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 diced celery for its fresh crunch and grassy flavor, but raw diced onion was excluded. We found that the flavor of raw onion is 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 potato salad beforehand, it can safely hang out in a shady spot for up to a couple of hours. —Josh Cohen
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 40 minutes
- Serves 6 to 8 people
freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons
kosher salt, divided
finely diced kosher dill pickles
finely diced celery
finely sliced chives, plus an extra handful to garnish
freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Use a mesh strainer to genty add the eggs to the boiling water. Boil 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 right away.
- Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces (about 1-inch cubes). Add the potatoes to a large pot, and add cold water to cover the potatoes by about 1 inch. Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 6 to 10 minutes, until they are just tender—they’re done when a paring knife easely pierces the center, but the potato doesn’t fall apart. Strain the potatoes and add them to a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt while the potatoes are warm, then transfer them to the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, until they are cool.
- Add the remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Chop the hard-boiled eggs into bite-size pieces. Gently fold the potatoes and the eggs into the mayonnaise dressing. Taste and adjust with more salt and/or lemon juice as necessary. You can store this potato salad in the refrigerator for up to a few days, or eat it immediately.