Home Food RECIPE: Japanese Potato Salad

RECIPE: Japanese Potato Salad

Serves 6 | Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes

Recipe and Article by Kanako Koizumi

Potato Salad is a universal food that is made in many different flavors and styles around the world. You might wonder, who would need a recipe for it? Well, in my cooking classes, there is a question that everyone asks – “How different is Japanese potato salad from American’s? “

The first noticeable character of Japanese potato salad is its texture. Some people call it “mashed potato salad”. Compared to American potato salad, it is rather pasty and smooth, though some people prefer to leave some chunks. Also, thin slices of cucumber give a fun crunch to the dish.

The biggest difference in flavor is mayonnaise. My personal take on American vs. Japanese mayo is that Japanese mayo is tarter and less oily. One of the most popular brands is Kewpie (https://www.kewpieshop.com/products/kewpie-mayonnaise-asian). You can find it at local Asian grocery stores such as Uwajimaya, and recently, Costco carries it as well. One caveat is that there’s MSG in Kewpie, which contributes to the rich flavor. If you decide to use American mayonnaise for that reason, some extra lemon juice and yellow mustard can balance acidity and tartness to obtain a similar result.

Potato Salad is a very popular side dish at home and restaurants, served as an appetizer at Izakaya (Japanese pub), or used as a sandwich filling. Everyone has slightly different recipes, but here is my classic Japanese potato salad. Enjoy!


  • 6 medium or 4 large potatoes (I prefer Yukon Gold for its texture but Russet should work as well)
  • 1 small to medium size carrot
  • ½ English or 2 Persian cucumber
  • ½ white, yellow or red onion
  • 2 boiled eggs (optional)
  • 1-2 oz sliced black forest ham (optional)
  • ½ cup Japanese mayonnaise (preferred)
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar or honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


① Cook the potatoes with the skin on in a steamer or boil them. Use a skewer to check if the potatoes are cooked through. It will take 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.

② Slice carrot into thin rounds (or cut in half lengthwise first if it’s too big) and blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Strain and set aside.

③ Slice cucumbers into thin rounds and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let the slices sweat for about 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the salt off under running water and squeeze out the water. Set aside.

④ Cut the onion in half, cut off the ends, slice thinly, and soak in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse the onion under running water and squeeze out the moisture. Set aside.

⑤ Optionally, make hard boiled eggs. Peel and chop them finely.

⑥ You can also cut sliced ham into small pieces, if using.

⑦ When the potatoes are cooked, drain and peel the skin using a paper towel or clean cloth to hold the potatoes. Mash the potatoes in a large bowl using a masher. Add the onion slices to the bowl and combine with the mashed potatoes. The onions will cook lightly from the heat from the potatoes.

⑧ Once the potato and onion mixture is cooled to room temperature, add mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add in carrot, cucumber, chopped boiled eggs (optional), and ham (optional) and mix again.

Keep refrigerated until serving.

Recipe by Kanako Koizumi | www.kozmokitchen.com