Posted on Updated on 1 Comment

Italian Potato Salad without Mayo

Mediterranean potato salad with parsley garnish in white bowl with black rim on top of a white plate.
This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. That means if you click on my link and buy something, I will earn a small commission from the advertiser at no additional cost to you. For more information on this, please click here.

Italian Potato Salad without Mayo is bursting with incredible flavor from savory olives, briny capers, sweet sun-dried tomatoes and sharp pecorino cheese in a bright lemon, garlic and extra virgin olive oil dressing. You definitely won’t miss the mayonnaise in this recipe!

Mediterranean potato salad with parsley garnish in white bowl with black rim on top of a white plate.

A mainstay at summer cookouts and get-togethers all year round, a great potato salad is one of those recipes that everyone should have in their culinary arsenal to turn to in a pinch. It’s a classic summer side dish along with other favorites like panzanella salad, orzo pasta salad and zucchini fritters.

And, while I love a good, mayonnaise-based version, this Italian-style potato salad with fresh herbs and a citrusy lemon olive oil vinaigrette is my current go-to. It’s been a real crowd pleaser every time I’ve served it, holds up perfectly at room temperature and actually gets better as it sits and marinates in all those classic Mediterranean flavors. Having said this, I also love serving it warm after just being made, like these Italian potatoes and green beans–it’s texture and flavor is so amazing!

This recipe is inspired by regional pantesca salad (insalata pantesca) from the southern Sicilian island of Pantelleria, where they include cherry tomatoes, red onions and oregano.

With bold ingredients like briny black olives and capers, sweet sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs and green onion, savory garlic confit, lots of fresh lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, this Italian style potato salad may just have you falling in love at first bite! Hope you give this recipe a try soon!

Close up Italian potato salad on fork.

Types of Potatoes

Using the right type of potato to make this no mayo Italian (or any other type of) potato salad is key! Here is a quick primer. There are basically 3 important categories of potatoes:

  • Waxy Potatoes: These have a thin skin, low starch content, and moist flesh. They hold their shape well after cooking and are ideal roasting, potato salads and gratins. Examples are red, red bliss and fingerling potatoes. I used red potatoes in this recipe. Either regular-sized or baby potatoes can be used.
  • Floury Potatoes: These have a low moisture and high starch content with rough skins. They are great for baked or mashed potato recipes and frying and generally cook up light and fluffy. One example is the Russet potato.
  • All Purpose Potatoes: These are not too crumbly and not too dense. They are the most versatile potato and can be used in most cooking applications.
Trio of summer salads in small bowls on a white plate with green towel.
Italian Potato Salad complements other summer salads really well, like this tortellini salad and pesto orzo salad.

If you like the flavors and textures in this potato salad, then check out these easy pesto tortellini salad and antipasto pasta salad recipes!

Ingredients for Italian Potato Salad

⁠⁠ ⁠⁠Here are the ingredients we’ll be using for this no mayo, mediterranean potato salad:

  • Potatoes: I used a waxy red potato in this recipe. Red bliss, fingerling and all-purpose potatoes can also be used. For more information on the different types of potatoes, see above.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice, Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This recipe swaps out traditional mayonnaise for a bright, citrusy and savory olive oil-based dressing. Be sure to mix the potatoes with the dressing while they’re still hot for perfect absorption and best results and use a high-quality olive oil in this recipe.
  • Garlic Confit: Garlic confit cloves that have been slowly-cooked in olive oil until tender then mashed with a fork are included in the lemon/olive oil dressing for a soft and savory garlic flavor.
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese: Adds sharpness and saltiness – in a really, really good way!
  • Olives, Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes: These ingredients add the perfect amounts of brininess, sweetness and salt to this potato salad.
  • Green Onions, Flat-Leaf Parsley: Add an element of freshness and crunch.

All Ingredients for this recipe.

How to Make Italian Potato Salad, Step-by-Step

Anybody can make this simple recipe for Italian Potato Salad and be successful as long as you have basic knife skills and can boil water. Basically, you need to prep and cook the potatoes, make the dressing, then dress the cooked potatoes and finish the salad with all the delicious mix-ins. Here are the main steps:

  • Prep and gather all ingredients. Make garlic confit if you do not have any on hand. Add potatoes to a large pot and cover them with cold water. Place pot on the stove and bring water to a simmer.
    • PRO TIP: Be sure to cut the potatoes into pieces that are the same size for even cooking.

  • Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, smashed garlic confit cloves, fresh lemon juice, salt and black pepper in a bowl that is large enough to hold all the other ingredients. Set this aside.
    • PRO TIP: For increased lemon flavor, add 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon zest. (Be sure to zest the lemons before juicing them!)

  • Once the water comes to a rolling simmer, add a large pinch of salt and stir. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    • PRO TIP: Simmer, don’t boil, the potatoes. Also, be careful not to overcook the potatoes or they will fall apart when making the salad!

  • Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them well and immediately mix them with the dressing while still hot. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes then stir it again carefully.
    • PRO TIP: Do not run cold water over the potatoes. Also, don’t skip the resting step!

  • Next, fold in all remaining ingredients and stir until well-combined. Serve the salad immediately warm or refrigerate for at least 1 hour to serve a traditional chilled potato salad. That’s it!

For a few other potato recipes, check out these recipes: roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes with pesto, potato soup with Italian sausage and pasta and potatoes.

Italian potato salad with parsley garnish in white bowl with black rim.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best type of potato to use in this potato salad without mayo?

Use either a waxy or all-purpose potato in this recipe. Waxy potatoes have a thin skin, low starch content, and moist flesh. They hold their shape well after cooking and are ideal roasting, potato salads and gratins. Examples are red, red bliss and fingerling potatoes. I used red potatoes in this recipe. All Purpose potatoes are not too crumbly and not too dense. They are the most versatile potato and can be used in most cooking applications.

Is it necessary to peel the potatoes?

I recommend peeling the potatoes in this recipe, but you can leave the potato skins on if desired. If using baby potatoes, then you can definitely leave the skins on!

Can I boil the water before adding the potatoes in all potato salad recipes?

You can, but there are more things that can go wrong if you do so. It’s best to add potatoes to cold water and allow the water to come up to a simmer along with the potatoes. This way, the potatoes come up to temperature gently and gradually and will be tender and cooked properly throughout.

If the potatoes are dropped into boiling water like pasta, the starch in the potatoes may react as soon as it comes into contact with the boiling water, possibly resulting in uneven cooking and mealy potatoes.

What is the key to making the best no mayo, Italian style potato salad?

The most important thing to making the best potato salad (besides using the right potato–see above) is cooking the potatoes for the right amount of time.
 
If you overcook the potatoes, they will fall apart when stirred with the dressing and other ingredients and be a mushy mess. Pay close attention while cooking–cubed potatoes do not take very long to cook! And, if the potatoes are undercooked then it will be a very unpleasant salad that no one will want to eat.
 
It’s a delicate cooking balance to achieve soft, tender potatoes for that just-right potato salad texture. I suggest using a timer!


Plated with barbecue chicken and arugula.
No Mayo Potato Salad goes really well with bbq chicken!

TOP TIPS FOR ITALIAN POTATO SALAD

  • Type of Potatoes: I used a waxy red potato in this recipe. Red bliss, fingerling and all-purpose potatoes are also great options. For more information on the different types of potatoes, see above.
  • Prep: Be sure to cut the potatoes into pieces that are the same size for even cooking.
  • Cooking Potatoes: Add potatoes to cold water and allow the water to come up to a simmer along with the potatoes. This way, the potatoes come up to temperature gently and gradually.
  • Dressing: For increased lemon flavor, add 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon zest. You can use roasted garlic in place of garlic confit.
  • Mixing: Be sure to mix the potatoes with the dressing while they’re still hot for perfect absorption and best results.
  • Variations: Pesto would also make a great dressing for this italian-inspired potato salad and feel free to switch up the mix-ins to your favorites. Artichoke, steamed green beans, grape tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and other fresh herbs are all great options. If you’d like to make a vegan potato salad, just leave out the pecorino cheese. (You may need to add a touch more salt in this case.)
  • Serving: Serve the salad warm (after it’s just made) or refrigerate for at least 1 hour to serve a traditional chilled potato salad. Pair it with your cookout favorites or other classics such as bbq chicken or ribs, chicken cutlets, Italian sausage, stuffed peppers and burgers. Or, turn this into an entrée salad by folding in some pulled rotisserie chicken or grilled shrimp.
  • Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or at room temperature. Freezing is not recommended.

More Great Recipes to Try

I hope that you are enjoying my Italian food blog and all of my Italian recipes and Italian-American recipes!

If you’ve tried this no mayo Italian Potato Salad recipe, please let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM to see more delicious food and what might be going on behind the scenes!

No mayo potato salad with parsley garnish in white bowl with black rim on top of a white plate.

Italian Potato Salad without Mayo

Michele
Italian Potato Salad is bursting with incredible flavor from savory olives, briny capers, sweet sun-dried tomatoes and sharp pecorino cheese in a bright lemon, garlic and extra virgin olive oil dressing. You definitely won’t miss the mayonnaise in this recipe!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Resting TIme 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish, Salad
Cuisine Italian, American
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 3 pounds red potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-1” cubes (or other waxy potato-see Notes.); hold in cold water if not using immediately
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or garlic oil
  • cup garlic confit cloves, mashed with a fork
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt + salt for potato water
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 4 green onions, chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
  • ½ cup black, oil-cured olives pitted and lightly chopped
  • ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (drained of any oil)
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup capers, drained
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Prep and gather all ingredients according to specifications above. Make garlic confit if you do not have any on hand. Add potatoes to a large pot and cover them with cold water. Place pot on the stove and bring water to a simmer.
    (Please see the section above in the blog post for Step-By-Step instructions with photos.)
    ⅓ cup garlic confit cloves,, 3 pounds red potatoes,
  • Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, smashed garlic confit cloves, fresh lemon juice, salt and black pepper in a bowl that is large enough to hold all the other ingredients. Set this aside.
    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ⅓ cup garlic confit cloves,, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper
  • Once the water comes to a rolling simmer, add a large pinch of salt and stir. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Simmer, don’t boil, the potatoes. Also, don’t overcook the potatoes or they will fall apart when making the salad!
  • Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them well in a colander, then immediately transfer them while still hot to the bowl with the dressing. Do not run cold water over the potatoes.
  • Carefully mix the potatoes and dressing together until the potatoes are well-coated. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes then stir it again carefully.
  • Next, fold in all remaining ingredients and stir until well-combined.
    4 green onions,, ½ cup black, oil-cured olives, ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, ¼ cup capers,, ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Serve the salad immediately warm or refrigerate for at least 1 hour to serve a traditional chilled potato salad. Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • I used a waxy red potato in this recipe. Red bliss, fingerling and all-purpose potatoes can also be used. For more information on the different types of potatoes, see above.
  • Be sure to cut the potatoes into pieces that are the same size for even cooking.
  • For increased lemon flavor, add 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon zest to the dressing. (Be sure to zest the lemons before juicing them!)
  • Roasted garlic can be used in place of garlic confit.
  • I really love the lemony flavor of this dressing, but if you prefer, white or red wine vinegar can be used. I would start with ¾ of the amount of fresh lemon juice and adjust from there.
  • Be sure to mix the potatoes with the dressing while they’re still hot for perfect absorption and best results.
  • You can make this salad up to two days in advance, but I suggest adding the green onions and chopped fresh parsley right before serving if you plan on doing this.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or at room temperature. Freezing is not recommended.
 
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
If you try this recipe, please share a photo on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK and tag it @MangiaWithMichele and #MangiaWithMichele. I’d love to see it!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

1 thought on “Italian Potato Salad without Mayo

  1. 5 stars
    There was so much flavor in this salad and I could not stop eating it warm as soon as it was made. Will definitely be making this again and again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating