Lime Cilantro Potato Salad

20th October, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Salads, Sides, easy, vegetarian

There are well over a million potato salad recipes on the net (seriously—I looked), so why am I publishing another one? Simple. This one brings some exciting flavours to the party, is healthful, vegan friendly, delicious and versatile. It can be put together quickly and served warm with a casual supper, or chilled for a picnic.

I use habanero chiles in the recipe because of their beautiful fragrance and delicious fruity flavors, but others could be substituted if these aren’t available, or are just too pungent for you. If you’re really a chile-wimp, you can leave the chiles out entirely, but a little spice really wakes things up. You can also add red or yellow bells to the basic recipe, and if fire-roasted, they add a delightful smokiness.

This is a great starting point for some serious kitchen-riffing, and, of course, I’d love to hear what you come up with.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6

    For the potatoes

  • 1.5-2 pounds potatoes – new red, fingerling, or similar [1], washed, cut into 1/2″ cubes, with skins on. Set aside in cold water.
  • 1/2 red onion, small dice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, washed, dried and chopped fine
  • 1/2 habanero chile, chopped fine [2] (Substitute other flavorful chiles if the Habaneros are too hot.)
  • 1 tsp finely minced lime zest
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the dressing

  • 1 Tbsp Dijon whole grain mustard
  • Juice of one lime, about 2-3 Tbsp
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dill weed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method – About 20 Minutes

Prepare the potatoes by cutting washing, rinsing and cutting into approximately 1/2″ pieces. In a 4qt saucepan, add the potatoes, enough water to cover generously, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are fork tender, but not mushy, about 8 minutes. [3]

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the dressing. In a bowl or measuring cup, combine the mustard, lime juice, garlic and dill weed. Whisk with a fork until well incorporated. Gradually add the olive oil, whisking as you go to make a nice emulsion. Salt to taste.

Combine the chopped cilantro, onion, lime zest and chiles in a large bowl, toss with the dressing, and set aside.

When the potatoes are done, drain (use the lid of the saucepan), and while still hot, add to the bowl with the dressing. Using a large spoon, gently fold the mixture together, coating the potatoes completely. As they potatoes cool, they’ll take up the dressing, so fold again after a few minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Serve warm or cold as a wonderful alternative to mayonnaise based potato salads!


  1. Use small potatoes with smooth, thin skins, and do not peel them. There’s a lot of flavor there, and wonderful textural elements. Save the russets for baking.
  2. Habaneros are delicious, with a wonderfully fruity, slightly floral taste and aroma, but they do require respect, and are much too hot for some. Wear gloves when handling them. Tame the heat by cutting them in half, and removing the seeds, then carefully removing the veins and inner membrane where the heat is concentrated. (Contrary to common belief, the seeds are not the source of the fire. They are held in place by the membrane, and carry some of the heat with them, but the membrane, or placenta, is the real culprit.)
  3. Cutting the potatoes before boiling reduces the cooking time dramatically; this salad can actually be completely put together in less time than it takes to boil the spuds whole.

4 Responses


    Almost perfect recipe…but mustard is not necessary..specially with a good olive oil from provvence, red onions, cilantro and green limes..
    capers could be added instead! It must be excellent with a side dish of smoked fish…

  2. G.L. Pease Says:

    Merci! As a fan of capers, I agree totally. To that, I might be inclined to add some wonderful dry cured black olives. Another variant! The mustard adds a nice dimension which I really enjoy, but it can certainly be left out. As regards Provençal olive oil, I wish I had a local source. It’s easy to find Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Sicilian, some nice California oils, on and on, but I’ll have to look deeper for the Provençal. Fortunately, there’s always the web…

  3. Glen Darcey Says:

    I made this, along with your recipe for salt crusted trout. Both were wonderful. They were both hits with my wife and son. I traded the habanero for a a red jalapeno. Next time I need to step it up to the habanero though. 1/2 of the jalapeno is not much for that amount of potatoes. Now I need to know a good pipe tobacco to finish with. Any suggestions?

  4. G.L. Pease Says:

    Glad you and your family enjoyed them, Glen! As for a post supper smoke, in the heat, I’d think Key Largo or Union Square would be perfect. On cooler days, how about Lagonda?