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I bet you’ve been to at least one BBQ in your life or maybe even hosted one where someone brought a big bowl of delicious, creamy Potato Salad to share. This flavorful make-ahead side dish serves a crowd and keeps well for days.
Perfect for BBQ’s, picnics and potlucks, and always a family favorite!
This traditional southern potato salad recipe is the kind I grew up on. However, I also love a good warm German potato salad made with tangy vinegar, bacon but no mayo.
Perhaps your family swears by a great sour cream based potato salad. Or are you like the rest of us southern cooks that bust out the big jar of Dukes mayonnaise, Kraft’s or Miracle Whip when making classic potato salad? Whatever kind is your favorite, it’s all good!
- baking potatoes like russet or red potatoes with the skin on or off
- hard boiled eggs
- regular mayonnaise or mayo with olive oil
- prepared mustard
- sweet pickle relish or substitute chopped sweet pickles mixed with 2 teaspoons vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- celery seed
- table salt and black pepper
- paprika for garnish
Overview: How to make the BEST classic Potato Salad recipe
1. Our first secret is to boil the potatoes whole, with the skin on:
Scrub the potatoes under cold running water then place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, turning occasionally, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Drain and allow the potatoes to cool until easy to handle. Peel off the skin and discard. Chop into 1-inch cubes.
2. While the potatoes are boiling prepare the potato salad dressing:
Place the eggs in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to LOW, cover and cook for 14 minutes. Drain then run cold water over the eggs until slightly cooled, about 2 minutes. Peel the eggs and slice in half.
Remove the yolks to a large bowl. Chop the egg whites and set aside.
3. The second secret is to mix smashed egg yolks with the mustard and mayo:
Smash the yolks with a fork then add the mayonnaise and mustard. Blend with a fork until creamy. This simple little trick adds that special something to the mixture.
Next add all other ingredients other than the potatoes. Mix until well blended then gently fold in the potatoes. The potatoes can be slightly warm but not hot.
Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with sweet or hot paprika, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This can be done 24 hours in advance if desired.
NOTES and TIPS for the best Potato Salad Recipe:
- If you don’t want to use sweet pickle relish you can substitute chopped sweet pickles along with a tablespoon of vinegar.
- For a slightly different flavor profile, substitute dill pickles or dill relish and/or pickle juice. Add a little fresh herbs like dill to the mix.
- Substitute Dijon mustard for yellow for a tangy flavor.
- We typically use russet potatoes for this recipe however any variety will work well. Yukon Gold potatoes are another good choice.
- Always check the seasoning before adding the potatoes. This recipe will need some salt so it’s best to check before serving.
We make this potato salad the day before serving to allow the flavors to blend and meld. Leftovers taste great for several days, so make extra!
Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
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- 6 baking potatoes do not peel (russet)
- 3 hard cooked eggs yolks and whites separated
- 1 ½ cups mayonnaise or more as needed
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
- ½ cup onion finely diced (red or sweet onions both work well)
- 1 cup celery diced (about 2 large ribs)
- ⅓ cup sweet pickle relish
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- 1 teaspoon table salt or 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- paprika for garnish
- Scrub potatoes under clean running water. Leave the potatoes whole with skin on and place in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, turning potatoes occasionally, until fork tender. Drain and allow to cool slightly. Remove skin and chop into bite sized pieces.
- While the potatoes are cooking cook the eggs. Remove the yolks to a large mixing bowl. Chop eggs whites and set aside. Smash the yolks with a fork and add the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix well.
- Add all other ingredients except the potatoes and mix until well blended. Check the seasonings and add salt if needed. Gently fold in the potatoes until coated. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Potato salad can be made the day before planning to serve. This salad keeps well for up to 5 days well sealed in an airtight container.
- Check out our post on how to make the perfect hard cooked eggs.
The perfect summer side
We love informal get-togethers and BBQ’s on the back deck and often serve this Easy Pasta Salad with Zesty Italian Dressing to our friends and family. Another classic favorite are these delicious Deviled Eggs. They’re a staple at all our family gatherings and holidays.
Let’s not forget this great make-ahead recipe for Easy English Pea Salad. It’s my husband’s favorite.
Finally, we love to change it up and this Mexican Pasta Salad with Creamy Southwestern Dressing is unique and perfectly flavored. So many salads to make and enjoy!
Originally published May 2011, updated April 2023