With a fun twist on the classic potato salad, this pesto potato salad is sure to liven up your next BBQ. A combination of homemade pesto, perfectly cooked potatoes, and a deliciously creamy (but not gluggy) dressing made with a mixture of mayo and heavy cream. Can be made ahead of time, so perfect for potlucks, picnics, and other gatherings where you are told to bring a salad.
Pesto Potato Salad
I love potato salad and used to look forward to family BBQs where we would get a big tub of the gluggy version from the grocery store to pair with a roast chook.
Homemade is always best they say, and honestly with the price of groceries lately, I reckon homemade might just work out a fair bit cheaper as well!
This homemade pesto potato salad can be made up to three days ahead of time and kept stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
- gluten-free (just be sure to check the ingredients on the brand of mayonnaise that you buy);
- meal prep friendly;
- easily transported;
- super versatile: meaning it can easily be made vegan, be made using store-bought pesto instead of homemade, and you can even choose to leave the skin on the potatoes depending on preferences.
Pesto Salad Dressing
To make a great pesto salad dressing you need to start with great pesto.
I make a classic basil pesto for this version, but if you have a favorite store-bought version feel free to use that instead.
Mix the pesto with mayonnaise and some heavy cream for a super creamy dressing that doesn't become thick and gluggy like a regular solely mayo-based dressing would.
TIP: to make the dressing a little on the lighter side I sometimes replace a couple of tablespoons of the mayonnaise with thick Greek yogurt. This will alter the flavor of the salad slightly, so if you don't like the tartness of Greek yogurt then maybe stick with the mayo version.
All of the ingredients for the pesto dressing will be added to the bowl of a food processor and processed until smooth and creamy.
If you feel as though the dressing is too thick, then simply loosen it up by adding a bit more olive oil, mayonnaise, or a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
How To Boil Potatoes For Potato Salad
Before cooking the potatoes, decide if you would like to keep their skin or not.
I like the texture of the skin and tend to leave it on, but that will also depend on the type of skin on the potato you are using.
If you do not enjoy the texture of the skin, then simply peel the potatoes before boiling them.
Next, chop the potatoes into chunks.
Do not cut them too small or they will take on too much water when boiling, and then they can crumble and turn to mush, which we do not want.
Time to cook.
Fill a large pot with cold, salted water and add the chopped potatoes.
Bring the whole thing to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Allow the potatoes to simmer for about 10-15 minutes until fork tender and then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before adding the dressing.
Do not overcook as the potatoes will become soft and fall apart when mixed with the pesto dressing.
TIP: another way to cook the potatoes is to cook them whole. You will need to add more time as they take longer to cook this way, but you will not have to peel the potatoes and once they cool the skin should slide off easily.
Leftover pesto potato salad should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Potato salad does not freeze well as the dressing can split and become unappetizing.
If you are serving this at a picnic or potluck etc, be sure to keep it in the fridge until right before serving, and do not allow it to sit in direct sunlight for a long time as the dressing will not hold up to the heat.
Pesto potato salad pairs well with so many other picnic food favorites.
My favorite way to serve it is with fresh bread rolls, rotisserie chicken, and a simple side salad.
Other options that would go well include:
- Rotisserie-Style Chicken in the Oven
- Lightened Up Creamy Pasta Salad
- Super Simple Avocado and White Bean Salad Recipe
- Zucchini Tomato and Feta Frittata.
It would also work well as a main meal served with some grilled chicken breasts or salmon.
Homemade Pesto To Use In This Pesto Potato Salad
You know we love a good homemade pesto in the Whole Food Bellies house, they are the perfect vehicle for using up a bumper crop from the garden.
Why not try one of these homemade pestos next?
- Carrot Top Pesto
- Fragrant Fennel Fronds Pesto
- Fresh Oregano Pesto
- Quick Kale Walnut Pesto with Sunflower Seeds
Of course, be mindful that using a different flavor or pesto will change the flavor of the overall dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Leftover salad should be stored in an appropriate airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Yes, simply replace the ingredients used in this recipe for making pesto with store-bought pesto.
Creamy Pesto Potato Salad
- 2 lb (1kg) potatoes
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup walnuts
- ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves torn from the stem
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- Peel the potatoes (or leave the skin on if preferred) and cut into even-sized chunks. See the photo in the post for reference, but do not cut them too small or they will become mushy and fall apart when cooked.2 lb (1kg) potatoes
- Fill a large pot with cold water and a sprinkle of salt. Add the chopped potatoes and bring the whole thing to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are just fork tender.
- Remove the cooked potatoes from the heat, drain, and set aside to cool completely.
Pesto Salad Dressing
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. Using a hand mixer or a food processor, add the fresh basil leaves, walnuts, cream, mayonnaise, parmesan, olive oil, garlic clove, salt, and ground pepper to the bowl and blitz until everything is combined and the dressing is creamy.⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, ¼ cup heavy cream, ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 garlic cloves, ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, ½ cup walnuts, ½ teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- You may need to use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl before continuing if it stops processing.
Assembling the Salad
- Once the potatoes are cooled, combine them with the creamy pesto and stir well to ensure the potatoes are evenly covered.
- Optional: add some roughly chopped fresh basil and walnuts for extra flavor and texture when serving.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
I love a great creamy potato salad and your pesto potato salad recipe is perfect. It's full of flavor and tastes great.
This was so unique, refreshing, and delicious. We are major pesto fans around here and this truly hit the spot!!
This had a ton of flavor, with minimum effort. The pesto flavor was really sharp and pleasant, a surprise in potato salad. I'll be going back to this over and over again!
Oh my! These are all the flavors and textures my husband absolutely loves. A great recipe with a good balance of dressing. Thanks!
This potato salad was so delicious. I also added a few spoons of yogurt as you suggested, and loved the slight tang to it.