Perfect Potato Salad

This potato salad really is perfect and is the only recipe I’ve made for at least the last year or so. (Update 7/2013: And it still continues to be my favorite! Along with this loaded version.)

I’ve adjusted the seasonings along the way over the years and have updated the recipe according to my preferences, but really, the dreamy thing about this recipe is that it can be tailored (with lesser or more amounts of any ingredient) to your taste buds. My husband, Brian, abhors pickles which is why they don’t appear in this version but I lay awake dreaming about potato salad with pickles in it – so throw them in and think of me, would ya?

Thanks to my perfectly sweet friend, Tori, who gave me this recipe in the first place! It really is the best classic potato salad ever. In the world. Honest.

Perfect Potato Salad

One Year Ago: Buttermilk Cloverleaf Rolls

Perfect Potato Salad

Yield: Serves 6-8

Perfect Potato Salad

The salt amounts in this recipe may vary if you boil your potatoes with salt so make sure you taste along the way so the salad isn't too salty (or undersalted)!


  • 2 cups mayonnaise (I use Best Foods/Hellmans Light Mayo with great results)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (adjust according to taste - you may want to sue the greater amount if your potatoes were boiled without salt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced dried onions or 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • Salad:
  • 5 pounds potatoes (I prefer to use red potatoes or yukon gold potatoes because I like their firm non-grainy texture but russet potatoes work, too)
  • 1 15-ounce can olives, cut in half
  • 10 hard-boiled eggs*, diced


  1. For the dressing, the easiest way to make this is to add all the ingredients to the mayo jar and shake like your life depends on it until everything is combined. Of course, this requires that the mayo jar is half empty (with only 2 cups of mayo in it). If this is not the case, simply combine all the ingredients in a blender and give it a whirl until all ingredients are combined.
  2. For the salad, peel, dice, and boil potatoes until tender but not mushy (I cut my potatoes into bite-size pieces and boil for about 8-10 minutes). Drain potatoes well and pour into a large bowl. Add sliced olives and hard-boiled eggs. Pour dressing over warm potatoes until desired “dressing-level” is reached. I usually make this salad the night before and I pour a thin coating of dressing over the potatoes, olives and eggs while they rest in the fridge overnight. Before serving the next day, I add the rest of the dressing and mix until it looks just right. Most importantly be sure and taste so you can add extra salt and pepper to taste!


*For perfect hard-boiled eggs, place eggs in a deep saucepan; cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 14 minutes. Transfer to an iced water bath; let cool completely. Unpeeled eggs can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my friend, Tori

53 Responses to Classic Potato Salad

  1. Also, we plated the food so every single person got a huge scoop.

  2. I just made your potato salad recipe (replaced olives with dill relish) for 86 missionaries at a zone conference in the Texas San Antonio Mission (Yeehaw!), and based on the serving size, I cooked all day on July 4. Peeled 50 pounds of potatoes and about died when I had half of it left. Ha ha. So I would consider changing your servings that this makes to perhaps 10-12? I gave away a ton and brought home a ton. Tasty recipe!!!

  3. Robin says:

    I didn’t like this potato salad. the addition of olives was good but overall kind of bland and needed more texture. I like Mel’s german potato salad recipe and most recipes I try but this one just wasn’t for me.

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hello Robin. Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. Sorry this wasn’t your favorite! Thanks for letting us know.

  4. Andrea says:

    Wow, this really is the perfect potato salad! Great recipe, everyone loved it!! Made it exactly as written. My husband is also a huge fan of potato salad and he gave this two thumbs up. 🙂

  5. Kristi says:

    Hi Mel! I am going to make this for my daughter’s first birthday party. I saw that you usually make it the night before, but do you think it would turn out even made two nights beforehand?

    • Mel says:

      I think it would be fine but I’d save some dressing or make a little extra to stir in right before serving because it might be a little dry after two days.

  6. Stacie A. says:

    I made this the other day for a BBQ and it was so so delicious. I added pickles as well because we are pickle lovers over here, but everything else was spot on. I’m not a potato salad lover, like ever, but this was scrumptious!

  7. Brandon says:

    I have prepared many recipes of Mel’s and have enjoyed virtually everyone one of them, however I made this and was not very impressed at all but everyone’s tastes are different for potato salad dependent on how ‘mom’ made it right? This particular recipe to me tastes like a Hidden Valley Ranch Potato Salad.

  8. cheryl says:

    Just made this and put it in the fridge to chill. I only had about a pound of potatoes (golden) so added about a 1/4 head of cauliflower, cooked just to tender stage. Using 1/4 of the dressing recipe, adding 1/4+- cup sweet pickle relish to balance out the mustard, and subbed a stalk of celery in lieu of olives (DH doesn’t like them). I always sprinkle a little apple cider vinegar and S/P on the warm potatoes as soon as they’re peeled and cut up to give them a bit more flavor. This made a VERY creamy potato salad – and from the little nip I took to check for seasoning, it will be a standard, (as long as I don’t indulge too often :-))))). Used regular Hellmann’s – not lite, and 1% buttermilk.

  9. jen says:

    Needed a quick recipe for potato salad… when I started making it, the hubs said, “You’re making waaaay too much because I don’t like potato salad.” He’s not only eating the potato salad, but his words as well because this was absolutely fantastic! When I was mixing the dressing, it smelled so good I could have started drinking it! I knew right then and there it would be a winner! Thanks so much! Everything I’ve made on your blog has been a huge hit with the family! Love it all!

  10. stacey says:

    Oh my goodness this is good! Gave it a test run tonight to see if I want to double or possibly triple it for my sons graduation party Saturday. My non potato salad eating kids loved it and the my kids and hubby that love potato salad said its a “for sure”! My mom is going to be hurt I’m not making hers but… she’ll live.

  11. Holly says:

    Loved this! I agree, pickles are a MUST. I also sprinkled some paprika on top for (mostly) aesthetics.

  12. Brooke says:

    Just made this and it’s a keeper! Wonderful flavor! I did add in a 1/2 cup of white sugar to the dressing and that gave it just the right amount of sweetness. Love the buttermilk addition! 🙂 Thanks for the winning recipe!

  13. Liz K. says:

    One of my most FAVORITE things about your blog is how specific you are about timing (like boil the potatoes 8-10 minutes). I think the only reason I can cook good food is because of the way you write up recipes. The detail is what helps those of us who aren’t the best cooks pretend like we are.

  14. Happy Tolkien Reading Day | Winter's Child says:

    […] The Perfect Potato Salad-delicious. Next time I’d add celery or pickles. It needed more crunch. And Salt. And Pepper. […]

  15. Heidi says:

    Black olives or green olives?

  16. Mel says:

    Making this today…for the second time. It was a real hit the first time! Thanks, as always, for the delicious recipes I know I can trust. Oh, and your San Francisco Chops are cooking in the slow cooker- it’s going to be a delicious dinner at our house!

    The “other” Mel

  17. Kynicar says:

    I’m making this right now. Everything is sitting in the fridge, letting the favors meld. I snuck a tiny bite and it is good! I loved the addition of buttermilk. Yum. However, I admit I’m in the camp for a more mustardy dressing (blame my grandma, that’s how she always made it, and unfortunately she passed away and I can’t find her recipe). Anyway, I doubled the mustard, then adjusted the dressing to taste and it is now perfect. I might have to add some dill pickle later…(blame grandma again). Love your blog!

  18. AHOP says:

    This looks delicious! Like another reader commented, I have never used buttermilk in potato salad, but I’m going to try it too.

  19. toni says:

    I have never used buttermilk so will try it. My potato salad i always add green olives and diced dill pickles ,as i don’t like sweet pickles. yummy.

  20. Menu Plan Monday - Plate4Eight says:

    […] – BBQ –    Steak Marinade Robusto with Perfect Potato Salad, Angel Hair Pasta Salad, Corn on the Cobb and Garlic […]

  21. Wow! My recipe for potato salad is almost the same. I use sour cream instead of buttermilk and green onion instead of regular, but other than that, the ingredients are the same (though the amounts may be different). How funny! My recipe is one I just made up according to our tastes. I’m sure yours is wonderful too and I like the idea of using buttermilk 🙂

  22. Okay, as I just commented on your loaded baked potato salad, I’m pretty picky. I challenged you to try mine; now I’ll try yours! I’m wary of the olives though… 🙂

  23. Renay says:

    This potato salad is the bomb! Love it!

  24. […] pork ribs Baked beans (I added molasses) Potato salad Deviled eggs I swear the ribs aren't burnt, just a crappy picture. Baked beans in my favorite […]

  25. Vicky says:

    Made this potato salad for a get-together yesterday and it got a lot of compliments. I had never thought to put so many eggs in but I really liked it that way, and I’m an olive fan, so I would add more of those. I found the dressing to be quite abundant, so I added 4 or five more potatoes and even then it was still plenty creamy. (I used russets and have found that if you just watch them carefully and take them off the stove when they’re just tender, then rinse them under cold water, they’re not mushy at all. Cooked all the way, but just firm enough to not be soft and grainy.) Finally, in case anyone else wonders the same thing, I was unsure at first about this coming out really salty because of all the salts called for in the dressing (and because I cooked the potatoes in salted water), but it was just fine. Thanks for another great recipe!

  26. Once again, I am completely thrilled with two more of your recipes. I just made your Perfect Potato Salad along with the cornbread rolls that you just posted today, and my son said it was the best meal he has eaten all week. I served the rolls sliced in half, with Dutch Gouda cheese, along with some watermelon. So tasty! Thank you!

  27. Sara says:

    I made your potato salad for the first batch of the season. It is yummy!! I am so ready for spring!

  28. Rochelle says:

    This was the best potato salad I’ve ever had. Seriously.

    Found your site a few months ago and I’m loving it. Thanks for sharing all these great recipes!

  29. tanya says:

    I just made this for our annual Memorial Day BBQ. It def is the perfect potato salad. I am a big fan of potato and egg salad anyways and I have made several recipes over the past 3 years but this is def the best one I have made. I am throwing out all my other recipes. This one is so creamy and tasty! Yum YUM!!!!
    While I was making it for the BBQ I was making your Italian beef for dinner. I love your blog!!!! I just saw your post on a homemade cake mix. We recently have tried to get away from cake mixes as well so I am psyched to try this recipe as well.

    • Mel says:

      tanya – thank you for checking in on this recipe! I am thrilled that it exceeded your expectations and that you loved it. I hope the Italian beef worked out ok, too!

  30. Joyce says:

    I have never dared make potato salad before but I am going to give it a try for our next family party. Just curious, do you think this recipe makes enough for about 25 people if there is also a main dish, green salad and chips? Do I need to double or 1 1/2 times it?

  31. Janae says:

    As a native Idahoan I have to put in my 2 cents or tip or whatever you want to call it…My mom swears that you have to boil those potatoes in water with lots of salt in it (She puts in a full Tbls), otherwise you’ll have tasteless potatoes that you can never add enough salt to later to get the right flavor.
    Also quarter the potatoes and boil till they’re tender. After they have cooled cut them into bit-size pieces and you won’t have to worry about mushy potatoes. I can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

  32. Ashlee says:

    I will have to try this, I hate potato salad with the relish my mom puts in!

  33. Janet says:

    I like the addition of buttermilk and will make this recipe soon; thank you Mel. Love your site.
    Also, Jan from above……will share YOUR ‘perfecter potato salad recipe with us???

  34. Shandra says:

    Can I just say I LOVE your site! ALL of your recipes are so delicious and quick to make. Thanks!!

    Also, just thought I would let you and your readers know we are giving away a FREE Bosch Mixer (over $300) on our blog this month! Visit our blog for more details to see how easy it is to win!

    Good luck

  35. Jessica says:

    This looks fabulous! Great picture!

  36. grace says:

    there are people who don’t like taters? blasphemy! 🙂
    the olives are a surprise indeed–very unique recipe!

  37. Carmen says:

    Just whipped up a batch of this potato salad, it is in the fridge cooling, I have some leftover dressing to add later too 🙂 Hubby is going to love it, thanks so much

  38. Jan says:

    Sorry to disagree but I have the perfect potato salad. But thanks for the buttermilk angle. I’m going to add it next time. Then I will have the PERFECTER Potato Salad. (I also don’t use dehydrated onions, I use lots and lots of the real thing with no complaints yet.) I think so many people miss the mark because for some crazy reason, they only put in 1-2 eggs; glad to see you use a bunch.

  39. I’ve never seen using buttermilk in a potato salad before, I bet it makes it taste wonderful!

  40. Cammee says:

    I’ve never used a recipe for potato salad. I know what I like in it and I just wing it, but I’m really intrigued by the buttermilk, I can’t wait to try this! I, too, like a little relish in my potato salad–sweet though.

    You have been a busy woman, I’m loving all of these new recipes!

  41. Melanie says:

    I’ve made this twice in the last month and it’s always been a hit! The only change I make to the recipe is an addition of a little pickle relish.

    • Mel says:

      Melanie – if my husband didn’t want to vomit at the thought of pickles, I’d definitely be throwing some in, too!

  42. Norah B says:

    I’ve made this several times since you posted it last year and I still use it as my go to potato salad recipe. It’s so tasty and yummy.

  43. Kim in MD says:

    Ooops…meant to say I am hosting a graduation party! 🙂

  44. Kim in MD says:

    Perfect timing, Melanie! I throwing my son a graduation party next month, and I was looking for a new potato salad recipe! I know…I shouldn’t try out new recipes when entertaining, but your recipes have never failed me, so this is it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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