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Grandma’s Best Potato Salad Recipe

5 from 1 vote

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Get this quintessential potato salad recipe, filled with boiled potatoes, onions, celery, and tossed in a vinegary mayonnaise dressing. Easily adapt to how you like it best!

This is the basic, very best potato salad recipe you never knew you needed until now! Whether you’re grilling turkey burgers or baking ribs, this potato salad is the perfect summer salad for parties, potlucks, and BBQs.

Potato salad

This potato salad recipe is truly one of the best recipes I have. It’s such a crowd-pleasing classic in my book. Perfect for gatherings of any kind and easy to make well in advance. Plus, with this paired down recipe, you can omit and add what you want, making it exactly how you like it.

The Best Potato Salad Recipe

This recipe is based on an old recipe card (with no measurements) from my Grandma and a traditional vinegar-based German potato salad recipe.

Like I mentioned above, German potato salad is a vinegary, potato side dish served either warm or cold. In northern Germany, the addition of mayonnaise is added in, thus mirroring more of an American spin on this classically European dish.

There are a few things that make this recipe unique: (1) marinate the potatoes in a vinegar mixture for 12-24 hours (2) exclude hard-boiled eggs, mustard, and pickles (3) stir in the mayonnaise right before serving.

Adapting this Potato Salad Recipe

A typical American potato salad features hard-boiled eggs with a dressing filled with relish, mayonnaise, dijon or yellow mustard and maybe even some sweet pickles. This recipe does not have a lot of those ingredients, however, because this is very much of a basic recipe, those ingredients can get added in seamlessly. Here are a few other tasty add-ins:

  • crumbled bacon
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • fresh dill
  • blue cheese
  • chopped dill pickles
  • roasted red peppers
Best Potato Salad Recipe

How to Make a Homemade Potato Salad

These steps are very simple, but the trick is giving yourself enough marinating time. The longer this sits, the better it tastes! When in doubt, make this an extra day ahead.

  1. Boil the potatoes whole until fork tender. Drain and cool in a colander until they are warm enough to handle with bare hands.
  2. Peel potatoes using a butter knife or spoon and dice into large bite-size pieces.
  3. Make the marinating liquid: stir vinegar, water, salt, pepper, sugar, and onion together in the bottom of a bowl until most of the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add warm potatoes to marinating liquid and stir gently to coat well.
  5. Stir in celery and parsley flakes, cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
  6. Stir in mayonnaise and any extra add-ins before serving.
  7. Serve cold.

Best Potatoes for Potato Salad

I love using large Idaho potatoes for most recipes, including this potato salad recipe. Yukon golds, red potatoes and even fingerlings are great options as well.

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How to cook Potatoes for Potato Salad

I know what you’re thinking: Idaho potatoes for potato salad? Won’t those fall apart?

Well, typically a starchy potato is best for recipes meant for lots of cooking like mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes or baked potatoes. BUT, boiling the potatoes whole until fork tender and dicing up afterward is the trick in keeping the potatoes together in this potato salad recipe.

Can you make Potato Salad ahead of time

Yes! You can make it ahead and I’d even recommend making it ahead for best results. The longer this sits, the more delicious it becomes, so don’t be afraid to make this up to 4 days in advance.

Next time you have a get-together, give this a whirl and see how many compliments you get because there are bound to be a few!

Love this Potato Salad Recipe? Try these other family favorites:

5 from 1 vote

Grandma's Potato Salad

Get this quintessential potato salad recipe, filled with boiled potatoes, onions, celery and tossed in a vinegary mayonnaise dressing. Easily adapt to how you like it best!
servings 12 servings
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 12 hrs 45 mins


  • 12 Idaho potatoes
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes if you use fresh, add it in right before serving
  • 1/2 large onion diced finely
  • 5 ribs celery washed and diced
  • 1 1/4 cups real mayonnaise use a full fat good quality one
  • any extras: hard boiled eggs, bacon, dill, blue cheese, roasted red peppers, etc..


  • Boil (whole) potatoes until soft- a knife should be able to be inserted easily. Drain potatoes and let cool 20 minutes or so.
  • In a large bowl, combine water, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, parsley, onion and celery together. Set aside.
  • Peel warm potatoes (skin should come off really easily using a butter knife or spoon), cut into large cubes and place into vinegar mixture in bowl. Stir to coat warm potatoes in marinating liquid. Cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
  • Before serving, stir in mayonnaise and any extra ingredients you'd like (crumbled bacon, dill, boiled eggs, dill pickles, etc..). Keep cool until ready to serve.


Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 1046mg | Potassium: 947mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 13.2mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1.9mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: grandmas best, potato

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5 Responses
  1. Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs Recipe

    […] seasonings. I make these year round, but they are particularly tasty in the summer with macaroni or potato salad. Of course you can finish these off on the grill too, but it isn’t necessary […]

  2. Linda Wilshire

    Hi Lauren,
    I think I’ve only made potato salad once or twice in my life!
    I always thought it was a lot of work and I would just get it from Costco. My mom used to make a homemade salad dressing that she would add to her potato salad, deviled eggs, and coleslaw. I’m curious if you’re familiar with it.
    In a pan on the stove, add 1 cup of sugar, then break in 2 eggs and beat well. Add 1/2 cup cider vinegar and stir well. Add 1/2 tsp of dry mustard & a dash of salt. Add 1 tsp of margarine or butter. Cook and stir u til it boils and thickens. Then cool and refrigerate. Then she would add a TBsp of this with some mayo to the potato salad,, deviled eggs, or cole slaw. It was sweet and tangy which I really like. Love following you on IG and I’ve tried a few of your recipes and they were great!

  3. Cindi

    12 potatoes? What size? Potatoes come in many sizes. It would be better to list how many pounds of potatoes to use.