How to Make Store-Bought Potato Salad Better (Hack)


May 16, 2024

We’ve all been there — standing in the aisle of local grocery stores, deciding whether to pick up a container of store-bought potato salad (a time saver) or take your time to make a homemade potato salad for the afternoon family reunion or backyard barbecue.

It might seem like taking the easy route, but with a little bit of creativity and some pantry staples, that store-bought version can transform into a dish that tastes just as good, if not better, than homemade. 

Imagine blending in crispy bacon bits, fresh dill, yellow mustard, hard-boiled eggs, fresh parsley or a dash of apple cider vinegar to give that pre-made salad an extraordinary twist.

This isn’t just about saving time; it’s about exploring the joy of customizing your favorite recipes to suit your taste and impressing every family member with your culinary savvy.

Choosing the Right Base

We’ve all faced a backyard barbecue or a family reunion where time slipped through our fingers. 

You make a quick dash to the local grocery store, and a tub of store-bought potato salad lands in your cart.

Now, no judgement here because here’s where the magic begins.

Opting for a version with creamy dressing and soft cooked potatoes serves as our canvas.

Whether it be the tang of white vinegar or the hearty bite of red skin potatoes, the base you choose makes a huge difference.

The texture affords the first impression, while flavor sets the stage for any enhancements.

Let’s admit it, a little bit of effort to pick the right foundation can transform a good potato salad into a memorable dish. Imagine the uplift fresh dill pickles or crispy bacon can impart!

What I’m saying is, choose a good store bought potato salad. For us living in Texas, our local HEB and Costco actually have a good potato salad. It’s good. But you can make it better.

Pick one that you’ve already liked before and have tried.

Must-Have Add-Ins for a Flavor Boost

We discovered a trick that always wowed our guests at backyard barbecues. 

By tossing in just a little bit of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice, we’ve found the flavor of the store-bought potato salad springing to life. 

Next, a dash of fresh dill or parsley introduces a burst of freshness, creating a delightful contrast against the creamy dressing of a classic potato salad recipe. That green color just screams freshness!

Don’t forget; a sprinkle of crispy bacon or chopped celery introduces an extra texture that many often crave. These additions not only enhance the taste but also add a personal touch, making it our very best, quick hack, Casa G potato salad recipe.

Herbs and Spices

A sprinkle of fresh dill or a dash of smoked paprika can magically transform any store-bought potato salad from ordinary to extraordinary. 

They bring a vibrant freshness or a subtle smokiness that will leave your guests guessing about the flavor of the dressing of your creamy potato salad. They’ll be begging for your recipe!

The beauty of adding herbs and spices lies in their ability to blend seamlessly while standing out. It’s a good idea to add fresh ingredients.

I am a big fan of always adding something fresh with something store-bought. (Chef’s secret!) 

Fresh dill, with its unique tangy zest, pairs wonderfully with creamy dressing, enhancing the salad’s overall aroma. Smoked paprika, on the other hand, introduces a gentle heat and a hint of sweetness that complements the starchy potatoes perfectly.

They don’t just change the flavor profile; they infuse the salad with distinctions that are as delightful to the palate as they are to the eye. The contrast of the red paprika looks so good agains the light yellow, mustardy look of the potatoes. I do the same for my deviled eggs which my son loooooves.

Extra Ingredients for Texture

With so many styles of potato salad available, there’s a trick to making that store-bought potato salad taste like it came straight from your kitchen. 

The secret? It’s all about texture. 

Crispy bacon bit add a smoky crunch that contrasts beautifully with the soft potatoes. (And I’m not talking about bacon bits from a jar). Think of it as a surprise in every bite. Adding chopped celery or even red bell peppers introduces a freshness and a crispness that the store-bought version often lacks.

These extra ingredients transform the texture, making each spoonful a delightful experience. It’s a simple upgrade, but it makes a world of difference. Trust us! It’s like a loaded baked potato.

We actually taught this class to our students during the pandemic during the summer for their backyard parties…during that time it was “illegal” to gather.

We still remember…shrimp rolls, watermelon salad and our strawberry shortcake classes were a hit for the kids and the parents. So perfect for a summer get together in the patio.

Oh, and if your patio, garden or backyard needs a little lift this season, check out my friend Sari, from Garden Design Stories. She’s got this FREE guide on how to spruce up your garden to make it party perfect!

Creative Mix-Ins for a Unique Twist

So you’ve got a store-bought potato salad sitting in your fridge.

It screams for a twist, to elevate from just good to spectacular. Imagine the burst of flavor when sweet pickle relish comes together with the starchy white potatoes, or the tangy kick apple cider vinegar lends to the creamy dressing.

These aren’t your average mix-ins. They’re the secret to turning a store-bought version into a dish that feels entirely homemade. No one can tell! We challenge you to do a blind taste test!

Consider folding in some celery, bacon or a handful of fresh dill. They add not just flavor but a delightful texture. Or maybe, a dash of red wine vinegar and some red onions for that extra punch. 

Want to add something our students love for presentation? How about garnishing ANY easy potato salad recipe (or a store-bought one) with fried onions. YUM! Try it!

These are the strokes of genius that will make your guests question whether it’s store-bought at all. The goal here is simple: to provide a fun twist on a classic favorite, making each bite a little adventure for the palate.

Instructions for Mixing

So you’ve scoured local grocery stores and handpicked the best store-bought version as your base. Remember to get the best. You can’t doctor up a bad base. Give yourself something to work with.

Now, let’s add a personal touch with simple ingredients.

  1. Gather fresh herbs and spices: Start by washing and finely chopping dill, parsley, and green onion. A small amount of apple cider vinegar. That’s the best way to gave it a tangy lift.
  2. Enhance with extra texture: Next, stir crispy bacon and chopped celery. These add the crunch that most store-bought varieties lack. Red bell peppers also contribute to a delightful texture.
  3. Incorporate creamy and tangy elements: A dollop of sour cream and a squirt of Dijon mustard. Mix well. These balance the creamy dressing without overpowering the original flavor of different potato salad recipes.
  4. Adjust seasonings to taste: After tasting, sprinkle in a bit of salt and black pepper. A splash of lemon or lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil ties all flavors together seamlessly.

This approach will turn a simple store-bought classic southern potato salad into a dish that feels homemade every single time. 

Taste Testing and Adjustments

After you’ve stirred in those irresistible add-ins — it’s very important you don’t skip the next step. 


Tasting as you go ensures that every spoonful of your enhanced potato salad hits the right note. Perhaps a dash more of apple cider vinegar? Or a pinch of celery seed? This just might elevate it from good to grand. The tasting step isn’t just about gauging saltiness.

It’s a moment to fine-tune, allowing flavors to develop and to adjust for that perfect balance where the creamy dressing comes together in harmony with the tang of sweet pickles and the subtle crunch of red onion.

Remember, the only way to confirm your potato salad could steal the show at any backyard barbecue or family reunion is by trust in your taste buds. 

Taste, taste. taste, I tell my students all the time. 

Those taste buds guide us, telling us whether a splash more red wine vinegar or a tad of Dijon mustard (maybe even a little bit of pickle juice) will make your potato salad the talk of the town. Trusting our palate could lead us to discover the very best potato salad recipe, a spoonful at a time.

Serving and Presentation Tips

We’ve all stood before our families at backyard barbecues, hoping our culinary contributions would spark joy rather than polite nods. 

Or they get a spoonful but never come back for seconds.

It’s not just about the flavors; presentation plays a huge role too. After blending in your crispy bacon, fresh dill, and a dollop of creamy dressing, how you serve your now gourmet potato salad can make a massive difference.

Toss it gently in a large bowl adorned with a few extra herbs sprinkled on top for that fresh, homemade look. 

Or consider serving it in individual cups for that personalized touch, garnishing each with a sprinkle of paprika or a tiny sprig of parsley. This not only makes the dish look more inviting but also signals a thoughtful preparation. 

Remember, the ultimate goal at any family reunion or southern living gathering is to create moments of connection, and a well-presented potato salad – that started with a store-bought base – can surprisingly be your best ally….sshhhh! No one will ever know!

Elevate Your Salad Game Beyond the Bowl

We’ve just journeyed together through the land of transforming a simple, store-bought potato salad into a culinary delight. 

This isn’t just about potato salad; it’s about shifting our approach to store-bought versions of our favorite recipes. Imagine taking a baked potato from your local grocery store and turning it into a masterpiece with olive oil, red peppers, and fresh dill. 

Think about adding a splash of balsamic vinegar to a pre-made pasta salad. The opportunities are endless.

Embracing this mindset serves as a rule of thumb for invigorating not just salads, but any dish that feels a tad uninspired. Whether it’s a family reunion or a simple backyard barbecue, the ability to infuse personal touch can transform any meal from good to unforgettable.

We’ve seen how a little mayo, egg yolks, cajun seasoning, old bay, scallions, cheddar cheese and perhaps even a hint of lemon juice or zest can elevate something as humble as potato salad. Apply this inventive spirit across your culinary endeavors. Easy recipe, right?

Let creativity be the only way you redefine the flavors of your meals.

After all, isn’t the joy of cooking found in the unique twists and fun tweaks we are adventurous enough to explore? 

Each dish presents a canvas awaiting our personal signature. 

So, we challenge you to take that store-bought item, invite a family member or friend to join in, and together, discover the very best recipes borne of curiosity and creativity. 

Let’s not settle for what is given; let us gift it with a piece of ourselves. 

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