Potato Salad with Red Potatoes

This Red Potato Salad recipe (without any mayo) will have even the pickiest eaters licking their plates!  The potatoes are independently seasoned then roasted to caramelized glory while the garlicky, herbaceous, Parmesan Dill Pesto Dressing is whipped together in minutes in the food processor.  Toss it altogether then serve at room temperature for stress free entertaining!

top view of serving red potato salad recipe in a bowl


Watch How to Make Red Potato Salad

You will love this Potato Salad (Red Potatoes Version)

  • ROASTED POTATOES:  For stand-alone seasoned, caramelized bites.
  • THE BEST DRESSING:  The pesto dressing makes this recipe with its cheesy, garlicky, herbaceous, peppery notes with a kiss of lemon and dill.
  • EASY:  While the potatoes roast, pulse the dressing together in your food processor, then combine, that’s it!
  • ZERO MAYO DRESSING:  But still soul satisfying.  
  • NOT OILY:  The pesto dressing is spiked with Greek yogurt so it leans towards creamy rather than oily.
  • GOES WITH EVERYTHING: It’s the answer to “what should I serve with________?
up close of red potato salad recipe in a bowl showing the creamy dressing
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 Red Potato Potato Salad Ingredients

Let’s review what you’ll need to make this red skin potato salad (full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

FOR THE Red SKin POtato Salad: 

  • Red Potatoes: If you have a choice, select small red potatoes which are easy to halve. Otherwise, quarter, or even eighth the potatoes depending on their size. No need to peel the potatoes.
  • Olive oil: The potatoes are coated in olive oil before roasting to prevent sticking, enhance flavor, and promote caramelization.
  • Seasonings: The red potatoes are seasoned with paprika, salt, pepper and onion powder before roasting so they are stand-alone scrumptious.
  • Bacon: Don’t underestimate the salty, savory crispiness in this recipe! Please use thick cut bacon so the bacon doesn’t get lost and retains its meaty texture when enveloped in the dressing.
  • Red onion:  This is essential for sharp, aromatic flavor to stand up to the dressing.   
  • Peas: Use frozen petite peas over canned because they’re younger and smaller, which makes them sweeter and more tender. On the other hand, regular peas can be tough, starchy and mealy.

For the Red Potato Salad Dressing: 

  • Basil: Use Genovese basil, a popular type of sweet basil with smooth, bright green leaves and a floral, delicate aroma. Avoid basil plants with thick leaves with pronounced veins and brown spots, which will turn your pesto dark and stringy.
  • Parmesan cheese:  Use real, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano right off of the block and not any powdered or pre-shredded cheeses. 
  • Pine Nuts:  Use raw, unsalted pine nuts for the most authentic basil pesto, but any unsalted nut you have on hand will work.
  • Garlic:  Look for plump and succulent fresh garlic from young heads for optimal pungent flavor. 
  • Lemon juice:  This brightens the entire dressing, without making it taste “lemon-y.”  Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor but bottled may be used.
  • Olive oil:  Use extra virgin olive oil for a stronger flavor, regular for a milder flavor or a blend of the two depending on your personal preference.
  • Yogurt: Greek yogurt is added for creaminess. Use plain nonfat or regular.
  • Salt and pepper:  Everything needs to be seasoned with salt and pepper! 
showing how to serve red potato salad in a serving bowl garnished by parsley

 Red Potato Salad Recipe variations

Make this Red Skin Potato Salad your own by customizing the dressing and/or add-ins, Here are a few ideas:

  • Add ins: Add anything you like such as hard-boiled eggs, artichokes, olives, bell peppers, etc.
  • Use different potatoes:  Try Yukon gold potatoes instead.
  • Don’t add the yogurt: If don’t want the creaminess of the yogurt, omit and add a little extra virgin olive oil instead.
  • Make it creamier: Add additional yogurt.
  • Swap the yogurt: Use sour cream instead.
  • Bacon substitutes: Turkey bacon, vegan bacon or even salami may be used.
  • Use a different basil:  Try a different variety of basil such as large leaf Italian basil, lemon basil, mint basil, Greek basil, etc. Each will affect the taste of the recipe in an exciting new way.
  • Use different nuts: Swap the pine nuts for almonds, walnuts, pecans cashews, or pistachios. Make sure they are unsalted or reduce the salt in the recipe.
  • Make it nut free:  Swap the pine nuts for pumpkin seeds, pepitas, hemp seeds, etc.
  • Add more or less cheese:   The amount of cheese is personal preference. The potency of Parmesan can also vary, so adjust to taste.
  • Swap in other cheese:  Swap some of the Parmesan Reggiano for sharper, saltier, tangier, more pungent Pecorino Romano.
  • Make it vegan: Substitute the yogurt with vegan yogurt and the Parmesan with a non-dairy cheese or 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast which is is nutty and cheesy. Choose from vegan bacon options made from either tofu (soy), tempeh, eggplant, coconut, or mushrooms. If you’re looking to make your own vegan bacon, check out this post by Love and Lemons.

How to make Potato Salad with Red Potatoes

This Red Potato Salad is easy to make in a few simple steps: roast the potatoes, make the dressing, combine. Let’s take a closer look with step-by-step photos (full recipe with measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1: Season Potatoes. Add the chopped red potatoes to one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then toss with seasonings. Divide the potatoes between two baking sheets and spread into an even layer.
showing how to make red potato salad by tossing red skinned potatoes with olive oil and seasonings
showing how to make red potato salad recipe by dividing red skinned potatoes between two baking sheets
  • Step 2: Roast Potatoes. Bake the potatoes until fork tender. Meanwhile, cook the bacon and make the pesto dressing.
showing how to make red potato salad by roasting red potatoes until tender in the oven
  • Step 3: Make Pesto Dill Dressing.  Add all the pesto ingredients except the olive oil and yogurt to a food processor..  Pulse until finely chopped.  With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it is completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the Greek yogurt and pulse to combine.
showing how to make red potato salad by adding pesto dressing ingredients to a food processor
showing how to make red potato salad by adding Greek yogurt to the dressing and blending until creamy
  • Step 4: Add salad ingredients. Add the peas, bacon, red onion and dressing to the roasted potatoes in a large bowl. 
showing how to make red potato salad by adding red potatoes, peas, bacon and red onion to a large bowl
  • Step 5: Add dressing. Add the dressing to the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
showing how to make red potato salad by adding dressing to red potatoes in a bowl

TIPS FOR making Red Potato SKin Salad

Follow these simple tips for the best Red Potato Salad recipe!

  • Scrub potatoes before roasting:  You don’t want dirt mingling with the spices! After washing, dry the potatoes very well.
  • Chop the potatoes uniformly: This will ensure they bake evenly.
  • To cook bacon in the oven: Line bacon strips in a single layer on a baking rack sprayed with cooking spray placed over a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-25 minutes, until crispy. The thicker the bacon, the longer it will take to cook. 
  • Keep bacon crispy:  Thick cut bacon retains its meaty texture better than classic bacon, but for the ultimate crunch experience, add the bacon just before serving.  
  • Add the olive oil slowly:  In order to emulsify the pesto dressing (combine two ingredients together which do not ordinarily mix easily), keep the food processor running while you pour the oil in a slow, steady stream. 
  • Don’t over-process the olive oil: If you over-process the oil, its polyphenols can break away from the fatty acids causing oxidation which will make the pesto taste bitter.  If you’re worried about this, you may stir the olive oil in by hand.
  • Don’t add dressing to warm potatoes: Potato salad can separate if the dressing is added to warm potatoes because the dressing traps the steam. Only adding the dressing one the potatoes cool to room temperature.
  • Adjust consistency: This Red Skin Potato Salad recipe is more on the pesto side than the creamy side. If you’d like to make it creamier, reduce the oil and add additional yogurt.
showing how to make red potato salad by tossing the potatoes with the dressing

How to serve Red Skinned Potato Salad

This Red Potato Salad recipe can be enjoyed cold, room temperature or warmed. However, I don’t find the flavors as appealing when chilled. I recommend:

  • Room temperature: Let the salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so to remove the chill. This creates a creamier salad with more accentuated dressing.
  • Warmed: To warm, transfer the salad to a large Dutch oven and heat over low to medium-low heat, stirring gently and occasionally (don’t let it simmer!).  Alternatively, transfer to a large baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. You can also microwave leftovers for 30 seconds or so just until warm but not hot.

 Red Potato Salad FAQs

Should you refrigerate potatoes before making potato salad?

You can either refrigerate potatoes for potato salad after cooking, or let them cool to room temperature. Cooling the potatoes helps them retain their shape and texture when combined with the dressing. It also helps prevent watery salad, otherwise, the steam gets trapped by the dressing.

How to make potato salad that doesn’t get watery?

A watery potato salad is likely caused by mixing the potatoes with the dressing while the potatoes are still hot, which causes the potatoes to sweat and release water.  The warm potatoes will also melt the dressing which makes it more watery/oily.  To make a potato salad not watery, take care to add the dressing to cooled, dried potatoes.

Are red or white potatoes better for potato salad?

Ultimately, both red and white potatoes can be used to make delicious potato salad, so it comes down to personal preference. Here are a few distinctions:

-Texture: Red potatoes tend to be waxier and firmer while white potatoes are starchier.
-Skin: Red potatoes have a thin, smooth skin that is typically left on in potato salad recipes and adds color and visual appeal. White potatoes often have a thicker and rougher skin, which is more commonly peeled.
-Flavor: Red potatoes have a subtly sweet and slightly nutty flavor, and overall milder taste than white potatoes. White potatoes, especially varieties like russet potatoes, have a more pronounced earthy and starchy flavor, whereas Yukon gold potatoes are buttery and creamy.
-Absorption of Dressing: Red potatoes have a slightly more dense and waxy flesh, which means they have a tendency to absorb less dressing compared to white potatoes. This can be advantageous in potato salad as it helps the potatoes retain their shape and prevents the salad from becoming overly wet.

up close of red skinned potato salad in serving bowl with bacon and peas




©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

top view of serving red potato salad recipe in a bowl

Red Potato Potato Salad Recipe

This Red Potato Salad recipe (without any mayo) will have even the pickiest eaters licking their plates!  The potatoes are independently seasoned then roasted to caramelized glory while the garlicky, herbaceous, Parmesan Dill Pesto Dressing is whipped together in minutes in the food processor.  Toss it altogether then serve at room temperature for stress free entertaining!
Servings: 10 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

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  • 3 pounds red potatoes, sliced into bite-size chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika
  • 12 ounces thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

Basil Dill Pesto Dressing

  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted pine nuts, cashews, almonds or walnuts
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (use ½ cup if not freshly grated)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt



  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil for easy cleanup.
  • Add chopped potatoes to ONE of the baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika; toss to coat. Divide potatoes between the two sheets and spread into a single layer.
  • Roast potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes, until fork tender. Meanwhile make the Pesto Dressing and bacon (below). Transfer potatoes to a bowl to cool.

Pesto Dressing

  • Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (without any oil). Add nuts and toast until golden in spots. Immediately transfer to a food processor so they don’t continue to cook.
  • Add the rest of the pesto ingredients (except the olive oil and yogurt) to the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  • With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it is completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the Greek yogurt and pulse to combine.


  • Add the bacon, red onion, peas and dressing to the roasted potatoes (hold bacon if not serving immediately). Toss until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve, then bring to room temperature and add the bacon. Best served at room temperature.



Storage: Store Red Potato Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, but note, it’s at its prime within the first 24 hours. After a day, the bacon won’t be as crispy and the salad will taste drier. For the best leftovers, microwave servings for 30 seconds or so. 

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