The beloved potato salad gets a unique and flavorful upgrade with the help of miso paste and za’atar. Incredibly savory and satisfying, this Asian potato salad, with a Middle Eastern nod, dares to steal the spotlight from any main dish.

White bowl of Asian potato salad set on a green and white kitchen towel. Food photography

Now that we have our main dish established, it’s time to fill out this Casual Summer Dinner Party with a few more offerings. First up, a quintessential summer dish, potato salad. But the thing about this potato salad. It’s different than any you’ve had before. With characteristics similar to that of a German potato salad, this Asian potato salad also has a creamy element, thanks to the miso paste.

An unassuming side dish at times, this Asian potato salad with za’atar will wow you in just one bite. And although this ain’t Grandma Gusty potato salad, it does evoke a sense of nostalgia in the best possible way—taking something familiar and making it new.

White bowl of Asian potato salad, with a Middle Eastern twist, set on a green and white kitchen towel. Food photography

3 Rules for Making the Best Potato Salad

Here’s the thing, I love potato salad. But there are some ground rules that, in my world, have to be followed in order for a potato salad to be worthwhile.


Rule 1: Use the Right Potato

You’ve got to use a good, creamy potato. No, russets are not cut out for potato salad, leave those for the mashed potatoes, gnocchi, and potato rolls.

Just please, for the love of God, do no use them in potato salad. Why? Because they are dry! No matter how you cut it, the russet is a dry tuber. No amount of dressing will help them. Only butter, milk, and a potato masher can help that tater.

I don’t mince words when it comes to potato salad.

So what potato should you use for potato salad? Well first it’s good to know what kind of potatoes are available.

As a point of reference, potatoes fall into one of three camps; starchy, all-purpose, and waxy. Russets fall in the starchy category, while varieties like Yukon gold and white fall into the all-purpose category. All-purpose potatoes are suitable (although not the best) for potato salads.

The preferred potato for potato salads are waxy potatoes like fingerlings, new, and red potatoes.  They also do well on the grill, roasted, and boiled.

Rule 2: Big. Bold. Flavor.

We’re talking potatoes after all, the veggie that’s real good at soaking up all of the flavors, and also muting them just a bit. So when you think you only need a few pinches of salt, you probably need double that (be sure your cooking water is generously salted as well).

Think a tablespoon of vinegar is sufficient? Think again. Potatoes can handle bold flavors and can take a lot of them too, so don’t be afraid to get big and bold with your potato salad!

Rule 3: Don’t Overcook or Undercook Potatoes

Undercook your potatoes and you’ll suffer through a crunchy potato salad. Overcook them and you’re potato salad will turn into something resembling mush.

Start testing the potatoes for doneness 10 minutes into boiling. To do so, use a fork to gently pierce a few of the potato pieces. Is the potato still firm enough that it’s hard to pierce with a fork? Then the potatoes need more time. Continue to test every 1–2 minutes.

When you think they’re getting close to being done, start taste testing the pieces. They should be somewhat toothsome and tender, but not mushy.

White bowl of Asian potato salad set on a green and white kitchen towel. Food photography

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White bowl of potato salad set on a green and white kitchen towel. Food photography

Miso & Za’atar Potato Salad

  • Author: Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 5½ cups (46 servings) 1x


A unique and flavorful upgrade to classic potato salad. Incredibly savory and satisfying, this Asian potato salad, with a Middle Eastern nod, dares to steal the spotlight from any main dish.


  • pounds red-skinned potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until fork-tender, 10–12 minutes.

Drain potatoes, transfer to a baking sheet, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons vinegar; cool.

Whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, oil, miso, za’atar, honey, and sesame oil for the dressing.

Toss potatoes, scallions, parsley, and shallots with dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


What you will need for this recipe:

  • Large pot
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small baking sheet

Serving suggestions:

  • This recipe (and menu) is designed to serve 4–6 people. The reason for giving a range depends on if you choose to serve additional dishes than the menu given.
  • If serving the Casual Summer Dinner Party menu as is, I would plan for it to serve 4 people. However, if you have more then 4 people, each one of these recipes easily doubles, triples, etc.
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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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  1. This sounds so delicious! Love that you added miso – one of my favorite ingredients. Can’t wait to make this at home!

    1. Hi Leanne, great question! This can definitely be made ahead. One day ahead is the best, but it can be made up to two days ahead. I would store it in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator. Then pull it out about 30 minutes for serving!

      Let me know how it goes, I love this recipe!