For me, potato salad is a very nostalgic food, evoking summertime, picnics, reunions, and large gatherings. In my family, a mayonnaise-based sauce is a given. Which isn’t meant to disrespect German-style potato salad, with no mayo and lots of bacon—I love that version, too. But if you ask me, this is the ultimate potato salad.
So, what kind of potato works best? Our test kitchen considered Idaho potatoes, but found that their fluffy texture was less than ideal in a salad. Something waxier and firmer works better here. Think: Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes. I prefer the latter because of their sturdy texture, mild earthy flavor, and because the red skins add some nice color.
For acidity, we added fresh lemon juice (bright but subtle) rather than vinegar (too strong). The key is to add the lemon juice to the cooked potatoes while they’re still warm, which ensures that the flavor soaks in.
In a potentially controversial move, we add raw chopped celery for its fresh crunch and grassy flavor, but raw chopped onion was excluded. We found that the flavor of raw onion was too aggressive. That said, a little onion powder goes a long way, adding a can’t-put-your-finger-on-it savoriness to the salad.
In terms of fresh herbs, you could add anything—parsley, tarragon, chives, dill, and scallions, to name a few. Each of these options is enjoyable in its own way, but in the end, we landed on just chives for their simply allium flavor, like an onion but gentler.
This potato salad is great with a multitude of foods, from sandwiches to barbecue ribs to roast chicken. Just remember to fully chill it on warm summer days before serving it outside. By refrigerating the potato salad beforehand, it can safely hang out in a shady spot for up to a couple of hours. —Josh Cohen
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Serves 6 to 8
freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons
finely chopped celery
finely chopped kosher dill pickles
finely sliced chives
freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Using a fine-mesh strainer, gently lower the eggs into the boiling water. Cook the eggs for exactly 10 minutes, then drain and immediately cool in an ice bath or under cold running water. Peel the eggs under water and store in the refrigerator if you aren’t using them right away.
- Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces (about 1-inch cubes). Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add cold water to cover the potatoes by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 6 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender—they’re done when a paring knife easily pierces the center, but the potato doesn’t fall apart. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt while the potatoes are still warm and toss to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, until cool.
- In another large bowl, stir the celery, mayonnaise, pickles, chives, mustard, onion powder, and pepper to combine. Chop the hard-boiled eggs into bite-size pieces. Gently fold the potatoes and eggs into the mayonnaise mixture. Taste and adjust with more salt and/or lemon juice as necessary. You can store in the refrigerator for up to a few days, or serve immediately.