Swedish potato salad is a classic dish in Swedish cuisine, typically served as a side dish or appetizer during summer gatherings or holiday celebrations.
It is a popular dish in Sweden, particularly during the midsummer celebration, when it is typically served alongside grilled meats, seafood, and other traditional Swedish dishes.
Why you will love this recipe
- Versatile: Potato salad can be served as a side dish, an appetizer, or even as a light meal. It pairs well with various main courseses, from grilled meats and seafood to vegetarian dishes.
- Easy to make: Potato salad is a relatively simple dish to prepare, requiring only a few basic ingredients and minimal cooking skills. This makes it an excellent option for last-minute gatherings.
- Delicious: Swedish potato salad is a flavorful and satisfying dish that combines creamy dressing with tender potatoes and other tasty ingredients. It's a crowd-pleaser.
- Customizable: The basic recipe for Swedish potato salad can be adapted to suit different tastes and preferences. You can adjust the seasoning, add or remove ingredients, and substitute some ingredients.
What is Swedish potato salad?
Swedish potato salad, known as "potatissallad," is a traditional dish made with boiled potatoes, chopped pickled gherkins, mayonnaise, and sour cream or yogurt. It has some type of onions added in the form of red onion, leek, or chives. The salad is typically seasoned with salt, pepper, and sugar. Dill is often used if served with fish. Some like to add also boiled eggs and some fried bacon bits.
It is a popular dish, particularly during the summer months, when it is often served as a side at barbecues or as part of a cold buffet. Swedish potato salad is usually served cold and has a creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor.
I used capers in my recipe since I think they add a lovely tangy flavor. Fresh tart apple is a common addition to potato salad. Apple is, though, something that divides opinions; some like it, and some hate it in a potato salad. It is definitely optional if you want to use apple or not.
If you are looking for a vinaigrette-based salad check out this vinaigrette potato salad with peas.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Potatoes: Instead of using waxy potatoes, you could try using new potatoes or baby potatoes. These should also hold their shape well when boiled and will work nicely in the salad.
- Apple: If you don't have an apple on hand, you could try using a pear or a crunchy Asian pear as a substitute. Alternatively, you could omit the fruit altogether.
- Mayonnaise: If you're not a fan of mayonnaise, use only creme fraiche or 50/50 with yogurt.
- Sour cream: If you don't have sour cream, use Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, or buttermilk as a substitute.
- Chives: If you don't have chives, use finely chopped scallions as a substitute.
- Leek- Red onion can be used instead of leek.
- Pickled gherkin: If you don't have pickled gherkin, you could try using other pickled vegetables.
- Dijon mustard: If you don't have Dijon mustard, you could try using whole grain mustard or Swedish spicy sweet mustard.
- Black pepper/white pepper: If you don't have white pepper, you can simply use black pepper for the entire recipe.
- Sugar: If you want to avoid using sugar, you could try using honey or maple syrup as a natural sweetener. Alternatively, you could omit the sweetener if you prefer a less sweet salad.
- Salt: If you're trying to reduce your sodium intake, use a reduced-sodium salt substitute or omitting the salt altogether.
See the Finnish potato salad recipe for a version with red onion.
There are many variations of Swedish potato salad, and the recipe can be adjusted to suit individual tastes and preferences. Here are a few ideas for variations:
- Smoked salmon version: Adding smoked salmon to the salad can give it a smoky and savory flavor. Simply chop the smoked salmon into small pieces and mix it in with the other ingredients. If you want to eat this salad as a lunch the salmon fillet looks nice if you add it on top of the potato salad.
- Dill version: Dill is a common herb used in Swedish cuisine and can be added to the salad for a fresh and fragrant flavor. Simply chop up some fresh dill and mix it in with the other ingredients.
- Pickled herring version: Pickled herring is a traditional Swedish ingredient that can be added to the salad for a salty and tangy flavor. Simply chop the pickled herring into small pieces and mix it in with the other ingredients. Here is recipe for pickled herring.
- Mustard version: Adding a tablespoon or two of mustard to the dressing can give the salad a tangy and slightly spicy flavor. This version with more mustard is for mustard lovers.
- Beet version: Adding boiled and chopped beets to the salad gives it a beautiful pink color and a slightly sweet flavor.
- With hard-boiled eggs: This makes a hearty lunch version of the salad. I like to add the boiled egg sliced in half on top of each portion served to give it a nicer look. Some fried bacon bits are flavorsome with the egg version.
How to make a vegetarian and vegan version
To make the Swedish potato salad vegan, you will need to replace the mayonnaise and sour cream with vegan versions. You can use vegan mayonnaise and vegan sour cream, or you can use all vegan mayonnaise if you prefer.
What type of potatoes are best for potato salad?
Use waxy potatoes, as they hold their shape well and don't turn mushy when boiled. All-purpose potatoes are usually a great choice for salad. Some alternatives for potato salad include:
- Yukon Gold: These are a popular choice for potato salad due to their creamy texture and rich flavor.
- Red potatoes: These have a firm texture and hold their shape well when boiled, making them a great choice for potato salad.
- Fingerling potatoes: These small, elongated potatoes have a thin skin and a buttery texture that works well in potato salad.
Russet potatoes tend to fall apart and turn mushy when boiled, so not the best option for potato salad.
- Begin by peeling your potatoes. Rinse before boiling them. If you want to prep them beforehand, you can have them lying in cold water in the fridge as a whole or as sliced in cubes. If you use small new potatoes, you can boil them without peeling them as a whole or cut them in half.
- Boil your potatoes in salted water until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. To speed up things, you can boil them as smaller cubes.
- Peel and dice your apple. Wash your leek and cut it leek into thin slices.
- Chop the capers and pickled gherkin into small pieces.
- In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, dijon mustard, black pepper, white pepper, sugar, and salt.
- Dice the cooled potatoes if you boiled them as a whole.
- Mix the chopped ingredients and the sauce. Let it rest in the fridge for 30-60 minutes so the flavors come together before serving.
- Sprinkle chopped chives over the top of the salad to decorate.
How to boil potatoes for potato salad?
- Peel or don't peel: You can choose to either peel the potatoes or leave the skin on, depending on your preference. If you leave the skin on, make sure to scrub the potatoes thoroughly before boiling. Small new potatoes don't need peeling or chopping.
- Cut into even pieces: Cut the potatoes into even pieces to ensure they cook evenly. Aim for bite-sized pieces, around 1-2 inches in size.
- Boil the potatoes: Place the potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are fork-tender, which should take around 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the potato pieces.
- Drain and cool: Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander. Allow the potatoes to cool completely before using them in your potato salad.
Tip: You can season the water with herbs, garlic, or vinegar to infuse more flavor into the potatoes. The scandinavian style is to add some dill stems in the boiling water.
How long should the potatoes cool before adding the dressing?
let the boiled potatoes cool for at least 20-30 minutes before adding the dressing for potato salad. This will allow the potatoes to cool down to room temperature and firm up slightly, making them less likely to break apart when mixed with the dressing. If you want to speed up the cooling process, you can place the potatoes in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to chill them more quickly.
What to serve with
- Grilled or smoked meat: Swedish potato salad pairs well with grilled or smoked meats, such as chicken, beef, or pork.
- Grilled sausage. A typical simple dish is sausage and potato salad.
- Smoked salmon: Smoked salmon is easy to make in a smoker. It is very tasty with hovmästarsås.
- Gravlax: Potato salad is perfect side for cured salmon. This is typical for Midsummer. See recipe for gravlax.
- Crusty bread: Some sourdough bread is always a hit with potato salad.
- Fresh greens: To add some freshness and crunch to your meal, consider serving a simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.
Potato salad is perfect camping food. We often take a small day trip to a nearby forest with grill site. Potato salad is with us in a cooler. Some sausages are simple to grill on the open fire pit. This makes a nice easy, and filling lunch.
- Store in an airtight container: To prevent air from entering and drying out the salad. this also ensures the odor and taste does not spread to other foods in the fridge.
- Refrigerate promptly: After serving, refrigerate the potato salad within two hours to prevent bacterial growth.
- Keep chilled: Keep the potato salad chilled in the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below until ready to serve.
- Use within 2-3 days: Potato salad will last for up to 2-3days in the refrigerator. After this time, it should be discarded.
- Avoid freezing: Potato salad doesn't freeze well due to the mayonnaise and sour cream, which can separate and become watery when thawed.
If you have young potatoes with thin skins you can make this potato salad without peeling your potatoes. Just wash them thoroughly and boil with the skins on.
Boiling potatoes for salad is perfect way of prepping. Store your boiled potatoes in the fridge. Swedish potato salad is perfect for using leftover potatoes aswell.
If you want to remove excess starch from potatoes you can do this step. I like though a bit sticky consistency in this creamy potatoes salad.
This is a good way of prepping beforehand for you potato salad. Soaking potatoes in water before boiling removes excess starch from the surface of the potatoes and prevents them from sticking together during cooking.
If you plan on soaking the potatoes for an extended period of time (more than a few hours), you should refrigerate them to prevent bacterial growth. Use fresh water for boiling and discard the soaking water.
Other Scandinavian recipes
Swedish potato salad
- 2,5 pounds Potatoes
- 1 green tart apple
- 1 pickled gherkin or 10 cornichons
- ⅓ leek
- 1 bunch chives
- 2 tablespoon capers
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Begin by peeling your potatoes. Boil them in salted water until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
- If you use small new potatoes you can boil them without peeling as whole or cut in half.
- Peel and dice your apple. Wash and cut your leek into thin slices. Chop the chives. Chop the capers and pickled gherkin.
- While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, dijon mustard, black pepper, white pepper, sugar, and salt.
- Dice the cooled potatoes if you boiled them as a whole.
- Add the potatoes, diced apple, capers, leek, and pickled gherkin to a bowl and pour the dressing over. Toss to combine. Sprinkle chopped chives over the top of the salad.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.