Most people don’t even realize potato salad is a thanksgiving dish, but it’s true!
We’re going to explore why some people don’t believe potato salad belongs on the thanksgiving table, and follow it up with the definitive argument for why it does.
Is Potato Salad a Thanksgiving Dish?
First, potato salad is one of the most traditional side dishes served at Thanksgiving meals.
It can be a great addition to your table because it offers a unique flavor and texture that are not present in any other Thanksgiving staples.
Additionally, you can prepare it ahead of time, so you don’t have to stress about cooking on the day of, and a single recipe usually makes enough for a large family or group (or for leftovers).
Finally, you can make it with any number of ingredients that you like: from basic mayonnaise-based potato salad to something more adventurous with lime juice and cilantro.
What Is in A Traditional Thanksgiving Potato Salad?
A traditional Thanksgiving potato salad really strikes the perfect balance between texture and flavor.
The potatoes are soft but not mushy, and the dressing marries creamy mayonnaise with tangy vinegar to really round out the flavors.
And I usually get requests from guests for the recipe.
My family’s recipe is pretty simple:
We start with 6 boiled russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces.
Then we add 1 cup of chopped celery, ½ cup of sliced green onions, ½ cup of diced red bell pepper, 2 hard-boiled eggs (diced), ½ cup of chopped fresh parsley, ¼ cup of dill pickle relish, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¾ cup of mayonnaise—all stirred together in a large mixing bowl.
How to Make the Best Potato Salad for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you’re in charge of bringing a side dish to your family’s meal, you may be starting to feel the pressure.
Don’t worry, though—we’ve got you covered with this simple potato salad recipe that’s sure to delight even the pickiest of eaters.
- Get a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Peel and chop one pound of potatoes into bite-sized cubes (we recommend golden potatoes).
- Boil the potatoes until they’re soft.
- Put the cooked potatoes in your medium bowl, then dice up half a red onion, and toss that in as well.
- Now, let’s talk about the dressing: whisk together 1 cup of mayo, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of mustard (we recommend spicy brown), and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add the dressing to your bowl o’ potatoes, then top with 3 sliced scallions to finish it off!
When Should You Serve Potato Salad on Thanksgiving?
The best time to serve potato salad on Thanksgiving (or any other holiday) is a very personal decision, and it’s one that depends on your guests, their preferences, whether they’re already full, and what time it is.
If you have guests who love potato salad—and I mean really love potato salad—then you know you can’t go wrong offering them potato salad at any point during the day.
But if they’re more ambivalent about the dish, then serving it earlier in the day will give them room to eat more.
And if you have guests who don’t like potato salad at all, then I would suggest not serving it at all.
Potato salad has a lot of calories, and even if you make a low-fat version, or use a lighter mayonnaise than normal, it’s still not going to be as healthy as some of your other options (unless it’s made with baked sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes).
So if your guests don’t care for the dish, why waste calories on something they won’t enjoy?
7 Tips for Serving Potato Salad on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a great time to show off your culinary skills and make an incredible potato salad (or maybe a couple of different kinds).
We have 7 tips for serving the perfect potato salad:
1. Chill It Out
Potato salad tastes best when it’s cold. Refrigerating the potato salad for at least 4 hours ensures that the flavors are absorbed into the potatoes and that the dressing has coated all of them.
If you don’t have enough time, make sure to chill it for at least 30 minutes.
2. Add a Little Extra “Whoosh”
Potato salad can be bland, so be sure to add a little extra zing!
This can be done by adding more lemon juice or vinegar to your dressing, sprinkling in some red pepper flakes, or even adding some chopped dill pickles or relish (to add saltiness and tang!). Make the flavor pop!
3. Be sure to season it well
Everyone knows the flavor of potatoes is subtle at best, so be sure to season your potato salad super well.
You can get creative with spices like cumin and coriander as well as herbs like parsley or green onion.
4. Make it creamy
Try adding some sour cream or Greek yogurt to give the dish that extra oomph on the palate.
Just don’t go overboard—you want to keep it light enough so people will still want to eat turkey with their potato salad!
5. Make it the day before
Potato salad tastes best when it’s made in advance and allowed to cool overnight.
That way, by the time you serve it, all of the flavors will have had plenty of time to meld together and create a truly delicious dish.
6. Don’t be afraid to get fancy!
Potato salad is a classic dish, but it never hurts to spice things up a bit.
The trick is to use ingredients that everyone already knows and loves, but add in something unexpected.
For example: instead of using plain mayo, mix in some hot sauce or freshly grated horseradish; instead of using celery, try adding some diced jalapenos for extra heat; instead of using regular potatoes, try using purple potatoes for color and extra antioxidants.
7. Make sure your potatoes are well-cooked
If you’re using red potatoes for your potato salad, make sure to cook them in boiling water until they’re soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork—otherwise, the potato won’t absorb the dressing or seasoning very well, leaving you with undercooked, hard bits of potato in your perfectly-seasoned dressing.
At the end of the day, potato salad is just like any other food: it’s delicious, and it goes with whatever you’d like to eat it with.
So go ahead! Eat it at your Thanksgiving feast. Make a big bowl of it on Christmas morning and slowly pick at it while watching Elf.
Make a big batch of potato salad to have as an appetizer for a summer BBQ. The possibilities are endless!