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July 4th Potato Salad Recipe and History

July 4th Potato Salad Recipe and History

The best potato salad recipe you will find on the web

Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe -  Fireworks

I love potato salad, so I am providing you my readers a great potato salad recipe and provide a little history of the potato salad.  My first memory of eating potato salad seems like yesterday. It was The 4th of July and we were having a picnic at my grandma’s house. At the time, I was just a young foodie, all of 4 years old,  and I had just had my first plate of potato salad. I still remember it being a creamy mayo laced concoction, laced with eggs and mustard.I clearly remember sucking up my plate of potato salad and going back for seconds and thirds. My Grandma smiled, recognizing my budding palate and self-satisfaction with the quality of her recipe.


History of Potato Salad

Old World Potato Salad

Potato salad has a long history.  The version we know, with the creamy mayo base, is a relatively a new invention. In other Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe -  Spanish Discover Potatoesparts of the world, potato salads are more vinegar based, sans mayo.  According to a segment on National Public Radio, potato salad was first introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers. During their conquest of South America, they discovered potatoes and adapted the to Spanish Cuisine.  The Spanish Explorer’s potato salad was made with wine, vinegar and spices. Apparently it was a big hit in Spain and variations of the dish spread throughout Europe.

Influence of Immigration

Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe -  German Immigrants RecipeThe potato salad recipe was introduced to to the United States by German settlers, during one of the major European immigration fluxes in the 1800’s. The first reference to potato salad, in the United States, can be found in recipe books dating back to the mid-1800’s. These early recipes closely resembled the German style (vinegary with grain mustard).

Americana Potato Salad

Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe -  Good Houskeeping Recip

When did mayonnaise become an integral part of Americana potato salad? According to the same NPR segment, commercial bottled mayonnaise became available sometime in the 1920’s or 1930’s. This commercialization of bottled mayo seems to be the starting point of the trend. In the early 1950’s, Good Housekeeping magazine published a recipe’s for “creamy potato salad” using Helmans mayonnaise. As with all culinary trends in the 1950’s, recipes were stolen at potlucks, church functions and the Mayo based potato salad took hold in the United States.

The recipe I will be providing takes elements of the German potato Salad brought by the German settlers and mixing it with the 1950’s Americana Good Housekeeping version. This variation provides a creamy, yet slightly vinegar hint to the flavor.

Tom’s July 4th Potato Salads Recipe

Feeds: 10-14 people as a large side


  • 4 pounds small white potatoes
  • Sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mayo
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
  • Tablespoon of Creamy Horseradish
  • Teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (or more to taste)
  • 4 hard boiled eggs + 1 extra for garnishment


Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe - Boil PotatoesFill large pot with the white potatoes, teaspoon of sea salt and bring to a strong boil. When you have a full rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the potatoes simmer for 15 minutes.





Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe - Mix Wet Ingredients and HerbsWhile the potatoes are cooking, mix together the Mayo, Mustard, buttermilk, chives, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar. You can always add or reduce the amount of ingredients to taste.  Whisk these ingredients together to introduce some air into the mixture. Note: do not use an electrical blender, this whisking should  be a loving and gentle process.




Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe - cut potatoesUsing the medium sized potatoes as a reference for doneness. Insert a butter knife into the potato. When the knife slips into the potato with some effort, it is ready. If you are unsure, take out  a potato and cut it open and take a bite. The potato should be soft, but with some firmness.

When potatoes are ready, drain them out in a colander and set it over the same pot. Allow the potatoes to “Steam Out” for at least 15 minutes. After that, you can lay them out to cool down. Once the potatoes are  cool enough to be handled (YET STILL VERY WARM!), cut them up into your preferred size. I personally prefer my potato chunks to be the size of a quarter.



Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe - mix sauce into potatoesPour mixture over the cut up potatoes and mix thoroughly. The mixture should be added while the potatoes are still warm to ensure the mixture permeates , moistens and marinates the potatoes.





Potato Salad Recipe - Fold in the eggs,  onions and celery

Potato Salad Recipe – Add in the eggs, onions and celery


 Add in the eggs, onions and celery







Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe - Final Dish

Fourth of July Potato Salad Recipe – Final Dish


About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

One comment

  1. I like this variation with the buttermilk and the horseradish. Can’t wait to try it.

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