July 10th, 2014
01:30 AM ET
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America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-­time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most­ foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines, and on our two public television cooking shows.

Potato salad is an easy dish to make and transport to a summer potluck. But all too often the star of the show is mayonnaise, rather than the recipe’s namesake ingredient. We found that the secret to a creamy and light potato salad is to emulate the Austrians: Ditch the mayo and look to the soup pot.

We boil the spuds in a shallow pan with chicken stock, water, sugar, and salt, which leads to deeply flavored potatoes. We also found that adding a surprising ingredient, white vinegar, expanded the window of time during which the spuds go from properly cooked to mushy and broken.

This is because potato cells are held together by pectin, a large molecule that acts as a glue. This glue weakens when heated in water, allowing the cells to come apart, which first softens the potato and then breaks it apart. Vinegar’s acidity slows the breakdown of pectin, expanding the amount of time between the point when a potato starts to soften and when it fully breaks down.

We use Yukon Golds in this dish, as they have just enough starch to contribute creaminess without breaking apart. To finish our potato salad recipe, we add mashed potatoes to the dressing, which thickened it perfectly every time.

Austrian-Style Potato Salad
(Serves 4-6)

The finished salad should be creamy and loose, with chunks of potato that keep their shape but are very tender. If you can’t find cornichons, chopped kosher dill pickles can be used in their place. To maintain its consistency, don’t refrigerate the salad; it should be served within 4 hours of preparation.

Ingredients:

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
Table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
6 cornichons, minced (about 2 tablespoons) (see note)
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Ground black pepper

Instructions:

1. Bring potatoes, broth, water, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and 1 tablespoon vinegar to boil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes offer no resistance when pierced with paring knife, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high (so cooking liquid will reduce), and cook 2 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes in colander set over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Set drained potatoes aside. Pour off and discard all but 1/2 cup cooking liquid (if 1/2 cup liquid does not remain, add water to make 1/2 cup). Whisk remaining tablespoon vinegar, mustard, and oil into cooking liquid.

3. Add 1/2 cup cooked potatoes to bowl with cooking liquid mixture and mash with potato masher or fork until thick sauce forms (mixture will be slightly chunky). Add remaining potatoes, onion, cornichons, and chives, folding gently with rubber spatula to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

More from America's Test Kitchen:
Our equipment testing of traditional skillets
Our favorite potato masher
Our recipe for BLT Potato Salad
Our recipe for Grillet Pesto Chicken

Previously:
How to win over a mayo hater
Crowdfunding kicks up potato salad passions
The best potato salad we've ever had
Potato salad bridges cultural divides
All our best cookout advice

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Filed under: America's Test Kitchen • Content Partner • Dishes • Potatoes • Recipes • Salad • Sides


soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Wastrel

    I'm OK with chives, pickles and onions, but chicken broth is absolutely not necessary. Eggs do not belong and they left them out. I usually use very finely chopped celery for crunch. By the way, if you want to do this easier, replace the pickles and sugar with sweet or dill pickle relish from a jar.

    July 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  2. Jan

    Apparently none of you have had the opportunity to travel to southern Germany or Austria, because if you had, you would know that the people there do wonders with potatoes. The reason the (quite small) amount of sugar is added in this Kartoffelsalat is to counter some of the residual acidity of the vinegar – you could also use a mild honey if you so prefer.

    The best Kartoffelsalat I've had was actually in South Tyrol (Alto Adige), in Italy near the border with Austria. Had chanterelle mushrooms and was topped with paper thin ribbons of Südtiroler Speck (smoked prosciutto). Amazing.

    July 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  3. daniel

    Potato Salad for under $40k

    My people call this "all potato salad"

    July 11, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  4. palintwit

    I'm going to e-mail John McCain's office and thank him for the gift of Sarah Palin. We as a nation have so much to be grateful for because of her. She is one of the greatest problem-solvers this country has ever seen.

    July 11, 2014 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • Brenda

      I agree! We need her in politics today and in the future. She is one woman who backs what she says. Almost like her hunting skills. She's got the gun and ammo to get the game. She is very clever witty and sharp. She knows the ropes she is a leader a strong woman with an in site to change this nation. And with help from the republican party she will rise on that day l

      July 11, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  5. lucyl15

    Boiled potatoes (with or without eggs) with the other ingredients added while the eggs are still a little warm. Lots of crumbled bacon, red onion, mayo, spicy mustard (County Dijon or other stone ground), Regina red wine vinegar (my favorite), Cholula hot sauce, salt and pepper. Then chill overnight so all the flavors overnight have time to blend together. I put the diced red onion on top when it's served because I like it to be crunchy. I use the same ingredients mixed with the egg yolks to make deviled eggs. My family really likes spicy and tart so they love this.

    July 11, 2014 at 5:01 am | Reply
  6. Anna Marie

    6 medium skin on boiled Russet potatoes, peel when cool enough to handle and cut into about 1/2 inch chunks. 3-4 HB eggs, diced. 1/2 cup each diced onion and celery. 1/4 cup bread and butter pickles (Farman's is the best brand). Dressing: about 3/4-1 cup of Mayo or Miracle Whip, 2 TBSP yellow mustard, pepper and celery seed to taste, add about 1/4 cup of the pickle juice. Mix then fold into the vegetable egg mixture. If it is too dry add a little more pickle juice. Best potato salad ever. Awesome, yummy. I've been making this for 30 years. Truly delish, add or subtract to suit your own taste. Everything is how much you want to add, more potatoes or less, same with the eggs, dressing, pickles.

    July 11, 2014 at 12:19 am | Reply
  7. Thinking things through

    Yukon Gold potatoes are good in this, but why the sugar addition? Come on, potato starch turns into sugar, why do you (ATK) have this jones to add extra, even if you consider it only a little? Sorry, I seriously don't need it. And nor does this recipe.

    July 10, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  8. www.youtube.com/losewithbam

    Potato Salad is amazing. Can't believe that kickstarter got so much money!

    July 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  9. Ctrygrl

    Potato salad should absolutely never have sugar in it. Vinegar yes but not so much you think you have to put sugar. Personally I like good vinegar usually white wine, a good extra virgin olive oil and chopped fresh herbs, particularly thyme and tarragon and some thinly sliced shallots. Maybe a little grainy Dijon mustard, I prefer Trader Joe's, and of course a little salt and fresh ground pepper.. If you stir in the potatoes warm you can get away with just a little oil as it coats better, never more than 1oil to 1 vinegar. You certainly do not need the sugar in the recipe above.

    July 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Reply
    • Wastrel

      Most kinds of mayonnaise contain sugar now, and sugar does not belong in mayo any more than it belongs in potato salad. Duke's mayonnaise does not have sugar. This article says no mayo in potato salad, but adds sugar. Nonsense,.

      July 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  10. ORChuck

    Pickles - or cornichons - are my pet-peeve about potato salad. The flavor of pickles - or cornichons - is very strong. A little is ok... but most potato salads have way, way too much and your potato salad turns into a pickle salad.

    July 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      Or worse yet – celery.

      July 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  11. Lipo G3 diet

    Hi! I've been following your site for some time
    now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out
    from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent job!

    July 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  12. ∞ Weeds ∞

    This isn't my momma's potato salad (she makes the best) but it looks good enough to give it a go. The name makes this sound like a highfalutin dish off of a fancy foreign restaurant menu, you know what I mean, the kind where they have to give everything funny names, like Royale with Cheese.
    This makes me wonder, how come I haven't seen a Peruvian potato salad?

    July 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Reply
    • Ye Shall Receive

      http://www.meals.com/recipe/peruvian-potato-salad-136911

      July 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • Ally

      Peru has a fairly large potato culture. Certainly more so than North America or Europe.

      July 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  13. Heidi

    Eastern white potatoes boiled until they aren't too hard to stick a fork into, but not so overcooked that they fall apart. (Approx 30-40 minutes depending on size of the potato.) Once they've cooled down in the fridge overnight, add sliced-up hard-boiled eggs, sliced-up red onion, lots of black pepper, and fat-free Italian salad dressing (I prefer Kraft's). A tasty, low-fat, relatively low-calorie dish, quick and easy to make, and if you stock a few bottles pf the dressing when it goes on sale, very cheap.

    July 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  14. mjames

    I'm willing to try this recipe.Why not? if I don't like it, I'll go back to my usual recipe.

    July 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  15. dman6015

    Bait-and-switch from the title on the main page to the actual recipe. As soon as I saw 'Austrian' (could have said 'German', too), I didn't even have to read the recipe to know that vinegar was an ingredient. Sorry, but good old American potato salad is very simple. Potatoes (I prefer red because they're creamier), mayo (full fat!), green onions (you want an onion flavor, but not an overpowering white or red onion), salt and pepper. Sure, throw in some chopped celery if you're looking for more crunch. Save the eggs and paprika for egg salad.

    July 10, 2014 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      Hmmm? Bait and switch where? The recipe is for the potato salad pictured.

      July 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • At Kat

      "Bait and switch" is Austrian for "I can't read."

      July 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Reply
      • Jerv

        Nah, that's all right. Just cut the mayonnaise with half sour cream. The best.

        July 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  16. NCSubVet

    Step 1. Let me wife's step-mom make it. Hers is awesome!

    July 10, 2014 at 10:25 am | Reply
    • NCSubVet

      *my

      July 10, 2014 at 10:25 am | Reply
      • Bob

        Whew – glad you corrected. I thought we had some limeys in the Navy there for a minute.

        July 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  17. AleeD®

    Never liked hot potato salad. Cold with roasted potatoes is incredible. Mayo, HB eggs, chopped celery, salt & peppah to taste. Easy Peasy.

    July 10, 2014 at 10:23 am | Reply
  18. Polarized Again?

    Here we go again. People are so polarized about too many unimportant things.

    July 10, 2014 at 10:14 am | Reply
  19. MarylandBill

    Trying to post a perfect egg salad recipe is like telling someone they are rooting for the wrong sports team. Everyone has their preferences and you will probably never convert them because the preferences often run deep into their past.

    July 10, 2014 at 10:13 am | Reply
    • Pat

      The best egg salad is an oxymoron. I hate the stuff.

      July 10, 2014 at 10:17 am | Reply
  20. First

    First

    July 10, 2014 at 9:56 am | Reply
    • dman6015

      No!

      July 10, 2014 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • Uhmmm....

      Not quite.

      July 10, 2014 at 10:45 am | Reply
  21. emma

    Red and white potatoes, steamed and cooled, chopped green onions or chives, celery and a tart apple, mayo, fresh dill, cracked black pepper aaaaand you're done.
    NO EGGS! Make egg salad; and use the paprika in the egg salad.

    July 10, 2014 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • darsprk

      sounds delish!!!

      July 10, 2014 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • ChangingTimes

      hmm...never heard or thought of using an apple in potato salad (have had it in chicken salad before, though). It sounds good. I might try that next time I make a salad. Thanks for the idea!

      July 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Reply

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