Best Potato Salad

This best potato salad, made with everyday ingredients like potatoes, mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs, cider vinegar, red onion, and herbs is an easy and classic summer side dish. Great for cookouts, barbecues, picnics, you name it.

A cardboard bowl filled with best potato salad an a plastic fork resting on top.

The best potato salad recipe means different things to different people. To some, it’s whatever their mom or grandmom made. To those who’ve tasted this easy recipe made with mayo, vinegar, red onion, egg, and herbs, it’s this potato salad. Hands down. Though it’s not exactly traditional or old-fashioned or even Southern, it’s spectacular. Don’t trust us? Take a look at our recipe testers’ reviews below. You’ll find comments such as “The best I’ve ever had.” “A++” “Beautiful.” “Perfect.” “Easy peasy.” “A great addition at any party.” But don’t take our word for it. Try this easy and, dare we say, elegant riff on potato salad and experience for yourself why we consider it the best. Originally published July 1, 2014.Renee Schettler Rossi

Best Potato Salad

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 2 H, 20 M
  • Serves 6
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In a small bowl, stir together the basil, marjoram, thyme, and mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

If using the vinegar, in another small bowl, combine the onion and vinegar and let them mingle at room temperature for 15 minutes. Drain the onion. If not using the vinegar, continue with the next step and simply use the plain raw onion.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onion, eggs, if using, salt, and pepper. Add as much of the mayonnaise mixture as desired and gently toss. Serve the potato salad immediately or cover and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 2 hours.

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    Potato Salad Variations

    • Upon first glance, it may appear as though this recipe provides you with a single amazing potato salad. But in actuality, it bestows upon you a blueprint which you can tweak in any of many ways to create an infinite number of potato salad magnificence. So, potato salad lovers, let’s talk stir-ins, shall we? We’ll show you ours if you show us yours.

      ~ Smidgen finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, dill, or chervil leaves
      ~ Spoonful coarse-grain mustard
      ~ Untold amounts of crisp, crumbled bacon
      ~ Some chopped apple
      ~ Little pieces of puckery chopped pickles
      ~ Chopped olives—pitted, natch—of your choice

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    This potato salad recipe got an "all hands raised" vote today. Not only does it have that perfect potato salad taste and texture, but it's pretty to look at sitting in the bowl! The flavors are crisp but mellow, like all great potato salads should be.

    This is a three-step, easy-peasy recipe that everyone can make. I added fresh basil, fresh thyme, and oregano (sometimes known as wild marjoram). I did marinate the onion in the cider vinegar. I think this qualifies as a magic, secret ingredient. All in all, this is an A++ recipe that will be a great addition at any party—dress up or casual.

    Potato salad is a standard at our home in the summer, and this one ticks all the boxes for becoming the new favorite. This is an easy, flavorful dish that's a nice change from regular potato salad. It's easy to prepare, and with a little planning, is sure to become a favorite in your home, too.

    Using the right potatoes is the key to good potato salad. I used new baby reds, both to eliminate the peeling and because they hold their shape well after boiling.

    While it's nice to make homemade mayonnaise, this recipe worked just as well with store-bought mayonnaise.

    I used basil, dill, oregano, and parsley as the herbs for my salad. (I was unable to find marjoram in any of the stores or markets I went to.) I used a large red onion, as our family is partial to the flavor of onion in salads, and I marinated it in the cider vinegar.

    I popped the raw eggs into the pot of boiling potatoes for the last 5 or 6 minutes to save dirtying another pot. I drained the potatoes and let the eggs rest until they were cool enough to peel and they were perfectly hard-boiled. The planning comes in now, as the herb and mayonnaise blend rests in the fridge for a couple hours to blend the flavors. This is a step you really don't want to miss, as the herbs infuse the mayonnaise and really enhance the finished dish. Chill it for as long as you can, even if you don't have the 2 hours suggested.

    We were invited to a BBQ with extended family, so I doubled the recipe quite easily. Since I was taking the salad with us and it would be some time before serving. I chose to loosen the dressing with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar that I marinated the onion in so it wouldn't become too thick.

    The additions you like to put in your potato salad are a matter of personal taste. One of my testers missed the diced pickle I usually add. Another thought that the potato salad could have used a little more salt—but that it was the perfect side dish if a salty meat was being served. That said, everyone liked it enough that there wasn't any left at the end of the meal.

    I just made this potato salad for a Labor Day cookout and it was the best I've ever had. I used basil, lemon thyme, and summer savory from my herb garden, and added some chopped dill pickles I made. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. It's perfect but easily adaptable. Try it!

    This beautiful potato salad has so much going for it, although all this can be summed up in a couple words: simplicity and flavor. It’s so easy to make and has only a few ingredients that combine wonderfully.

    This salad has a lovely herbal boldness to it, so if you want to personalize it, your other choices for additions should also have a fairly bold flavor. Chopped pickles or capers, for instance, would be good additions, and maybe even chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

    I think this recipe is quite fine as written—not too much dressing with well-balanced flavors and textures. If you want it creamier, you could add up to 1/3 cup more mayonnaise, but only mix in a little at a time until you reach your idea of perfection.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. I haven’t tried this yet, but am inspired. I want to include my mother’s favorite ingredient to mix into potato salad: mung bean sprouts. Even when her grandchildren were young, they would ask for this. It’s a fairly neutral flavor but adds a nice bit of texture.

    2. Nothing says Summer like potato salad!

      I’m right with you on the mayo. I like seasoned rice wine vinegar for a mellow tartness. And for potatoes I use about half Russets (peeled) and half Yukon gold or Red Rose (unpeeled). The Russets break down like crazy but that renders them both part of the salad and part of the dressing. In any case, that’s the texture and flavor that hits our hot button.

      Happy Summer, everyone!

    3. Is it possible to make this potato salad in advance and if so, should I mix everything whilst the potatoes are warm and then cover and refrigerate the next day? I’m always a little concerned about potato salad and food poisoning so I just want to make sure it will still taste just as good if I made it ahead of time :) Thank you!

      1. Virginia, all you need to do is make the salad and refrigerate it. The next day, pull it out of the fridge an hour or so before serving. We do that all the time, with all our potato salads, and it’s perfect!

    4. Yumscrilicious! This recipe looks like it was meant for me…simple and having everything in my pantry or garden…although I’d substitute marjoram with my bountifully growing oregano and, to be kind I would accomodate the request of all my aggressive eager herbs excited to be called to duty with the addition of my nervous rosemary jumping up excitedly pleading “me too, me too! My main question is the timing does seem a little complex. I was wondering instead of a 2-hour chill for mayo, a 15-minute wait for onion and vinegar marinade, and waiting for potatoes to boil–if instead both the mayo/herb mixture and the onion (marinating in vinegar) could both be refrigerated overnight (while the slow cooker cooks the potatoes overnight). Would there be a max time the mayo/herbs should chill in the fridge or a max time for the onions to marinate in the vinegar? Also: I offer my confession: I indulge on those lovely and convenient bags of pre-boiled bags of hard-boiled eggs found at the grocery store. It saves time and avoids the risk posed by one reader who suggested raw eggs be put in the pot with boiling potatoes which could carry some risk of contaminating the potatoes with salmonella from the external egg shell? Overnight prep might just offer more free time and less time-management skills in getting everything ready at right time. Would this work? Can’t wait to try it, looks like a one-and-only potato salad recipe keeper. Thanks!

    5. I adore potato salad–especially the leftovers when I’ve “accidentally” made too much! I like a sprinkling of dry pan toasted mustard seeds, finding one later on in between your teeth is a bonus. If I do a crispy bacon salad, I also add the zest from thick-cut orange marmalade–in fact this is the only reason I buy marmalade.

    6. Good looking recipe and well seasoned. Thankfully, mashed potato free. I have notice a disturbing trend in potato salad recipes to mash the dickens out of the potatoes, what’s with that? All it does is make a mushy bland mass. OK, off the soapbox, other add ins that are good chopped capers, blue cheese, blue cheese dressing to replace the mayo, chipotle seasoning. and toasted sunflower seeds (yep, a nod to the 70’s) to top it off with.

      1. Ha! Anne, I’m not really a fan of the mashed-potato potato salad, either. And I love the wink at the ’70s with the sunflower seeds. God, I lived on those in seventh and eighth grades.

    7. I love potato salad. Have you tried 1,000 Island Dressing in potato salad with sweet pickles, mayo, eggs, onions, bell pepper, and regular spices, also italian dressing?

    8. I’m a potato salad girl. This one sounds good and has a german potato twang to it. I’ll have to try it. When I was growing up my family had a deli and one of the items we sold was potato salad. Can’t even count how many pounds of potatoes I’ve peeled, diced and mixed. A lot!

      My recipe is pretty simple but oh so good.
      The key is to use name brand products, don’t skimp.

      Here’s the ingredients I use-Best Food Mayonaise, French’s Mustard, sugar, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, hard cooked eggs that have been grated, diced celery, diced sweet onion. I pretty much do it by eye balling and looking at the texture when mixing and of course tasting. If you want to know how much of each let me know and I’ll put something together.

    9. My dad, a native New Yorker, always made the best potato salad. It included chopped crisp bacon, chopped olives and plenty of mayo– just as suggested in your featured recipe above. It made me smile to see “his” favorite add-ins in the ingredient list. Funny story: once or twice each summer, always on a Sunday, dad would fry a batch of chicken, make his potato salad and fill a big wicker laundry basket with picnic fare, load the basket into the trunk, then load the family in the car, take us to church, then drive us about an hour to a lovely park near Wiliamsburg, Virginia to enjoy this delicious lunch. Now, as an adult, I think back on all that food riding around in our trunk for hours, not in a cooler, mind you, and no one ever got sick! Amazing, huh? Thanks for rekindling a wonderful memory. I’m still smiling.

    10. oh dear, you’ve got my cravings going and there are no potatoes in the pantry! Sometimes I do the yogurt/mayo thing…sometimes sour cream plays a role, I do like the vinegar addition, sometimes with a pinch or two of sugar. Capers can be nice, as can a taste of scallion. I do usually add in something crispy, as I like the contrast in texture. Sometimes celery or red or green bell pepper, though if I am in the mood a poblano might sneak in. Alas, my potato salad is different every time I make it, depending on what I have on hand and where my mind gets to wandering….for the Fourth of July I might use a combination of white potatoes, purple potatoes and red bell pepper :)

      1. Zally, I was with you–right there at your side–until you mentioned the “something crispy.” I love textural contrast but not in my potato salad. So weird, but I like it soft. Little pillows of potatoes.

        1. In your honor David, today, I am feeling I would jettison the crispy, but add perhaps some fresh sweet green peas and crumbled bacon….not too crispy. :)

        2. To all at LC – Bravo! Two simple words, if I may – malt vinegar.
          I used 5 tbsp. of malt instead of the 1/4C apple cider vin. and the subtle depth sent your (close-to-perfect!) recipe to a higher level.
          I promise you will not be disappointed.

    11. Yogurt over mayonnaise. Works wonderfully and removes a high-fat industrial product from the recipe. Oh, and shallots over onion….

      1. To each his or her own, Lewis! I must say, I’m with David in that I tend to use half yogurt and half mayonnaise. And I use only homemade mayonnaise, so there’s no issue with the industrial processed ingredient, because I am in full support of you in removing those items from one’s life.

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