Genius Recipes

The Genius Potato Salad That Converted a Potato Salad Skeptic

Monifa Dayo's nontraditional recipe is the upgrade potato salad has always needed.

May 25, 2022

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Founding Editor and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook...usually! While she's on sabbatical for a little longer, a few friendly faces will share their most Genius finds.

Potato salad dates back to the early 19th century, when German immigrants first arrived in America. In the two-ish centuries since, the dish has made its mark as a cookout mainstay and an important symbol of family history and hierarchy.

But if I'm totally honest, I've never fully understood the enduring appeal. In my potato salad experience, at its best, the dish is banal and under-seasoned. And at its worst, it's gloopy, heavy, chalky.

Don't get me wrong—there's nothing inherently unpleasant about any of the ingredients: potatoes, of course, and mayonnaise, mustard, relish, maybe some chives or onions, paprika or hot sauce. All of these things are good, and tasty, and dynamic on their own, filled with flavor and brightness!

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Sorry you feel that way, definitely not my aim—I recognize that my indifference to potato salad is very personal. I just don't love traditional versions myself, and really liked this one. So I thought by sharing it, others who may feel the same as I do could enjoy too. Absolutely no disrespect intended to your family recipe, or anyone else's for that matter. ”
— brindaayer

But somehow, together, the components aren't memorable. The dressing doesn't satisfactorily flavor the potatoes, and the should-be-punchy textures and seasonings manage to overpower and disappear into each other. No matter how much it's tweaked and tinkered with based on family preferences and newfangled ingredients, potato salad still manages to feel pedestrian and old-school. Which is to say, it's in need of a makeover to bring it from 1822 to 2022.

Enter: the groundbreaking new book, Black Food, curated and edited by Bryant Terry. The volume is a celebration and artifact of the modern African diaspora, with recipes, yes, but also meditations on music, culture, politics, and power. In the book's introduction, Terry shares the objective of the project and his assignment to its contributors: "I asked brilliant colleagues to offer dishes that embody their approach to cooking and draw on history and memory while looking forward." And its more than 100 recipe absolutely deliver on the ask—including a very forward-thinking potato salad from chef and stylist Monifa Dayo.

The salad's genius is that it embraces the best of what potato salad already is, and fills in the missing gaps to help it fulfill its true potential—presenting us with something that is recognizable yet entirely nontraditional. Great attention to technique and a few very smart ingredient swaps bring this particular dish from fine to transcendent.

Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Ericka Martins. Prop stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

For one thing, the potatoes are treated with the care and finesse they deserve—given that they're, well, one half of the recipe's title. Boiling cubes of Yukon Golds in a pot of water so fully salted that it turns "cloudy," as Dayo instructs, allows for an already deeply flavorful base on which we'll add additional layers. Beyond seasoning, Dayo's recipe has a specific plan for the potatoes' cook, taking care to start them in cold water (to ensure a totally even rise to temp, then eventual boil) and shimmy them on a sheet pan to finish, breaking them up into uneven pieces to create craggy bits.

Immediately showering the potatoes with pickling liquid from quick-pickled shallots and olive oil, then dusting them with more salt and pepper, introduces the energetic lift of acidity early on in the seasoning. And the precision doesn't stop there. Instead of mayonnaise, Dayo shepherds us towards the emulsion's French cousin, aioli, with its fruity, garlicky bite, and mellows it with grassy, sweet whole-milk yogurt. Then capers, the pickled shallot solids, and wisps of roughly chopped cilantro and parsley bring crunch, brine, and herbal bitterness.

All of this would have been enough, but no: Soft-poached eggs are cradled on top and roughly quartered, their unctuous yolks mingling with the aioli-yogurt blend. Frilly tarragon and dill leaves are picked from their stems, waiting for their moment to act as a feather in this salad's cap.

Right before the garnish, perhaps the most important step of the whole recipe takes place: the briefest, gentlest hand-mixing of the salad's ingredients, so delicate so that streaks of aioli and discs of poached egg white will remain intact and identifiable within the mishmash. If you're tempted to go overboard—well, don't. Take it easy here; you worked so hard on the rest of your potato salad.

Got a Genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it Kristen's way (and tell her what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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  • Debrose59
  • Beemount
  • paseo
  • LisaD
  • eweinberg63
Brinda is the Director of Content at Food52, where she oversees all site content across Food52 and Home52. She likes chewy Neapolitan pizza, stinky cheese of all sorts, and tahini-flavored anything. Brinda lives in Brooklyn with 18 plants and at least one foster pup (sometimes more). Find her at @brindayesterday on Twitter and Instagram.


Debrose59 May 28, 2023
This looks amazing. Thanks for sharing! Going to try the recipe and buy the cookbook!
Beemount May 27, 2023
Aren't people able to read a recipe and have a general idea if they will like it or not? Nothing on the list is an outrageous ingredient for potato salad. And Brinda is right, many people make incredibly boring potato salad. I haven't made this recipe yet...but I'm going to. Because I love good potato salad and jammy eggs and capers and apple cider vinegar and tarragon...and all of it! Sounds amazing.

Comments shouldn't be about changing a recipe into YOUR recipe but constructive comments about THE recipe.
paseo June 24, 2022
Wow, this really got some people cranked up. It’s a recipe guys not a blueprint for life. And some of the comments really should be deleted as they really don’t have anything to do with the recipe at all, just a somewhat offensive rant from a self important twit. I, for one think the recipe looks very good. Will I make it exactly as written? Probably not, but I will definitely incorporate a lot of the techniques and ingredients. Proving once again that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
LisaD June 6, 2022
Brinda! That potato salad looks so intriguing! With 8 poached eggs it must be super decadent. Although, I think I'd miss the celery, so I think I'd have to add. But thank you so much for your presentation. I can't wait to try!
eweinberg63 June 4, 2022
Potato salad can be so personal! I made this my way, then watched the video after which really helped me understand the dish. (The video is great, by the way. If you watch closely, there's a lot of education on technique). There are quirky ingredients -- I didn't have capers, used cornichons, which didn't work. My final take: great overall technique, I recommend using this level of detail, particularly the pre-dressing with shallot vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. You'll taste all the ingredients, so make sure the olive oil tastes good. The vinegar is sharp, so careful with sharp-tasting additions. No need for pickles. I'm skeptical about the yogurt and aioli, but there's a lot of room to adapt. Hellman's mayo is a really great product, that plus some garlic and a tad dijon works fine. I poached the egg in the microwave (google it), really good and worth it. I used parsley and celery leaves, I think you can use the soft herbs you like and have. The point is all the fresh greenness. Scallions, mint, basil all should work I think. In the end, I like classic potato salad more than I realized, and I recommend not straying too far from whatever you usually like in potato salad since you'll end up missing what you like. But this approach does give ideas for how to spruce and freshen up a traditional recipe.
Thanks for the recipe and video!
galebv June 2, 2022
Rediculously good. Best thing I have EVER tasted. And I haven't even added the jammy eggs, tarragon and dill yet. Whoa. Thank you for this recipe. I'm never doing anything else. And so easy! Love the shallot trick!
rhonda B. May 31, 2022
I cheated and medium boiled the eggs, but otherwise followed the directions. Enormous hit with my barbecue crowd. This recipe will remain definitely remain in rotation.
fastknife May 28, 2022
well. ah. might be good, ah, but hhmm. maybe not ah, why the heck is this woman, ah presenting this ah, recipe, ah. hmm. don't know. ah, very painful for me, ah to watch this.
brindaayer May 29, 2022
Hey fastknife—while I am generally appreciative of constructive criticism, I'd like to remind you that people making videos for the internet are people too. This comment disparaging my speaking affect is unfortunately not helpful in any way nor is it particularly kind. I'd recommend you think twice before sharing such a message on other videos in the future.
Patricia A. June 1, 2022
Nasty person. I bet she disparages a lot of people.
fastknife June 2, 2022
actually i seldom make any comments.

your presentation is lacking on this video. try making note of this and make efforts to improve.

the internet is not always a gentle place. if this small comment bothers you, i suggest another endeavor.

wonder if you have you ever worked in a professional restaurant? it's a tough place...not for the easily bruised.

i will head over the Bon Appetit site. martinez provides a straight-forward, efficient, and entertaining video presence.

Best of Luck.
brindaayer June 2, 2022
And you, in turn, might try making notes and efforts to improve your basic respect and decency towards others. Because those seem to be lacking. Enjoy Rick's videos; I helped create them so I know they are good.
fastknife June 2, 2022

thin skinned to say the least. that such a dash of criticism sets you off suggests something else is bothering you. personal in nature and certainly not my concern.

many things are ( naturally ) subject to review and criticism. why should you be exempt?


your video presentation was terrible. now, cry me a river and run as fast as you can to HR.

I do have questions.

where are your supervisors?
do they watch their staff's productions?
do they make comments to improve online content as they should? or have you bullied them into complacent silence?

i'll conclude with an old and solid saying: it's good advice for some.

"if you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen."

brindaayer June 2, 2022
I don't feel that engaging with you is going to get anyone anywhere ("bullying" is a funny word to use here to refer to me, considering the interaction we're having right now) so all I will say is: I don't mind about the criticism—we all have stuff to work on. But there are hundreds of different devices one can use to convey criticism that aren't rooted mockery or insulting or name-calling. It might do you good to keep that in mind.
fastknife June 2, 2022
truth hurts sometimes. now identified as spam. has a great article on which potato to use for p. salad and the reason(s) why. check it out!!
eweinberg63 June 4, 2022
Maybe someone can remove fastknife's comments from this site? They don't add anything and are distracting for readers who want productive responses to this recipe
Picholine May 16, 2023
I always check to see when the person joined and sadly that person joined just to make a comment. Therefore not a thing they said and contributed is useless and just mean spirited. I enjoyed the presentation. Learned a new way of making potato salad which is why I’m a member of Food52. Thanks
Granny S. May 26, 2022
I cannot wait to try this recipe. I get intrigued by labor intensive recipes. What shocked me is that the first (larger) picture looked as if there was blue cheese in it, but I was wrong. I might try adding that tho at the end.... just a tiny bit! Thank you for sharing!!!
brindaayer May 29, 2022
Thanks for reading, let me know how it goes!
Aurora K. May 26, 2022
You lost me at jammy. There’s no way jammy eggs are going into my heirloom potato-HB egg salad. I use my Huguenot French grandmother’s recipe as a template. Boiled Yukon Golds; avocado mayo; perfectly HB eggs [nowadays, I use Vital Farms organic, pastured raised; a little softened grass-fed cultured butter; maybe some plain kefir or Noosa strawberry-rhubarb full fat yogurt; some finely minced shallots; some finely minced flat-leafed parsley leaves; maybe some honey vinegar or L’Olivier Passionfruit Pulp Yogurt; some lemon juice & organic peel; maybe some jus or stock; maybe some Mt. Olive bread & butter pickle brine; no capers;
maybe some finely minced bread & butter pickle; maybe some Major Grey’s mango chutney; some Dijon &, nowadays, some Honeycup tangy mustard; maybe a spattering of microplaned, peeled fresh ginger; maybe some Worcestershire sauce; grinds of Pink Himalayan salt & Malabar black pepper; maybe pinches of homemade saffron sugar, made with saffron filaments, not saffron powder;
maybe some Red Boat fish sauce; hmmm, no anchovies; no cilantro; maybe some Hungarian sweet paprika; …
… but never, ever jammy, undercooked HB eggs. 🥳
brindaayer May 26, 2022
This sounds good too, thanks for sharing. Different strokes for different folks—I love runny yolks and as long as the white is fully cooked (no salmonella for me, thanks!), I am all set. Thanks for reading.
Aurora K. May 26, 2022
You lost me at “jammy.” No way I’m making my hard-boiled eggs “jammy.” I use my French grandmother’s recipe as a template: Yukon golds; perfectly boiled HB eggs [I use organic, pasture-raised Vital Farms eggs]; some [avocado] mayo; some Dijon [& nowadays, I also add some Honeycup mustard]; some finely chopped shallot; maybe some finely chopped thin celery stalks & leaves; maybe some finely minced flat-leafed parsley leaves; maybe a splash of some jus or stock; maybe a splash of honey vinegar [or L’Olivier Passionfruit Pulp Vinegar]; maybe a splash of some excellent Mt. Olive pickle brine; maybe a finely minced pickle or two; maybe some microplaned peeled ginger; maybe some lemon juice & some microplaned organic lemon peel; grinds of both Pink Himalayan salt & Tellicherry or Malabar black pepper. Sometimes, some pink peppercorns, sprinkled on as garnish …

But never under-cooked eggs‼️

taash May 26, 2022
They're a little undercooked, not runny -- recipe doesn't work if the eggs are boiled until the yolks turn green. I don't eat runny eggs because I can't stand the smell.

Iggy504 May 26, 2022
They yolks only turn green when overcooked.
coolingwinds May 25, 2022
It’s kind of an open ended recipe. She said throughout the video to use as much or as little of an ingredient as you like. If you don’t want to use 8?eggs use less. The food police aren’t likely to show up.
brindaayer May 26, 2022
You're spot on! This recipe is super flexible and anyone is welcome to tweak amounts as they see fit.
galebv May 25, 2022
I'm guessing this is a potato salad for the moment, and not one to stay in the fridge for lunches? And it does look like it feeds a ton! Did I miss the serving quantities? But, aside from those questions, it looks SO good!
coolingwinds May 25, 2022
I agree.
brindaayer May 26, 2022
When I tested the recipe, I kept it in the fridge for a few days and it held up pretty well—as you note, the serving size is very hefty (8 is conservative, I think!) and was way more than what my partner and I could finish together in one sitting. The yolks did firm up a bit, but that was OK for me. I just kept some of the garnishing herbs aside and topped off each leftover serving with a few sprigs. Hope you enjoy!
samanthashepherd May 25, 2022
EIGHT eggs? One cup of capers????? Four pounds of potatoes???? This recipe is for a crowd.
brindaayer May 26, 2022
Yep, per the cookbook recipe, it serves 6 to 8 fairly large portions. I'd say if you're making it as part of a potluck with a lot of other food, it could stretch to feed 12 easily.
coolingwinds May 25, 2022
I love all of the fresh herbs and poached eggs. Usually I use hard boiled, the yolks as part of the dressing is a great idea. I’d be willing to try this recipe. Looks pretty good to me.
brindaayer May 26, 2022
Hope you enjoy, thanks so much!
taash May 25, 2022
I make a potato salad that I love, which gets rave reviews wherever it goes. No mayo, no yogurt, no pickled anything, no herbs. Short ingredients list, quick prep, easy to make, & a hands-down winner.

6 - 8 Yukon gold potatoes boiled in well-salted water
@ 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Chopped scallions
Chopped Moroccan oil-cured olives
2 - 4 jammy hard-boiled eggs (they have to have fudgy/soft yolks, to create a dressing when combined with the rest of the ingredients)
Coarse French mustard (moutarde de Meaux)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing with a large serving spoon or silicone spatula. Add salt to taste. Serve.

brindaayer May 26, 2022
This sounds great too. Thanks for sharing!
taash May 26, 2022
My pleasure! I hate the typical "deli-style" potato salad with mayo, it tastes like iodine to me.
Gardengranny May 25, 2022
Very pretentious! My North Louisiana mother’s potato salad, which we’ve been making for 75 years, incorporates many of the tips in this recipe! I wonder who is the snob? the author of the article or of the recipe🙁
brindaayer May 26, 2022
Sorry you feel that way, definitely not my aim—I recognize that my indifference to potato salad is very personal. I just don't love traditional versions myself, and really liked this one. So I thought by sharing it, others who may feel the same as I do could enjoy too. Absolutely no disrespect intended to your family recipe, or anyone else's for that matter.