Great Grandma’s Easy Potato Salad

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Potato salad with chives and black pepper on a napkin

I knew with Easter approaching that I wanted to share some dishes that use up hard cooked eggs, especially after my recent post on Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs. As I sat mulling it over, the California sun shining in through our kitchen windows, I knew grilling season was quickly approaching too. Then it hit me! A two for one perfect recipe – my great grandma’s easy potato salad.

It is the perfect recipe to use up some hard cooked eggs after Easter, and a delicious make ahead side dish for those grilling days, heck, it’s a tasty side dish anytime. I actually make hard cooked eggs just to have it, it’s that good.

Sadly, I can’t take all the credit. This is a recipe that has been in my family forever. Passed from my Great Grandma Dot to my mom, and then to me, it’s one of those classic don’t mess with it recipes. I am so happy to be sharing it with you, and I hope it’s a recipe you and your family will also enjoy for generations to come.

Ingredients

Potatoes next to a plate of olives, eggs, lemon, pickes, and mustard and mayo

Thanks to this recipe, I’ve become sort of a snob about store bought potato salad admittedly. I can’t help it, I love the ingredients, and the tangy, creamy flavor. In store bought, I often find things I just am not a fan of. Raw onion, celery, and a lot of sugar.

The ingredient list for this easy potato salad is so simple:

  • Potatoes: While you have some flexibility in choice, be sure to choose a waxy potato. If you read my Kale & Leek Potato Gratin recipe, you know that waxy potatoes, the white or red ones, hold their shape better when cooked. Avoid mealy potatoes like russets, or you’ll have a mushier potato salad.
  • Hard Cooked Eggs: These are essential! The whites have a lovely texture in contrast to the potatoes, and the yolks are essential for the color and creaminess. Learn how to steam eggs here
  • Olives: I love, love, love black olives and their salty flavor is so perfect in this easy potato salad. Plus the add fun color contrast!
  • Pickles: Dill pickles are another crunchy textural element that play in contrast with creamy potatoes and tender eggs. They’re also essential for the briny pickled flavor, which elevates the tang.
  • Pickle Juice: Yup, adding a tablespoon or so of this really adds to the tangy sauce.
  • Lemon Juice: Just a hint of acid, and a classic addition to mayo in many dishes.
  • Mayonnaise: The biggest component of the ‘dressing’ or sauce, it’s definitely a non-negotiable. I prefer an nice olive oil mayo myself!
  • Mustard: The final component of the sauce, just a tablespoon or so to round the tang out.
  • Salt & Pepper: Because of course!

All these ingredients blend so perfectly for a tangy, delicious potato salad, without being overpowered by any one flavor.

Customizing

This is the combo I prefer, but since I’m #3 in line of making this recipe, I feel obligated to tell you that it hasn’t always been made exactly this way.

The original recipe calls for green onions, or even red onions, but I really am not a fan of crunching on raw onion…hardly ever. If that’s your thing, go for it, but only add a tablespoon or two.

Personally I prefer a sprinkle of chive, when I have them, to add just a teeny bit of onion-like flavor without that intense bite.

My mom on the other hand, hates dill pickles. Like really hates them. So she adds sweet pickles instead, and that definitely creates a unique sweet tangy flavor. If you’re a sweet pickle fan, try it out!

Making Easy Potato Salad

A bowl of potatoes with toppings like olives, eggs, pickles, and mayo

As promised, this is EASY. After some hands off cooking, some hands off cooling, and then a bit of measuring, chopping, and mixing, your potato salad is in the fridge and done.

I start by hard cooking my eggs. (Unless you’re using those leftover Easter Eggs!) While those are steaming away on the stove, chop up your potatoes. I really like gold potatoes, or red skinned.

Cook to your preference, but I don’t peel them. A lot of nutrition is contained in vegetable peels. Also…I’m lazy, and I think they add nice color and texture. Whatever you do, try to keep the size consistent. Large and small chunks will lead to uneven cooking.

Boil your potatoes under just tender. The way I test them is to stick them with a sharp knife. When the knife slides in like butter, but the potato clings to the knife (doesn’t fall right off) the potatoes are ready. Drain them and let them cool. If you’re in a hurry, spreading them on a baking sheet helps speed this along!

While your eggs and potatoes are cooling, chop your pickles, slice your olives, and measure out your mayo, mustard, pickle juice and lemon juice.

Once everything is all cool, go ahead and toss it in the bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then mix! I suggest taking some care to not stir vigorously. Gently folding will keep the eggs and potatoes a little more intact and keep a more pleasant chunky texture.

Taste, and adjust salt and pepper if needed. At this point, if you want a little more tang, I suggest a splash more of pickle juice. That usually does the trick for me!

Cover and chill, once cold, it’s ready to eat! I do really suggest letting it sit for a few hours if you have the options, the flavors blend beautifully if you can.

Why You Should Make This Easy Potato Salad

A bowl of potato salad outside with ribs, hot dogs and buns

There are a LOT of potato salads out there. Potatoes are a wonderful starting point to build so many flavor profiles, it really isn’t surprising. I’m sure that a lot of those recipes are really good too! Mustardy, grainy potato salad, sweet potato salad, they all have a time and place.

This particular easy potato salad is my go to. Here’s why I think it would be yours too.

  • It’s a potluck favorite. Seriously. I’ve been asked for the recipe on numerous occasions, and I’ve even had people ask me if they could take leftovers home. (When there’s any left)
  • It keeps exceptionally well in the fridge. Make it a day, or even two, before you need it and it’ll still be perfect. I think I even prefer it on day 2!
  • Pairs well with lots of mains. Burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken or ribs, deli sandwiches, I’ve made this as a side for them all and it always compliments what it’s served with.
  • This recipes doubles, or even triples very easily!
  • It’s been tested over 3 generations. I’m the third woman in my family to make this, and almost nothing has changed. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s a sign of greatness!

Whether it’s this recipe or another (choose this one!), making homemade easy potato salad is always a rib sticking, comforting side dish that your family will love. With warmer weather on the way I hope you enjoy my Great Grandma’s Easy Potato Salad with your loved ones.

A bowl of potato salad topped with chives
5 from 4 votes

Great Grandma’s Easy Potato Salad

Print Recipe
A simple potato salad that’s been handed down through 3 generations. Creamy, tangy, and easy to make ahead, this potato salad is a perfect side for grilling, picnics, or a simple family dinner.
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:25 mins
1 hr
Total Time:35 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 yellow, red, OR white waxy potatoes
  • 3 hard cooked eggs
  • 1/2 Cup dill pickle, diced 1 large
  • 1/2 Cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbs pickle juice
  • 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt Plus extra for boiling
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Dice potatoes, keeping size uniform. Place in pot and cover in cold water. Add several large pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Potatoes are done when they are tender to a knife, but not so soft that they crumble.
  • Peel and dice hard cooked eggs. Dice pickles and olives. 
  • Drain potatoes, and spread on a baking sheet to cool. When cool, place in large bowl and add hard cooked eggs, olives, and pickles. 
  • Measure out mayo, mustard, lemon juice, pickle juice, salt and pepper into bowl. Gently fold until creamy and well incorporated without breaking up the potatoes too much. 
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Cover and refrigerate. 
  • Serve cold with fresh chopped chives and/or fresh cracked black pepper

Notes

*If you don’t have lemon juice, adding an extra 1/2 tablespoon of pickle juice will work.

Nutrition

Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 602mg | Potassium: 511mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 208IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Side, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Potato, Potato Salad
Servings: 6
Calories: 252kcal
A bowl of potato salad with ribs and hot dogs

Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I will only eat homemade potato salad as well. I think it’s the sugar I hate. And maybe the general lack of flavor. I think I’ll try some crunchy onions when I make this though and I have to skip the olives. I think my sentiments about olives are like yours for raw onions!

    1. I’m not a fan of the sugar in the store bought stuff either! I hope you enjoy this recipe, I love that it’s so easy to customize, onions will definitely be great if that’s your thing!