French Potato Salad

An adaptation of Julia Child’s classic recipe, this French potato salad is a favorite! It features zingy red potatoes, capers, and parsley.

French potato salad

One of the first cookbooks Alex and I picked up when we wanted to learn to cook? A book by Julia Child. And after reading it, we fell in love with her personality. Her passion for cooking was infectious! She then became our “TV friend” as we binged-watched seasons of her cooking shows from the 1950’s. Recently we made the classic French Nicoise salad, a recipe we learned from Julia. A component of that bowl is this French potato salad, and it was so good that we kept sneaking bits from the bowl! Here are all of Julia’s secrets to the best potato salad.

French potato salad | Potato salad with capers

What is French potato salad?

French potato salad is a vinegar-based salad, instead of creamy like the American version. While the ingredients can vary, it typically includes potatoes, vinegar and olive oil, fresh herbs like parsley or dill, onion, shallot or scallions, and sometimes capers. It’s got no mayo and works for many diets including vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and gluten-free.

We did a version of this French potato salad with dill that’s absolutely fantastic. To add an herby pop, go to our Dill Potato Salad.

what is French potato salad?

Secrets to the best this French potato salad

This French potato salad is incredibly tasty: the sum of its parts equal something much greater than the whole! The red potatoes are salty, tangy, and moist, mixed with just the right amount of salty capers and savory minced shallot. Alex and I truly could not help ourselves from sneaking bites while making this salad: it’s just that good! We could not stop eating it. Here are a few of the elements that make this salad shine:

  • Let the potatoes stand with vinegar & water, then mix in olive oil. There’s no traditional vinaigrette here! After the potatoes are boiled and drained, you’ll mix them with white wine vinegar and warm water and let them stand for 5 minutes. At first when you mix in the water, the potatoes will be very watery. But never fear! As you gently mix the potatoes, they’ll absorb the water and vinegar and become moist and tangy. Then you can add a touch of olive oil. This method makes for perfectly moist potato salad!
  • Capers add a salty, briny flavor. Capers add just the right final flavoring to the dish. This was an addition we made to Julia’s salad recipe, as we saw some other French potato salad recipes that incorporated capers.

What else to do with capers? Make Paprika goat cheese spread, Creamy vegan pasta marinara, Pasta puttanesca

French potato salad

Ways to serve it!

This French potato salad is perfect for all sorts of occasions and to pair with dishes of all kinds. Here are our top ways to serve it:

Nicoise salad

This French potato salad recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

Red potato recipes
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French potato salad

French Potato Salad


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  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

An adaptation of Julia Child’s classic recipe, this French potato salad is a favorite! It features zingy red potatoes, capers, and parsley. 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds baby red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot (about 1 large)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot with cold water and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Add the whole potatoes and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, set a timer for 8 minutes. Cook until fork tender (taste test to check).
  2. Mince the shallot.
  3. When the potatoes are done, drain them. When they are cool enough to handle, slice them into bite sized pieces. Place the potatoes in a bowl and gently mix in the minced shallot, white wine vinegar, kosher salt, and 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. The potatoes will absorb the water as they stand.
  4. Add the capers, parsley, olive oil, and a few grinds black pepper. Taste and add additional salt if necessary. Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

Inspired by The Way to Cook by Julia Child

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: French potato salad, What is French potato salad, Potato salad with capers, Best potato salad, Potato salad with vinegar

Looking for salad recipes?

Outside of this French potato salad, here are a few of our favorite salad recipes:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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