French-style potato salad

A picnic-perfect alternative to traditional versions!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not the biggest fan of mayonnaise, especially when it comes to summertime salads (mayo + heat = danger). I also find that sometimes mayonnaise can simply overwhelm other flavours in a dish. This light and lively potato salad, inspired by the ‘prêt à manger’ (ready to eat) versions found at outdoor markets in France, is quick to prepare and packed with the bright, fresh flavours. You can mix it up with whatever herbs your family likes or what you have in your garden. If you want to get all fancy, you can even add lightly steamed garden-fresh peas, asparagus or green beans to this dish. Enjoy it warm, at room temperature or chilled. Here’s an option if you prefer a classic ‘American-style’ potato salad when refrigeration is not an issue. I also like this warm potato salad any time of year!


For the salad:

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) baby potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch (.6 cm) thick
  • 2 teaspoons (12 g) coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (5 g) fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (5 g)  fresh tarragon, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (5 g) fresh chives (or green onion tops), minced
  • 2 tablespoons (5 g) fresh dill, minced

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL)  red wine (or cider) vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 (.6 g) teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) sea salt


  • Place the sliced potatoes in a large saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover by 1/4 inch (.3 cm) Sprinkle coarse salt over top; cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer 4 – 6 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.
  • While potatoes are simmering, make the vinaigrette. Place the minced garlic in a very small heatproof dish and drizzle 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil over top. Microwave on medium-high power for 1 minute to parcook the garlic. Set aside.
  • Place the Dijon, vinegar, lemon juice, black pepper and sea salt in a small jar with a tight lid. Cover and shake to combine well. Add oil and garlic mixture plus remaining 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of oil; cover and shake well to blend. Taste and adjust salt, lemon, vinegar or oil to suit your preference.
  • When potatoes are just tender, drain and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with the cider vinegar and toss gently to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes so vinegar is fully absorbed.  
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette evenly over the warm potatoes.  Let sit at room temperature for at least 5 minute before serving. If serving chilled, refrigerate for a few hours.  
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle the chopped fresh herbs over the dressed potatoes and toss to combine.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

10 thoughts

  1. Lovely. I’m a huge fan of adding peas to potato salad and the fresh herbs will make it really nice. We don’t eat much potato salad because of past memories of mayo laden church basement gastro-horrors. This promises a welcome change.

    1. I hear you on the mayo-laden horrors. I didn’t eat potato salad for years because of similar trauma! Love adding peas as well, or sliced radishes….so many possibilities!

  2. Love this! I have nothing against mayo any time of year, but I was raised on this kind of potato salad, which my French mother always referred to as German!!! Whatever its origin, it’s darn good.

  3. i love mayo at all times especially on potato salad but i can see that a nice light version of mayo-free potato salad would go down well in summer! i like all versions of potato salad too!

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