Potato Salad with Bacon and Buttermilk Dressing

I grew up loving my mother’s potato salad.  It was a simple mixture of boiled and peeled russet potatoes she cut into cubes then added chopped onion, celery, hard boiled eggs, and pickles.  The dressing wasn’t fancy — a generous dollop of mayonnaise mixed with enough juice from the pickle jar to make it tangy and tasty.  I’m thinking garlic salt was involved.  Me?

I don’t have a go to potato salad recipe because I’m more of a green salad lover.  But when the hubster’s sister invited us to spend a day at the beach with her this summer while they were camping there, I thought potato salad was in order.

I knew they wouldn’t have refrigeration, so needed to make something that wouldn’t spoil.  And then there was the consideration of continuing to make dishes that I could cut out as many bad calories as possible.  Is that possible when the main ingredient is potato?  Something easy, fresh, and with a bit of a tang.  Not quite German potato salad, but trying hard to get there.

If you need a salad for a weekend get together, then give Potato Salad with Bacon and Buttermilk Dressing a try.  Putting your own spin on it is always a good thing.

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Potato Salad with Bacon and Buttermilk Dressing

Serves 8

Dressing Ingredients

1/2 c. buttermilk

2 T white vinegar

1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T fresh thyme

salt & pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients

2 lbs. small red-skinned potatoes, boiled and cut into eighths

1/4 orange bell pepper, diced

2 slices bacon, fried and chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1/3 c. sun dried tomatoes

fresh thyme for garnish


  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining all ingredients in a lidded jar and shaking vigorously.  Taste before adding seasoning, then set aside.
  2. Place the cooled potatoes in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  Lightly toss to combine.
  3. If transporting this potato salad for a picnic or otherwise, then do not add the dressing until just before serving.  Otherwise, add as much of  the dressing as desired and toss to coat the potatoes.
  4. Taste and then season before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • I love little potatoes boiled just enough so that they have a bit of bite.  I buy them in mesh bags at the market.  Sometimes they’re fingerlings, sometimes, Yukons, and other times a colorful mix of blue, red, and white.  They’re handy to have around for all kinds of things.
  • Yes, I leave the peelings on.  I can hear my mother’s voice about the vitamins in them every time I get ready to cook them.  My brain thinks, “Oh, they’re so colorful!”  But I also like the way they cook when the peelings are left on.  If you’re not a “peelings on” person, then boil them until they’re fork tender with the peelings on, let them cool by draining the hot water, then letting them sit in cold water before tearing the peelings off.  It’s pretty easy.
  • I love sun dried tomatoes and buy the ones already julienned in bags.  They haven’t been packed in oil, but you could use those as long as you drained the oil.  I love the flavor of those as well.
  • This was a good potato salad but I’m thinking that adding rings of peperoncini would be quite nice.  The sun dried tomatoes added a bit of zip, but I think I might like something more — which doesn’t mean I don’t like it.  I guess it depends on if you like a sassy potato salad or one that’s more on the calm side.  Sassy is good.  Perhaps my mother’s pickle juice has me programmed.
  • The bacon is great if you’re a pork lover, but leaving it out would work as well, of course.  I’d miss it.


More Potato Salad Recipes from Around the Web

Our Best BitesGerman Potato Salad

Blue KitchenPotato salad:  A classically done American classic

Kitchen Riffs Mustard Potato Salad

Skinny TasteBaby Red Potato Salad

Leite’s CulinariaRoasted Sweet Potato and Feta Salad

Andrea MeyersRed Potato Salad



29 thoughts on “Potato Salad with Bacon and Buttermilk Dressing

  1. Oh yes, this sounds so good. Potatoes are my downfall on South Beach! I don’t cook them but I couldn’t resist a salad like this if it was in front of me.

  2. I have tried and tried to recreate my Mom’s potato salad. She also used tangy pickle juice and bright yellow mustard. There never was a written recipe. I now believe my food memory is stronger than the reality of how the potato salad actually tasted! Your recipe with the tang of buttermilk and a touch of bacon is enticing and most perfect for a summer outing!

    1. Thanks, Deb. My mom’s actually on her way over right now, so I should double check with her about how good my memory is. And making a bit of potato salad would be fun while she’s here today!

  3. I love this new twist on Potato Salad. That’s usually what I’m asked to bring when my family gets together for Summer Picnics. The fact that it doesn’t need refrigeration, and has a different tang to it is very interesting. I will definitely be trying this recipe very soon.

    1. Thanks, Sharon — I’d definitely be interested in knowing how it turns out and/or if you put your own spin on it. I seem not to be able to avoid doing that as you know 🙂

  4. I know most people think of potato salad as a summer thing, but I get most of my potatoes in the winter months as part of the cold storage winter distribution from my CSA farm. Somehow the potatoes just feel right to eat in the colder months, but I like your idea of lightening up the dressing with the buttermilk dressing!

    1. Michele, you are so right — root veggies in general. So now that you mention it, it is interesting that potato salad shows up as a summer dish. But I know I wouldn’t find potato salad appetizing in the winter — even in our temperate climate. Conditioning!

  5. I’m not big on mayo in any form and especially not in my salads so I’m LOVING this dressing! I always love finding new mayo-less salad options. 🙂

    1. Joanne you’ve got such healthy things posted all the time — I should be scanning your archives to see what dressing ideas you’ve come up with 🙂

  6. Love me a good potato salad and you’ve reminded me that I haven’t had some in while…to be rectified soon! This one sounds absolutely delicious!

  7. I think peeling things is a total waste of time 🙂 I just peel things for the babe, but I’ll stop once her teef come in. Bacon in potato salad is such a must for me! Wait, bacon in ANYTHING is a must for me! This looks really nice and light- although ‘light’ is not a word I usually like to describe food, gloppy-mayo-filled potato salad isn’t really my bag. The pepper and tomatoes add a nice unique touch, too!

    1. “Teef.” hahaha! And I agree about peeling. Good thing there’s a lot of vitamins going on because otherwise the only excuse I have is that I’m Lay-zee. 🙂

  8. Buttermilk is a newer ingredient for me. Not sure why.

    So of course, I had a kale salad the other day and it was dressed with buttermilk. And I loved it. But I’m not entirely sure how to recreate it. Seeing a version here, I might be inspired to give it a go. And who knows, maybe I’ll do a potato version, too, since we have a few of those lying around.



    1. Kim, I like buttermilk because it’s got a terrific tang and it lacks so much of the fat that is in many salad dressings. I go back and forth between yogurt and buttermilk and like both. I’ll have to try kale with a buttermilk dressing. I know I’d like it.

  9. Kelly- That potato salad looks gorgeous and I love that it’s healthy. I am a potato salad freak, especially the mayo laden kinds like your moms. Since I’m trying to shed some el bee’s, I’m going to give yours a try. And love that it’s perfect for outside picnics. Have a great Labor Day weekend.

    1. Thanks, Jenny! “El Bees” hahahah! Love that. I call them lubs. I have another potato salad recipe coming soon — made with sweet potatoes. So tasty!

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