This is the last classic potato salad recipe you'll ever need. It's easy, made with potatoes you don't have to peel, and is super creamy.
4.67 from 3 votes
bowl of classic potato salad.

By Christie Vanover | Published June 29, 2022 | Last Updated June 29, 2022

Home | Recipes | Classic Potato Salad

When you think of barbecue side dishes, a good classic potato salad recipe is a must. This has been my go-to recipe for years.

bowl of classic potato salad.

Ingredients for Classic Potato Salad

The ingredients are really simple and can be altered, if you’re feeling fancy and want to change things up a bit.

Ingredients for Classic Potato Salad: pickles, hard boiled eggs, celery, onion, mayonnaise, mini gold potatoes, salt and pepper, celery seeds.
  • Mini Gold Potatoes: These are the best potatoes for potato salad, because they’re tender and don’t have to be peeled.
  • Mayonnaise: You’ll need a couple cups of mayonnaise to form the base of the sauce. Any brand will do. I’m sure you have a favorite.
  • Pickles: You can use dill or sweet pickles, depending on how tart or sweet you like your potato salad. I like using my homemade bread and butter pickles. The recipe also calls for pickle juice, which you can just pour from the jar.
  • Celery and Onions: These both add some nice texture.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs: You can buy these already hard boiled in the store, or throw the raw eggs in the pot of boiling water with the boiling potatoes. They’ll cook in about 7-8 minutes.

Substitutions: In place of half of the mayonnaise, you can mix in Greek yogurt, Miracle Whip or sour cream. If you like your potato salad more on the tart side, stir in a couple tablespoons of Dijon mustard.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

Equipment You’ll Need

  • Cutting Board and Chef’s Knife
  • Large pot for boiling the potatoes
  • Colander to strain the potatoes
  • Large bowl to mix all of the ingredients
  • Egg slicer to both slice and chop the hard boiled eggs. If you don’t have an egg slicer, you can chop them with a knife.
  • Mixing spatula
  • Plastic wrap

The Best Kind of Potato for Potato Salad

I used to make potato salad with Russet or Idaho potatoes, you know the big brown ones. But those skins are still pretty firm, even after you cook them, so it was best to peel them first. But who has the extra time for that?

diced mini gold potatoes.

Now, I use these mini gold potatoes. Their skin is so soft and tender, once they’re cooked, they blend right in and add just a subtle texture.

You can use the regular size Yukon gold potatoes, too, but I like the mini ones, because they’re the most tender. My grocery store carries them in 1 1/2-pound bags, so I buy two for this recipe.

After rinsing them, slice them into 1/2-inch bite-size pieces.

Then, get a pot that is large enough to hold all of the diced potatoes and enough water to cover them. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil. That will take about 15 minutes. Then boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes.

You want them to be at least fork tender. Personally, I do the full 15 minutes in boiling water, because I prefer a potato salad that is a mix between firm bites and mashed potatoes consistency.

Strain the potatoes and rinse them with cool water and let them continue to cool for 10 minutes before mixing with the sauce.

The Potato Salad Sauce

This classic potato salad recipe uses mayonnaise as the base for its sauce, but as I mentioned above, you could substitute some of the mayo with Greek yogurt, sour cream or Miracle Whip. Heck, you could even try a little ranch dressing in there.

Then, you need an acid and sweet element. Most recipes call for vinegar and sugar, but I just use pickle juice, because the brine is basically vinegar, salt and water. And most of the time the pickle juice goes to waste, unless I’m making my grilled Chick-Fil-A nuggets.

creamy scoop of classic potato salad.

In addition to the mayo and pickle juice, flavor the sauce with salt, pepper and celery seeds. The celery seeds accentuate the fresh celery and give the potato salad that classic flavor we all love.

Potato Salad Mix-Ins

Once the sauce is made and the potatoes are slightly cooled, it’s time to mix everything together. The remaining ingredients provide both flavor and texture.

When it comes to the pickles, the type you use is completely up to you. I prefer bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles, but if you’re a dill fan, go with those. Just give them a rough chop.

The recipe calls for a total of 1 cup of celery, that’s about 3 ribs from the stalk. I also like adding sweet onion. You could go with white onion, red onion or green onions, but again, I’m using sweet pickles, so the sweet onion matches them well.

If you’re using dill pickles and adding a bit of yellow mustard or Dijon to the sauce, the white onions would be a nice addition.

hardboiled egg sliced in egg slicer

For the hard boiled eggs, you’ll need three that are chopped and one that is sliced.

I like using an egg slicer. If you place the egg in the slicer and drop down the blades once, you’ll have a perfectly sliced egg.

hardboiled egg chopped in egg slicer

After that, if you rotate the egg 90 degrees and press down the blades another time, the eggs will be perfectly chopped.

spoonful of classic potato salad.

How to Garnish Potato Salad

Once the potato salad is mixed together, cover it with plastic wrap and let it set in the fridge for at least an hour. It’s even better if you have time to leave it overnight.

Then, just before it’s time to serve, place it in your presentation bowl and top it with hard boiled egg slices, sliced celery and celery or parsley leaves. I use the celery leaves, because they’re usually on the stalk of celery. No need to buy anything extra.

If you want to add a little pizzazz of color, give the salad a light dusting of smoked paprika.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Use mini gold potatoes so you don’t have to peel the skins
  • Allow the potatoes to cool before mixing
  • Use pickle juice in place of vinegar and sugar
  • Master the classic recipe, then get creative to make your own twist

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you boil potatoes for potato salad?

The time it takes to cook potatoes will vary, depending on the type of potatoes you use and the size of the pieces. With this recipe, I place the raw potatoes in a pot of water. Once that water comes to a boil, I let the potatoes cook for 10-15 minutes, until they are fork tender.

How long does potato salad last?

When you make a fresh batch, you can keep it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Once you remove it from the refrigerator to serve, it should only be kept at room temperature for two hours. If you’re planning for a longer party, consider placing the salad bowl in a larger bowl of ice to help keep it cool. If you have leftovers from the party and you refrigerate within the two-hour period, you can save it in the fridge for one more day.

Can you freeze potato salad?

Technically you can, but personally, I don’t recommend it. The celery, onions and pickles will start to lose their crunchiness when frozen, so the salad will lose its fantastic texture.

How much potato salad do you need per person?

This depends on what else you’re serving. If you just have a platter of hot dogs, potato salad and potato chips, people will likely eat 3/4 to 1 cup of salad. But if you have a bunch of sides and proteins, people will tend to eat around 1/2 cup. This recipe makes 11 cups, so it should feed 15-20 people.

Want even more great grilling recipes? Subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for my latest grilling adventures. If you make this recipe, I’d love for your to leave a comment and rating below. Thanks.

bowl of classic potato salad.

Classic Potato Salad

This is the last classic potato salad recipe you'll ever need. It's easy, made with potatoes you don't have to peel, and is super creamy.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 22

Ingredients
 

  • 3 lbs mini gold potatoes
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup celery chopped
  • 3/4 cup pickles chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion minced
  • 3 hard boiled eggs chopped

GARNISH

  • 1 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • 1/4 cup celery sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh celery leaves chopped
  • dash smoked paprika optional

Instructions
 

  • Cook the Potatoes: Rinse the potatoes and cut them into half-inch pieces. Place them in a large stock pot with enough water to cover them and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Then cook for 15 minutes, until fork tender. Rinse with cold water and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Make the Sauce: In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, pickle juice, salt, pepper and celery seeds.
  • Assemble the Salad: Add the cooked potatoes to the bowl and gently mix. Fold in 3 chopped hard boiled eggs, 3/4 cups chopped celery, the pickles and onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  • Garnish: Just before serving, top with sliced hard boiled eggs, sliced celery, freshly chopped celery leaves and a dash of smoked paprika.

Notes

Servings: This recipe makes 11 cups. Most people will eat 1/2 to 3/4 cup, depending on how much other food is being served.
Pickles: You can use dill, sweet or bread and butter pickles in this recipe based on your preference. Whichever pickle you choose, use the pickle juice from the same jar.
Potatoes: If you like your potatoes to be creamier like mashed potatoes with a little bit of bite, boil them for about 15 minutes. If you prefer more firm potatoes, boil them for about 10 minutes.
Mayonnaise: You can substitute some of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt, sour cream or Miracle Whip.
Mustard: This recipe doesn’t call for any mustard, but if you prefer a mustard-based potato salad, just add a couple of tablespoons of Dijon.

Nutrition

Calories: 204kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 3gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 389mgPotassium: 307mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 104IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 22mgIron: 1mg
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