How to make the perfect potato salad and the common mistakes to avoid

The unapologetic taste of Irish summer barbecues, potato salad is the king of the al fresco meal, if you get it right
How to make the perfect potato salad and the common mistakes to avoid

Potato salad can be the star of your summer table.

Choose your spuds wisely

Potato salad is best made with new potatoes or waxy baby potatoes. 'Old' spuds like Roosters are not the best choice for this dish. 

Create flavour from the very beginning

Season the water that you cook your potatoes in with salt, and if you have some herbs handy, add them to the cooking water. A sprig of mint will add a delicious note to the cooked spuds. Begin cooking in cold water for perfect potatoes, every time. Follow this rule and your vegetables will always be delicious: for vegetables that grow under the ground, begin with cold water and for vegetables that grow over the ground, begin with boiling water. 

Hot stuff

Dress your hot potatoes with a dressing like French vinaigrette, in the recipe below, to allow the flavours to seep into the spud. If you don't have a dressing to hand, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar will do the trick.

Something creamy

Mayonnaise, yoghurt, sour cream or crème fraîche - the options are endless and your choice of creamy dressing should come down to taste. My mother uses a mixture of equal quantities of salad cream and mayonnaise in her potato salad, and it is delicious. 

Something extra

Adding a flavour bomb to your potato salad not only packs a punch but makes it more than something you could pick up in your local supermarket. Consider a snip of chives or spring onions, mint or tarragon to add a herby finish to your salad. If you love a crunch, scatter toasted pumpkin seeds over your salad before serving to add texture and deliciousness. 

Darina Allen's perfect potato salad


  • 900g freshly cooked potatoes — diced, allow about 2½ lbs (1.1kg) raw potatoes 
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley 
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives or spring onions
  • 120ml French dressing 
  • 120ml mayonnaise 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 


The potatoes should be boiled in their jackets and peeled, diced and measured while still hot. Mix immediately with the chives or spring onion, parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Stir in the French dressing, allow to cool and finally add the mayonnaise. Keeps well for about two days.

Note: This potato salad is also delicious without mayonnaise. Potato salad may be used as a base for other salads, eg. add cubes of garlic salami, cooked Kabanossi sausages or cooked mussels.

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