During cookout season, nothing is better than a classic potato salad. It’s an excellent side to serve with hot dogs, hamburgers, and many other barbecue favorites.
However, the homemade potato salad we all know and love can taste very different from even the best store-bought potato salad sold at the grocery store. Not all of us have the time and luxury to make the very best potato salad recipe, so how do we dress up a store-bought potato salad and take it from blah to amazing?
Leveling up a container of potato salad is actually quite a simple process. It just needs to be doctored up with a few additional ingredients to make for a more dynamic dish that tastes like the kind of potato salad made from scratch in the kitchen.
If it’s so easy to cheat the system, then why not? Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for turning a basic potato salad into one of your family’s favorite recipes. Keep reading to learn how to make a store-bought potato salad better.
What If My Store Bought Potato Salad Is Under-Cooked?
First things first: if you’re going to buy pre-made potato salad, it’s important to buy a brand that you like. Whether it’s Costco potato salad or potato salad from your local store, getting one you already enjoy will make doctoring it so much easier.
Some brands of potato salad can contain potatoes that taste undercooked or dressing that is seriously lacking in flavor. If you end up with a potato salad like this, don’t fret! There’s a way you can save them.
First, scrape off as much of the dressing as you can. Rinse off what’s left in the sink. Next, add salted water to a pot and bring it to a boil. Put the potatoes in boiling water and cook until they reach the desired softness.
As the potatoes are re-boiling, you can start adding your desired ingredients to the dressing. Make sure you give it a taste test! When the potatoes are complete, simply return them to the dressing and mix. There you have it — a completely revived potato salad!
How to Make Store-Bought Potato Salad Better
Now that you know how to rescue even the most unsalvageable store-bought potato salad, let’s learn how you can enhance its texture and flavor to create the most delicious potato salad that has ever graced your taste buds.
Make It Crunchy
To add some extra texture to your potato salad, try adding finely diced raw onion, celery, green onions, or chives. Start small, as ingredients like onion have a flavor that can quickly become overpowering. I find that red onion or sweet onions taste the best.
Celery is also great for amping up the crunch factor. It has a milder taste than onion, but it balances out the soft texture of the salad nicely. Green onions and chives are similar but have slightly different flavors. Both are good options for tightening the complexity of the texture and flavor.
Vinegar is a must-have potato salad ingredient as it adds a tangy splash to your dish. Apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, and even balsamic vinegar are great tasty options. Some store-bought potato salads can have either too little or too much vinegar, so give it a taste before adding more.
Add Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are a wonderful addition to almost any potato salad. Fresh dill, basil, rosemary, thyme, or minced parsley pair well with the richer, fattier flavors and give the dish a well-rounded taste that tastes as if made fresh!
Spice It Up
Spices are like a best friend to bland potato salad. Celery salt, celery seed, and smoked paprika are great flavor enhancers. Even just a little more salt and pepper can give your store-bought potato salad a nice boost. Just make sure you taste test as you go — once you add too much, you can’t go back!
Add More Mayo & Mustard
You may need to add more mayonnaise and mustard depending on how dressing-heavy you like your potato salad. Just as with the spices, make sure you add a little as you go to taste so you don’t overdo it.
The salty tang and crunch of a pickle can take the flavor and texture of your potato salad to the next level. Dill or sweet pickles both add their own unique taste, so go for whichever one you prefer! Sweet pickle relish is a great option as well.
Sometimes pre-made potato salads can have too much vinegar. If this is the case, mix in a half teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest for every two cups of potato salad to counteract the vinegary taste. Orange or lime zest are also great options if you prefer a different kind of citrus fruit.
Yes, you can add bacon to your potato salad! Just cook your bacon of choice and get it nice and crispy. Then, chop it up to make it into bacon bits and mix it in your salad. Bacon makes for a delicious and savory potato salad that is unmatched.
Add Hard-Boiled Eggs
You can make your store-bought potato salad more substantial by adding a few hard-boiled eggs. Eggs will tighten the protein content and elevate the flavors of the other ingredients — especially if you have bacon and blue cheese, which makes it almost like a Cobb salad!
Add Potato Chips
If you want to get creative with it, crush some potato chips to make for a saltier, crunchier potato salad! Make sure you wait to add them just before serving, as the chips get soggy quickly. To take it even further, add another layer of seasoning using flavored potato chips!
Why does my potato salad taste bland?
If your potato salad tastes bland, your dressing is most likely to blame. Try adding fresh herbs, seasonings, and aromatics to your salad to create a more flavorful dish.
How long does store bought potato salad last?
Both homemade and store-bought potato salad can last up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. It also usually can be kept for a day or two later than the use-by date printed on the packaging.
Can store-bought potato salad be frozen?
Yes. To freeze your store-bought potato salad, remove it from its original container and place it in a freezer-safe bag. Putting it in a square container is not recommended as it can have an uneven thawing process that might deteriorate the texture.
What are the top-rated brands of pre-made potato salad?
The highest-rated brands often include Mrs. Gerry’s, Reser’s, and Trader Joe’s for their balance of taste and texture.
Where is the best place to purchase high-quality pre-made potato salad?
Specialty grocery stores and delis typically offer a higher quality selection compared to standard supermarkets. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are known for their fresh deli selections.
Does Costco offer its own version of ready-made potato salad?
Yes, Costco offers a signature Kirkland brand potato salad, renowned for its creamy taste and convenient packaging.
Is potato salad gluten-free?
Not all pre-made potato salads are gluten-free, as some may contain additives or dressings with gluten. Always check the label for ingredients if you have dietary restrictions.
How can I make a potato salad sandwich?
To create a potato salad sandwich, simply spread a generous layer of potato salad between two slices of bread, optionally with lettuce for added crunch.
How long can potato salad be left out?
Potato salad should not be left out for more than two hours at room temperature due to bacteria growth that can occur.
What can I do with leftover potato salad?
Revamp your leftover potato salad by adding it to a green salad or using it as a topping for a baked potato.
How many pounds of potato salad should I make per person?
Plan on about 1/3 to 1/2 pounds of potato salad per person.
What meat goes with potato salad?
Grilled or smoked meats such as chicken, brisket, or sausages pair wonderfully with potato salad.
What sandwich goes with potato salad?
Classic sandwiches like BLTs, ham, and cheese, or chicken salad complement potato salad well.
Next time you want to make an easy potato salad recipe, consider going the store-bought route! Not only is it quicker to make, but the fresh ingredients and seasonings you add can really make it worth your while.
There’s no shame in taking a shortcut every now and then — especially when it comes out delicious!