This classic Southern Potato Salad recipe is exactly what to expect when dining at any Southern home or "home-cookin'" restaurant.
This is my Grandmother's recipe, which I think is The Best potato salad recipe, but feel free to make any adjustments you like.
You'll love the creamy, slightly tangy flavor and texture
The best version I've ever had was my Grandmother's recipe. Naturally, she didn't measure any ingredients, but just "eyeballed" the correct proportion of each ingredient and it always came out perfect! Even though I have a Piggly Wiggly bag of her earliest written recipes, this easy recipe was no where to be found - it's been around a long time, though!
Why you'll love this recipe!
- Quick and easy - Cook and cool the potatoes in advance, dice them, add in the chopped vegetables and the tangy dressing and you're done!
- Pairs well with ham, barbecue or as a side-dish to a sandwich
- Delicious flavor with a nice texture- not too mushy-just right
- All-natural- no additives, preservatives or weird ingredients
Some Southern cooks put boiled eggs in their recipe; feel free to add a few if you like!
There are many variations and different ways to make potato salad - some use white potatoes, waxy red potatoes or Yukon golds, and the salad dressing varies as well - some use like Miracle Whip versus real mayonnaise, some add olive oil and some include an acidic element like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Southerner's usually serve it cold, where German potato salad is served warm.
Make this basic potato salad recipe with whatever you like! It's a classic American recipe that's been around for forever !
Potato salad ingredients: russet (or Idaho) potatoes, diced onion (red onion, white onion or green onion), celery and/or celery seed, and green bell pepper.
Creamy potato salad dressing ingredients: yellow mustard, mayonnaise, a little salt, or a hint of celery salt, oil and white vinegar ; some cooks add a few teaspoons of sweet relish or dill pickles and/or a boiled egg.
How to make it
This is pretty quick and easy to make from scratch!
Start with a big pot of boiling water. Add whole russet (cleaned but not peeled) potatoes and cook until tender; remove the hot potatoes and allow them to cool (you can refrigerate them if you prefer.) This cooling process allows the cooked potatoes to cool just enough so when you peel and dice them, they don't turn to "mashed" potatoes.
Meanwhile, chop onion, bell pepper and celery and set aside. Combine the mayonnaise and remaining dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Peel and cut the cooled potatoes into cubes and place in a large mixing bowl; add chopped vegetables and fold in mayonnaise dressing. Combine and mash the potatoes just a little. Taste for seasonings; you'll probably need to add a teaspoon of salt or two, and some black pepper!
Garnish with paprika and/or sliced olives and serve!
- Let the potatoes cool before you peel and cube them
- The texture of your homemade mustard potato salad depends upon your preference.
- I like mine semi-chunky, so I leave a few large chunks and mash the rest...your call, just make sure the potatoes have cooled before adding the other ingredients.
- Make the mustard/mayonnaise dressing in a separate bowl then fold it into the potatoes
- Want a creamy potato salad? Mash the potatoes with a potato masher-this will give a creamy texture!
Type of potato
The secret to this delicious classic southern potato salad is to use the right kind of potatoes and let them cool before you dice them--cooling ensures they don't turn into mashed potatoes.
I recommend the big brown russet potatoes for the best results. When cooled after boiling, they retain their shape and absorb the flavors better than their waxy cousins, namely Yukon Golds and Red Boiling or Red Creamers.
Make in advance
Make this classic Southern potato salad in advance if you want! Since it contains egg-based mayonnaise, you'll want to make sure it's stored in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days.
Another option is to boil the potatoes and make the dressing--store both in the fridge. When it's time to serve, slice and cube potatoes, add sauce and serve!
Can I freeze leftovers?
Unfortunately, mayonnaise does not freeze well...the eggs and oil separate and it turns to mush. If you have leftovers store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The classic flavor of this Southern potato salad sometimes tastes better the next day!
Variations and substitutes
- Potatoes: red creamers, new potatoes Yukon golds or white potatoes; I don't recommend fingerling potatoes because they're too hard to peel.
- Onions: raw onions - yellow, sweet yellow, white, sweet onions (red), or green onions
- Mustard: yellow mustard, Dijon mustard (this will add a little "kick" to this easy potato salad due to the horseradish in the mustard
- Acid: white distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar - (I do not recommend rice vinegar), and I do not recommend red wine vinegar (the potato salad turns pink)
- Relish: sweet pickle relish, dill pickle relish, chopped dill pickles or finely chopped olives
- Fresh herbs: dill, parsley
- Some cooks add boiled eggs to their classic potato salad - it's really up to you!
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♥ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and rating below! Thank you!
Classic Southern Potato Salad
- Potato masher
- 3 lbs. russet potatoes
- ¾ cup bell pepper (green or red) chopped (about 1 medium pepper)
- ¾ cup yellow onion chopped (about ½ a medium onion)
- ¾ cup celery chopped (about 4-6 stalks)
- 1 boiled egg (optional) chopped (See Recipe Notes: Egg)
- paprika for garnish (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup yellow mustard
- ¼ cup oil canola or vegetable
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Heat a large stockpot of water on high
- Scrub and rinse potatoes; place potatoes in water and allow to cook until tender; DO NOT PEEL THE POTATOES YET3 lbs. russet potatoes
- Place cooked potatoes in fridge for 30 minutes (don't peel them yet)
- Chop green bell pepper, onion and celery¾ cup bell pepper (green or red), ¾ cup yellow onion, ¾ cup celery
- Remove potatoes from fridge; use a sharp paring knife and gently slice away peel
- Cube and cut into smaller than bite size pieces; place potatoes in large bowl
- Add chopped vegetables; combine with spatula¾ cup bell pepper (green or red), ¾ cup yellow onion, ¾ cup celery, 1 boiled egg (optional)
Make the Dressing
- Combine mayonnaise, mustard, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl; whisk until combinedsalt and pepper to taste, 1 cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup yellow mustard, ¼ cup oil, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Pour half of the dressing over the potatoes and vegetables; fold dressing into potatoes
- Taste for salt and pepper; add more if needed
- Add remaining dressing and combine
- Use a potato masher and gently mash the mixture; don't mash the potatoes too much
- Taste for salt and pepper; adjust seasonings as desired; place in fridge for 15 minutes
- When ready to serve, plate in pretty bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and/or chopped green olives (optional)paprika
- If you like a chopped boiled egg in your potato salad, boil the egg while the potatoes are cooking. Let the egg cool while the potatoes cool.
- Fold the egg in using a spatula