This tangy, dill-accented side dish is perfect for summer cookouts
Looking for a new take on an old summer favorite (namely, potato salad)? Well, you’ve come to the right post! A touch of horseradish can add ping — without overwhelming anyone’s tastebuds (or nasal passages).
Admittedly, some horseradish sauces can be so strong they bring tears to your eyes. But you don’t need to use those! The versions you’re likely to find in your local grocery store are far milder. Perfect, in fact, for adding interest to potato salad. Include some fresh dill as a flavor note, and sour cream as a base, and you can whip up a dish that will intrigue adults, but won’t be too overpowering for kids.
This dish makes a terrific sidekick for the wild salmon that’s now fresh in US markets. But it also pairs well with hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled or barbecued chicken, pork, and beef. With July 4th coming up soon, it would make an outstanding addition to your cookout repertoire.
If you’ve had Horseradish Potato Salad before, you know how intoxicatingly good it is. If this dish is new to you, you’re in for a treat.
Recipe: Horseradish Potato Salad
This dish resembles the classic American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad — but it substitutes sour cream for all (or most) of the mayonnaise, and switches out a few ingredients. That said, potato salad is potato salad. And once you’ve learned how to make one version, all the others are just variations on a theme.
I like to make this dish with sour cream only as the dressing base, but you can also mix in some mayonnaise or yogurt if you prefer. I think it tastes better if at least half the mix is sour cream.
Different brands of prepared horseradish feature varying degrees of sharpness. Whenever I buy a new brand, I always taste a small spoonful to determine how “hot” it is. If you’re in doubt about the brand you’ve bought, use a lesser amount the first time you make this potato salad. You can always add a bit more if you decide the dish is too wimpy for your taste.
This recipe makes enough to serve 6 to 8 as a side dish. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to prepare, plus another hour to chill. So 2 hours will cover you easily.
Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- ~2 pounds small, red potatoes (new potatoes are perfect; exact quantity not critical)
- 1 tablespoon salt for potato water
- ~¼ cup red onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (you can substitute white or yellow onion, but I think red works particularly well in this recipe, and adds nice color)
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped (reserve a sprig or two for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped (optional but tasty; may want to reserve a sprig or two for garnish)
- ¾ cup sour cream (or a combo of sour cream and mayonnaise or yogurt; but it tastes best if at least half is sour cream)
- ~1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (may substitute red wine vinegar; to taste)
- 2 - 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish sauce (to taste; see Notes)
- salt to taste (probably about ¾ teaspoon)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (probably about ½ teaspoon)
- Scrub potatoes. Add them to a pot of water (4 quarts is good), and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and cook potatoes until done (a fork will slide into them with little resistance). Depending on the size of the potatoes, cooking can take 10 to 15 minutes. When done, cool the potatoes to room temperature, then cut them into halves or quarters (depending on what size potato chunks you want in the salad).
- Meanwhile, peel the red onion (you’ll probably need only part of a small one) and cut it into ¼-inch dice. You want a quarter cup or so — exact measurements are not critical.
- Wash and finely chop the dill. Wash and chop the chives (if using).
- In a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes, whisk together the sour cream (or the sour cream/mayo or sour cream/yogurt mix, if you prefer), vinegar, and horseradish sauce. Add the chopped dill, chives, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined, taste, and adjust seasoning and other flavorings if necessary.
- Add the potatoes, and gently toss to coat them. Taste and adjust seasoning and flavorings if necessary.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
- Although you can make this salad with any size potatoes, I prefer small ones (no more than an inch and a half in diameter), preferably new potatoes. And I think ones with red skins look particularly nice in this recipe
- If you make this salad with larger potatoes, you can cook them whole or cut them up before cooking — a method I suggest in my post on Potato Salad Basics. If you cut up the potatoes first, just cook them as directed in that post, then toss them with vinegar and a bit of potato cooking liquid or chicken stock (to flavor the potatoes; don’t add too much — just enough to add a touch of flavor). Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature, then proceed with Step 2 of this recipe — but omit or go light on the vinegar, since you’ve already tossed the potatoes with it.
- You can buy horseradish root and make your own horseradish sauce at home (essentially, you grate it and add vinegar). But it’s much easier to buy prepared horseradish. Every grocery store carries at least one brand, and most carry several.
- Prepared horseradish may be marketed as “horseradish,” “horseradish sauce,” or “cream style prepared horseradish.” They all work in this recipe; if it’s in a jar, it will combine with sour cream.
- That said, you sometimes see pink horseradish sauce (it contains beets as an ingredient). I wouldn’t recommend using that in this potato salad recipe, but I admit I haven’t tried it — maybe it’s sensational.
- BTW, as horseradish ages, it loses some heat. Although it’s safe to eat after the expiration date on the jar, the quality may be diminished.
- Horseradish is similar to Japanese wasabi. In fact, some of the less expensive “wasabi” preparations are actually made with horseradish, because wasabi root is rather expensive.
According to horseradish.org, horseradish has been around for a good 3,000 years. Egyptians knew about it, and ancient Greeks used it both as a rub for low back pain and as an aphrodisiac. Horseradish often features in Passover seders as one of the bitter herbs.
Its most widespread culinary use was probably in Central Europe. But in the 17th century, it also became common in England (rare roast beef and horseradish make a wonderful combo). Its English-language name doesn’t have anything to do with equines, though. “Horse” used to be an adjective that meant “strong.”
Horseradish was brought to the US by colonial settlers, and it became very popular in kitchen gardens. Eventually, it made its way to the area around Collinsville, Illinois — a town about 12 miles from St. Louis, where I live. Conditions for raising horseradish are excellent in Collinsville, which today grows most of the world’s supply. So the horseradish I eat is locally sourced!
Collinsville holds an International Horseradish Festival during the first weekend in June, with loads of fun activities.
We just missed that event. But no worries — because July is National Horseradish Month in the US.
To celebrate, may I recommend Horseradish Potato Salad? No need to thank me.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Potato Salad Basics
American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad
Mustard Potato Salad
French Potato Salad
German Potato Salad with Bacon
Hungarian Cucumber Salad Sauteed Cucumbers
Jalapeño Coleslaw with Pimentón
Creamy Cole Slaw