How to make summer potato salad

This is my “I can’t deal” potato salad. (It’s also my favorite potato salad.)

In the heat of the summer, when it’s too hot to move, it’s nice to have a few easy recipes to rely on when you simply can’t cope with cooking. These recipes hit the spot without making you sweat unnecessarily over a stove; they can be prepared in just a few steps. They are minimal, fresh and light and won’t make you feel heavy and weighed down once you’ve enjoyed eating them.

This is a European-style potato salad that I make throughout the summer. It’s a regular feature in our meals, so I don’t think twice about making it. However, I did think twice about it recently, when I offered to bring a potato salad to a gathering of friends. The host’s response was swift: “No, I don’t want anything rich, heavy and loaded with fat.”

Her vision of a potato salad was the mayo-heavy, American-style salad, thickly coated in a sweet and creamy dressing, and this salad is nothing like that. It’s light and bright, laced with vinegar and oil, and tumbled with handfuls of fresh herbs, which add flavor and leafy texture. The best part, in my opinion, is you can actually taste the potatoes, which in my book is the key to a good potato salad.

When making this salad, it’s important to immediately toss the drained hot potatoes with vinegar, so they will absorb the vinegar as they cool. Then add the remaining ingredients, followed by the fresh herbs. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly before adding the herbs, so they will soften slightly from the residual heat without wilting too much.

From there you can fiddle with the recipe to your taste. White wine vinegar is the go-to, but you can change it up with another light vinegar, such as champagne, cider or even white balsamic.

As for the herbs, have fun with what is growing in your garden. Parsley, chives and dill are my favorites, and I usually add all three at once.

Simple Summer Potato Salad

Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup vinegar, such as white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard, such as Colman’s
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (packed) chopped mixed green herbs, such as Italian parsley leaves, dill and chives, plus more as needed


1. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water and add 2 teaspoons salt.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.

3. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Immediately sprinkle the vinegar over the potatoes and stir to combine, breaking up the potatoes with a knife into bite-size chunks. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Whisk the oil, garlic, mustard, black pepper, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add to the potatoes and stir to blend. The potatoes will continue to break down a little as you do this.

5. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes more, then stir in the herbs. If too dry, add another splash of oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the TasteFood blog, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.

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