July 4th is fast approaching, so if you're in the mood to throw a barbecue, you'd do well to start planning your menu now. Visions of grilled burgers and beautifully seared steaks may be dancing in your head (they sure are in mine), but sides deserve a spot on the dance floor, too, and a good old-fashioned potato salad is a great place to start. Note, however, that by "good old-fashioned," I mean only the cooling, comforting consistency that we all expect and love in potato salad this time of year—I don't mean that your potato salad should be no more than a pile of mushy boiled potatoes drowning in mayonnaise. You can go more traditional if you like—a classic mayo-based salad is wonderful when made well, with or without a few less-classic mix-ins. But that's not the only route. We've got a salad made with crème fraîche and smoked salmon, a German version dressed with vinegar and oil, and even a couple that toss potatoes with pesto for an infusion of herbal flavor that couldn't be further from heavy or boring. Read on for 10 potato salad recipes (some vegan, some non-) to cool off with this Independence Day.
Classic Potato Salad
So you (or your guests) aren't into experimentation with a thing like potato salad? We hear you. You can still improve on a standard recipe with a basic dressing of mayo, mustard, and vinegar by using perfectly cooked, well-seasoned potatoes. Here, we cook the potatoes in salted water to ensure they're evenly salted all the way through, and add a little vinegar so they turn out just tender, not overcooked.
Easy Fingerling Potato Salad With Creamy Dill Dressing
To get the right texture for the potatoes in this tangy and creamy salad, made with fingerlings instead of russets, salt and vinegar are again your friends. Seasoning the cooked potato disks with more vinegar while they're still hot aids in deeper flavor penetration, and a sour cream dressing flavored with olive oil, red onions, scallions, and dill is a nice, bright twist on a traditional mayo sauce.
Fingerling Potato Salad With Aioli, Pesto, Fried Shallots, and Pecorino
Inspired by a dish at Il Bambino in Astoria, Queens, this salad is brimming with contrasts between bold flavors—it's meant to be a standout, not a quiet little side dish, and that's exactly how it tastes. Aioli gives the salad a familiar creaminess, but it gets heady herbal flavor from fresh basil pesto, texture and pungency from crispy fried shallots, and nuttiness from pecorino cheese. This will be the sleeper hit of your Fourth of July cookout.
5-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Potato Salad
A dish that's as elegant as it is simple, this potato salad gets its creamy coating from crème fraîche, with rich smoked salmon and lots of fresh herbs mixed in. If crème fraîche is unavailable, you can sub sour cream, and don't feel the need to shell out for expensive salmon here—ask your deli or supermarket if they sell scraps.
Japanese Potato Salad With Cucumbers, Carrots, and Red Onion
From the picture alone, you can probably see one big difference between Japanese potato salad and the American kind: the potatoes. Japanese potato salad uses lightly mashed potatoes instead of whole chunks or slices. In this recipe, we mix them with fresh, crunchy vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, and onion, then toss it all with Kewpie mayo, hard-boiled eggs, rice wine vinegar, and hot mustard. No, it's not the norm for July 4th, but what's wrong with embracing multiculturalism while you celebrate America?
German Potato Salad
A potato salad variation more often spotted in the States is the German kind, which uses oil and vinegar as dressing instead of mayo. Lest that seem a bit too healthy for you, know that it's also common to mix in crispy bacon. As much as I love mayo-based potato salads, the combination of smoked meat and vinegar here fits in perfectly with other barbecue fare.
Creamy Vegan Fingerling Potato Salad
Cooked potatoes are creamy in and of themselves, so who says you need mayonnaise to get a creamy effect? A mashed Yukon Gold and a little starchy cooking liquid mixed into the sweet-tart vinaigrette help to give it body and a more traditional consistency, while keeping the salad 100% vegan.
Yukon Gold Potato Salad With Tarragon Pesto and Pickled Onions
Tarragon carries a whiff of licorice scent, giving this potato salad an unusual herbaceous flavor. It can be a bit overwhelming in large quantities, so we balance it out with parsley in the dressing. The salad itself is made with sweet Yukon Gold potatoes, tangy pickled red onion, and briny Kalamata olives.
Simple Grilled-Potato Salad With Grilled-Lemon Vinaigrette
Beware giving this salad a try—you may be spoiled forever for plain old boiled-potato salad. Grilling parboiled potatoes crisps up their edges and turns their flesh brown and a little smoky. You could probably just eat those potatoes out of hand all afternoon, but hold out for a tart vinaigrette made from grilled lemons—cooking them over the fire brings out their sweetness and intensifies the flavor of the dressing.
Roasted Potato and Shallot Salad With Marinated Mushrooms and Kale
This isn't the most summery of all potato salads, but it's still a great change of pace from more standard versions. Roasting the shallots in a low oven allows their sugars to caramelize, boosting their sweetness; increasing the heat for the potatoes gives them plenty of crispy, browned edges. Finish this satisfying salad by mixing in seared marinated mushrooms and raw baby kale, then dress it with a simple herb vinaigrette.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.