The Acidic Addition That Makes All The Difference With Store-Bought Potato Salad

If you've just been invited to a backyard barbecue, you might be looking for an easy side dish to bring as a guest. Potato salad is just the ticket, given that it's made with pretty basic ingredients and isn't too hard to put together — or buy prepared at a local deli or supermarket. While some potato salads call for just potatoes and mayonnaise paired with a blend of seasonings, there is one secret ingredient you absolutely need to include if you want your store-bought potato salad to stand out to all the guests: vinegar. The fatty mayonnaise and acidic vinegar create a perfect contrast that will leave your salad with a fuller, tangier flavor.

The trick here is to use just enough vinegar without going overboard; you can quickly take the salad from pleasantly tangy to overly sour, so depending on how much you're making, use the vinegar sparingly. The mayo-vinegar blend paired with all the right spices makes for the easiest — and tastiest — summertime dish.

Enhance your potato salad with vinegar

If you're buying potato salad from the store, you might find that it tastes a little bland. Vinegar will kick it up a notch, but as we said, be careful how much you use. Don't exceed one tablespoon of vinegar for every cup or so of mayonnaise; you might even want to start with less than that and add more in as needed to make sure you're comfortable with the pungency the vinegar adds.

The type of vinegar you add is up to you. Apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, and red wine vinegar all have slightly different tastes, but for the most part, they are interchangeable in a dish like this. You can use whatever you have if you don't want to spend the money on a new bottle. White wine and apple cider vinegar are both a bit sweeter than red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar also has a fruitier flavor than the others given that it's made with apples.

Other ways you enhance your potato salad

Adding in a splash of vinegar is a game changer for the perfect potato salad, but it's not the only way you can enhance the dish if you're making it from scratch. Starting with the potatoes, if you have the time to slow roast them versus boiling them, go with the former. The crisp will amp up the flavor and texture of the salad. Don't be afraid to add different elements in addition to potatoes, either. Balancing the softness of the potatoes with a bit of crunch, such as adding some leftover celery or a bit of chopped red onion, is a great way to create contrast in the dish.

Potatoes have a mild flavor, so the best way to shape the dish to your liking is to utilize different spices. You can go mild with garlic or onion powder, or you can spice things up with a bit of cayenne or paprika. Depending on your vision for the dish, you can also let the salad take on the flavor of its spice with something like curry powder. Spices allow you to enhance the dish to your own liking, making them the perfect add-on to this summer salad.