HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

potato salad recipe [moved from Kosher]

Michele Lowenthal Oct 26, 2001 04:18 PM

What's the secret to the deli potato salad? You know the kind at Katz's- plain white- no eggs or veggies other than shredded carrot on top. The deli's won't give it up but there's a certain something that I just cannot duplicate at home. I don't live in the NYC area anymore but crave this stuff.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. g
    galleygirl RE: Michele Lowenthal Oct 26, 2001 05:03 PM

    I've never had the potato salad at katz's,(but ahh, those kasha knishes...) but I do remember that when I was trying to replicate my Granma's potato salad,( Jewish-Polish,made with miracle whip or mayo..) I couldn't figure out why it wasn't QUITE right, and my mother said the secret ingredient was a little plain ole white vinegar. BINGO!!!

    13 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl
      Michele Lowenthal RE: galleygirl Oct 27, 2001 03:24 PM

      i wish that it was the vinegar. I've tried all combinations of vinegar, mayo, mustard, no mustard, oil, no oil, sugar, no sugar. There is something else and the deli's will not divulge the secret. I've always heard that it is Hellmann's mayo and Heinz white vinegar but there is something else.
      Thanks for your reply, though.

      1. re: Michele Lowenthal
        ironmom RE: Michele Lowenthal Oct 27, 2001 05:54 PM

        One thing Cook's magazine discovered when perfecting their potato salad recipe is that the potatoes should be tossed with salt and vinegar/lemon juice while still hot, to season them. Otherwise they are irretrievably bland, regardless of what kind of dressing you use.

        1. re: Michele Lowenthal
          Jill Rovitzky Black RE: Michele Lowenthal Oct 27, 2001 10:02 PM

          I remember reading an article years ago about someone trying vainly to replicate New York deli/coffee shop potato salad, until he finally realized that the secret was not to use Hellmann's but to go with the cheapest store brand or generic he could find. That plus a little white vinegar might do it.

          1. re: Jill Rovitzky Black
            MIchele Lowenthal RE: Jill Rovitzky Black Oct 27, 2001 10:25 PM

            Interesting- don't use Hellmann's. That could be why in the years of trying and using Hellmann's only ,I never came close to the true flavor of deli potato salad. I had always heard that Hellmann's was the only mayo to use. Now the question is what other mayo to use. That should keep me busy.
            Thanks everyone.

            1. re: MIchele Lowenthal
              MU RE: MIchele Lowenthal Oct 28, 2001 07:00 AM

              They are probably using food service mayo, which you can find in huge jars at places like BJ's or Costco and is labeled "Extra Heavy." It's got a somewhat different texture than mayo you'd buy at the supermarket, and it coats food in a more... insistent way. You can get Hellman's brand food service mayo.

              1. re: MU
                Suzanne Fass RE: MU Dec 2, 2001 12:13 PM

                I wonder if the *whiteness* indicates that the dressing is NOT mayo-based at all. That is, nothing with egg yolks. And, of course, no dairy products. Maybe some sort of boiled dressing (usually disgusting, I know, but...) with flour, white vinegar, salt, and sugar? Hmmmmmmmmmmm...

                1. re: Suzanne Fass
                  MU RE: Suzanne Fass Dec 2, 2001 07:26 PM

                  Mayo is pretty white. I would guess that whiteness just indicates the lack of mustard, a pretty common potato salad ingredient, in the mix. But probably including that vinegar, sugar, and salt that you mention.

              2. re: MIchele Lowenthal
                bagelman01 RE: MIchele Lowenthal Jun 8, 2009 03:38 AM

                Yes, Hellman's for commercial Deli Potato Salad.
                In the late 1970s I worked for a kosher caterer and also in a Kosher deli. They bought all their salads from Sally Sherman (as did almost every kosher deli and caterer who did not make their own)
                On the label of every tub-the Hellman's Mayo logo.

                It's more about the processing of the potatos than just the mayo.

                Sliced, not chunked or mashed. Really steamed, not boiled and definitely vinegar to keep them white.

                1. re: bagelman01
                  phantomdoc RE: bagelman01 Jun 8, 2009 05:57 AM

                  Katz's deli serves Sally Sherman potato salad and coleslaw. Available in many supermarkets.

                  1. re: phantomdoc
                    shaogo RE: phantomdoc Jun 17, 2010 07:26 AM

                    Eek! Either Sally Sherman's salads have gotten *much* better or Katz's *ain't* using Sally Sherman. I was under the impression Katz's made their own (coleslaw, at least).

                    Sally Sherman's a work-horse brand that depends a lot on sugar for its appeal to customers. It may be clean, 'cause it's Kosher, but still it's not very tasty.

                    They can bottle very good half-sour and sour pickles (Ba-Tampte) why can't someone make good coleslaw and potato salad for purchase in volume (or at the deli)?

                    1. re: shaogo
                      smoogoo RE: shaogo Jun 13, 2011 09:20 PM

                      so far the best coleslaw that we find surprisingly is the Col. Sanders, tasty, crisp, and available.

                2. re: MIchele Lowenthal
                  hannaone RE: MIchele Lowenthal Mar 24, 2010 02:50 PM

                  I can't give an answer specifically to the Katz salad, but one secret I ran across was to mash a small portion of the potato with milk or cream and your dressing of choice (Mayo, mustard, or MW) to create the actual salad dressing.

              3. re: Michele Lowenthal
                HMBeach RE: Michele Lowenthal Feb 4, 2010 07:06 PM

                I remember a Jewish Deli I went to in Mountain View ,CA. 30 years ago.They had the best Macaroni salad. I tried for years to duplicate it. I used Rice Wine Vineger and Roasted garlic with Best Foods Mayo ,no eggs . They also added cold slices of Chedder. I creamed a fresh onion in the food processor to add. I also added a small amount of fresh cream. The Rice vineger has the perfect amount of sweetness.

            2. n
              Nancy Berry RE: Michele Lowenthal Oct 28, 2001 09:41 AM

              Here's a good recipe:

              NYC Deli Style Potato Salad

              5 pounds boiled potatoes (new potatoes are best), chilled, then peeled and sliced 3/16" thick (not diced). Do not use baking potatoes. Do not overcook.
              1/2 cup grated carrot (optional)
              1/4 cup minced curly parsley (optional)
              1 1/2 cups Hellman's or Best Foods Mayo
              1/4 cup white vinegar
              1 Tbl kosher salt
              1/2 Tbl ground black pepper

              Mix potatoes with dressing (mix with hands).

              Not all potatoes are created equal, so.... Thin dressing with milk (buttermilk is best) if necessary. Adjust vinegar, salt, pepper to taste.

              Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

              Dust finished salad with paprika.

              NYC deli-style potato salad contains no onion, no sugar.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Nancy Berry
                Michele Lowenthal RE: Nancy Berry Oct 28, 2001 11:11 AM

                Thanks Nancy, but I tried this recipe and it didn't taste like what I remember. I'm starting to believe that it isn't Hellmanns mayo after all since there are so few ingredients and the mayo is the one thing I have not experimented with.

                1. re: Nancy Berry
                  mikegberg RE: Nancy Berry Jun 20, 2009 08:54 PM

                  I just tried this recipe and tasted it while the potatoes were still warm. I took someone else's advice and subbed pickle juice for the vinegar. The only adjustment I will make next time is to decrease the salt accordingly. Otherwise, it is very tasty, and pretty close to what I would expect at a NY kosher deli.

                2. k
                  Karl RE: Michele Lowenthal Nov 12, 2001 10:52 AM

                  Another old-time deli custom is to use pickle juice instead of (or partly instead of) vinegar. It's a frugal way to make use of leftover pickle juice that cannot be reused to make more pickles. Pickle juice is a more complex flavoring, obviously, than vinegar (but, depending on its brininess, you need to be a bit more cautious about adding salt). Our neighborhood delis (at least the German, Jewish and Polish delis; not the Italian delis) used it for cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad.

                  1. l
                    lucy richards RE: Michele Lowenthal May 26, 2003 08:43 PM

                    I like potato salad

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: lucy richards
                      Marion Brown RE: lucy richards Jun 6, 2003 09:17 AM

                      The best potato salad in the whole world (and I've been all over), was from a little deli on 231st.street in the Bronx. Now this goes back quite a few years - I moved from there over 35 years ago - but if anyone out there remembers, let's hear it now! I think it did have a touch of sugar, though.

                      1. re: Marion Brown
                        fractalcat RE: Marion Brown Jun 13, 2011 11:50 AM

                        OMG...I used to shop at that deli! The son was a snot! This was about 45 yrs ago! The bakery across the street had good bread too.
                        I think the guy who posted setting aside some of the potatoes and mashing them and mixing them with the mayo was spot on.
                        I live where there is no deli and I sure do miss it!

                        1. re: fractalcat
                          smoogoo RE: fractalcat Jun 13, 2011 05:46 PM

                          I lived up the street on 10th and wouldget a pint before going home. There was this coffee shop on the other side that roasted its beans and that was great too.
                          Just got to find out more about that pot. salad

                          1. re: fractalcat
                            smoogoo RE: fractalcat Jun 13, 2011 09:17 PM

                            Yes Delis are a almost a thing of the past now that we have bitg grocers and all comes from manufactures of bland cheap stuff.

                      2. n
                        nanleemorales RE: Michele Lowenthal May 9, 2009 04:26 PM

                        Hello everyone, I was just wondering if Michelle ever found the perfect potato salad recipe?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: nanleemorales
                          sig RE: nanleemorales Jun 7, 2009 08:33 PM

                          I make mine as my mom does and its so good. Just Boil Potatoes in quarters, drain and allow them to cool, then add Hellman s Mayo, Heinz Sweet Relish, One chopped hard boiled egg, and top with chopped scallions. Everyone likes it!

                          1. re: nanleemorales
                            molomaf RE: nanleemorales Mar 24, 2010 10:53 AM

                            No, never did find the perfect potato salad recipe. I haven't even tried in a long while.
                            Interesting to read that Sally Sherman's is served at Katz's. I may try the steaming method today though.

                            1. re: molomaf
                              nanleemorales RE: molomaf Jun 13, 2011 04:43 PM

                              Well, I have to tell you, my roommate and I decided to try to make it ourselves, and we taste-tested it continuosly until we found it to our liking, but then the weirdest thing happened, both the potato salad and the coleslaw lost their flavor by the next day, and no matter what we did, either by addiing vinegar or mayo, we couldn't get the flavor back. Can you tell me how to get the flavor to stay?

                              1. re: nanleemorales
                                Val RE: nanleemorales Jun 13, 2011 06:06 PM

                                I think the *key* to great potato salad is to add some vinegar while the potatoes are still hot or warm...they will absorb the vinegar and the flavor will remain. that is all.

                                1. re: Val
                                  nanleemorales RE: Val Jun 13, 2011 06:13 PM

                                  Okay, we will give it a try next Superbowl Sunday, Than you.

                                2. re: nanleemorales
                                  smoogoo RE: nanleemorales Jun 13, 2011 09:14 PM

                                  Your guess is good as mine on preserving the taste. Eat it before the 24 hours are up LOL. Sounds like Cinderella salad.

                            2. The Professor RE: Michele Lowenthal Jun 7, 2009 08:47 PM

                              For me, potato slad is relatively simple. I like some mayo in there, but it shouldn't dominate and the coating shouldn't be gloppy at all. A couple tablepsoons of mayo, some olive or pumpkinsed oil, a spoonful of vinegar, a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper, and some celery seeds does it nicely. I like finely chopped onions in there too, but it \'s certainly optional. The potatoes matter too...red skinned new potatoes are a must as far as I'm concerned.
                              But whatever you use, simpler is better, don't go overboard with mayo...that's a mistake a lot of folks make and the result is just too heavy..

                              No relish or anything like that...save that for the ham salad.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: The Professor
                                spydbear RE: The Professor Jun 7, 2009 09:22 PM

                                What I found was that the whipped dressings are better than straight mayo for potato salads, but I'm not fixated on any one style. It all depends upon what I have in the fridge!
                                I've been away from NY for too many years - 38 years - and the deli memories I have are the thin dough shelled potato knishes; half sours that weren't too salty; coleslaw that was creamy; hot dogs that were boiled and often grilled.
                                Rye bread that didn't fall apart in a sandwich.

                                1. re: spydbear
                                  Dovid RE: spydbear Jun 9, 2009 05:47 PM

                                  I would not be surprised if some of the delis of old added sour cream to the mayo dressing.

                                  1. re: Dovid
                                    The Professor RE: Dovid Jun 9, 2009 07:30 PM

                                    A dab of sour cream in there is definitely good...I sometimes add that to my regular mix.

                                    1. re: Dovid
                                      queenscook RE: Dovid Jun 9, 2009 09:02 PM

                                      Not kosher delis.

                                      1. re: queenscook
                                        Dovid RE: queenscook Jun 10, 2009 04:07 PM

                                        Agreed. Some people have memories of non-kosher delis. Potato salad was also found in appetizing stores.

                                        1. re: Dovid
                                          spydbear RE: Dovid Jun 12, 2009 11:24 AM

                                          Nope, kosher deli. Although the coleslaw was creamy, it was from a ton of mayo and not as much vinegar as many places use.
                                          As for potato salad
                                          I find if you let the potatoes cool completely or even a couple of hours in the fridge and then mix in the ingredients you get a creamier dish.

                                          1. re: spydbear
                                            zsero RE: spydbear Jun 12, 2009 03:37 PM

                                            Please pay attention to who's responding to what. Queenscook correctly pointed out that a kosher deli could not possibly have added sour cream to the mayo dressing, as Dovid suggested.

                                      2. re: Dovid
                                        coll RE: Dovid Jun 13, 2011 07:18 PM

                                        I've heard of adding sour cream to other than Hellmanns, to try to make it comparable.

                                    2. re: The Professor
                                      fractalcat RE: The Professor Jun 13, 2011 11:52 AM

                                      Ham Salad???? this is jewish deli we're talkin here!

                                    3. b
                                      brokemommy RE: Michele Lowenthal Jun 10, 2009 04:09 PM

                                      I always add the juice of the sweet pickle to my mayo and mustard, and sometimes the juice from pimentos or roasted red peppers..yummy

                                      1. p
                                        phantomdoc RE: Michele Lowenthal Jun 12, 2009 09:41 AM

                                        Sally Shemans as sold at Katz's among many other places lists
                                        Potato, Hellmanns Mayo. Then vinegar sugar salt onion not necessarilay in that order, a preservative or two.

                                        1. t
                                          TKCHOW RE: Michele Lowenthal Feb 10, 2010 06:32 PM

                                          While this may not produce your deli reproduction, try using a splash of the very same pickling juice that goes into your salad in addition to your vinegar, add a pinch or two of sugar and I think you'll be closer than you've ever been to the 'deli' stuff.

                                          1. r
                                            RGC1982 RE: Michele Lowenthal Feb 10, 2010 06:44 PM

                                            Onion powder. Not onion, just dehydrated powder.

                                            Some also have relish, the green kind you put on a hot dog. I know for a fact that this is the key ingredient in many deli macaroni salads,

                                            I do understand the obsession. Sometimes there is just nothing like it.

                                            1. c
                                              cdiscep RE: Michele Lowenthal Jun 17, 2010 06:51 AM

                                              I am amazed that so many people are on the hunt for the perfect potato salad recipe and that this thread is nearly 10 years old, but it does make me feel good that my wife and I are not the only ones on the hunt.
                                              Here is what we came up with - My wifee kept saying her grandma put Mayo, milk and vinegar and I said that sounds gross. I then talked to my mom about my grandma's recipe and got the same answer. I havve not tried it yet but that is Saturdays venture. I hope I can put my J&W Culinary Degree to work again and I will report back next week.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cdiscep
                                                judydebarros RE: cdiscep Jul 9, 2010 12:14 AM

                                                does anyone know the recipe for Label's Deli in San Francisco potato salad

                                              2. f
                                                Fuentes RE: Michele Lowenthal Jul 9, 2010 06:35 AM

                                                My secret potato salad ingredient is a little bit of plain yogurt.

                                                1. smoogoo RE: Michele Lowenthal May 24, 2011 07:47 PM

                                                  I too am on the hunt and wish some day to go to a potato salad fair and taste till I find what I am looking for. I am not gong to knock my wifes salad, family recipe for decades knows. BUT my memory of a deli near the bus stop at 19th Ave. and Irving in San Francisco some 40 years ago. Thin firm sliced potatos in a loose white filler with a hint of vinager. ANYONE


                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: smoogoo
                                                    coll RE: smoogoo Jun 13, 2011 07:26 PM

                                                    Well, the deli I worked at here in NY did this: cook the potatoes, slice and cool slightly. Pour oil, salt and white pepper over and toss. Then you add the chopped celery, a little onion, a little carrot. I also added some hard boiled egg, but that's me. Then the dressing was Hellmanns mayo (don't know many delis that deviate from that), whisked with cream or milk, white vinegar (cheap brand is fine although Dutch or German is nice) more oil and some mustard powder. My secret was to always use russet potatoes so they were very soft. To make it more white as originally requested, like Sally Sherman, you'd probably have to go half and half Hellmanns and vinegar, with maybe some extra oil to emulsify. Maybe a little parsley for color.

                                                    1. re: coll
                                                      smoogoo RE: coll Jun 13, 2011 09:35 PM

                                                      My wife got away from russets and now uses yukons as they hold up better and don't get mushy. There is a fine line between salad and mashed.

                                                      1. re: smoogoo
                                                        coll RE: smoogoo Jun 14, 2011 04:37 AM

                                                        I like potato salad with a little bite, but my husband would be happy if it was mashed potatoes with dressing. I've gone from reds, to Yukons, to russets before he was happy.

                                                  2. s
                                                    Shuckapeafarms RE: Michele Lowenthal Sep 15, 2012 02:14 PM

                                                    There used to be a Karl Ehmers deli where I grew up and they had the most incredible NY Deli Potato Salad. I went on to culinary school and eventually finished as a pastry chef however, I went threw the culinary regime as well. I love to cook and create and I worked on this potato salad recipe for a long time before hitting on the right ingredients. I'm not going to post my recipe but I can tell you it has to do with the vinegar as well as using fresh squeezed lemon juice. The mayonnaise can be homeade as well for the best results or just using a good store brand like Hellmanns......of course there are a lot of labels using the same mayo as I have tried many and there are some you can't distinquish from Hellmanns. Good luck.
                                                    PS: I always steam the potatoes, I never boil them for potato salad I also created their macaroni salad and cole slaw. I always get huge compliments when we have barbeques! Most of these delis make so many salads they don't spend all day on one salad although I have seen this recipe posted online where the author suggest making it over a course of several days to enhance flavors as you create the dish..........UHM????? I don't think so............from my professional standpoint!

                                                    1. f
                                                      fivealltogether RE: Michele Lowenthal Jun 23, 2014 10:05 AM

                                                      I don't know if you're still looking for a deli potato salad recipe (I'm a tad late seeing your post), but this is it:

                                                      Boil gently 2.25-2.5 pounds baking potatoes (about 4 large potatoes), skins on, until potatoes are soft when pricked with a fork, but not crumbling.
                                                      Drain and cool while you prepare the marinade.

                                                      1/3 cup vegetable oil (not olive)
                                                      2 T red wine vinegar
                                                      3/4 tsp salt
                                                      2 T grated onion
                                                      Whisk ingredients together in a glass measuring cup or small bowl. Set aside.

                                                      Peel cooled potatoes. Cut into bite-size chunks. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl.

                                                      Pour marinade over potatoes. Toss to coat well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

                                                      An hour or more before serving:
                                                      Angle slice or dice 3 large celery stalks, leaves removed. Place celery in the bowl with marinated potatoes.
                                                      Toss potatoes and celery with 1/3 cup mayonnaise, or to taste. Add 2 T fresh chopped chives, if desired. Combine well.
                                                      Refrigerate until serving time.
                                                      Serves 6-8

                                                      Show Hidden Posts