This fantastic loaded baked potato salad plays an awesome sidekick to your finger-licking barbecued meats and travels well as a side dish for a potluck. Unlike many potato salads you’ll see out there, this one has no mayonnaise. As IN a loaded baked potato, I used sour cream. This keeps the calorie count in check despite the addition of bacon and cheese. And ALSO since I can’t imagine adding them to a baked potato, I don’t add any hard-boiled eggs.
It’s a surface-to-volume thing, baby!
I use baby potatoes in my loaded baked potato salad. I usually cut them in half, but now, at the request of the hubster, I cut them into quarters. Why? It’s a surface-to-volume thing. Here’s what I mean: a whole object has a lower surface-to-volume ratio than that same object cut into smaller pieces. And we WANT a high surface-to-volume ratio.
Why do we care??
Cutting objects into smaller sizes means that MORE surface area is exposed to flavoring agents. Let’s do a visual demo. For the purposes of simplicity (and because I’m a terrible artist), let’s think of our potato as a 3-dimensional cube:
So the point is that smaller cubes have more exposed surface that flavor can stick to. ENOUGH science geekiness for now. The only caveat with cutting potatoes into smaller and smaller chunks is that they take less time to cook. And if you cut them TOO small, they’re no longer recognizable as potatoes. So quartering, which, in baby potatoes, gives about 1/2″ cubes, is as small as I go.
The other flavoring secret to any awesome potato salad is to season and/or dress the potatoes while they’re still hot. This is perfect for vinaigrette-based dressings. However, this rule does not extend to those containing mayonnaise, or in this case, sour cream: badness ensues when these substances suddenly encounter heat. Instead, I toss the hot potatoes with two big pinches of salt and a quarter cup of rice vinegar. I spread the potatoes out on a sheet pan to cool down for about 20 minutes. Then, while the potatoes are still slightly warm, I mix them into the loaded baked potato salad dressing.
Remember: if you’re taking this loaded baked potato salad to a potluck, be sure to take food safety precautions (i.e., keeping the salad chilled so that it doesn’t grow nasty bacteria and sicken your entire party!).
So, without further ado, here is Loaded Baked Potato Salad—my favorite potato salad recipe. Enjoy!!
- 1 1/2 lbs baby potatoes washed
- 3/4 cup scallions or chives sliced
- 3/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar unseasoned
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp tarragon
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, halve or quarter the new potatoes into roughly uniform chunks. Boil the potatoes until easily pierced with a paring knife, 8-10 minutes (less for smaller pieces).
Mix the herbs, mustard, onion powder, sour cream, two pinches of salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a large bowl to make the dressing. When the potatoes are ready, drain well and toss them with the vinegar and two generous pinches of salt. Spread them on a sheet pan and keep at room temperature to cool for 20 minutes.
Before the potatoes have cooled completely, mix them into the dressing. Check the seasoning, adjusting as needed.
Reserve a small portion of each of the baked potato “toppings,” mixing the rest in with the remaining ingredients, then sprinkle reserved toppings over the top. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!
A delicious spin on the traditional mayo-based potato salad recipe with flavoring hacks to make sure that the potatoes are well seasoned.