Make the Best Potato Salad

10 easy and delicious recipes for your next picnic or family gathering.

Mama Merediths Potato Salad

Mama Meredith's Potato Salad reminds you of your mother's recipe.

Lori Dunn

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Mention potato salad in a group of people and stand back. You’ll be regaled with emphatic likes and dislikes, and probably as many recipes as there are individuals. Mustard or mayonnaise? Pickles or no? Onions? What kind of potatoes? You get the picture.

This topic was of great interest to us at the Grit office after one of our bloggers, Kate Will, posted “Potato Salad Passion” about mid-summer. Editor Hank Will, her husband, quickly responded. And the debate spread.

Jenn Nemec, senior associate editor, soon chimed in, and she created a landing page at www.Grit.com/potato-salad.aspx to spread the word about our “Great Potato Salad Debate.”

A flurry of responses hit cyberspace, then I added my two cents worth – after a trip home to consult with Mom, four aunts, two sisters and a cousin.

It didn’t take long for our editor in chief, K.C. Compton, to suggest an office event. So was born the Ogden Potato Salad Cook-off.

The cook-off provided a platform for nine intrepid chefs among our colleagues, and more than 50 hungry co-workers helped us judge the Best Cold Salad, the Best Warm Salad, the Best Salad with Meat, and the Most Unusual Salad.

Now, for your dining pleasure, here are the winners!

Mama Meredith's Potato Salad
Mom's German Potato Salad
Rosemary Prosciutto Potato Salad
Fresh Tarragon Potato Salad
Garlic Mayonnaise
German-Polish Oven-Roasted Potato Salad
Warmer Kartoffelsolat Mit Speck
Kartoffel Salat
Potato Salad
Left Over Mashed Potato Salad

The Best Cold Salad recipe comes from Shawn in Advertising. 

Mama Meredith’s Potato Salad

6 to 8 russet potatoes
6 hard-boiled eggs
5 slices green pepper
3 scallion tops
1/4 cup onion
10 dill pickle slices, approximately
5 slices bacon
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped dried celery
1/4 teaspoon cilantro
1/4 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle garlic salt
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 to 1 cup Miracle Whip

Boil potatoes for about 20 to 30 minutes, according to size of potatoes. Peel skins after cooling and dice into squares. Boil eggs, chop them along with green peppers, onion, scallions, pickles and bacon. Add to potatoes. Add remaining ingredients. Gently mix in Miracle Whip and cool overnight, or at least 1 hour before serving.

Note: If I have radishes on hand, I cut up about four or five to add for color.

Judy in Customer Care won in the Best Warm Salad category. “I tried to put measurements to how my mother made it. All I know is that for all our family gatherings, everyone anxiously waited for the arrival of Mom and her potato salad.” 

Mom’s German Potato Salad

3 pounds red potatoes
1 pound bacon
1 large onion
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/3 cups water
2/3 cup vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

Boil potatoes, peel and dice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Dice bacon and onion; fry together in large skillet. Do not drain. Add flour to skillet and mix well. Combine water, vinegar and sugar. Slowly add liquid to skillet. Thicken over low heat.

Pour bacon mixture over potatoes and gently combine. Serve hot.

Note: Mom never measured anything, she did it all by taste. Add less sugar if you like a more tart taste.

James in Marketing placed first in the category, Best Salad with Meat. 

Rosemary Prosciutto Potato Salad (or Crazy Potato Salad)

8 to 9 medium waxy potatoes
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup prosciutto cut in thin strips
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped red or green pepper
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Peel and slice potatoes. Boil to al dente, or “to the tooth,” drain and pour white wine over potatoes; cool. Fry prosciutto until bacon-like consistency; do not overcook. With heat at high, add potato mixture to prosciutto in skillet and let fat coat potatoes. Quickly coat and remove from heat.

Place mixture in large bowl. Add onion, oil, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, and chopped peppers. Chill several hours. When ready to serve, toss with mayonnaise and garnish with parsley.

Note: Sweet potatoes may be used in place of a few of the waxy potatoes.

The term, al dente, as defined by Epicurious.com, is an Italian phrase meaning “to the tooth,” used to describe pasta or other food that is cooked only until it offers a slight resistance when bitten into, but which is not soft or overdone.

K.C., editor in chief for Grit, CAPPER’S and The Herb Companion, took top honors for Most Unusual Salad. 

Fresh Tarragon Potato Salad

From www.HerbCompanion.com: Redolent with fresh garlic and tarragon, this unusual blend adds a touch of country French to an American picnic table. Substitute fresh dill or cilantro if you don’t like tarragon. 

4 large russet potatoes (I used a medley of purple potatoes, Yukon gold, cranberry reds and new potatoes)
Apple cider vinegar
1 batch Garlic Mayonnaise, or to taste (recipe follows) (I just used commercial light mayo and added Dijon
mustard and garlic cloves plus a little tarragon vinegar)
1/3 to 1/2 cup whole, fresh tarragon leaves, stripped from stems
1 red onion or several scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook and peel potatoes. Dice when nearly cooled and douse liberally with vinegar. Pouring on vinegar while potatoes are still warm allows vinegar to soak in.

Add Garlic Mayo, fresh tarragon, chopped onion, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

Garlic Mayonnaise

Making mayonnaise in a food processor, blender or with a handheld immersion blender is easy. Use it for potato salad, to top off grilled asparagus or as an artichoke dip. Once you’ve had homemade, you’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff. For a special ice-breaking activity at a dinner party, give each guest a glass of wine, these ingredients, and a mortar and pestle, and let them make the mayo by hand! 

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 large egg
4 or more cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups light vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place vinegar, egg, pressed garlic and mustard in a food-processor bowl. With machine running, slowly pour oil in steady stream through top. Although it defies logic, the more oil you add, the thicker the mayo becomes. Season with salt and pepper. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

In response to our Great Potato Salad Debate at www.Grit.com, LunaPierCook, aka Dave Liske (www.BlogsMonroe.com/food/), sent this recipe. He says it is also available as a PDF at www.MICuisine.com/mi_cuisine/recipes/pdfs/potatosalad.pdf. 

German-Polish Oven-Roasted Potato Salad

5 pound bag medium-to-large redskin potatoes*
1 1/2 pounds fresh pork bratwurst sausage in natural casing
2 bottles (12 ounces each) German-style beer
3 medium sweet onions*
3 medium red and/or yellow bell peppers with flat sides*
3 stalks celery
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
5 teaspoons German or horseradish mustard
Celery seed
Olive oil
Salt (preferably Kosher)

* Pre-cubed raw potatoes and frozen bags of pre-roasted bell peppers and onions can be found at various commercial food stores.

Equipment:
2 baking sheets
1 12-inch skillet
1 large mixing bowl
1 grill
1 food processor
2 small bowls
1 9-inch plate
2 reclosable storage bags
1 3-inch-tall piece of 3-inch ID PVC pipe, washed well (optional)
1 square plate (optional)

Deep Prep (the day before you need it):

Turn oven on and let it preheat to 425°F. Wash the potatoes, cut any nasty bits off and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. (Did we say to peel anything? No, we didn't. Leave the skins on. They're good that way.) In a large mixing bowl, toss the potato cubes with a good coating of olive oil and some celery seed to taste. Coat the two baking sheets with a thin bit of olive oil and spread the potatoes on them in a single layer. Roast the potato cubes in the oven, turning them over regularly, until the outsides are slightly crunchy but still a nice golden brown. Scrape them into a clean large mixing bowl and refrigerate. If any potato is left on the baking sheets you'll want to run them under hot water right away so they'll get clean.

Lay the bratwursts in the bottom of the skillet in a single layer. Pour the full contents of the bottles of beer over the sausage. Set the heat for a medium-to-high simmer and cook until the beer is almost gone (about 30 minutes), rotating the sausage regularly. Remove the sausage from the liquid and refrigerate. Dogs love drinking the leftover liquid (the alcohol's been boiled away).

On a clean, open-wire grill (an outdoor grill is fine), cover one end of the grill rack with aluminum foil. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil on the foil and set the grill to medium heat. Skin the onions, cut them into 1/4-inch slices and lay the slices on the oiled foil. Drizzle a little more oil on the onion slices. Lay the peppers on the exposed side of the grill over the flame. Cook the onions, flipping only once. At the same time, rotate the peppers often. When the onions are slightly browned on both sides, remove them to the 9-inch plate and refrigerate. When the peppers are charred and blistered on all sides, remove them from the heat and let them rest just a few minutes. Place the still-hot peppers into a plastic bag and seal it. Steam will form, loosening the skin. After just a few minutes, when they're barely cool enough to handle, remove them from the bag and remove the skin, using a sharp paring knife if necessary. Refrigerate the peppers in a clean storage bag.

Once everything is refrigerated until chilled, quarter the sausage lengthwise, then cut into chunks about the same size as the roasted potatoes. Add the sausage to the potatoes and toss them together.

Remove the chilled peppers from the bag and cut them open. Remove the stems and seeds, and put them into a bowl in the fridge.

The Day You Need It:

Add the mayonnaise and mustard to the bowl of a food processor with low blades installed and run on low speed until smooth. While the processor is still running, add 2 to 5 tablespoons olive oil until the dressing is the consistency of a store-bought, creamy salad dressing. (The amount of olive oil you add will be dependent on the consistency of the mayonnaise and mustard.) With the dressing still in the food processor, add salt to taste, stopping the food processor during tasting. (Yeah, ummm, don't stick a tasting spoon in there when the blades are turning …) Once the flavor is right, fold the dressing into the potato and sausage mixture, then toss until the potato and sausage mixture is completely coated with the dressing. Chill for at least an hour.

Individual Platings:

To serve individual platings, cut the roasted peppers into strips 1/2-inch wide and a couple inches long. Also cut some celery into thin lengths a couple inches long. Stand the section of PVC pipe in the middle of the square plate and stuff it with the dressed potato and sausage mixture until the pipe is a couple inches full. Carefully remove the pipe, then top the formed mixture with the peppers, a few onion slices and the thin lengths of celery. Garnish the plate with a couple larger celery sticks and serve.

Bulk Servings:

Slice the celery stalks into thin slices. Cut the roasted peppers and onion slices into strips about 1-inch long, and gently mix the peppers, onions and celery with the potatoes and sausage. Set out the big bowl or serve in smaller bowls.

Also on our potato salad forum, Nikkers posted, “The way I make potato salad is how my mother made it. I wouldn't have it any other way. This is by far the best potato salad I have ever had.” 

I boil white potatoes whole with skins on until done all the way through, cool them and let the skins slip off easily.

Ingredients:
Mix real mayo and sour cream, in a 1 to 1 proportion, with salt, pepper and (if preferred) mustard (optional: add some fresh lemon juice for tartness and a spoon of sugar for a more sweet/sour taste)
Diced boiled potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced red onions
Diced red pepper
Diced cucumber
Diced dill pickle
Peeled and diced granny smith apple (you could use red or green unpeeled apples for a variety of color and
taste)
Chopped hard boiled eggs
Lots of chopped fresh dill (or dried dill)
Optional: A dab of yellow mustard for color, lemon and sugar to taste

Garnish:
Chopped green onions or chives, and a sprinkle of paprika

I don't follow a recipe, just go by taste. There is no hard and fast rule for the amounts of ingredients. The goal is to make a light, fresh tasting, colorful potato salad with a blend of textures and flavors.

I (Jean) grew up in a German-Russian community, and one of the many cookbooks my mother has collected over the years (this one was published in 1975 by a group of women active in area churches), Das Essen Unsrer Lewte, included these recipes. A friend translates the title as This is Our People. I suspect the title refers to “the food of our people,” or something similar. 

Warmer Kartoffelsolat Mit Speck (Hot Potato Salad with Bacon)

9 medium boiling potatoes (about 3 pounds), unpeeled
1/2 pound bacon, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup white wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Drop unpeeled potatoes into boiling water to cover completely, boil. Be careful not to overcook or they will fall apart when sliced. Drain potatoes in colander, then peel and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Set potatoes aside in bowl tightly covered with foil.

In a heavy 8-to-10-inch skillet, cook bacon until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Add onions to fat remaining in skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until soft but not brown. Stir in vinegar, water, salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute or so.

Add onion mixture to potatoes. Pour hot sauce over potatoes, turning slices gently with large spoon to coat evenly. Gently stir bacon pieces into salad.

Serve at once or cover and set salad aside at room temperature until ready to serve. Just before serving, stir salad gently and sprinkle top with parsley.

– By Susan Giebler, Catherine, Kansas

Kartoffel Salat (German Potato Salad with Sour Cream Dressing)

4 cups diced, cool, cooked potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
4 boiled eggs, sliced
3 tablespoons mustard salad dressing
2 cups sour cream

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Chill about 1 hour before serving. Also good served on lettuce. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

– By Mrs. Frank Klaus, Liebenthal, Kansas

Potato Salad

1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix ingredients, cook until stiff. Add cream and cool. Pour over cooked and chopped potatoes and eggs. Add chopped onion and sweet pickle relish.

– from Munjor, Kansas

Left Over Mashed Potato Salad

Cold mashed potatoes
Onion powder
Celery, cut fine
Sweet pickles, cut fine
Salt and pepper

Combine potatoes, onion powder, celery and pickles. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mash boiled eggs; add salad dressing and pickle juice to eggs, then add to potato mixture. Also add parsley flakes. Just add enough pickle juice to give taste. Put paprika on top.

Senior Associate Editor Jean Teller still prefers mustard, mayonnaise and dill pickles in her potato salad, in spite of her colleagues’ cajoling to the contrary. 

HELP WANTED:

• Sheri Seifert, Ontario, California, is searching for recipes using tater tots – sides, main dishes or casseroles.

• Roger K. Miller, Spring Grove, Virginia, is looking for a coffee dessert his wife’s grandmother used to make for Sunday dinners in Oxford, Massachusetts. The recipe wasn’t passed down, and they have tried unsuccessfully to re-create the dessert. Roger says, “The coffee dessert was like a parfait or custard. It was served in a custard-type dish, probably because that was what she had on hand. The top was like custard or chiffon, and the bottom of the dish was a layer of coffee syrup.”

• Ella Hyman, Tarboro, North Carolina, would like a recipe for corn pudding, and she is also looking for a place to get a spice tree.

• Nera Johnson, Berryton, Kansas, would like a recipe for squash pie. Her mother used to make the pie using a white and green striped, crook-neck squash called Kershaw. It was a lighter color and milder tasting than a pumpkin pie. Nera says her mother found the recipe in a magazine.

• Ronald Finnegan, Ashland, Ohio, wonders if anyone has a recipe for English bangers, an old-time country recipe for sausage. “I became hooked on them while stationed in England,” he writes, “but I can’t find a good recipe for making them.”