Basic Vegan Potato Salad with Vegan Mayonnaise and Spice Suggestions

Potato salad
J Shepherd / Getty Images
    50 mins

​Potato salad, an American summer staple, did not originate in the United States. Spanish colonization brought the potato from South America to Europe in the 1500's and it eventually developed in Europe, most likely in Germany, before making its way back to North America. Now the dish is made worldwide.

This is a recipe for a basic vegan potato salad, using vegan egg-free mayonnaise. This vegan potato salad is perfect to bring to a picnic, potluck, or vegetarian barbecue where different dietary restrictions can make traditional potato salad problematic.

What You'll Need

  • 5 to 6 red, white or Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I like Vegenaise brand best)
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup vegetarian bacon bits (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the water from the pot and cool the potatoes completely, about 15 minutes.
  3. Peel the potatoes completely and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside (Alternatively, you can leave the peels on some potatoes for more texture)
  4. Gently toss together all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the potatoes gradually and cover with the ingredients until evenly distributed.
  1. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Chill for at least one hour before serving.The flavors would be best served after an overnight refrigeration.

Cooking Tips and Ingredient Substitutions

Potato salad is appreciated as a dish that acts as the yin to the yang of savory barbecue meats or sweet side dishes like baked beans; however, you can give this potato salad some extra swagger with additional spices. Here are some suggestions to make your potato salad extra tasty for guests:

  • Add freshly ground black pepper for extra bite
  • Top and mix in 2 teaspoons of paprika for a smoky taste addition 
  • Add 1/2 cup of yellow mustard to add some extra tang to the dish
  • Add 4 ounces of minced or diced pimento for a succulent sweet taste
  • Add 3 tablespoons of sweet pickled relish or chopped gherkins for a taste twist
  • Add fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon, rosemary, parsley, chives, scallions, or a combination 
  • Capers can be added to the dish  

Tweaking Traditional Potato Salad Recipes

Going vegan may be easier than you think! Knowing how to replace ingredients in traditional recipes to make a recipe vegan is the key to bringing them into your new healthier lifestyle. Traditional potato salad dishes from all over the world are called Olivier salad or Stolichny salad, patates salatasi, Rus salatasi, ensaladilla rusa, or Kartoffelsalat. Many of them use hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise in their recipes. Removing these ingredients will make them vegan. If using a vegan mayonnaise is undesirable, you can replace it with olive oil and Dijon mustard to add creaminess and to help the potatoes and spices meld together. Though the color may be off-putting, avocado is also a great healthy fat to add to a potato salad in place of mayonnaise.