How to make the ultimate potato salad

A real classic and perfect for summer picnics and BBQs or buffet feasts at any time of the year, the ultimate potato salad is simple to make at home. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s also a great recipe to tweak and make your own. Added herbs, spices, veg, meat or fish can turn this simple side into a main dish on it’s own.

  1. Start with the potatoes

    When in season, Jersey Royal potatoes are generally considered the cream of the crop and work beautifully in potato salads due to their sweet, nutty flavour and waxy texture. Other small waxy potatoes work just as well too, so look out for potatoes labeled ‘new’, ‘baby’ or ‘salad’ in store. There’s no need to peel, just give them a good scrub and halve or quarter any larger ones so that all of your spuds are roughly the same size. Boil for 15-20 minutes, until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, then drain and leave to cool.

  2. Prep your dressing

    A traditional potato salad uses mayonnaise to bring the ingredients together and is perfectly delicious on it’s own, but you could easily substitute with other ingredients if you prefer. Lighten things up with a low fat variety of mayo or by mixing with part natural or Greek-style yogurt. Add extra creaminess with crème fraîche or tangy soured cream. Spoon just enough to lightly coat the potatoes in a large mixing bowl to make the dressing.

  3. Choose your herbs

    Herbs add much needed colour and freshness to potato salad, so it’s worth the little bit of chopping needed to prepare them. The aniseed flavour of dill is the perfect partner for potatoes, but snipped chives also work well, adding a delicate oniony flavor. For a summer twist, try using alternative herbs such as fresh mint or fragrant basil. Finely chop or snip a handful and add to your mixing bowl.

  4. Season, mix and serve

    Add seasoning to taste to the bowl then stir together your dressing to combine. Add the cooled potatoes and mix gently so that they are fully coated in the dressing but be careful not to break them up too much before serving.

  5. Ring the changes

    Small additions can dramatically alter the flavour of your potato salad. A squeeze of lemon or a little vinegar in the dressing adds acidity. A spoonful of mustard adds a bit of a kick – try Dijon for a more subtle flavour or wholegrain mustard for texture and bite. Chopped spring onions, sliced red onions or even peas add colour and substance. Just stir through before serving. 

  6. Make it meaty…

    To turn potato salad into a more substantial or main meal, try adding some cooked meat to the finished dish. Salty, smoky bacon or cooked pancetta cubes work well in both hot or cold versions, just grill or fry until crisp then chop into chunks and stir through the salad or crumble over the top for a crisp bacon topping. For a no-cook alternative, shred ready-cooked ham or chicken into the salad.

  7. … Or fishy

    Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are a great choice for adding protein and good fats to your salad. Simply flake the fish into chunks to stir through the potatoes, ensuring they get an even coating with the dressing. 

  8. Add a twist

    Although a British classic, potato salad can easily be adapted to incorporate other flavours and cuisines. Try this Indian-inspired recipe, which adds fragrant spices to a crunchy salad of potatoes, cucumber, carrot and poppadoms, or go for a spicy Spanish twist with a hot potato salad with chorizo and paprika.