I’ll never say no to a juicy, crunchy spear, but true pickle lovers know that it’s the brine that really shines. Remember: Hanging out inside that jar of kosher dills (or pepperoncini or cornichons) is a free supply of salty, tangy, flavorful liquid gold. My rule of thumb is to always use a splash or two anytime you grab a pickle, whether that means stirring it into burger sauce or making a briny Bloody Mary. It’s tasty and resourceful!
This rule holds particularly true for potato salad, whose mild-mannered ingredients (starchy potatoes, creamy mayonnaise) will happily soak up as much pickle flavor as you’ll give them.
And according to Julia Turshen, in her cookbook Small Victories, that limit does not exist. For a great potato salad, she says, “boil the potatoes in a mixture of three parts water and one part pickle brine.”
But don’t stop there! Whisk more of the brine into the mayonnaise, then add diced pickles to the finished salad, too.
This one-two-three punch is brilliant—and not just because you can call it a Triple Pickle Potato Salad. It’s brilliant because potatoes, on their own, are dense and bland, and seasoning them on their surface will only get you so far.
Instead, the most effective time to infuse them with flavor is when they’re boiling since that’s when their starches are most absorbent. Enter: pickle brine in the cooking water. By the time they’re drained and you’re ready to mix, you’re already one step ahead in the flavor department.
Need a recipe to help you get started? This classic potato salad is ready for its pickle-packed glow-up. Simply place the potatoes in the pot, cover mostly with cold water, then add enough pickle juice until the potatoes are completely submerged. Season with salt and bring to a boil, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Mix-in enthusiasts should opt for Dad’s Potato Salad, and Instant Pot users can get in on the fun, too. And when potato salad season comes to a close, don’t let this trick fade along with it. Use it year round whenever you’re boiling potatoes, whether you’re smashing them for an appetizer or mashing them for croquettes.