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Potato Salad: An Old Family Recipe


Potato Salad

Potato Salad

Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
This is an unusual potato salad recipe. It’s surprisingly simple with only five ingredients plus salt and pepper. It doesn’t include mayonnaise but, instead, is dressed with a basic vinaigrette. And it’s better the second day so I usually make it a day in advance. And note, with the vinegar and oil dressing it’s also resistant to bacterial contamination so it’s probably one of the safest potato salads around. (Larger image.) Serves 2.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes


  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold (or baking/Russet/Idaho) potatoes*
  • 1/2 md. red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. canola, corn, or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
  • 2 tsp. salt plus 2 Tbsp. more for cooking
  • 2 tsp. pepper


1. Cut the onion in quarters vertically, then each quarter in half horizontally. Separate the layers and cut the larger pieces in half again. You should end up with a collection of 1/2 inch squares and some randomly-sized pieces from the center. Dump the onion into a large bowl.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut into bite-size pieces (1/2 to 3/4 inch square). Cook in boiling, salted water until completely cooked - about 12 minutes.

3. Drain and immediately add to the onions.

4. Add oil, vinegar, 2 teaspoons of salt and a 2 teaspoons of black pepper. It's essential that the potatoes be hot when mixing in the oil and vinegar because they'll absorb the liquids.

5. Let the salad sit for a couple of minutes, then taste it (be sure to include a bite of onion). You will almost certainly need to add more oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper but at this point how much of each is a matter of your personal taste. Ideally the flavor will be quite tart because the tartness will decline as the salad ages.

6. Let the salad cool to room temperature, then mix in minced dill. Taste again and tweak oil, vinegar, dill and salt and pepper as needed.

7. Chill for at least four hours, but ideally overnight. Stir and taste one last time before serving.

*Note: Yukon Golds are perfect for this salad. I like their hint of sweetness and they're a medium-high starch potato. I avoid low starch potatoes for two reasons. First, higher starch potatoes are absorbent and will soak up the oil and vinegar, while with low-starch potatoes the dressing tends to pool in the bowl. Second, high-starch potatoes crumble a bit during mixing and these potato particles absorb more of the dressing and cling to the larger pieces of potatoes resulting in something akin in texture and function to mayonnaise.

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