eyes-wide-open-all-the-time Recipes

rosanne cash’s potato salad

Is there anything bursting with more flag-draped-weathered-barn American nostalgia than potato salad? How about a recipe from Rosanne Cash, daughter of the late Johnny Cash? It really adds to the experience if you sing “Walk the Line” off-key in the kitchen while your husband grimaces in the next room as your chop your eggs and pickles. And it doesn’t get any better than bringing it in a big old bucket to a 4th of July barbeque.

red potatoes

I know I told you just two weeks ago what our favorite potato salad was but as it turns out, I’ve got room in my allegiances for another. Though this may be the classic potato salad most people grew up with, I had never tried it before yesterday, driven away by the mysterious glop of it all. But if you make it yourself, there’s no smoke-and-mirrors to it, just everything but the kitchen sink: big chunks of red skinned potatoes, cubes of hard-boiled eggs, slivered celery, diced onion, a few pinches of free dill and the dreamy dressing trifecta, vinegar, mayo and mustard.

quartered red potatoes

I mean, big rooftop barbeques, exploding skies and loud, loud music are just not times for culinary restraint. It would have been, however, a good time for some self-discipline with that magnum bottle of wine we brought (klassy!), but alas, today has been about water, aspirin and long-suffering glances at my disheveled appearance in the mirror. Ah, well. These, too, are some fine American traditions.

“You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” — Erma Bombeck (thanks Matt!)

roseanne cash's potato salad

Rosanne Cash’s Americana Potato Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit

This, to me, is the most American of potato salads — cluttered, crunchy and bright, and so busy, it seems only the kitchen sink was left out. Be warned, however, make this for one picnic and prepare to feel unwelcome if you don’t bring it to all that follow. It forms something of a habit, quickly.

New note, 6/6/15: I hadn’t made this in a couple summers and did so today for a crowd. I found that I could scale it 150% (i.e. 4 1/2 pounds potato) and not increase the dressing at all and it was still lovely and well-dressed. I’d say the amount as written below is better for people who like a huge amount of dressing with their potato salad.

Serves at least 8

3 pounds medium red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed
8 dill pickle spears or a handful of cornichon, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 small red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool, then cut potatoes into chunks and transfer to large bowl. Stir in pickles, celery, onion, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard vinegar and dill. Season potato salad to taste with salt and pepper.

Do ahead: Vegetables and dressing can be prepared and stored separately a day or two in advance. Mix and let stand at room temperature one hour before serving.

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67 comments on rosanne cash’s potato salad

  1. This is exactly how my mother made potato salad. She would put it in a glass dish and slather on a layer of mayonnaise, then she would use vegetables to make a picture – tomato tulips with basil stalks and leaves, radish and carrot roses with scallion stems and a carpet of tarragon grass. Such fun. I’ll repeat my suggestion to put some sour cream in the mix – I like it so much better that way. Sorry you were under the weather the next day, you need the 1-2 rule: for every glass of alcoholic beverage you ingest, drink 2 glasses of water, sure you’ll be running to the powder room all evening, but you’ll never get a hangover. If only I could follow my own advice.

  2. Lovely, classic potato salad, almost exactly the way I make it (I can’t eat raw ontion, so I always cook the onions with the potatoes to take some of the edge off). The cider vinegar is a must.

  3. If red wine kills your head as it does mine, try an USDA certified organic red. If it’s certified by the USDA then it means that not only are the grapes organically grown, but none of those nasty sulfites are added. This makes for just the dried-out feeling the next morning minus the head pain. A little better anyway. Cheers!

  4. michelle

    hmmmph, and i thought i was doing something special! I just made the same recipe for potato salad last weekend, just added a little celery salt to the dressing and some yellow pepper for a little more crunch. but it still was DELICIOUS! and everybody loved it… i hate gloppy potato salad, i need some crunch! so much for the eureka/original moment, but good to know that i am not too far off you! Your food always looks so YUMMY!

  5. Ahhhh Potato Salad. I believe that dish is completely responsible for 10 pounds on my left thigh. One thing I won’t forget, going to the family reunion and finding five different types. Of course, I tried them all.

  6. I just had some potato salad over the 4th similar to this from my grandma. She’s ruined me for life though… no potato salad is good enough next to hers. But that doesn’t keep me from trying new recipes. BTW, where’s the first picture from? I really love the composition, and it looks like a place I’d like to camp out for awhile, next to a woodstove brewing hot chocolate in the winter (not NOW, of course!).

  7. That’s my mom’s potato salad too. Especially the eggs. I am not a huge potato salad fan, but this one I could eat, if only a small amount to be patriotic and kind.

    I don’t think she swiped Roseanne’s recipe though, as I think she was making it long before Roseanne was a gleam in Johnny and June’s eyes.

    Me? I prefer “Ring of Fire” for my off key Johnny Cash warbling, especially while dancing on tiptoe around the kitchen island. My 13-yr old grimaces in horror; thankfully I am cloistered away in my kitchen so as not to be seen as a total dork mom. Hhhmmph. Like I care.

  8. deb

    Mary — I love the idea of carrots and radishes in there! Your mom was tres fancy. One-two rule, you don’t say… But then what would I feel bad about?

    Lydia — Agreed, re: cider vinegar. In fact, it wasn’t in the original, but so many other recipes have it I knew it would be the je-ne-sais-quoi. Plus, the Russians have taught me the value of vinegar in all sorts of dishes you wouldn’t have guessed. Even Ina Garten finishes her lentil soup (or was it stew?) with two tablespoons of red wine vinegar. It always works.

    jessie — You know, that’s a good point. We occasionally pick up organic wines from this one shop that has the best selection in our neighborhood, but I never specifically seek them out. I will have to do a comparison. Obviously, a task that will be unpleasant in every way. ;)

    michelle — You did do something special! I love the idea of celery salt or seed; it totally makes the cole slaw sing every time.

    JennBec — It’s from Maine last August. I think we took a bike ride around Kennebunkport. Actually, the whole set is one of my favorites.

    Kate — Yes, that should have been a caveat. The Roseanne Cash recipe is exactly like everyone elses. In fact, I changed the proportion of almost every ingredient and added a couple extras, so I barely followed it. But I ate it with vigor. (And only mild guilt due to 20-calorie mayo and other frightening new-age finds.)

  9. Jezzie

    Deb! I need to make a (galley) kitchen confessional. It’s Tina’s birthday so last night I made a chocolate cake from scratch off of Epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/101275) actually, I made two, one guinea pig I brought to work and one for today.Of course I modified the heck out of it and shaved off a bunch of sodium and fat, but this cake was rich enough to take it. I used a simple glaze and fresh sliced strawberries instead of all that ganache, as well.
    Then today I made (am in the process of completing) your pearled barley and roast veggie salad, my lentils with carrot, leek, and spinach, which I will top with a crunchy crumbled mixture of red lentil, quinoa, and buckwheat (with ghee and tahini for flavor) that I usually use to make grain burgers, and on top of THAT will go your spiced cumin yogurt. Whew.
    Props to you for being a muse, I learned about Epicurious from you, and was inspired to create this menu after seeing you indian trio last week. Unfortch for me she doesn’t care for curry, but the inspiration was still there.
    3 years? and counting, you are still the best and most reliable place I know to go ;) I recommend you to EVERYONE I know who cooks. Totally strangers in the grocery store have gotten your blog address from me lady. Rachel Ray can eat my hat.

  10. the glop factor totally turns me off to most potato salad, too. i’ve only really been exposed to the supermarket deli version. that has never in any way tempted me, but this is interesting…

  11. Jessica

    Deb, you MUST go see Ratatouille. I know it’s a kids movie and all, but it’s about cooking and Paris and it’s wonderful.

  12. Molly

    Yo, I say no carrots, no radishes, no yellow peppers. Do what you want to your other potato salad recipes, but don’t f*ck with this potato salad. It is pure South in Your Mouth. I loved it so much at the Fourth of July. Thanks for bringing it to the party Debbie!!! It made your slightly homesick southern friend happy…

  13. I have always liked potato salad – unless it’s potato salad I’ve made. However, that just changed. I am on my way to a cookout, and am taking a gigantic batch of this potato salad. It may not be enough! Thank you!

  14. Q

    I AM SO MAKING THIS! (And not just b/c the recipe is from Johnny Cash’s daughter – although that’s definitely a factor:)

  15. Maggie

    Made this last weekend and I found it to be almost perfect. I’d prefer a little more zing, maybe more mustard or vinegar? some buttermilk? At any rate it still went over quite well. Thanks!

  16. Michele

    I love this recipe, it is so similar to the potato salad I grew up with in east Texas. Instead of apple cider vinegar, I use pickle juice like my grandmother used to do. Gives it that extra zingy dill-y goodness.

  17. Rae

    I make it with plain yogurt (greek style) in place of the mayo so I don’t have to fret about the hot sun. I’ve never used dill, always vinegar, but I’ll have to give dill a try now…

  18. Julia

    My husband and I both really enjoyed this recipe. It was delicious even though I was out of celery, and used scallions instead of red onion.

  19. Paula

    THE BEST! i made this for my son’s teacher appreciation picnic, and was mobbed for the recipe :) word of warning…it does give you kickn’ breath. do not eat if you’re with a date :)

  20. Nicole

    I think this is now my absolute favorite potato salad. I made it today for a 4th of July cookout, and everyone loved it. I had to fight my sister-in-law for the leftovers!!

  21. MelissaBKB

    This is the first and only potato salad I’ve made. It’s amazing, so it will be really difficult to try a new one (that is, if I can find one that calls to me the way this one did :). I think the pickles are what make this stand apart. Also, I always use a bit more dijon and vinegar than called for. Fantastic! Always receives compliments!

  22. cathy

    I made this the other day and cannot stop thinking about it. I don’t normally love a creamy dressing, but this was exceptional. I do agree the pickles are a fantastic addition. Thank you!

  23. I made this potato salad the other night for me and my husband and served it with a roast chicken. It was delicious!!!!!! I can’t wait to make it again..thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!

  24. jeff

    Every potato salad can be improved with bacon! And olives can be great, too. I don’t think I’ve ever added vinegar, must try it! I love that yours has the skins still on! Thanks.

  25. Dancer who eats

    I made this for a BBQ even though I am not potato salad person. This is the best one I have ever tasted. It got rave reviews from Southerners!

  26. Danielle

    I made this potato salad and it was so delicious. Of course, all of my food reviews are a little dubious right now because I’m pregnant so everything tastes better or worse. But this potato salad was exactly what I was craving. I took out the eggs because I have a husband who loathes them. The fresh dill, vinegar and mustard added just the right touches to it. I think I’ll have to add some pickle juice next time like another commenter suggested.

  27. Catherine

    I made this 2 weekends ago with 5 pounds of potatoes and increased everything else proportionately more or less. It is so easy and delicious!! I’ve had lots of people ask for the recipe – of course I send them right over here!

  28. Lara

    deb, i made this potato salad the day that my fiance proposed, i love it so much because it tastes wonderful and will always remind me of that wonderful memorial day!

  29. Excellent recipe – I was visiting my friends in Memphis and we went to the farmer’s market and got 2 types of potatoes and some sweet potatoes – it turned out great and EVERYONE loved it.

  30. Joni

    This is a great recipe, made it last night with some vegetarian ‘pulled pork’ BBQ sandwiches and grilled corn. Perfect sunny picnic supper. I halved the recipe and it worked great, although I added a little more vinegar for mine and my husbands tastes, and left out the onion. The dill adds such a nice freshness! Thanks for posting!

  31. Ann

    i just made this potato salad for the first time today, and despite not having cornichon or apple vinegar on hand, it still turned out divine! thanks for posting this one! it was an instant hit and is destined to make frequent appearances this summer!

  32. Kelly

    Thanks for the recipe!! This was the PERFECT accompaniment to Delia Smith’s Thick Onion Tart and a simple tomato/basil salad. Made for a lovely summer dinner – cheers, Deb!!

  33. Wendy

    Oh, Deb. I think I’ve been converted. My family’s favorite potato salad has always been with sweet gherkins, including juice for the tang, and just mayonnaise, for the dressing. And now, here I am, putting dill pickles, vinegar, and dill into my potato salad… and loving it. Thanks for sharing!

  34. This looks so good; I can hardly wait to make this! Has anyone else used a little but mayo than what is called for in the recipe or is 2/3 cup just right?

  35. I don’t know why my last comment got rearranged in wording but here is what I was trying to ask:

    Has anyone else used a little bit more mayo than what is called for in this recipe or is 2/3 cup just right?

  36. Tonia

    Wow, this looks delicious! It’s almost how my mom (and me too) makes potatoe-salad except for the mayo. She roasts bacon without oil because the bacon has enough fat to roast in, adds meat stock to the pan, pours it over the potatoes and adds vinegar, a bit of salt and sugar and pepper.
    If we use Mayo for anything salad-like (like noodle salad) we make it ourselves with fresh eggs and yogurt so it doesn’t have too much calories.
    It’s surprising how much some receipts resemble each other since I’m german but there are only small differences!

    I’ve just found your blog and everything I’ve seen so far looks quite delicious-I’ll probably try some of your receipts soon-not good for my diet, but good for my soul ;) Sometimes I have a bit of a hard time because the measurements are quite different, but I’m sure it will work out with the help of google ;)

  37. Diana

    Alert: The Messermeister company website is having a back to school sale right now – I got 15% off each item plus free shipping – no having to deal with Amazon, there are more colors to choose from and some great other items like a jumbo garlic press you can fit up to 4 cloves of garlic in at a time!

  38. Andrea

    I’m super late to the party but I just made this tonight and it’s fantastic! It’s going to become a go-to recipe for me, I can tell. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Ann

    I make my potato salad like my mother did since the 1940s, with MIRACLE WHIP. It’s much more tasty than mayo. I add a little mustard and I include sliced radishes, chopped cucumber, chopped green onions, hard-boiled eggs and chopped tomatos along with the potatos. Then sprinkle with paprika. :)

  40. Laura

    For those of us that love vinegar (hello, salt and vinegar potato chip enthusiasts), I learned a trick I now use on all potato salads. Once potatoes are cooked and diced (but preferably still warm), toss with vinegar and salt. The vinegar soaks into the potato, so there is no excess liquid. Proceed with recipe as normal, and be blown away by how flavorful your potatoes are!

  41. Jess

    This recipe looks great. I was taught early though, the secret to great potato salad (no matter what the recipe): don’t let your potatoes get cold before you dress them. Allow them to cool, yes, but letting them get completely cold (or god forbid, refrigerating them) will not allow them to absorb much or any of the goodness in your salad. And your end product will simply be dressing with gritty potatoes in it. Mix and then refrigerate (after taking a little warm potato salad for yourself).

    An even secret-er secret: add a little sugar and sub lemon juice for some or all of the vinegar.

  42. Jane H

    Much like mine . I add the same amount of sugar as vinegar a kit the set red pepper and NO mustard and yes I am always asked to bring it

  43. Jane H

    I love potato salad but I love it best when I first make it after it has been in fridge, not so much so I always make right before we sit down to dinner. And I always just add my mayo until it is the consistency I like. Don’t like it g lopped either is g lopped a word?

  44. Verde

    We made this today for 4th of July – yum. I cut the pickles pretty big and used eggs from our ducks, hard boiled and chopped large, as well. It turned out great and was a hit with our impromptu guests, as well. Nice and tangy and love the dill. Definitely a recipe you could riff on, but it turned out great as written so I don’t think I’ll be messing with it.

  45. frances

    this was the foundation for potato salad exactly how i like it. i did cut my potatoes before cooking them, as they were all wildly different sizes, so they did get a bit smooshed when i drained them. i don’t like hardboiled eggs so i left them out and followed the updated suggestion to use 4 1/2 pounds of potatoes with the same amount of dressing. i followed someone’s suggestion to toss the warm potatoes with the vinegar and salt before the rest of the dressing, and the potatoes themselves had good flavor. i also used green onions rather than a red one and added a splash (maybe a tablespoon?) of pickle juice to the mayo/mustard (stone ground, not dijon, because that’s what i had), stirred together separately to mix and loosen, and the potatoes were coated nicely without being gross. 2/3 cup mayonnaise is perfect, and that’s from someone who hates mayonnaise on its own.

  46. Cindy

    Great basic potato salad! I used red wine vinegar and a dash of balsamic, white onion because I had no red, chopped the celery coarser than I will next time – it was a hit with me and all our guests. Sure beats the store bought stuff!

  47. Ros

    This is my go-to potato salad, and has been for years – your warning is correct, nothing else will ever be permitted at a potluck again.

    Note that might help others: I replace the mayo with sour cream, and up the Dijon and vinegar a bit… Sour cream is less likely to cause food poisoning when left out for a few hours on a hot day.

  48. Lisa

    So delicious, the combination of Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar give the potato salad a tangy flavor. The pickles and dill fantastic. We have made this many times it’s so good!

  49. Bethany

    I made this for dinner tonight. The initial bites have received rave reviews from my husband (this has never happened with potato salad in our 10 years of marriage.) this salad is the perfect combo of good flavors. And it totally made the cut for the recipe box – to return to time and time again.

  50. KatieK

    Made this exactly as written except I didn’t have fresh dill so used dried and cut the amount by half. It is chilling as I write but several tastes to check on the need for salt and pepper have proven to be QUITE tasty. I usually use sweet pickle relish in my potato salad so this will be a change. I needed all the mayonnaise and used 3# potatoes; the vinegar adds a good dimension.

  51. I make this anytime that potato salad is called for and it’s always a huge hit, with both potato salad fans and people that didn’t think they liked potato salad. Magic. I double everything but the mayo and dijon, although I usually end up adding a bit more mayo and dijon as needed. Also, I don’t like the apple cider vinegar in this (I am very opposed to sweetness in potato salad), so I usually swap it for some pickle juice.