America’s Test Kitchen’s classic potato salad is exactly that. Creamy mayo slathered potatoes, celery, relish, hard-boiled eggs, and red onions with a dash of tasty spices. It’s everything you know and love for picnics and backyard barbecues.
Potato salads are arguably the ultimate make-ahead salads. They need time to chill, and doing the prep work ahead of time means that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute before a picnic.
We found that seasoning the potatoes while they were hot maximized flavor, so we tossed hot russet potatoes with white vinegar. One celery rib added just enough crunch. Choosing between scallions, shallots, and onions, we picked red onion because we liked it best for its bright color and taste. For a pickled flavor, we decided to use relish, which required no preparation, and gave the potato salad a subtle sweetness.
NOTE: This recipe calls for celery seeds (which add a complexity of flavor), not celery salt; if only celery salt is available, use the same amount but omit the salt in step 3. When testing the potatoes for doneness, simply taste a piece; do not overcook the potatoes or they will become mealy and break apart. The potatoes must be just warm or even fully cooled when you add the dressing. If the potato salad seems a little dry, add up to 2 tablespoons more mayonnaise.–America’s Test Kitchen
Classic Potato Salad
- 2 pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4-inch (18-mm) pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt plus salt for cooking potatoes
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
- 1 stalk celery chopped fine
- 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade sweet pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or fresh chives
- 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds*
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 hard-boiled eggs peeled and cut into 1/4‑inch (6-mm) pieces (optional)
- In a large saucepan, combine potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt and add enough water to cover by 1 inch (25 mm). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and paring knife can be slipped in and out of potatoes with little resistance, about 8 minutes.
- While the potatoes sit, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, celery, relish, onion, parsley, mustard, celery seeds, pepper, and salt.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold mayonnaise mixture and eggs, if using, into potatoes. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Serve.
*What do celery seeds taste like?Small and light brown in color, celery seeds seem unassuming but actually pack a bit of a punch. Aromatic and astringent, too many of them will impart a burning sensation, but in the right amount they'll add a ton of earthy, grassy flavor. Not used often outside of pickling or brining, we encourage experimentation as they're terrific with both potatoes and tomatoes. Celery salt is a combination of ground seeds and salt, so if you sub that instead reduce the salt in the rest of the recipe.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This is a classic potato salad with just the right amount of sweetness, flavor and quantity of dressing.
I watched my mother and mother-in-law put whole potatoes in a kettle with water and cook them for what seemed like hours. This recipe uses a much better method. Peeling and cutting the potatoes in 3/4-inch pieces before you cook them saved time and resulted in perfectly cooked potatoes in 8 minutes. I added an extra rib of celery because I like more crunch in my salad. I also added 2 boiled chopped eggs.
I questioned adding 3 Tbs. of sweet pickle relish but it added a touch of sweetness to the salad without being overpowering. I added the dressing when the potatoes were still a little warm and then put the salad in the refrigerator for several hours before serving it. I served it with baby back ribs and sauteed kale.
Something is CLASSIC for a reason; basically, it has lasted a very long time, it still works, it provides comfort, and often can evoke warmth and fond memories. I know it's crazy, but that's what this potato salad did for me. Okay--it's not exciting. It's not trendy, it doesn't include pesto, kimchi, harissa, anchovies, or any other la di da additions. It's just darn good potato salad.
It comes together quite easily, which is a plus, and reminded me that size does matter. The uniform, smaller pieces of potato cooked evenly in no time at all. There wasn't a whole lot of mayo, my preference, but certainly, more could be added according to taste.
The ingredients are pantry/fridge friendly and the end result sings summer, Grandma, beach, and relaxed entertaining. What could be better? Tonight’s dinner was portobello turkey burgers. The salad was a perfect accompaniment.
Originally published July 08, 2021