Summer’s on its way, which means potato salad might be on the menu. This side dish goes so well with grilled foods like burgers, hot dogs and chicken with its creamy and comforting texture. Whatever you put in it — like eggs to make the mayo creamier, mustard for a little tang, or celery and onions to add a bright crunch — there’s one secret ingredient you should not omit.
Because classic potato salad is basically a softened potato mixture with mayonnaise, its flavor can be slightly bland. According to The Kitchn, you can perk up your potato salad with an easy, tasty hack, and it doesn’t require any extra work: simply add pickle brine.
Plenty of potato salad recipes already include some pickle flavor by way of adding pickles or relish, which makes a lot of sense. Pickles add sugar, salt, dill and other herby flavors to any dish. However if you’re wondering how to use up the liquid your pickles came in (salad dressing is another great option), adding it to your potato salad is a great way to help reduce food waste.
The Kitchn doesn’t advocate any particular method. However, according to Food52, the best way to incorporate pickle flavor into your potato salad is to toss your potatoes with a quarter cup of strained pickle brine right after you’ve cooked and drained them. Then you can let the potatoes cool and mix more brine into the dressing.
Kaitlyn Yarborough of Southern Living, who says her grandmother’s recipe uses pickle brine and her potato salad recipe is the talk of the neighborhood, advocates using about 5 to 7 tablespoons of dill pickle juice for a small batch, and double that amount for a larger batch. That meshes well with Food52’s recipe, which adds a quarter cup (4 tablespoons) to the potatoes and then another quarter cup to the dressing.
The best thing about this hack is that you don’t have to cook up a batch of potato salad to use it — after all, preparing and cooking the potatoes takes a while, and other ingredients like hard-boiled eggs are also a bit work- or time-intensive. Simply buy a batch of potato salad from the store, doctor it with your favorite pickle brine, and you have a better-tasting side that friends and family won’t realize isn’t homemade.
Of course, you could also add pickle relish to perk up your potato salad. Other ingredients that will level up your potato salad include vinegar, bacon, basil and other herbs. And if you’re feeling particularly experimental, consider adding potato chips in your favorite flavor: some recipes use barbecue-flavored chips, but we think sour cream and onion or salt and vinegar chips would taste pretty perfect, too.