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Classic Creamy Potato Salad

This Classic Creamy Potato Salad has tender potatoes, crunchy celery and onion, and hard-boiled eggs tossed in a flavorful, tangy mayonnaise-based dressing. It’s the perfect summer side dish!

With all the picnics, barbecues, cookouts, and potlucks that are about to take place this summer (finally!), every home cook needs an easy, delicious, and crowd-pleasing basic potato salad recipe that they can rely on. And here it is!

Of course, everyone seems to have their own personal (and sometimes very strong) opinions on what makes the best potato salad, with very specific must-have and never-have ingredients.

This is my personal favorite classic potato salad. It’s simple but so good, and it has everything I want and nothing I don’t (and I really think that you’ll like it too!).

My must-haves: fork-tender potatoes that hold their shape (I most definitely don’t ever want a mushy potato salad), celery, onion, eggs, and good mayonnaise.

My never-haves: pickles, pickle juice, relish (see the trend there?), olives, and that stuff that looks like mayonnaise but isn’t.

This recipe started out as the one from the back of the Hellmann’s mayonnaise jar, and I made a few little tweaks over the years until I got it exactly how I like it.

A good potato salad goes with so many things, but it goes especially well with all of those yummy grilled foods of summer: hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, barbecue chicken, steaks, pork chops, sausages…you name it.

But it’s not just for picnic food. You could also serve it up alongside something like meatloaf or oven-fried chicken for a weeknight dinner (in the middle of winter even!).

And I love that you have to make it ahead of time. That means no rushing around at the last minute, and you can focus on the main dish!

spoonful of potato salad being taken out of the bowl

Ingredients you need:

  • Potatoes (regular white, red, or Yukon gold)
  • Salt
  • Mayonnaise
  • White wine vinegar
  • Celery salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper (just a pinch, but it’s optional)
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Sugar
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Paprika (optional, for garnish)
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Here’s a look at how to make Classic Creamy Potato Salad:

two images, one of potatoes boiling in a pot with text that says boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender, the other of the cooked potatoes in a colander with text that says drain the potatoes
two images, one of the cooked potatoes on a baking sheet with text that says spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet or tray, cool, the other of the potato salad dressing in a bowl with a whisk with text that says in a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients
two images, one of a bowl filled with dressing, potatoes, celery, and onions with text that says add the cooled potatoes, celery, and onions, the other of the ingredients being stirred together with a wooden spoon with text that says toss gently until well-combined
two images, one of chopped hard-boiled eggs added to the potato mixture in the bowl with text that says add the chopped hard-boiled eggs, the other of the ingredients being mixed together with a wooden spoon with text that says gently fold them in
two images, one of a refrigerator with text that says cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, the other of a bowl of the finished salad with a spoonful being taken out with text that says enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Use a more waxy potato for this recipe (such as regular white, red, or Yukon Gold). They hold their shape much better and don’t get mushy or fall apart as easily as a starchier potato like a russet.
  • With these thinner-skinned potatoes, you can peel them or leave the skins on, whichever you prefer.
  • Generously salt the cooking water so that your potatoes taste good (but not salty) right from the get-go. Bland potatoes will result in bland potato salad. Waiting to add salt until after just isn’t the same.
  • The potatoes should be fork-tender yet still hold their shape (no mushy potatoes, please!).
  • Let the potatoes cool before you add the dressing. If the potatoes are hot, the mayonnaise could break, making the dressing oily and unpleasant.
  • Need a recipe for hard-boiled eggs? Check out my Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs post, which has instructions for both the Instant Pot and the stove top.
  • Not into eggs in your potato salad? Leave them out!
  • Like mustard in your potato salad? Go ahead and add some!
  • Technically, you can eat this potato salad immediately, but it really does improve if you let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. The flavors will blend together, and the potatoes will absorb some of the dressing.
  • Food safety: Don’t let potato salad sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (and even less than that if it is very warm out).
  • Store potato salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days (if you are storing leftovers that were sitting out, such as at a picnic, the time it lasts could be significantly less).
potato salad in 4 individual serving cups with forks and a napkin on the side

I love serving my side salads in these little individual cups (I get them at the dollar store!). It makes for a really nice presentation, and everyone can just grab one and move on to the next thing. Aren’t they cute?

I hope you try this Classic Creamy Potato Salad recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Classic Creamy Potato Salad

This Classic Creamy Potato Salad has tender potatoes, crunchy celery and onion, and hard-boiled eggs tossed in a flavorful, tangy mayonnaise-based dressing. The perfect summer side dish!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cool Potatoes and Finished Salad Chill Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 8 (about a heaping ½ cup each)
Estimated Calories: 301

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds regular white, red, or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled (if desired) and cut into ¾" to 1" cubes
  • salt, for the potato cooking water, to taste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped into ½" pieces
  • paprika, for garnish, optional
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until fork-tender but not mushy, about 8 to 10 minutes; drain.
    Note: If you need to make hard-boiled eggs, make them while the potatoes are cooking and then place them in ice water to cool.
  • Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on a large baking sheet or tray and allow them to cool completely (this should take about 10 to 15 minutes).
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, celery salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (if using), garlic powder, onion powder, and sugar until well-combined.
  • Add the cooled potatoes, the celery, and the onions to the bowl; toss gently until well-combined and everything is evenly coated with the dressing.
  • Add the chopped hard-boiled eggs and gently fold them in. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend and the potatoes to absorb some of the dressing.
  • If desired, right before serving, sprinkle with paprika and chopped fresh parsley.

Notes

  • Use a more waxy potato like white, red, or Yukon gold. They will hold their shape better. I don’t recommend starchier potatoes like russets for this recipe, as they can sometimes get a little mushy. 
  • With these thin-skinned waxy potatoes, you can peel them or leave the skins on, whichever you prefer.
  • Generously salt the potato cooking water so that your potatoes taste good (but not salty). Bland potatoes will result in a bland potato salad. Adding salt after the fact just isn’t the same.
  • Need a recipe for hard-boiled eggs? Check out my Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs post, which has instructions for both the Instant Pot and the stove top.
  • Not into eggs? Leave them out.
  • Store potato salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days (if you are storing leftovers that were sitting out, such as at a picnic, the time it lasts could be significantly less).
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
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