Finnish Summer Potato Salad ♥ An Ode to Finnish Potatoes

Finnish Summer Potato Salad, ♥, just new potatoes and a simple vinaigrette. No Mayo. Vegan. Paleo. Easy. Nordic.
Today's Recipe: Perfect for your Midsummer celebration, a simple potato salad of new potatoes and a simple vinaigrette, made just like Finns make potato salad during summer. No mayo! Plus, a guide to the special spuds that come from Finland, one of the Nordic countries where there's an unapologetic obsession with potatoes this time of year.

A Simple Nordic Salad & Side Dish, Especially for Summer. 100% Plant-Based. Whole Food, Fast & Casual. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Budget Friendly. Little Effort, Big Taste. Not Just Easy, Summer Easy. Scales from Small Plates to Large Platters. Naturally Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". One of My Very Favorite Potato Salad Recipes.

New Potatoes in Finland & Other Nordic Countries

I know, I know.

Is a potato worth so much adulation? A plain ol' potato???

Yes! Finnish potatoes are indeed special.

They're firm but soft when cooked, the flesh is a pretty yellow color with thin and light-colored skins that peel easily with no more than your fingers. They're less mealy than a baking potato but not at all creamy like a red potato.

But it's their taste, somehow better and more potato-y than other potatoes, that makes Finnish potatoes coveted, especially when they are "new" potatoes.

Mind you, "new" potatoes are for-real, not just an indication of small size. Finnish potatoes are bred for smallness but also harvested from the ground about half-grown, that's usually in mid-June near the summer solstice when Finland earns its name as the "land of the midnight sun".

Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes. Every Place. Every Meal.

So our timing was good! Earlier this month, my husband and I spent a week in southern Finland plus some days each in Sweden, Estonia, Russia and Copenhagen.

Yeah, I know, lucky us. What a trip!

But back to the potatoes. Everywhere we went, requested or not, potatoes appeared on the table.

Still not convinced? Here's what others have to say about Finnish potatoes.

When the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods traveled to Finland, host Andrew Zimmern named Finnish potatoes as his most-favorite moment. Check out the Top Five Moments in Finland video on the Travel Channel. No kidding!

Check out a story from the international edition of Helsingin Sanomat, the big newspaper in Finland's lovely capitol city, Helsinki. It's called Praise the Lord and pass the butter - the time has come for lovely, lovely new spuds. It's in English not Finnish!

During our trip, after a late and filling lunch with Pille Petersoo from Nami Nami in her hometown of Tallin, Estonia, we accompanied her home to a supper of boiled potatoes, fresh pickles, strawberries and a gorgeous rhubarb cake. Three kids and three adults went through a whole pile of potatoes, yes, they were "dinner" and soooo good! Pille's middle child, an adorable tow-headed boy of three, likes his new potatoes about 1:1 potatoes:butter. :-)

A basket of Finnish New Potatoes from the Kauppatori near the harbor in Helsinki, Finland.

How Much Would You Pay for Very, Very Good Potatoes?

Now good Finnish potatoes may not come cheap.

We found all the food in the Baltic very very expensive but if I'm reading this sign from a stand in Helsinki's kauppatori (openair marketplace) right, last week Finnish new potatoes were selling for almost $30 a kilo, that's $13.50 a pound. Yikes!

So when new potatoes show up at your own farmers markets soon, ask about Finnish potatoes. The two varieties that come up in Finland are "timo" [pronounced tee-moe] and "siikli" [seek-lee] but in the U.S. I've also seen Finnish potatoes marketed as "Yellow Finns" and even just "Finn" potatoes.

No Luck Finding Finnish Potatoes? No Problem.

Do as I did when I made this recipe on our first day back, carefully picking the smallest Yukon golds from the potato bin at the grocery store.

My goal here was to replicate the potato salad that my Finnish "sister" Ritva made for a casual weeknight meal for four last week: "just" smoked salmon and smoked whitefish with good Finnish rye bread, butter, some cheese, sliced tomatoes – and potato salad, new potatoes boiled and then tossed in a simple vinaigrette of Dijon mustard, olive oil, white wine vinegar and chive.

"This is what we make in summer," she explained. And so I will ...

About This Recipe

Finnish Summer Potato Salad dresses new potatoes with a simple vinaigrette, spiked with fresh chives or another herb. It's a simple side dish for summer meals but also, for those who really love potatoes, the makings of an entire meal.
The distinctive ingredients are the potatoes (naturally!) and the homemade vinaigrette dressing (just mustard, olive oil, white wine vinegar).
Ingredient List = potatoes + salt & pepper + Dijon mustard + olive oil + white wine vinegar + chives
Finnish Summer Potato Salad can be made and served warm right away; or after a short while at room temperature; or cold after time in the fridge.
I love how Finnish Summer Potato Salad shows its stripes: it is what it is, just potatoes glistening with a simple dressing, colored with a few bits of chopped chive.

How to Make Finnish Summer Potato Salad

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in three easy steps. You can do this!

COOK THE POTATOES Start the potatoes in cold, well-salted water (vs adding the vegetables to boiling water) and bring the water to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer, you don't want to boil potatoes hard, they'll fall apart. Cook the potatoes until they're soft, you can tell by slipping a knife into the center of one or two potatoes.

MIX THE VINAIGRETTE While the potatoes cook, do a quick-quick whisk of the dressing ingredients. If you like, use a small bowl, you can then mix the vinaigrette right in the pot where you cooked the potatoes (after draining, of course). Otherwise, use a bowl large enough to add the potatoes and hold the entire salad. Both ways work!

COMBINE THE TWO Timing is important here. Hot potatoes will s-o-a-k up the vinaigrette like nothing doing. So time combining the potatoes and the vinaigrette depending on when you intend to serve the salad. To serve it warm, use about half the vinaigrette to start, add more according to taste. To serve later, let the potato pieces cool before stirring in any vinaigrette. I like to stir in about half once the potatoes cool, then the remainder just before serving.

Here's What's NOT In This Recipe

Sometimes, what's left out of a recipe is just as important as what's put in. That's definitely the case here.

NO MAYONNAISE! Lots of folks get nervous about salads with mayonnaise during the summer, especially when served outside or left out in a buffet, say. But Finnish Summer Salad contains no mayo. Instead, the dressing is a mayonnaise-free oil & vinegar & mustard vinaigrette.
NO EXTRAS! This may well be my very simplest potato salad. In contrast, I grew up with Mom's Potato Salad and it's still my go-to potato salad for a traditional mayo-based potato salad. But it takes longer to make because it contains onion, celery, cooked eggs, cottage cheese and more.

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Finnish Summer Potato Salad, ♥, just new potatoes and a simple vinaigrette. No Mayo. Vegan. Paleo. Easy. Nordic.

~ PIN This ~


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Serves 8

2 pounds new light-skinned potatoes, preferably Finnish potatoes, otherwise small Yukon gold potatoes
Cold water to cover
2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Fresh chive, chopped
Salt & pepper, if needed

POTATOES Bring potatoes, water and salt to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let water simmer until potatoes are fully cooked, a knife should slip easily into the center. Drain and if there's time, let cool. Cut into bite-size pieces; for a larger group, cut smaller pieces, it'll serve more with less waste.

VINAIGRETTE Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Toss Vinaigrette with either warm or cooled cooked potatoes.

TO SERVE Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. May be made ahead of time, in fact, it may actually taste a bit better on the second day.

LEFTOVERS stay fresh for several days. My husband likes to fry some up for breakfast!

CHOOSE POTATOES CAREFULLY You'd think that those large bags of mini potatoes from Sam's Club/Costco and even the small bags of pricey mini potatoes from grocery stores and the mini Dutch potatoes from Trader Joe's would be perfect here: but they're not. To my taste, these potatoes taste completely flat and lifeless: you don't notice when they've loaded with butter or spices or mayonnaise but in this salad, the actual taste of the potatoes matters. Better to get larger Yukon golds and cut them up than to go for size over taste.
BOIL POTATOES IN COLD WATER We all know the general rule – right? – that when boiling vegetables that come from below ground – carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, say – that we start them in cold, salted water? But a word of caution is advised: do not boil potatoes hard, they'll break apart. Instead, reduce the heat on the stove for a nice little bubble of a simmer, not a hard boil. I fear that as boiling vegetables becomes passé, we'll forget these basics!
DRESSING HOT VS COLD POTATOES Hot potatoes will soak-soak-soak up the Vinaigrette which is great flavor-wise but may make the overall salad look and feel a little dry. To prevent it from happening, cool the potato pieces before tossing in the Vinaigrette. But if there's no time for cooling, toss the hot potatoes with about half the vinaigrette. If you're serving the potato salad right away, no problem, half the Vinaigrette is probably enough. But if you're serving the salad later, either at room temperature or cold, you'll want to toss it with the remaining vinaigrette just before serving.
SHARPNESS This is a slightly sharp Vinaigrette, if it's too sharp for your taste, thin it with a little more olive oil or even warm water, you could also add a teaspoon or two of agave (to stay vegan) or honey (if you like). Some times, I stir in a little sour cream, this also moderates the sharpness though the salad is no longer vegan.
HERB SUBSTITUTES Fresh dill, parsley or another herb may be substituted for the chives.
POTATO SALAD & FOOD SAFETY Did you know this? Me either. According to this interesting piece in Cook's Country, it's not the mayonnaise in potato salad which goes bad when left out for more than a couple of hours, it's the potatoes!

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Still Hungry?

More Scandinavian / Nordic Recipes for Midsummer Celebrations

~ Finnish Carrot Casserole ~
~ Swedish Red Cabbage ~
~ Swedish Beets ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Finn Crisp with Marmalade & Cheese ~
~ Finnish Summer Soup ~
~ Homemade Finnish Mustard ~
~ Finnish Fruit Tart ~
~ more Scandinavian recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

More Favorite Potato Salad Recipes

~ Mom’s Potato Salad ~
~ Red, White & Blue Potato Salad ~
~ Cauliflower "Potato" Salad ~
~ more potato salad recipes ~
~ more potato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Confetti Potato Salad ~
~ Cornmeal Catfish with Warm Potato Salad ~
~ Sweet Potato Salad with Roasted Poblano, Roasted Corn & Chipotle ~
~ Favorite Summer Salad Recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

Seasonal Eating: Mid Summer (& Midsummer!) Across the Years

Roasted Beets with Feta & Lemon Red Onion Beets Spinach Quiche with Red Pepper & Feta Roasted Red Pepper & Olive Tapenade Mini Tarts Feta Stuffed Zucchini Lemon Mint Cucumber Water Fresh Green Bean Salad with Asian Dressing Beet Pesto How (and Why!) to Use a Benriner (Japanese Mandoline / Mandolin) Broccoli & Bok Choy with Coconut & Curry Product Tip: Ajvar Red Pepper & Eggplant Spread on FinnCrisp Tuna & White Bean Dip Chilled Green Bean Salad with Rosemary & Garlic Oil (this week's healthy favorite!) Sweet Potato Wedges with Rosemary & Lime Juice Easy Mini Kale Pizzas (Spaghetti Sauce "Doctored" with Kale) Finnish Summer Potato Salad Baked Eggs with Ratatouille Vegetables

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Asparagus-to-Zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables where recipes range from seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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2014 & 2023

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Perfect timing on this recipe, DH will be expecting his midsommar meal this coming weekend. He spent a summer in Sweden years ago and I think still dreams about the fresh potatoes (and strawberries). Just rub the potatoes and the skins come off and truly fresh new potatoes taste so amazing. Thank you to for the extra tips on when to dress the salad and interesting note on it not being the mayo going bad. I tend to avoid all mayo dressed salads at picnics when I don't know how they have been handled, funny its actually the potatoes I need to watch out for! KJill

  2. KJill ~ Perfect timing, indeed! Those Nordic nights, they tend to capture our souls! If you’re interested in more recipe ideas, check here -- -- I’ve been collecting recipes for almost 40 years now! PS One of my Finnish host fathers always took the skins off his potatoes, I never understood that, still don’t! :-)

  3. Great post, Alanna! The potatoes look wonderful. Your trip sounds dreamy, and how nice that you got to see Pille and her 3 kids! I remember our get-together all those years ago :)

  4. Great recipe! I make a French-style potato salad that's similar, but no mustard int he vinaigrette (and no Finnish potatoes -- I need to try those!). I've also read about mayo not going bad -- apparently the acid in the mayo retards the growth of bacteria. You visited some wonderful places! We did a similar itinerary several years ago, on a cruise. Fun part of the world, but expensive, as you say.

  5. I do love potato salad! And simply prepared potato salad when the potatoes are stellar is so delicious! This one you've made reminds me of the potato salads of my youth, when Mum would arm one of us with a pair of kitchen scissors and send us out to the back garden to cut chives for potato salad made with boiled PEI baking potatoes (that's pretty much all that was available in those days), mayonnaise, salt, pepper and chives. And maybe a dash of paprika if Mum was being fancy.

    We have been reading, with fascination, "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created" by Charles C Mann and about what he calls the Columbian Exchange. It seems so ironic that potatoes from Finland taste more potatoey than potatoes from elsewhere, when you consider that all potatoes came from South America!

  6. Nupur ~ Wasn’t that a fun potluck? Seeing Pille again and this time in her home with her “Dear K” (who is totally dear) and the three kids (who are TOTALLY dear) was a huge highlight in what, yes, was a dreamy trip. :-)

    John ~ If you find Finnish potatoes, please tell me quick! For over a week now, I’ve been trying various varieties from stores/markets around town: no cigar. I even asked a potato grower: he’d never heard of them. :-( Guess we’ll have to go back. :-)))

    Elizabeth ~ Oh I do so remember the PEI potatoes too which gets me to wondering if the shorter season - longer days makes a difference with potatoes. (Thoughts from the gardeners in the crowd???) And I’m off to check out the book, sounds fascinating to me too! Thanks for chiming in, always lovely to hear from you!

  7. The easiest way to get Finnish potatoes may be to grow them yourself! I always include Yellow Finns in the potato section of my garden (seed stock from Peaceful Valley Garden Supply). They are great producers and so easy to grow, in the ground or any kind of container- even a trash can or 5 gallon bucket! And so much fun to harvest, especially for kids. Like an Easter egg hunt, but with dirt!

  8. Heather ~ Genius! Off to check out your source and to figure out if late June is too late to put in potatoes. Thank you, thank you!

  9. Oh, Alanna, sorry to only offer you potatoes for one of the meals. But yes, the new season's fresh potatoes (though nowhere as expensive here as the famous siikli-potatoes at that market) are considered so flavoursome and lovely, that they count as the main star of a meal with some little extras (pickles, sour cream, butter). We've had several potato-centred meals since then and only now start feeling that we've had enough and can view them as "simply potatoes" for the rest of the season ;)

    Aksel does love his potatoes.

    PS I don't think Paleo people really eat tatties so much!!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna