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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.

Got more parsley to use up? Try more of our Best Parsley Recipes.

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 more capers recipes like Paprika goat cheese spread, vegan pasta marinara, and 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

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


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


  • 3 pounds baby red potatoes
  • ¼ cup minced shallot (about 1 large)
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper


  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 ½ 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.


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:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. I made the French potato salad. However, the potatoes did not absorb the liquid when they sat in the vinegar. Also, when I cut the potatoes (maybe while too hot) all the skin fell off. I will ponder these missteps and try this again.

    1. Thanks for your note! The potatoes don’t have to absorb all the water, but they should become seasoned and saucy. If the potato skin fell off, it seems that maybe you boiled a little too long. Next time try just until fork tender. Thank you for these comments!

  2. Was skeptical about the method but I now love this! The easiest French potato salad I have made. I like the addition of capers. I cooked the potatoes in the pressure cooker and they turned out perfectly. And I cooked the shallot a bit in the olive oil first to take away some of the bite.

  3. This recipe comes together quickly and is delicious. I served it with BBQ’d Alaskan salmon burgers from Costco. It was a big hit. Thank you!

  4. This is the best potato salad I’ve ever made. YUM. It’s my new go-to. Wow. Interesting method but turns out fantastic.