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Recipe: New York Deli Style Potato Salad

This recipe for New York Deli Style Potato Salad has been an evolution over the years… I’d try a recipe… no not right…adapted it…still not right.. and so it went…. until I was adapting an adaptation that was adapted twice since the original…. It’s a wonder I knew what I did.

As many of you know I grew up in Queens…had ties to Brooklyn and also grew up on Long Island…. so trust me… I know New York Deli…. Every neighborhood had them and each neighborhood had their own tweak to the salads…. and the residents of that neighborhood…. die-hard fans of their deli’s salads.

The New York Deli Style Potato Salad was really plain in comparison to other parts of the country… it contains few ingredients… and the dressing is put on heavily. Potatoes, finely chopped onions, salt, pepper, sometimes finely chopped celery, sometimes finely chopped parsley… a dressing made of mayo, white vinegar, sugar… that’s it!

When I hit it right I swear I heard the Alejuluah chorus.

There a million recipes for potato salad…. and I’m sure they are all well liked by somebody… this is one from my childhood and we like it.

The amounts are approximate… the dressing is doubled… I always double the dressing and use what I need… which usually turns out to be the entire batch anyway… this way you can make as many potatoes as you want without worrying if you have enough dressing.


Recipe: New York Deli Style Potato Salad

All you need:

About 4 pounds potatoes, cooked, cooled then sliced
3 cups Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise
6 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup sweet onion, finely minced

All you need to do:

Put the potatoes in a large bowl, salt and pepper them, turning to be sure all sides get the salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Mixing until smooth.

Pour dressing slowly over the potatoes.

Turn the potatoes to spread the dressing evenly… add more as needed.

Any left over dressing store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


Suzie the Foodie May 23, 2009 at 10:30 AM  

Way to go! I know, it is so super frustrating. My perfect potato salad came from the Neelys and I did a little happy dance when I finally found the perfect potato salad.

Coleen's Recipes May 24, 2009 at 3:40 AM  

Potato salad is SO personalized, isn't it? I never serve it on the first day...it tastes so much better on day two. Another thing I do is peel and cube the potatoes (salad size cubes) and boil them for about 8 minutes....saves a bunch of steps.

Donna-FFW May 24, 2009 at 7:08 AM  

This sounds wonderful. The dressing is just like my moms. Perfect simple and delicious!

Linda May 24, 2009 at 11:15 AM  

Oh Suzie... I know that happy dance!

Linda May 24, 2009 at 11:16 AM  

Thanks for the tip Coleen... except it doesn't work for New York Deli Style Potato Salad.. because true old fashioned deli style is sliced potatoes not cubed...unlike what is popular throughout the rest of the country... I do what you do when I make other kinds of potato salad... as for serving it the next day... I think this one is good on day one

Linda May 24, 2009 at 11:17 AM  

Thanks Donna!... sometimes simple is enough

Kristen May 27, 2009 at 4:57 PM  

Hi, 1st time here and I love what I see - what a great site, full of helpful tips and delicious looking recipes! I'll be back for seconds!

Linda May 27, 2009 at 5:24 PM  

Welcome! I'm glad you like the blog... and please know you're comments are always welcome!

Margaret in New Jersey December 10, 2009 at 11:49 PM  

Hi Linda! I'm from Queens too and when I lived in California I would dream about this potato salad. Now I'm in Jersey and I found only one deli with a potato salad like this. It's the ultimate comfort food. Thanks!

MeowingKittyCat July 1, 2013 at 2:46 PM  

Great recipe! This is the potato salad flavor I had been seeking ever since moving from New York. Whenever I'm missing deli-style potato salad, I make a batch of this.

Margaret in New Jersey December 15, 2013 at 2:33 PM  

Here are a few more suggestions from my mother that worked for me:

Use waxy potatoes, like red potatoes. They will keep their shape better so you can slice them thinner.

When you boil them, add a half-cup of vinegar to the cooking water. This also makes the potatoes firmer so you can slice them thinner.

Slice them as thin as you can. In Queens, it's about 1/8 of an inch.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, pepper, and onions with some water and/or vegetable oil. Add this to the potatoes and marinate overnight (total maybe half a cup?). Add the mayonnaise the next morning. (You may not need as much mayonnaise.) The dressing flavor really soaks into the potatoes this way.

Happy eating!


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