Classic Plant Based Potato Salad

vegan potato salad recipe

Potato salad can be a touchy subject for some. People get very passionate about their preferences and traditions. Maybe you grew up on vinegar-based salad or your dad would only use a certain brand of mayo. Have you been burned by bland spuds or your coworker’s strange ideas of “appropriate” potato salad ingredients? No matter your experience or feelings, we’re confident you’ll love our Classic Plant Based Potato Salad

It’s made with a delectably seasoned creamy sauce, and a whole lotta love. It’s one of our most popular plant based recipes ever, beloved by omnis, judgmental in-laws, kids, and coworkers alike. Make it for your next party—you won’t regret it. Oh, and go ahead and save this link, because people will be asking you for the recipe.

If you are unsure what to bring to a family picnic this summer…do yourself a favor and make this potato salad! It’s the best potato salad I’ve ever had, plant based or not!

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Gather your ingredients 

classic plant based potato salad ingredients

Red potatoes: red potatoes are great for potato salad because they tend to be pretty uniform in size, and their texture is firm but smooth. 

Raw cashews: these magical nuts provide the creaminess to our dressing. If you have a high-powered blender, you can skip the soaking step.

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Dried dates: these provide a hint of sweetness without being too sweet. The fiber helps your body break down sugar without spiking insulin. If you prefer not to have any sweetness in your dressing, leave these out. You may skip soaking if you have a high-powered blender.

Nutritional yeast: (AKA nooch) a plant based super ingredient, nutritional yeast provides savory depth to our dressing. Don’t worry, there are enough balancing flavors to counteract the cheesy notes normally associated with this inactive yeast.  

Let’s make Classic Plant Based Potato Salad 

First, wash and quarter your potatoes. The more uniform they’re cut, the more evenly they’ll cook. Toss them into a large pot, cover with water by one to two inches, cover with a lid placed at an angle, and simmer over medium heat for 20–25 minutes until tender. Test by piercing with a fork. They’re done if the fork slides in and out of the potatoes without resistance. Drain and set aside to cool.

wfpb potato salad recipe

If you prefer to steam your potatoes in an Instant Pot, feel free, although the potatoes will be slightly drier. Wash and score them once deeply with a knife rather than quartering. Place one cup of water into the inner pot and then add the Instant Pot trivet. The water shouldn’t be above the trivet’s surface. Pile in your potatoes (don’t fill more than ¾ full), lock and seal the lid and nozzle, and set to manual mode for 15 minutes (on high pressure). Once the timer goes off, use the natural release method. Set aside and allow to cool.

Next, get your cashews and dates soaking (using the same bowl is fine). While they’re soaking, prep your other veggies and herbs and add them all to a mixing bowl.

classic plant based potato salad

After your cashews and dates are done soaking, drain them (discard the soaking water) and drop them directly into your blender. Measure your other dressing ingredients into the blender and blend until totally creamy, dreamy, and smooth. Taste your dressing for seasoning. It’s going to be carrying most of the flavor, so don’t be afraid to punch it up if you’d like.

potato salad recipe

When your potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-sized pieces (we like to aim for about 1-inch) and place into the mixing bowl with your other veggies and herbs. Add all of the dressing, give it a good stir, and taste again for seasoning.

plant based potato salad

Chill for about an hour before serving (if you can wait, that is, we’ve eaten our fair share of warm, just-made potato salad).

This recipe makes about eight cups and will do just fine if packed in a cooler for a few hours. If stored in the fridge, it keeps for about five days, but we’re confident it won’t be around that long.

oil free potato salad

Substitutions and variations

Out of something or just can’t imagine potato salad without pickles? Don’t hesitate to make this recipe your own. It’s super forgiving and fun to play around with!

Red potatoes: you can use russet or gold potatoes, but the texture will be different. 

Celery: use any firm, crunchy veggie you like. Try carrots, radishes, jicama, or bell peppers.

Parsley and dill: prefer other herbs? Throw them in! Some will probably be tastier than others, but exploring is half the fun.

Cashews: go nut-free by subbing with an equal amount of soaked sunflower seeds. Or go lower fat by subbing half the amount called for with silken tofu or cooked white beans. 

Apple cider vinegar: lemon works quite well as a direct substitute.

Mix it up: try adding chopped pickles, olives, raisins (if you get down like that), or anything else that tickles your fancy. Go super heavy on the herbs or super light on the onion. This is your potato salad, after all.

classic plant based potato salad recipe

Classic Plant Based Potato Salad

Makes about 8 cups
Author: Molly Patrick

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds unpeeled red potatoes, washed and cut into quarters (about 6 large potatoes / 1.4 kg)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped (100 g)
  • 1 cup onion, diced (any variety / 160 g)
  • ½ cup parsley, finely chopped (any variety / 10 g)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped (1 g)

Dressing

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 10 minutes (130 g)
  • 2 tablespoons dried dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (about 2 large dates, we like Medjool / 25 g)
  • 1 cup water (235 ml)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (20 g)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole (6 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Add the quartered potatoes to a large pot and cover them completely with water by 1 or 2 inches. Place a lid on the pot at an angle and simmer over medium heat for 20–25 minutes until tender, or until you can pierce them with a fork.
  • Drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool.
  • Make the dressing by draining the cashews and dates (discard the soaking water) and placing them into the blender, along with the new water, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, garlic, and salt. Blend until totally creamy and smooth, about 1–2 minutes. Set aside for now.
  • When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-sized pieces and place them into a large mixing bowl along with the celery, onion, parsley, dill, and all of the dressing from the blender.
  • Gently stir until everything is combined. Taste for seasoning. Chill for at least an hour before serving. 

This Classic Plant Based Potato Salad has an uncanny ability to make even the staunchest mayo-lover reconsider their position. Please use this power responsibly.

wfpb potato salad

Molly, our co-founder and creator of this recipe, originally featured this in her Ode to My Dad with Congestive Heart Failure blog post. It’s a story that will warm your heart. Just don’t forget to put your potato salad in the fridge before reading it. Oh, you already ate it? That’s okay, we completely understand.

Have you impressed someone with this recipe? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

May your dressing always be dreamy. 

Xo 
Team Dirty

I made Molly’s Classic Plant Based Potato Salad this morning and holy sister of Zeus (whichever one you like) it’s amaaaazing! I’m not sure why I haven’t attempted it before, but you can bet your sweet bippy it will be a regular dish for me. I had to force myself to not drink the dressing from the bowl!

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38 Comments

  1. Molly on June 27, 2016 at 6:34 am

    This recipe has been sitting open in my browser for weeks so I wouldn’t lose it, but Independence Day is coming. So I did a trial run before I lay out my vegan heart on the family picnic table next week. Everybody was right. This rocks! And the friend with her partner in the hospital is going to benefit from it tonight. Thanks, Molly!

    • Molly Patrick on June 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Hey Molly!
      So glad you like it. It’s pretty damn good – I must say.
      Lay that vegan heart on that table and be proud!
      xoxoxooox
      Molly
      (awesome name, btw)

  2. Jennifer on July 20, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Holy shit this is delicious!! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Molly Patrick on July 20, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      You are most welcome!
      Glad you like it, Jennifer.
      xo
      molly

  3. Sue on August 17, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Does your dad omit the salt in this recipe?

    • Molly Patrick on August 17, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      He doesn’t omit it completely, no.

      • Sue on August 18, 2016 at 7:48 am

        That is good to hear. I have been trying to follow dr Fuhrman’s meal plans but struggle with the zero added sodium. I have very low bp…my husband needs to watch his salt to keep his down.

  4. Tracy on April 9, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    This sounds delicious! Any way to replace the cashews if you are allergic to nuts?

    • Clean Food Dirty Girl on April 9, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Tracy, you can sub sunflower seeds for the cashews but it will alter the taste a bit.

      Meghann
      Team Dirty Girl

  5. Angela on June 2, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    I’m relatively new to this group (found you via FaceBook) and I keep hearing folks RAVE about this potato salad. Being from Texas and the fact that we’re coming in to summer means a lot of backyard parties where this would be a HUGE hit! I found the post a few weeks ago and I admit that I didn’t scroll all the way down to the bottom. Came back today to check the ingredients to make sure I have everything on hand and this time….ventured all the way to the bottom.

    I have to say…your final comment about connecting with your dad even if he’s not here….hit me right in the feels…at just the right time.

    I lost my dad 8 years ago on May 26. I miss him terribly. And he LOVED potato salad. So I’m going to make this recipe and remember my dad.

    Thank you so much for making this journey so personal and heartfelt.

  6. Morgan on June 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Holy SHIT this is DELICIOUS!!! I was shocked at how I could not stop eating the sauce after I made it. Once combined with the potatoes I literally imagined myself bathing in the stuff (perhaps I’ve watched a bit too much Good Mythical Morning…) Anyway, I’m pretty damn sure you are some kind of magician or sorceress!
    Also I love you and all of your posts. I’m super fan-girling over here!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on June 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      LMAO! Thank you Morgan! There is sorcery that goes on in the dirty kitchen. This is a particular favorite of our private facebook group! Goes great with the carrot dogss!!!

  7. Roberta Martinson on June 29, 2017 at 11:08 am

    How long would you suggest cooking the potatoes in an Instant Pot?

  8. Jenifer Ann on June 29, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    I see the suggestion to sub cashews for sunflower seeds in the event of a nut allergy however, I am also allergic to sunflower seeds. Any more suggestions?

    Allergy:
    Dairy, nut, sunflower seed, tomato

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on June 30, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Jenifer, in just about any recipe that contains nuts you can sub in white beans or firm tofu. For this recipe I would recommend the tofu- just get out as much water as possible.

  9. Maggie on December 15, 2017 at 10:10 am

    5 stars
    I don’t think I’ve ever commented on this recipe even though I make it ALL THE TIME. This is hands down the best potato salad I’ve ever had. ????

  10. Vegan Recipes – On and Off Plan – The Angina Monologues on April 15, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    […] Classic Plant-Based Potato Salad […]

  11. Pat on April 16, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    5 stars
    So, I am sitting here scrolling through recipes and this one makes me drool. I am an OLD southern gal who start the WFPB eating plan 4 weeks ago. So far, so good, but I would love to add to my recipes and this one looks awesome. Just made your date, walnut, oat things (don’t remember the name). They are sitting in the fridge. Tomorrow, potato salad. I love your web site and bought the food plan. Wish I could go to Hawaii, but not this year. Thanks for being there. Love your blog, too.

  12. Sara on February 2, 2019 at 10:18 am

    5 stars
    I love this story and I love this recipe… and I love your style, Molly!
    I’d come seeking the split pea soup recipe, fell down the delightful CFDG rabbit hole, and stumbled onto this heartbreakingly sweet story about your dad. (My mom is long dead, but my dad and I are close; thankfully, he’s a long-time veg head/avid exerciser and is healthy as a horse. But I know every day with him is a gift, and your ode hit home.) Anyway! After seeing this fabulous recipe, I ended up spontaneously making potato salad for lunch, and then had to substitute for the potato in our split pea soup dinner, ’cause I’d used them all in the salad! (I figured it was a good problem to have.) I like this potato salad so much, I’m going to bring it to my next work potluck!
    All that to say: Thank you for the authentic, hilarious, and uplifting stories and healthy, kickass recipes!!

    • Molly Patrick on February 6, 2019 at 10:46 am

      What a blessing to have a healthy dad!
      Give him a high five for me!
      So glad you enjoyed the recipe and the post.
      xo
      Molly

  13. Angelina on February 13, 2019 at 6:18 am

    5 stars
    Amazing potato salad! I was a little weary of how sweet it would be with dates added, but this is a PERFECT balance of flavors and a safe choice for a potluck that any diet choice would enjoy.

  14. Karla Strauss on April 3, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe a couple of times and am always amazed at how delicious it is!!! I have friends coming over from Vermont tomorrow and we are having carrot dogs with potato salad for lunch. Can’t wait!!! Oh by the way, I was licking the vitamix container after making the sauce and having added it to the potato mix! So freaking finger licking good!!!!

  15. Ashley Becker on May 26, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Hi! I’m excited for the recipe. This pulled at my heartstrings because my dad died in March of congestive heart failure CHF, from a massive heart attack, at 67 years old. He knew he likely dying of CHF but ate the same unhealthy diet & drank heavily until the end. Sadly I deleted all of my voicemails two weeks before his death. I had my brother send me a few of his but they’re not the same. He left behind three children and his third wife he had just married six months prior. I will think of both of our dad’s everytime I eat this potato salad! Thank you for sharing about your dad. It helped me to feel connected to my dad as I anticipate my first father’s day without him.

  16. Rhonda on June 13, 2019 at 10:07 am

    I can’t have onion, garlic and wheat. What would be good substitutes for this salad? Thanks! I enjoyed reading your beautiful story.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on June 13, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Hi Rhonda,

      Thanks for stopping by with the note for Molly! You won’t have to worry about wheat in this salad. It’s possible to just leave the onions and garlic out altogether and it will still turn out fine. Some people recommend hing, or asafoetida, as a substitute for onion and garlic. I’ve never tried it though. I’m thinking chopped raw fennel would work nicely in place of the onion – it has good flavor. And, for the dressing, if you want to add another dimension, ginger (or ginger powder) is one of my favorites to add to recipes. ~Karen

  17. Renita on July 4, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Hi team. My name is Renita. Potato salad sounds good. I am skeptical of the dates. I added maple syrup in a ranch dressing recipe and didn’t like the sweet i prefer savory so.my question is if i put no or less dates will it affect the salad texture negatively?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on July 4, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Renita,

      Thanks for stopping by! You can leave the dates out if you like and the texture should be fine. However two dates is not much sweetness and balances the vinegar so you might be surprised at this recipe. Let us know what you think if you try it with or without the dates. ~Karen

  18. Karen on July 25, 2019 at 10:04 am

    5 stars
    Not sure if I have commented on this yet or not… but your potato salad recipe is “da bomb”! I have tried several recipes and I have thrown all other recipes out.. this is now my GO-TO recipe… it is perfect and so yummy!! I do add a bit more mustard, we like mustard-y dressing… thank you for sharing this recipe with us!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on July 25, 2019 at 10:28 am

      Hi Karen, Thanks for dropping this note that you love Molly’s potato salad! And, you’ve inspired me to make a batch – it’s been awhile. ~Karen

  19. Debra Fahey on April 18, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Can you use fresh dates in this recipe? If so, do you still need to soak them? Thanks!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on April 18, 2020 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Debra, Sure! Fresh dates would work just fine. As long as they are soft they’ll blend up just fine. Most dried dates do have a bit of softness to them but they benefit from a quick soak when they will be blended like in this recipe. ~Karen

  20. Lauren Rogers on July 4, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is to die for!!! I’m a mayo addict and it’s one of the hardest things to give up WFPB. I’ve been looking for a good potato salad recipe and , girl, I’ve found it!!! How delicious. I’ll be using the sauce as mayo too! I doubled the recipe but added great northern beans and aquafaba in place of the water!! 10/10

  21. Alyson Armstrong on August 22, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Hello Team Dirty! I am making this potato salad for a family gathering. My nephew has a condition in which fructose goes haywire in his body (fructose malabsorption). I can alter the ingredients to suit his needs with the exception of the dates. Is their purpose for sweetening the dressing? Or thickening? I know what to substitute for sweetening but not thickening. I would love your input! Thank you, Alyson
    p.s. I read the 7/4/19 exchange above about dates and am making the assumption that dates are the sweetener; just wanting to verify.

  22. Emily on September 12, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve made this 2x. I used 1/2 cashews, half beans one time and 3/4 tofu, 1/4 white beans the other time. Use less water if not using cashews. So delicious!

  23. Cyndy Brantley on July 2, 2022 at 10:49 am

    5 stars
    LOVE LOVE LOVE this potato salad! Have made it several times for various “diets”. Has always been a huge hit. Will be making again for a family reunion in a couple of weeks. Can hardly wait!

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on July 2, 2022 at 12:05 pm

      Woohoo! It is one of the most-loved recipes of all time here in the Dirty verse. Thanks for your review! 🥔

  24. Tanika on September 11, 2022 at 10:51 am

    5 stars
    One of the best potato salad recipes I’ve ever tried! Nice to find an alternative to vegan mayo.

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