Potato Salad

A Creamy, No-Mayo Potato Salad With a Surprise Ingredient

July 12, 2018

A picnic without potato salad is like Thanksgiving without stuffing. It’s quintessential summertime grub. It’s hard to imagine a red-checkered tablecloth draped over a picnic table without a giant bowl of potato salad weighing it down.

The only problem with classic creamy potato salad is that it always includes mayo, sour cream, or some kind of dairy which isn’t something everyone at the picnic table can partake in. Surely you could forgo the creamy potato salad for a vinegar-based one that everyone can eat, but why compromise when you don’t have to? This potato salad checks both boxes in one creamy, dreamy dish.

Finally, a potato salad that checks all the boxes. Photo by James Ransom

To make this dairy-free but super-creamy potato salad, you won’t need any special equipment or labor in the kitchen for hours. You’ll just need one magic ingredient you’ve likely seen popping up a lot lately: tahini.

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The velvety, sesame-based spread is having a moment and I am here for it! What I once viewed as an ingredient specifically used for hummus, I now see as an endlessly versatile ingredient that lends a rich smoothness to just about anything. It’s a go-to for making creamy salad dressing. It’s the smooth operator behind this super creamy pasta. And it’s the icing on the cake (literally) in this tahini buttercream–frosted chocolate cake. In this case, it’s the superhero ingredient behind this surprisingly vegan, dairy-free potato salad. (Not all heroes wear capes.)

The dressing is a cinch to make. I add a little warm tap water to the tahini to loosen it up a bit. (It has a tendency to firm up in the jar, especially if you’re using a previously opened tahini from the fridge.) Then, just whisk in some oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and season it up. Another tip is to dress the potatoes while they’re still hot to give them a chance to soak up all that tangy dressing as the salad cools. I add celery, a little onion, and baby arugula to my potato salad, but you can add whatever you’d like—or, because the dressing is so luscious, add nothing at all!

The best part about this potato salad isn’t just that it’s a great make-ahead dish (and you can make it waaay ahead) or that it’s perfect for packing to go. It’s also that this particular potato salad is just as creamy, just as delicious, and just as quintessential as the classic version.

The Food52 staff can confirm: We couldn’t stop eating Grant’s perfect potato salad.

Do you hate mayo in your potato salad? Let us know in the comments below.

Here, have another


burns W. August 11, 2018
I like the tahini idea. My son hates mayo so I have always made potato salads without. It frees you up to experiment, using potatoes as a base, some oil, some vinegar, and additions. <br />I like the idea of preparing it when the potatoes are hot - nice call there.
Pam August 9, 2018
This is wonderful. The tahini dressing is really different but a great flavor. A "Grant" recipe is always unique and good!
Jared M. July 26, 2018
I will have to try this! I enjoy a good potato salad but avoid mayo mainly to reduce soy intake. Most mayos nowadays are primarily soybean oil and I am not interested in that.<br /><br />Also, like Eileen mentioned, a lot of mayo brands are Kosher Parve, meaning no dairy/meat ingredients.
leslie July 20, 2018
And you hate mayo because??? If it isn't the taste or texture, it is usually the calories... PLEASE note that tahini has about the same calorie content... It is actually not a "lighter" alternative.
Eileen Z. July 13, 2018
The recipe sounds good but there is a correction that should be made to this article because mayonnaise is not dairy! "The only problem with classic creamy potato salad is that it always includes mayo, sour cream, or some kind of dairy which isn’t something everyone at the picnic table can partake in."
Eric K. July 16, 2018
Thanks for the observation, Eileen. I don't know that the writer was implying that mayo is dairy, just that "some kind of dairy" is one of many reasons one might not want to or be able to partake in potato salad.
Kevin K. September 22, 2018
Some people think that eggs are dairy. They're not, of course, but it is a persistent misperception.