Potato salad.


It’s officially summer here in Vancouver, and all I wanna do is eat cold food outside on a hot day. I’m looking forward to a pretty much endless feast of watermelon and pink wine from now until October, and I will not be deterred.

Now is not the time for dainty salads or leafy greens.

Now is the time for cold potatoes and mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs and pickles and all those radishes that just exploded in the garden. Potato salad. You can make it ahead, stick it in a container, and tote it to the beach and it never wilts or weeps or sucks to eat. Potato salad is one of the greatest culinary inventions of our time, because it is simultaneously a salad and a vegetable side dish, and nobody dislikes it, and it’s got pickles in it.

Who doesn’t want a hot dog and some potato salad? Nobody, that’s who.

This is a pretty straightforward potato salad, the version my mom and everyone else’s mom and grandma makes. It makes a big bowl, enough to serve eight or so as a side dish, and it’s even better the second day. Make sure you make it while the potatoes are still a bit warm; there is a lot of sauce, and when the potatoes are warm they suck the dressing into them as they cool.

I make this with homemade mayonnaise because I’m too cheap to buy it in a jar considering how much we go through, so if you’re using store-bought mayo you may find you need to adjust the salt or acidity a bit to taste; keep in mind though that the dressing should be a bit saltier and a bit more acidic than you’d normally prefer as those flavours will tone down once the dressing is on the salad and it’s served cold. Please, please do not use Miracle Whip for this. I will know somehow that you’ve done it and feel really sad.

Potato Salad

  • 3 lb. white or red waxy potatoes (not Russets), cubed and boiled until tender and cooled slightly
  • 6 scallions, white and light green part only, sliced
  • 4 to 6 radishes, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dill pickles
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. dill pickle brine
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh dill, chopped

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, scallions, radishes, celery, eggs, and pickle bits. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, pickle brine, lemon juice and zest, mustard, sugar, curry powder, paprika, pepper, cayenne pepper, and dill. Whisk together. Taste, adjusting salt and acidity as needed.

Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and toss to coat. I use my hands to gently mix the dressing into the potatoes – you should too. Clean hands are the best kitchen tool there is.

Top with a sprinkle of additional dill, and some more radishes and green onion, if desired. Chill, and serve cold.

8 thoughts on “Potato salad.

  1. Every single woman here in the Deep South has a special potato salad recipe, usually acquired from their Great Aunt Martha. We also use Duke’s mayonnaise, because homemade spoils too fast and Duke’s has magical non-spoiling properties that involve unpronounceable ingredients and factories and such, making it perfect for the Church Summer Picnic where food sits out for hours while the menfolk play cornhole and the womenfolk scare the the teenaged girls with long and detailed accounts of childbirth. Your recipe had me right up to the curry powder, which is not an ingredient I’d ever considered but thinking about it is intriguing and might have to happen. Oh, and we use sweet pickles instead of dill, but that’s a Southern Thang.


    1. What is cornhole?! Do I want to know? The curry powder doesn’t make it taste very curryish, but it does give it a little … something. It’s essential, but I doubt anyone would notice it was there. Sweet pickles? I might try that!


      1. I know…cornhole sounds like something obscene. Every time it’s dragged out I wish it had a different name. It’s a bean bag toss game, with 2 tilted platforms about 20 feet apart, and in teams of 2, your toss corn filled little bags, trying to get them in the hole. it’s a staple of any good Southern outdoor gathering. Sweet pickles (aka bread ‘n’ butters, even though they do not resemble bread an butter in any way at all) are also a staple of anything salad-ish. It’s part of that sweet tooth thing.


      2. One day I’m going to finally get down there and see the South for myself. Sweet pickles in everything sounds dreamy.


      3. You must. Come to Savannah, it is everything both good and bad about the South. I will meet you and we’ll eat softshell blue crabs fresh caught.


  2. Sooooo enjoyed your potato salad this evening. Thank you for making it at my birthday BBQ. It was delicious !


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