of the yellow mustard to a special mustard. Go easy and add a teaspoon at a time to the potato salad dressing and then taste to see if you like the change.
Omit the Eggs. Just like whether it is okay to put ketchup on a hot dog, there is some controversy about adding eggs to potato salad. Some people love eggs in their salad, and some don't. Feel free to omit them if you are not a fan of adding eggs or if you are on a tight budget.
Add Bacon. Add umami notes to your salad with cooked, crisp bacon that is crumbled or chopped fine.
Add Capers. Capers will add a sharp salty taste and mild lemon flavor to potato salad. They come in a variety of sizes and the smallest are nonpareil capers. These capers are the perfect size to use whole. They have the best flavor and won't need to be chopped.
Add Celery Seed. If you love the taste of celery in potato salad, celery seeds have the same flavor as celery and can add another punch of flavor. Consider adding them as an enhancer or using them as a substitute for fresh celery.
Add Chives. Slightly onion and garlic in flavor, chives add a mild and savory element to salads. This is my favorite choice for a hint of onion that won't overpower the salad.
Add Dill. Fresh or dried dill is a highly aromatic herb and can be delicious in salad dressings. However, its unique and pungent aroma and taste can easily overpower a dressing or salad. If you choose to incorporate dill, add a very small amount, like ¼ teaspoon, and then increase the amount according to your taste.
Add Onions. A small amount of grated or minced onion adds another additional savory element to your salad. The best onions to use have a mild flavor like green onions, or a sweet flavor like Vidalia, or Maui onions.
How Long Does Potato Salad Keep?
This classic potato salad will keep up to 4 to 5 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. All dishes that contain hard-cooked eggs and/or mayonnaise dressings should be kept refrigerated. So, the very best practice is to refrigerate potato salad as soon as it has been made and as soon as possible after mealtime has finished.
Can You Freeze Potato Salad?
If you use Miracle Whip to make the potato salad dressing, you can freeze potato salad in an airtight container. Generally speaking, Miracle Whip freezes well because it contains less oil than mayonnaise.
However, you can't freeze a potato salad if the dressing is made with mayonnaise. The high amount of oil in mayonnaise will cause the dressing to separate and become watery.
It is also true that the potato salad dressing will be watery if you substitute any dairy products in the potato salad dressing. So, yogurt and sour cream will also separate and become watery after freezing.
If you are craving old-fashioned potato salad this classic potato salad recipe is for you! But if you want something a little different, check out my fresh and herbal Green Goddess Potato Salad and my mayo-free German Potato Salad.
More Delicious Side Dishes
Classic Potato Salad
- 3 Pounds Small Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cooked - Skin On and Quartered
- 4 Hard-Boiled Eggs, Peeled and Chopped
- 3 Celery Stalks, Chopped
Potato Salad Dressing
- 1 ½ cups Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons Sweet Pickle Relish
- 1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard
- ½ Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Chopped Parsley
- Sweet Paprika
- Wash the potatoes and put them in a large pan. Add water to cover the potatoes and cook the potatoes until just barely done. Potatoes are done when they can be easily pierced with a toothpick or a fork.
- Immediately drain the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Allow the potatoes to cool completely.
- While the potatoes are cooling, peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs and dice the celery. Next, quarter the cooled potatoes. Place the potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and diced celery in a large mixing bowl.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk together the Miracle Whip, sweet pickle relish, yellow mustard, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the potatoes, eggs, and celery and mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley or paprika, if desired.
Nutrition Per Serving
All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.