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Japanese Potato Salad

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Japanese potato salad—it’s like American potato salad’s cooler, more sophisticated cousin. Imagine if your classic potato salad took a trip to Tokyo, embraced the vibrant culture, and came back with a fresh new look. This Japanese take on the traditional dish swaps out the big, chunky potato pieces for a creamy, mashed consistency and packs in a whole lot more veggies.

A serving bowl filled with Japanese potato salad.

Kewpie Potato Salad Recipe

This recipe is a mix of East meets West, with ingredients like crunchy cucumbers, crisp carrots, and a touch of savory ham. And yes, it’s got that extra bit of richness thanks to a generous amount of Kewpie mayo—because who says you can’t indulge a little?

Kewpie mayo has a unique flavor that sets it apart from regular mayonnaise. It’s made with rice vinegar, which gives it a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. Thanks to its higher egg yolk content, Kewpie mayo is also richer and creamier.

Three dishes filled with Japanese mashed potato salad.

Here is Why This Recipe Works

Unique Flavor Profile: The combination of creamy, mashed potatoes with tangy Kewpie mayo and rice vinegar creates a distinct flavor and texture that sets it apart from traditional potato salads.

Seasoned and Perfected Veggies: Salting the onions and cucumbers reduces their water content (no watery salad here) and thoroughly seasons them. Cooking the carrots ensures they are tender yet still slightly crisp.

East Meets West Fusion: This recipe exemplifies yōshoku cuisine, which is Western-style food with a Japanese twist, making it a unique and flavorful addition to any meal.

If you want to try more unique salad recipes, try our sweet potato salad with kale. And if you just want a traditional recipe like grandma used to make, try our American potato salad.


This recipe has a bit of Japan thrown in, but you might spot similar versions in other Asian restaurants. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Meat: Ham
  • Produce: Russet potatoes, cucumber, red onion, carrot, scallion
  • Pantry: Rice wine vinegar, Salt, ground pepper
  • Condiments: Mayonnaise, Dijon mustard
  • Other: Eggs


Potatoes: Use Yukon Gold potatoes for a creamier texture, but stick with Russet potatoes if you want to mimic the authentic texture of the salads at your favorite Japanese restaurant.

Ham: Use cooked bacon or turkey ham for a different flavor. You can even use chopped chicken.

Mayo:Instead of Kewpie mayo with regular mayo mixed with a little sugar and rice vinegar to mimic the taste.

Dijon Mustard: Substitute with yellow mustard for a milder taste.

Rice Wine Vinegar: Substitute with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar if needed.


Vegetarian Twist: Skip the ham and add extra vegetables like blanched peas or corn for more texture and flavor.

Spicy Kick: Mix a teaspoon of wasabi paste or a dash of Sriracha into the dressing for a spicy twist.

Seafood Twist: Replace the ham with cooked, finely chopped shrimp or crab meat for a seafood variation.

If you like this recipe, try our Hawaiian potato salad.

Combining all the ingredients for a potato salad Japanese style.

Helpful Tips

When boiling the potatoes, don’t be shy with the salt—drench that water like it owes you money.

Cubing the potatoes before cooking them helps them soak up all that seasoning goodness, making sure each bite is as flavorful as it gets.

Hit those hot tots with rice wine vinegar right after draining and while they are still warm. They’ll soak up that tangy goodness and every bite will be well seasoned.

Salting the onions and cucumbers not only reduces their water content but also intensifies their flavor, preventing the salad from becoming watery.

Go for a perfect balance of mashed and lumpy potatoes—you’re not making baby food here so leave some lumps.

Small bowls of Asian potato salad next to some chop sticks.

Storing Leftovers

Cool Before Storing: Allow the potato salad to cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator. This helps prevent condensation, which can make the salad watery.

Use an Airtight Container: Transfer the salad to an airtight container. This will keep it fresh and prevent it from absorbing any odors from other foods in the refrigerator.

Refrigerate Promptly: Store the potato salad in the refrigerator within two hours of preparation to ensure it remains safe to eat.

Consume Within 3-4 Days: Japanese potato salad is best enjoyed within 3-4 days of preparation. Beyond this period, the quality and safety of the salad may diminish.

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A dish filled with Japanese potato salad made with Kewpie mayonnaise.

Japanese Potato Salad

This Japanese style mashed potato salad is a delicious twist on the classic, made rich and flavorful with Kewpie mayonnaise and fluffy Russet potatoes. These two ingredients are key to achieving the authentic taste and texture, but don’t worry if you don't have them on hand – you can easily swap Kewpie mayo for regular mayo mixed with a bit of sugar and rice vinegar, and use Yukon Golds for a creamier consistency.
This recipe has slightly more dressing than what you might find in a traditional Japanese restaurant but I like the extra richness myself. You can cut back on the dressing if desired.
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 382kcal


To cook the Potatoes

  • 2-½ pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • Plenty of salt to boil the potatoes in
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

For the Dressing

  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup mayonnaise see notes
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 medium cucumber thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion thinly sliced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 carrot thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces ham finely diced
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs peeled and chopped
  • 1 scallion chopped


Cook the Potatoes

  • Place the cubed potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Season generously with salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes, depending on how large you cut them. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl.
  • Sprinkle the hot potatoes with 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar. Do this while they are hot so the vinegar absorbs into the potatoes and seasons the interior.

Make the Dressing:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard until well combined. Set aside.

Prepare the Salad

  • Place the cucumber and onion slices in a bowl and sprinkle with ¾ of teaspoon salt. Mix well, then let stand for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water, then gently squeeze with paper towels to blot up any excess liquid.
  • Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and cook the carrots for a few minutes until crisp tender. Alternatively, zap them in the microwave with a splash of water for 2 minutes until tender but slightly crisp. Set aside to cool.
  • Mash the cooled potatoes with a potato masher or a large fork, allowing some small lumps to remain.
  • Add the cucumbers, carrots, onions, ham, chopped eggs, scallions, and dressing. Mix well.


  • Russet potatoes give the salad a fluffy texture, but you can use Yukon Gold potatoes for a creamier consistency.
  • If you don’t have Kewpie mayo, mix regular mayo with a bit of sugar and rice vinegar to mimic its unique flavor.
  • Salting the cucumbers and onions helps to draw out excess moisture, preventing the salad from becoming watery.
  • Cubing the potatoes before boiling them helps them cook evenly and absorb more seasoning. 
This recipe was inspired by recipes from Recipe Tin Japan and Serious Eats.


Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 692mg | Potassium: 1006mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1947IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg

Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandchildren or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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Recipe Rating


Friday 21st of June 2024

Have never tried it...sounds really interesting and looks delicious too.

Dahn Boquist

Friday 21st of June 2024

Thanks Angie!

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