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How to Make Potato Salad

Updated on January 17, 2011
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To Share or Not

After much soul-searching, I have decided to publish my recipe for potato salad. Of all the meals I make, this is the most requested of all.

My reluctance to share this recipe stems from the fact that it has what I call the 'secret' ingredient. Now, this may or may not be true, as I have not researched all the ways to make potato salad, and what I think of as the secret ingredient, may not be a secret at all.

In any case, it gives my potato salad its defining flavor. I have been asked many times for the recipe, however, I graciously declined, stating that it is a family secret. My late mom taught me how to make potato salad, and one day, after many years of making it, my late hubby was watching me put it together. He suggested an ingredient to add, and while I thought hmm, wonder if it will ruin it, I went ahead and added it. Well, to my surprise and delight, it was exactly what my potato salad needed. Not that my recipe wasn't good, but this new ingredient took it to a whole new level, and has become, from that day forward, the standard part of this amazing, deceptively simple to make salad.


I will now share it with you. You will notice that it's all very simple, and calls for very few ingredients, but it's that item my hubby suggested that puts it over the top. As you read, you may also think, gee, this doesn't sound all that great. You will see that I add no celery, which I've seen in so many potato salad recipes. You may ask yourself, where's the bit of crunch? Well, folks, it's not necessary for this recipe, and if you give it a try, I believe you'll agree. This is not to say that you can't go ahead and add celery, or other things to it, but for the purpose of this particular recipe, please don't the first time making it. Once you've made a decision as to its taste, then feel free to add whatever else you'd like, or not.



5 lb bag of potatoes (brown skin)

Hellman's Mayonnaise

6 eggs

1 half medium onion (optional)

salt/pepper (freshly ground pepper is best)

garlic salt or garlic powder (I prefer salt)

small jar of hot peppers (any style) *only the juice will be used

Yield: 1 large bowl of potato salad


1 large pot (spaghetti or stew pot)

1 medium pot

1 large bowl

potato peeler

paring knife

large 2-pronged fork



Fill both pots with cold water. Fill the larger pot about half way, as you will be adding the peeled potatoes to this pot. In the smaller pot, also fill with water about half way, then add the six eggs. Turn the heat on high to get it to start boiling, and once boiling, turn the heat down to low, and cook till they are hard-boiled (10 minutes). Once done, remove the pot of eggs immediately from the stove and pour off the hot water, replacing it with cold water. Leave them in the pot until ready to add to the salad.

While waiting for the eggs to get done, peel the entire bag of potatoes, using either the peeler or paring knife. (My preference is the paring knife, as I can work that much faster). As you finish peeling each potato, cut into bite-sized pieces and put them in the large pot of water. Once you've finished peeling and cutting all the potatoes, put the pot on the stove over a high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium. Check for done-ness every so often using the two-pronged fork. You will want the potatoes soft enough to break apart with the fork, but not so soft that they are mushy.

Once the potatoes are ready, pour into a colander and drain. Once drained, add to the large bowl.  You will need to wait a while now until they are cool enough to handle, as you will be mixing all the ingredients with your hands.  While waiting for the potatoes to cool, you can go ahead and peel the eggs. Then, peel and dice half of the medium onion.

Ok, the potatoes have cooled off, the eggs are peeled and the onion is peeled and diced. It is now time to put it all together. Dice all six eggs and add to the potatoes. Add the salt/pepper (I prefer freshly ground pepper), garlic salt or powder, diced onion, large spoonfuls of Hellman's mayonnaise (enough to make it creamy), and finally, the star ingredient, the hot pepper juice. I suggest a splash or two of the juice at first.

Finger-Licking Good

Now, with everything together, using your hands, yes, I said hands, mix all the ingredients together being careful not to smash the potatoes, otherwise, you'll end up with mashed potato salad. Continue till all blended. Now, take a taste at this point, and see if the salad needs anything else. Most of the time, when I make it, I find I need a bit more salt and a bit more pepper juice for the zing factor, and sometimes, a bit more mayonnaise if it appears or feels too dry.

*Note: you can save the jar of peppers for future use, as you won't be using a lot of the juice at one time. I buy pepper rings, as I like to add those to a sandwich now and then. I find them a nice addition to a tuna sandwich.

So, here you have it. I've let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. The nice thing about doing this is the fact that now this can be shared with the world at large and perhaps become a welcome addition to the family menu.


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    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Jackie,

      I cut mine into random bite-sized pieces, not too big nor too small. I generally make this every Easter to go with the ham, however, this year we decided on an Italian menu.

      I'm glad you're going to give it a try and I certainly hope it goes over well. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about how it went.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Enjoy!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I am making mine tomorrow, I will try a dash. I also like potatoes cubes not cut too big, you bite too much without flavor. Most delis make them way too big. Thanks for the secret, I know my son will love it, and we probably all will.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi moonlake,

      My mom loved hot spicy food, as did my late hubby. So, since your family likes the heat, you can ramp it up with a bit more hot pepper juice. Just taste as you go so you don't end up setting their mouths on fire :)

      Thanks so much for commenting. Nice to see you again.

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      This sounds good will have to try it. My family all love a little heat in any they eat.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi Katie,

      I'm flattered! As I mention, there isn't a whole lot to this recipe, but you'd never know it once you taste it :)

      I've never added mustard to this, but not because I don't like mustard. I remember when my mom made it for company, she'd sprinkle some paprika on it just to give it some color. I've only done it occasionally.

      In any case, I hope you try it.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • KatieCohen profile image


      7 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      This looks like one of the few potato salads I would like! Great job, I hate mustard so not using it is a major plus too!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi bella,

      This ranks among my favorites as well. You are welcome, and I hope you enjoy it.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • bellawritter23 profile image

      Erica Sanchez 

      7 years ago from California



    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Yes, it's out. I know you and I know it's a winner, now let's hope the rest of the world will find out. After all, for my taste, it's purrfect :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Aha! You finally published your potato salad recipe. You know I love it and I know anyone who makes it will love it, too. Up and awesome (awesome for letting the cat out of the bag)!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Shalini,

      Oh wow! I'm thrilled that you're trying it, and I'd love to hear how you made out with it, good or bad. My hope is of course, that you enjoy it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Feline,

      I certainly agree. The addition of the hot pepper juice doesn't make the potato salad hot to the taste, but just adds a little pizzazz, in my opinion :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Pamela,

      Glad you found this to your liking. I hope you enjoy it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      8 years ago from India

      Nothing like a touch of spice? Thanks Trish - your potato salad it is for dinner tonight :)

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for letting the cat out of the bag! :)

      The secret ingredient sounds like a great idea - sure it adds a lot of zing!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Sounds like a good recipe that I have now copied. Thanks.


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