How many kinds of potato salad do we really need?

5 different kinds of potato salad - Amish, Dutch, mustard, seeds, red skins still on 

At least five at any given deli, of course.

These pictures were actually taken last Easter, so how appropriate to finally get them up now, right? At the time, I was trying to explain to a Canadian friend that our delis are completely different. We have piles upon piles of prepared side dishes like this. They seem to mostly have olive varieties here, a few prepared dishes, peppers, and then mostly just meats. How barbaric!

Cucumber salad, loaded baked potato salad, red skin salad, boiled egg, mustard potato salad, regular potato sald

This is from a deli in Springfield with nice little rows of dishes, whereas I’m used to large bowls of goop sitting behind the glass instead. Regardless, the idea is the same….lots and lots of prepared side dishes to choose from

While I’ll admit that some of the dishes are disgusting (pink slime ham salad, anyone?), many of them are really good, too. I still prefer a homemade potato salad any day, though, over the ones from a deli.


Because at least mine will always taste roughly the same! And well, there will be plenty of mustard. Even when I order a mustard-laden variety somewhere, it never seems to be yellow enough or tangy enough….and yes, if I’m at home, I’ll add more to it. I don’t have a recipe for it….potatoes, onions, sweet pickles, pickle juice, mayo, mustard, salt, in all the right proportions, tasted repeatedly.

Deli counter row of side dishes for Easter and Fourth of July parties - ham salad, strawberry salad, peppers, macaroni, cucumber, potato salad varieties

And why is this so hard? Because this is what some varieties may look like instead:

salad made with baby potatoes, cooked in their jackets and left whole (skin on)
larger potatoes, cooked in their jackets and then peeled and cut
salad with a mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, sour cream or milk dressing
salad with vinegar dressing
salad with bacon, anchovies, or mustard.
salad with a fresh herb or dill dressing and/or chives, scallions, tarragon, gherkins, capers or other items.
salad with raw onions, cooked onions or pickled onions.
salad with tomatoes or green beans.
salad with hard-boiled eggs (a combination of potato salad and egg salad)
salad with ham, pickles, corn, hard-boiled egg and tomato salad with orange slices, Worcestershire sauce, bacon, and chives.
salad with celery or poppy seeds

Even though I can tell you the basic differences between an Amish potato salad and a…well, whatever you want to call a basic mustard variety…they never, ever taste the same from one place to the next.

So yes, having 5 or more potato salads available for a  4th of July party might seem excessive if you’re not from Midwest US, but frankly, I don’t know how they narrowed it down to that few…

Big Mac salad – Special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, sesame seeds!

Big Mac salad with sesame seeds and special sauce dressing

Okay, so it’s not the absolute most appetizing-looking dish on its own, but it *does* look like someone tore up a few McDonald’s big macs and threw them in a bowl, right? Which, for all intents and purposes, is pretty ideal for something called a Big Mac Salad.

I’m sharing the recipe directly here because I hate when things like this go missing. I highly recommend clicking through the recipe link and scanning the comments and pictures, though. There’s some great info about serving this hot versus cold, how even though it’s a “salad,” it’s not exactly healthy, etc.

  • 8 slices white bread
  • 1 -1 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed


Toast all eight pieces of bread until just lightly golden-brown. Let cool and cut into cubes; set aside.

Brown and drain the extra lean ground beef. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked and cooled ground beef, toasted bread cubes,finely chopped onions, shredded lettuce and cheese; toss well. Place in a large salad/serving bowl.

In a separate small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, salt and pepper.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad. You can either leave it drizzled or toss everything to evenly coat salad.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Doesn’t that ingredient list just scream “I’m a Big Mac”? I thought so.

Seven layer pea salad recipe – Or how to make new best friends

Seven layer salad with peas, bacon, cheese, green onions, mayonnaise and sugar dressingSeven layer salad with peas, bacon, cheese, green onions, mayonnaise and sugar dressing

I have no idea when we discovered (rediscovered?) this salad, but it’s worked its way into being a traditional meal expected at many family gatherings, including Thanksgiving and summer barbecues.
Don’t you just love a dish that isn’t bound by seasons? Or is that only me?
Seven layer salad with peas, bacon, cheese, green onions, mayonnaise and sugar dressing
Again with the “recipes that aren’t really recipes,” I’m really not sure of the amounts that go in, but here’s a good guesstimate for you:
  • 1 package bacon, cooked and chopped (minus the strips used for “taste testing” and “ugly ones that have to be eaten”)
  • 1 head of lettuce (minus all the bits that fly to the floor, depending on who is chopping it)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed in boiling water for about a minute (minus 1/2 if I’m doing it because I really don’t like the peas)
  • 8-12 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese  (minus….oh who am I kidding? I have no idea how much actually makes it in the salad)
  • One bunch of green onions (or red or white or whatever that furry thing in the fridge is that kinda smells like an onion)
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

    Prep and layer all but the last two ingredients. We make multiple layers of each, but you could simply put all of each ingredient as its own layer.

    Mix the mayo and sugar together and spread it directly on top of the salad. Create a “seal” with the dressing, if you will, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. This is important! This is the type of dish that gets better as it sets, so make it a couple hours in advance. Mix together just before serving.

  • So is that 7 layers? Nope. There are lots of salads that float around as “7 layer salads",” with all sorts of varied ingredients like cauliflower, broccoli, green peppers, and boiled eggs.

    But really, all that stuff takes away from the cheese, bacon, and dressing, don’t you think? The green stuff lettuce and peas are just there as a filler so it can still be called a salad. :P

    Also, if you skipped over the recipe, shame on you I was serious about the seal being important. Looks like this:

    Seven layer salad with peas, bacon, cheese, green onions, mayonnaise and sugar dressing

    And while I’m at it, here’s some more pictures from that Thanksgiving, uh, 3 years ago?

    thanksgiving dinner
    From pea salad up top, clockwise, we had green bean casserole , corn on the cob, turkey, mashed cauliflower and gravy, stuffing, and my first attempt at making my own cranberry sauce (hence the tiny portion…I’ve never had good experiences with cranberry sauce, but this was pretty good).

    Green bean casserole with homemade cream of mushroomGreen bean casserole with homemade cream of mushroom 

    The obligatory green bean casserole….extra fried onion crispies to counteract the green beans.

    Turkey gravy

    Yes, I took a picture of the gravy. It turned out the perfect color and consistency. I was thrilled. Shush it.

    The pies, pumpkin, pecan, and apple crisp:

    Thanksgiving pumpkin pie Thanksgiving pecan pieApple crisp for Thanksgiving 

    And I’m posting these mostly because I was trying to find a good picture of the pea salad on the table.

    But what I found was that in every single picture, one of the kids in staring at the food on the table instead of the camera, lol. Love it. I’m sure they couldn’t wait for me to finally put the camera down so we could dig in…I know I couldn’t, hehe. B’s even licking her lips in the first one.
    Thanksgiving dinner pictures with all the fixins and kids staring at food with lazer laser eyes

    Thanksgiving dinner pictures with all the fixins and kids staring at food with lazer laser eyes

    Thanksgiving dinner pictures with all the fixins and kids staring at food with lazer laser eyes 
    Here’s the originals without the lasers, hehe.

    Kids staring at thanksgiving dinner Kids staring at thanksgiving dinnerKids staring at thanksgiving dinnerKids staring at thanksgiving dinner 
    Anywho, yeah, pea salad. Make it. You won’t regret it.