Try this easy Japanese potato salad recipe with crispy bacon and kewpie mayonnaise! It’s bright, colourful, full of flavour and guaranteed to disappear fast. Perfect as a side for BBQs or add to a homemade bento lunchbox!
Why We Love This
This is the classic Japanese style potato salad recipe made with semi-mashed potato. It’s light and fluffy, rich and creamy, full of umami flavour from Kewpie mayo and crisp texture from veggies and fried bacon!
Japanese potato salad the perfect side salad for BBQs and gatherings, but so delicious you can enjoy it all on its own as a tasty lunch or snack.
What is Japanese Potato Salad?
Japanese potato salad (ポテトサラダ) is an example of yoshoku – Japanese recreations of Western style recipes.
Unlike Western potato salads, which are often seasoned with mustard and vinegar, Japanese potato salad is made with ingredients like pickled cucumber, carrot, bacon and boiled egg for more colour and texture. The inclusion of Kewpie mayo gives it even more savoury umami flavour than Western style potato salad.
This salad is usually found in bento boxes, served as a side dish, or eaten as a snack from kombini (Japanese convenience store).
What You’ll Need
- Potatoes – Use starchy varieties such as desiree or sebago (aka brushed potatoes in Australia) or yukon gold (America) – the same as you’d use for potato bake. Starchy potatoes are perfect as they mash well, giving you that creamy texture unique to Japanese potato salad. You can still use waxy potatoes if they are all you have on hand, they will just hold their shape more, so your final texture will be more like a Western style potato salad. Still delicious either way!
- Kewpie Mayonnaise – This is the key ingredient to give you the classic Japanese potato salad flavour. Look for it at Asian grocery stores or the Asian aisle in your local supermarket, buy it online, or make your own kewpie mayo (it’s really easy!). Sub with regular mayonnaise only if you really can’t get your hands on kewpie.
- Bacon – Adds savoury umami flavour and texture once crispy fried! Sub with ham for a lighter option that doesn’t need to be cooked.
- Boiled Eggs – Adds to the creamy texture of the salad.
- Veggies – We love the addition of quick pickled cucumber and carrot. See the recipe card for how to prep.
How to Make Japanese Potato Salad
- Boil the potato pieces in a large saucepan and until tender. Once softened, drain and allow to cool. Transfer into a mixing bowl and mash lightly with a fork to break up into smaller pieces while retaining some texture.
- While the potatoes are boiling, place the carrots in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave in short 30 second bursts for around 2 ½ minutes on high until softened. Tip: Test to see if they are soft enough before draining, and pop them in for another short burst if they’re not quite soft enough.
- Next, place the cucumber slices in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and set aside for 5-10 mins. This will extract the liquid, leaving the cucumber nice and crunchy). Rinse thoroughly to remove all the salt, squeeze gently to remove excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Fry the bacon in a frying pan over medium high heat until cooked through and crispy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Add the quick pickled cucumber and softened carrot in with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Top with bacon (keep some reserved as a final garnish), boiled egg, and kewpie mayo. Stir gently without breaking up the egg too much.
- Garnish with reserved bacon pieces and an extra squiggle of kewpie mayo. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to serve.
- Mayo – Add this only after the other ingredients have cooled down. This will stop the oil in the mayonnaise from separating.
- No Microwave? – Steam or boil the carrots on the stove until soft.
- Storage – Potato salad is at its best when served immediately, or within a few hours. If you want to make it in advance or store leftovers, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Yes you can, but be careful and reheat gently in short bursts in the microwave until just warmed through. If you heat it too much, you’ll separate the oil in the mayonnaise, which can affect the appearance and flavour of the salad.
If you’re making a homemade bento box, serve a small portion of potato salad alongside some freshly cooked sushi rice or an onigiri rice ball, takuan pickles, and agedashi tofu.
For dinner, it goes amazingly well alongside Japanese style burgers or nanban chicken or tori karaage (fried chicken) with a small bowl of miso soup.
It’s also amazing as a BBQ side salad. Serve it alongside wafu salad with grilled teriyaki chicken, or shopska salad with cevapi sausages.
- Other Filling Ideas – Try it with finely chopped onion, tuna, wasabi or even apple!
- Make it Spicy – Sprinkle the potato salad with shichimi togarashi chilli powder or even gochugaru chilli flakes.
Make it a meal with these amazing Japanese recipes:
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- Place the carrots in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with water (or steam on the stove). Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes on high and drain, stopping to check every 30 seconds. Test to see if they are soft enough before draining.1 carrot
- Next, place the cucumber slices in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. (This will extract the liquid, leaving the cucumber nice and crunchy). After 5 – 10 minutes, rinse the cucumber thoroughly 2-3 times to remove all the salt. Squeeze them gently to remove any excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.3 cucumber, pinch salt
- Add the bacon in a medium frying pan over medium high heat and fry until cooked. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.1 slice bacon
- Bring the potato pieces to the boil in a large saucepan and cook until tender. Remove from the heat and drain and allow to cool slightly. Place the potato in a mixing bowl and mash gently with a fork to retain texture.2 potatoes
- Add in the cucumber, carrot and stir through the potatoes. Add the bacon (set aside 1-2 tsp for garnish), egg, salt & pepper to season and finally – the star of the show – Kewpie mayonnaise. Combine everything carefully without breaking up the egg too much.1 egg, pinch salt, pinch pepper, 3 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
- Garnish with remaining bacon pieces and an optional drizzle of extra Kewpie serve immediately or pop in the fridge, covered, until ready.
- If you don’t have microwave, you can steam or boil the carrots on the stove until soft.
- This goes great as a bento filling.
- To save time, you can boil the potatoes first while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Can I make Japanese Potato Salad ahead of time? You can make this salad ahead of time, just be sure to store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The flavour is best when eaten immediately, or max within a few hours.
- Can you make Japanese Potato Salad without Kewpie? While you can easily substitute Kewpie with regular mayonnaise, it really is what makes this taste different to a regular potato salad. If you really can’t find it, we’d recommend you try and make your own, so you can still replicate the flavour as close as possible.
- You can replace the bacon with ham for a lighter option that doesn’t need to be cooked.
- For more filling ideas, you can also add onion, tuna, wasabi and even apple!