You should know that I love mayonnaise. That I use it for egg salad and tuna salad and fake-tuna salad. But also to hack chicken schnitzel, make a chile smear for crispy eggplant sandwiches, and even bake chocolate cake.
Yet, even loving mayonnaise as much as I love mayonnaise, sometimes I don’t wantmayonnaise. Sometimes I want something else. And this happens most often with potato salad.
Which sounds wrong, right? Molly Yeh’s roasted potatoes with paprika mayo are literally Genius. And I’ve eaten potato-packed Spanish tortilla with garlicky mayo for breakfast more times than I can count.
But potato salad is different. Potato salad is what shows up when my family is grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Actually, potato salad is what shows up when my family is cooking anything in the summer. And on these sweaty nights, I wouldn’t mind having something a little less rich.
Based on the number of no-mayo potato salads on Food52, a lot of people seem to feel the same way. There's this recipe with Dijon mustard, sunflower oil, and cider vinegar. And this one with lots of pickle juice (yep). And this one with creamy tahini. But me? I wanted something even creamier.
Greek yogurt knows what I’m talking about.
From a distance, this ingredient is a mayo lookalike: It’s white. It’s spreadable. It lives in your fridge. But the two couldn’t taste more different. Mayo is rich and sorta-sweet, while yogurt is tangy and sour, with just enough creaminess to keep you coming back.
Nonfat or lowfat yogurt is fine for your morning berry bowl, but when it comes to savory situations, whole-milk is the way to go. (If you don’t believe me, ask Diane Kochilas.) The higher fat content keeps potato salad creamy, as it should be, and avoids the dish feeling like a compromise, which it’s not.
In this Big Little Recipe, the potato salad starts out like any other: by simmering potatoes in salted water. (Simmering, not boiling potatoes, helps the skin and flesh stay intact—a pro tip I learned from our food stylist Anna Billingskog.) The rest of the recipe is American-style potato salad gone rogue.
Where there used to be a modest amount of mayo, there’s now a whole lot of Greek yogurt. And where there used to be everything from celery and pickles to hard-boiled eggs and the kitchen sink, there are just three powerhouse ingredients: dill, mint, and wrinkly black olives. Like the yogurt, these add brightness and, dare I say, vivaciousness to an otherwise humble BBQ side.
Yogurt potato salad goes just as great with all those burgers and hot dogs as it does with grilled salmon or crispy chicken thighs or charred portobellos — really, whatever you're serving in the end-of-day sun.
Greek Yogurt Potato Salad
2 pounds red potatoes (5 to 6 ounces each)
6 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped dill, plus its finely chopped stems
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup pitted, torn (or roughly chopped) oil-cured olives
- Bring a large pot of water (figure about 6 quarts) to a boil. When it starts to simmer, season it with 6 tablespoons kosher salt (I estimate 1 tablespoon kosher salt per quart water).
- While that’s heating up, cut the potatoes into eighths—or whatever fraction will give you roughly equally sized potato pieces. Add the potato pieces to the boiling water, then adjust the heat to a simmer. (Simmering, not boiling, the potatoes means they’re less likely to fall apart.) Cook until the potatoes are just knife-tender (they’ll continue to cook a bit out of the water), starting to check frequently after 10 minutes. When they’re done, drain the potatoes into a colander, rinse with cold water to cool, then let them drain until dry.
- While the potatoes are cooking, combine the yogurt and olive oil in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the herbs and olives on top (no need to stir yet).
- When the potatoes are cool, add them to the bowl with the yogurt. Stir as gently as possible, taking care to not mash the potatoes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- You can serve right away or stick it in the fridge for later.