Classic Potato Salad

Before we get to this classic potato salad recipe, let’s talk taters and some tater facts.

Potato Salad with Yukon Gold Potatoes

Remember when our teachers used to encourage us to be stupid by saying  “There are no stupid questions!”   So here’s my stupid question, Where are Idaho Potatoes Grown?”

Yukon Potatoes

You see…I bought this bag of potatoes at Costco. It reads “Idaho Potatoes, Product of USA”.   These beautiful potatoes are just a tad larger than fingerlings, and with their perfect rosy complexion appear as just harvested new potatoes. Just like the ones we clamor for in early summer.

But wait a minute! Isn’t Idaho potato harvest in late summer??? It’s March.

The first question that came to mind was “Can Idaho Potatoes be grown in warmer climate states and still carry the Idaho Potato logo?”  If not, have these little beauties been in some sort of high-tech cold storage all this time? I assume the later, and  impressed with whoever and whatever preserved these little guys, considering installing a unit in my home and I’ll sit around in it!

Back to this purchase.  These potatoes seem perfect. Ruby Red on the outside with buttery gold flesh inside they are creamy, sweet, tender and a rare treat any time of year. I’ve never had them before and where ever they’ve been hiding,  I want them year ’round. If you see a bag, I highly suggest you grab it and give them a try.

So with all that said,  let’s talk potato salad.

When I think of potato salad, I think “All-American…summer…picnics…back yard BBQ’s…”    But is Potato Salad really All-American? From what I read on a Google search, our cold mayonnaise based version was surely inspired by German immigrants who served theirs warm and with vinegar.

While I like German Potato Salad, our version, with creamy mouthfeel and served up just right and wrapped around a dependable American potato just can’t be beat.

What’s your riff on potato salad? Let me know in your replies. Here’s how I do potato salad.

  • I take about 8 medium-sized red-skinned potatoes, all about the same size.  I use red-skinned potatoes because they are lower in starch so they hold their shape better.  Higher in sugar, I think they make a better tasting potato salad.
  • Cover un-peeled potatoes in water in a large kettle and gently simmer until tender.  You’ve got to watch them closely. If you cook them too long, you’ll have mashed potatoes when you mix the salad, not enough and you’ve got that raw potato taste.
  • Meanwhile, chop your vegetables. I use about a cup of sweet or green onion, 2 – 3 stalks of celery, thin sliced  pimento-stuffed green olives and some chopped bacon.  Place them in a large bowl.
  • When potatoes are cooked perfectly, drain them in a colander. Here’s where I decide if I leave the skins on or off.  If the skins are sweet and tender, I leave them. At this point, I take a knife and very coarsly chop them while they’re draining in the colander.
  • Pour steaming chunks of potatoes over the bowl of chopped vegetables and let sit for about 5 minutes before stirring. I like to do this so the flavors marry a little bit.
  • Top with 1/2 cup mayonnaise and a tablespoon of mustard. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and gently mix. At this time I start adjusting the flavors, adding more mustard and mayo, if needed, for both texture and taste.
  • Refrigerate until serving time.


Potato Salad

It’s What’s For A Side

Here some Tater facts that I found on the www:

Varieties:  Potatoes with a high starch content, like russets, bake well and yield light and fluffy mashed potatoes. Those with a low starch content, like red-skinned potatoes, hold their shape after cooking, and are great for making potato salads and scalloped potatoes.  Medium starch potatoes are called all-purpose potatoes, and they’ll work in most potato dishes.

Best for baking: Russet potato

Best for potato salads, gratins, and scalloped potatoes: Yellow Finn potatoes, new potatoes, red-skinned potatoes, white round potatoes, and purple potatoes

Best for mashing: Russet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, Caribe potatoes, and purple potatoes

Best for soups and chowders: Yukon gold potatoes, Yellow Finn potatoes, red-skinned potatoes, white round potatoes, and purple potatoes

Best for pan-frying: Red-skinned potatoes, white round potatoes, new potatoes, and fingerling potatoes

Best for French fries: Russet potatoes, purple potatoes, Bintje potatoes

Best for purees: Fingerling potatoes

Best for roasting:  New potatoes, Bintje potatoes

Best for steaming:  New potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes

Best for potato pancakes: Russet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes

On this day..

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  1. says

    I am going to look for these asap! I love a good potato and would love to be able to make your potato salad. I remember you had discovered the perfect recipe about 20 years ago . . . is this the same recipe you found back then? Thanks for all the tater facts!

    • says

      Well, it’s perfect for us.  Yes-sir-ee you have a good memory.  My x-mother in law’s recipe.  Mayo with a little mustard and what ever treats you want to add, onions, green olives…..

  2. says

    I’m not the BIGGEST potato salad fan (due to my mayo aversion) but I have a roasted garlic/olive oil version that I adore. It’s addictive.

    Your salad looks super creamy. I bet if I subbed yogurt for the mayo, I would be in heaven.

    I don’t understand this whole Idaho-potatoes-not-grown-in-Idaho business. Crazy!

  3. says

    I like a basic southern potato salad because that’s what I was raised on. But my new favorite is a warm potato salad with black olives, jalapeno and feta. Sounds weird but it is SPECTACULAR. I can eat it by itself for a meal.

    • says

      Thanks to the link to the Whole Foods recipe.  I’ll take a look.  I do agree I’m always a little leary of a bowl of potato salad in the warm sun and that bowl of ice it’s sitting it doesn’t make me feel much better.  As always thanks for stopping by Liz.

  4. says

    Food folks have figured out that it’s the oxygen that harms the product, so like apples, these may be stored in a nitrogen atmosphere that stops oxidation. Also, it looks as though Idaho Potatoes is a brand name, not a necessarily a guarantee of growing location. I read a similar discussion on a BBQ forum regarding the brand Certified Angus Beef and whether or not it was always angus. As to your method, cooking the potatoes whole will result in the outer part being overcooked to get the inner part perfect – just like the well done part on the outside of a steak that’s medium rare in the middle (it’s a thermodynamics thing). So, we cut our potatoes to the desired size before cooking and while the issue still exist, the smaller the pieces the less the impact, as the inside gets to cooking temperature sooner. Your recipe sounds delicious as I’m a fan of using both mayo and mustard in my potato salad but prefer it served at room temp (it’s a what I ate as a kid thing). Thanks for all the potato info – good post.

    • says

      Good point about the whole potatoes.  However, I really don’t seem to notice a difference.  I agree, I like the potato salad to warm up a bit out of the fridge.  Thanks for stopping by and the comment Larry

  5. says

    My all-time favorite potato salad is French potato salad, with lots of fresh-from-the-garden herbs and a vinegar dijon dressing. Mmmmm, I can’t wait for summer!

  6. says

    My favorite potato salad uses a sour cream/mayo dressing with eggs and bacon as ingredients; hold the pickle please. BUT I’ve also discovered French Potato Salad and it’s a wonderful mid summer dish with fresh herbs and doesn’t carry the same fear of spoilage as there is no mayo in it. I would even eat some now for breakfast if there were leftovers!

  7. buffalo dick says

    You make perfect potato salad! Know why I think so? I make it nearly identical to yours! Great minds think alike…

  8. says

    Potato salad make me think of a nice spring/summer day. Hopefully spring is right around the corner! I am tired of wearing sweaters. I am ready for some short sleeves and flip flops.

  9. says

    Nice info on potatoes, Lea Ann!
    I use my mother’s old recipe…mayo and sour cream and everything but the kitchen sink in with the potatoes. (Or whatever happened to be in the veggie bin!) But she always used Idaho potatoes. Probably all that was available back then. I like Yukon Gold myself.

  10. says

    Red Yukon, sounds pretty kool. You could bring a bunch of those bags and bring them to California. Sell them at farmers markets at a premium.

    How did your bowling trip go. 300?

  11. says

    Only potatoes grown in Idaho can be legally labeled Idaho Potatoes. They are typically harvested in August to October, so yes it is possible with proper storage to still be in excellent shape in March.


  1. […] it worked nicely in this salad.   Readers, I am HOOKED on this potato salad.  You must try her crazy-good  recipe!   Oh, I forgot to mention the big bag of avocados.   We used them for all sorts of things like […]

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