Potatoes are one of our favorite foods. In fact, we think they should probably count as their own food group. But despite our love for all things potato, we’re the first to admit that a classic potato salad leaves a lot to be desired. Traditionally, potato salad is smothered with mayonnaise, can often taste bland, and we can’t decide what’s moderately better - served cold or at room temperature?! We knew there had to be a better way.
Our version of potato salad is a healthier twist on a classic potato salad. It’s exactly how we want to eat a potato salad. Grilling the potatoes gives them a slightly smoky flavor with a bit of char. And yes, we know grilling season is just about over, which is why you’ll be happy to hear you can use a cast iron grill pan over the stove!
The potatoes are tossed in a zippy sauce of olive oil, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and fresh herbs like thyme and green onion. This sauce does double duty. You’ll toss the potatoes in half of the sauce before grilling - and then coat them in the rest when you’re ready to serve. A squeeze of lemon juice, fresh dill and thyme really makes all the flavors in this dish sing. It’s a far cry from the bland, mayo-laden potato salads of our childhood!
We fell in love with all the colorful baby potatoes at the farmers’ market, so that’s what we used when photographing this recipe. But you can feel free to use whatever variety you’d like...they certainly do not need to be colorful! It does help to use potatoes of a similar size, so they cook in about the same amount of time. Par boiling the potatoes might seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s a trick we use for deliciously crispy oven roasted potatoes - and the same goes here! To keep this recipe vegan, opt for an egg-free mayonnaise.
Grilled Potato Salad
- 2 lb baby potatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more for brushing, see note 1)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise (vegan if needed)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- Cook potatoes: Add potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, about 12 minutes. (Don't overcook until soft, because they're getting grilled/cooked again). Drain well. Cut potatoes in half, then transfer to a large bowl.
- Preheat: Preheat grill over medium-high heat. (You can use a stovetop grill pan or barbecue, see note 2). Lightly brush grill with oil (see note 1).
- Make dressing: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the fresh thyme, grainy mustard, salt and pepper.
- Season and grill: Drizzle half the dressing over potatoes. Toss gently to coat. Add potatoes to the grill, and cook until golden brown all over and crisp on the edges, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the potatoes back to the large bowl. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Toss to coat. Taste and add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, if needed. Add remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, green onions, fresh dill, and capers. Stir gently to mix.
- Oil: You can brush the grill with more olive oil or a high-heat neutral oil (like grapeseed oil). But do use olive oil for the potato salad dressing because it adds flavor.
- Grilling: We usually use a stovetop grill pan here (for year 'round potato salad!). But a barbecue works too. If using a barbecue, make sure the potatoes aren't small enough to fall through the grates; or you may wish to use a grilling pan as an extra precaution.