Recipe for tangy potato salad without mayo: a step-by-step guide

Potato salad, perhaps more than any other side dish, polarizes picnickers. There are those who strongly advocate the inclusion of mayonnaise and others who hate its gloopy texture. TikTok sensation and recipe creator Nasim Lahbichi sits firmly in the latter camp, as his North African-inspired potato salad recipe shows.

When Lahbichi was growing up, his Moroccan father made potato salad with olive oil, while his mother stuck to a more traditional version made with mayonnaise. He preferred his father’s. “Moroccans tend to make a lot of salads with vegetables depending on the season, and the base is always olive oil, some kind of sourness and lots of herbs – dill, coriander, mint,” he said. “I wanted to create something in that vein while providing the creaminess and umami of a classic potato salad.”

As with all potato salads, the potatoes are the most important part of the process. Lahbichi likes small varieties, like Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes, because they’re both uniform in size, which helps them cook evenly, and small enough to boil and eat whole. “They’re great for people who don’t want to do a lot of prep,” says Lahbichi. He recommends salting the cooking water well once it comes to a boil, which will ensure that each potato is seasoned from the inside out.

Once the potatoes are cooked, the rest of the recipe comes together in a bowl. Lahbichi describes the dressing as similar to a mayonnaise, minus the egg. Red wine vinegar is whipped with high quality olive oil and Dijon mustard, then Lahbichi mixes in chopped preserved lemon, red onion, cucumber and generous sprinkles of harissa, sumac and cumin. If you are missing a few of these ingredients, you can always skip them. (Unless, of course, you’re out of potatoes.)

“It really depends on you and what you have access to,” he says. “If you don’t have cucumbers, leave them out. Even just potatoes with this dressing would be fire. If you have different herbs, substitute them instead.

Lahbichi finishes the potato salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses; if you want to get fancy, he suggests a sprinkle of pistachios to add both crunch and visual appeal. “Maybe it’s because I’m a Virgo-Taurus,” he says, “but I’m always a little more excited to eat something nice.”

Spicy Potato Salad Recipe Without Mayo

For 4 people


1 pound tiny potatoes
¼ cup kosher salt
2 Persian cucumbers, diced
⅓ cup chopped dill
⅓ cup chopped parsley
½ candied lemon, minced (optional)
½ red onion, diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sumac
1 teaspoon harissa powder (optional)
Pomegranate molasses, for garnish
Chopped pistachios, for garnish


Step 1: In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and cover with cold water. Salt the water heavily. (**Note: It is essential to add salt to the water the potatoes will be cooking in, as this will season the potatoes from the inside, much like pasta.**) Bring the potatoes to a boil , then reduce the heat to a quick simmer. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Drain the potatoes.

2nd step: While the potatoes cook, prepare your additional potato salad and dressing. Dice the cucumber, chop the dill and parsley, mince the preserved lemon (if using) and dice the red onion. Add the red onion to a bowl of ice water and set aside.

Step 3: In a large bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, cumin, sumac, and harissa powder (if using) until well blended.

Step 4: Add the potatoes to the bowl and toss gently to combine. I like to use the back of a spoon to help break up the potatoes and add more textured edges. Add the cucumbers, candied lemons (if using), dill, parsley and red onion to the bowl, then toss to combine.

Step 5: Refrigerate until chilled or serve immediately. Just before serving, garnish the potato salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and pistachios, if using. Can be made 1 day ahead.

Note: You can substitute herbs and all supplements with those you have access to. Some herbs that would be good to add are cilantro, mint and green onions. You can also add chopped peppers, diced celery, diced carrots, etc.

Dina Avila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Ivy Manning

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