Here’s a potato salad without mayonnaise that’s something a little different to the usual! It’s a Red Potato Salad with crispy bacon bits and charred corn, drizzled with a cider vinegar dressing. And what makes this salad really tick? Marinating the hot potatoes in some of the dressing so it sucks up the flavour – BOOM!
Red Potato Salad
I want to say that I’d take this potato salad over a classic mayonnaise version any day, and right now I would. But I firmly believe there’s a place in this world for both. So I’ll trumpet this one as a great alternative potato salad for all those times when you want something a little different, with a little wow factor: tasty bacon bits, charry golden pops of sweet corn, all dressed with a mildly zingy cider vinegar dressing.
And it just looks so cheerful, does it not? Like a pile of bite-size potato slices littered with a bacon / corn / green-onion salsa-ish rubble.
You don’t even need to read the recipe that this is a pile of serious YUM!
Ingredients in this Red Potato Salad
Here’s what goes in this Red Potato Salad:
Red Potatoes – Includes desiree and pontiac varieties in Australia. Try to get potatoes that are of even size so they cook through at the same time (sliced potatoes cook quickly, and it’s annoying when some are overcooked so they break!). If you can’t get red potatoes, then any potatoes will do. It doesn’t even matter if they’re waxy or starchy – I’ve made this with all sorts over the years. Just get small ones so you can slice them into bite size pieces;
Eschalot – Also known as French onions and called “shallots” in the US. They are like baby onions, but with purple-skinned flesh. Not to be confused with what some people in Australia call “shallots”, ie. the long green onions which we also use in this recipe! This brings freshness and a subtle aromatic flavour to dish;
Corn – Part of the appeal of this recipe is the smoky flavour of the sweet corn kernels that we get from charring the corn either on the BBQ or directly on the naked flame of a gas stove top. So I really do urge you to use whole corn cobs if you can.
Otherwise, use frozen or canned. Pan fry about 1 1/4 cups in 1 tbsp oil (or better yet, reserved bacon fat!) until golden and toasted;
Green onion – For colour and freshness in the flavour; and
Bacon – Do I really need to talk up the bacon here? I think not! 😂 (Except to say that, well, you can use turkey bacon or the eye of bacon aka short cut bacon – it’s an Australian thing – if you want to cut down on the fat).
Ingredients for the Potato Salad Dressing (no mayo!)
And here’s what you need for the dressing:
The mustard adds a bit of flavour but mostly acts as a thickener and emulsifier for the dressing. I also like to add a touch of sugar to my dressing which takes the sharp edge off the vinegar so I can get away with using less oil. I use 3 tbsp vinegar to 8 tbsp oil where most recipes would call for 9 tbsp of oil.
How to make Red Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn
Dressing: Make it and shake it in a jar. Quick, easy, and effective!
Cook potato: Make sure you cut the potato slices evenly, so they cook in the same time. I cut mine around 8mm / 1/3″ thick, and these cook pretty quickly – around 6 to 7 minutes after the water returns to the boil after you add them. As soon as a knife can pierce the potato with very little / no resistance, immediately drain. Because the potato slices are pretty thin, they will continue to cook even with the residual heat, so it’s ok if they are a tiny bit undercooked at first.
Be very careful not to overcook the potatoes as they will become a crumbly mess when you toss them in the dressing!
Marinate potato in dressing: Carefully drain potatoes, shake off excess water, then gently transfer them to a large bowl. Handling gently here is important as cooked potato slices are more prone to breaking than the cubes that we use for traditional potato salad.
Add in the eschalots, pour over about 3/4 of the dressing then toss very gently. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes. During this time, the hot and porous potatoes will absorb the dressing flavour (a trick I also use in German Potato Salad!), while the residual heat will semi-cook the finely sliced eschalots, taking the raw edge off them;
Cook bacon: Chop the bacon, place in a non-stick skillet without oil and turn the stove on. As the pan heats up, the bacon fat will start to melt so it renders its own fat to fry the bacon in. I find starting with a cold pan extracts more fat from bacon;
Cook corn: Cook the corn on the cob either on a barbecue (instructions here) or over the naked flame of a gas stove until you get nice charring and the corn is just cooked. It will take around 10 minutes on a barbecue or 5 minutes with direct contact with the flame of a stove. Rotate regularly to cook evenly. If you have an electric or induction stove, cut the fresh kernels off the corn and follow the pan instructions below.
You’ll get the best flavour using fresh corn. But as an alternative, use 1 1/4 cups of frozen (thawed) or canned (drained) corn kernels. Cook it using the leftover pan bacon fat or oil over high heat until you get nice golden bits on the corn (though you won’t get quite the same charring you see in flame-grilled stuff);
Assemble! Add most of the bacon, green onion and corn in the bowl with the potato. Then gently toss (use your hands if necessary, for the most gentle touch) until just combined. Transfer to serving bowl, garnish with remaining bacon and green onion, then drizzle over remaining dressing.
This salad is best served either slightly warm (which it will be if you assemble it straight away after 30 minutes marinating time) or at room temperature. Just not fridge cold – the fats and oils tend to congeal (ick!) and you don’t get as much flavour out of it!
What to serve with this Red Potato Salad
So. Many. Possibilities! Basically anything other than probably Asian and Indian foods. It’s as at home with Western / European foods as it would be with Latin American and Caribbean foods.
Try it alongside a simple piece of pan-fried fish. Or a roast chicken, or Slow Cooker Roast Chicken for that matter. Actually, this would be sensational alongside any roast – beef, lamb, pork, chicken.
Perfect at room temperature and travelling well, it’s also an obvious choice for BBQ’s / pot lucks etc, just like traditional creamy mayo dressing Potato Salads. Try it as a side dish for your next burger night, or when you grill up some marinated steaks, chops or salmon.
Potato salad stays tasty for days, and is just a great all-round choice for a make-ahead / standby side. Just … try it! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Red Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn (No mayonnaise!)
- 1.2kg / 2.4 lb red potatoes , sliced 0.8cm / ⅓" thick (5cm / 2" round, Note 1)
- 1 tbsp salt (for cooking potatoes)
- 1 eschalot , finely sliced (US: shallot, Note 2)
- 2 ears of corn (whole, Note 3)
- 2 green onions , finely sliced (3/4 cup)
- 200g / 7oz bacon (streaky is best!), chopped
Cider vinegar dressing:
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic , minced or grated
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 3/4 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Dressing: Shake Dressing in a jar.
- Cook potato: Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt. Add potato. Bring it back up to the boil, then cook for 5 minutes or until just soft. Keep an eye on them – sliced potatoes cook quickly, and if they overcook they will break when tossing.
- Drain and marinate: Drain potatoes, then transfer them to a bowl. Handle gently – the shape of these potatoes make them prone to breaking while hot (they're firmer when cool). Pour over 3/4 of the dressing, add eschalots and toss very gently. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Cook bacon: Place bacon in a cold non-stick pan then turn the stove to medium high. As the pan heats, the bacon fat will melt so there's no need for oil! Cook bacon, stirring constantly (to avoid spitting!), until golden or to your taste. Drain on paper towels.
- Cook corn: Meanwhile, cook corn cob using one of these methods. Either grill on the BBQ (10 min on high) or directly over the gas flame on your stove (6 min, direct contact with flame), until nicely charred and corn is cooked. Otherwise, cut the corn off the kernels then pan fry on high heat in residual bacon fat or 1 tbsp olive oil until charred.
- Cut off kernels: Cut kernels off cob, trying to keep of the kernels in clumps (looks nice!). (Note 4 for my method)
- Make salad: To the same bowl, add all the corn, half the bacon and most of the green onion. Toss gently, then transfer to serving bowl. Scatter with reserved bacon and green onion, drizzle over remaining Dressing. Serve!
All the other Potato Salads …
Life of Dozer
No potato salad for you, Dozer! Too much garlic and onion. Here, help me polish off this blue cheese instead.