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Creamy Pesto Potato Salad

This Creamy Pesto Potato Salad is the perfect picnic side and summer holiday dish! Made with crispy roasted potatoes and a simple basil pesto, it’s a breeze to throw together and a great pair for burgers, grilled vegetables and more. No mayo needed! 

overhead shot of creamy pesto potatoes in a ceramic bowl with lemon wedges and parsley

This recipe is not at all a typical “potato salad.” A staple of many summer gatherings, the traditional recipe uses a heavy amount of mayonnaise. Instead of mayo, this recipe uses a tangy and fresh basil pesto sauce. With zesty lemon and bright herb flavor, it’s a much more interesting and flavor-loaded salad for your cookout or weeknight dinner. 

Ingredients Needed for Pesto Potato Salad 

  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes 
  • 1 cup pre-made pesto
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • Sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
  • Flaky salt to garnish, optional
  • Lemon wedges to serve, optional

How To Make Pesto Potato Salad

  1. Slice potatoes into 1 inch cubes and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Add potatoes to the large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Roast for 15-20 minutes more, until golden brown. Remove from oven to cool. Add to a large bowl and toss with a generous pinch of salt.
  4. Toss the potatoes with ¾ of the pesto to coat evenly. Add chopped parsley and stir.
  5. Serve potatoes in a medium bowl with remaining ¼ cup pesto, adding the sauce in a few locations on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and flaky salt if using. Serve with lemon wedges.
side view of creamy pesto potatoes in a ceramic bowl with lemon wedges and parsley

How to Keep Pesto Bright Green

If you’re making pesto at home and want it to maintain a bright green color (and not the murky brown that can occur with oxidation), blanch the basil in hot water before adding to the food processor. To do this:

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  2. Once at a rolling boil, add basil (stems and leaves) and cook for 30-60 seconds.
  3. Quickly transfer the basil to a large bowl of ice cold water to cool. 
  4. Drain basil as much as possible and proceed with the rest of the recipe. 

Blanching is not an essential step for making pesto; it will taste the same if you skip it. In the recipe notes below, I include my standard process for making my own pesto at home. 

Tips for the Crispiest Roasted Potatoes 

  • Slice each potato into a similarly sized cube, about 1 inch around. This will ensure every piece cooks at a similar rate. Use a heavy pour of olive oil to coat the potatoes before they go into the oven (at least 4 tablespoons). 
  • Use a piece of parchment paper or a reusable silicone mat if possible – this will help reduce the number of potatoes that stick to the sheet itself. 
  • For the most crispy potatoes, do not add salt until they are done roasting
  • Do not crowd the sheet tray; give every potato its own little space so that it crisps rather than steams.
  • Midway through roasting, flip each potato so that a new side of the cube is facing upward.

Can you grill potatoes for potato salad?

Yes, potatoes can be grilled for potato salad. To do this, slice your potatoes into 1 inch cubes and add to an oiled piece of foil (so that the pieces do not fall through the grill grates). Alternatively, use a grill pan indoors. Total cook time will be 8-10 minutes over high heat. Be sure to rotate part way through cooking to ensure even browning. 

Can pesto potato salad be made ahead?

Yes. To make this recipe ahead of time, roast the potatoes as instructed but wait to add the pesto until just before serving. This will help yield the creamiest result (since the potatoes will dry out a bit in the fridge).  This is also why I like serving this recipe with fresh lemon wedges. 

overhead shot of creamy pesto potatoes in a ceramic bowl with lemon wedges and parsley with one spoon

Ideas to Customize This Recipe

  • Instead of basil pesto, try a sundried tomato pesto or a romesco sauce. Alternatively, use parsley in place of the basil.
  • Switch out the variety of potatoes, using fingerling or red instead of Yukons.  
  • Leave out the parsley if you do not have it, or try subbing fresh basil (just beware it will bruise more easily).
  • Serve with chili crisp, which is my favorite condiment for adding a spicy sweetness.
  • This recipe is written as vegan and gluten-free. The pesto sauce I make utilizes cashew parmesan in place of regular. If you are not vegan, feel free to add dairy cheese. 

These potatoes will keep sealed in a container in the fridge for 4-5 days. 

Other Pesto Recipes to Try:

Pesto Potato Pizza

Pesto Tomato Toast Tartine

Grilled Veggie Party Sub

Print
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overhead shot of creamy pesto potatoes in a ceramic bowl with lemon wedges and parsley

Creamy Pesto Potato Salad


  • Author: Emily
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This Creamy Pesto Potato Salad is the perfect picnic side and summer holiday dish! Made with crispy roasted potatoes and a simple basil pesto, it’s a breeze to throw together and a great pair for burgers, grilled vegetables and more. No mayo needed!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes 
  • 1 cup pre-made pesto (see note for homemade version)
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • Sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
  • Flaky salt to garnish, optional
  • Lemon wedges to serve, optional

Instructions

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Line one large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, if you have them. Slice potatoes into 1 inch cubes, as evenly as possible so they cook at the same rate. Add potatoes to the large baking sheet and generously drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat. 
  2. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes, remove from oven and flip to encourage even browning. Roast for 15-20 minutes more, until golden brown. Remove from oven to cool. Add to a large bowl and toss with a generous pinch of salt.
  3. Toss the potatoes with ¾ of the pesto to coat evenly. Add chopped parsley and stir once more. 
  4. Serve potatoes in a medium bowl with remaining ¼ cup pesto, adding the sauce in a few locations on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and flaky salt if using. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for additional brightness.

Notes

  • If you’d like to make your own pesto, add 1/2 cup walnuts to a food processor with a large pinch of salt and one large (peeled) garlic clove. Process to combine. Add 1/2 cup parmesan (vegan as needed)  and pulse once more to incorporate. Stream in a bit of lemon juice. Top the processor with two heaping cups of fresh basil (leaves only). While the processor is running, stream in as much olive oil as needed to form the desired texture (it’s often more than you think).
  • Nutrition information calculated using Trader Joe’s Vegan Cashew Pesto 
  • Category: Side

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: One fourth of recipe
  • Calories: 335 calories
  • Sugar: 1.4 grams
  • Sodium: 840 milligrams
  • Fat: 31 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 4.9 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 26.1 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 12.7 gram
  • Fiber: 1.7 grams
  • Protein: 3.2 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Keywords: pesto, potatoes, cookout

Portrait of Emily, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Hi, I'm Emily! Garlic Head is a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets. My recipes focus on entertaining-style cuisine, perfect for celebrating all of life's little moments! Meet me here.

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Garlic Head is a plant-based community founded by me, Emily. I focus on providing affordable, simple, & healthy recipes for entertaining.

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