My go-to recipe for classic, creamy, zesty, Southern potato salad.
For years and years, I’ve been receiving requests from many of you for a classic, ultra-creamy, mustardy, pickle-y, homemade potato salad recipe (Team Mayo!) here on the blog. At the same time, I’ve been receiving requests from many others of you (Team Don’t-Wanna-Come-Anywhere-Near-Mayo) for a zippy, savory, easy potato salad recipe that you make without inviting Miracle Whip to the party.
Well this week, all potato salad eaters are welcome here on the blog, because I have — not one, not two, but — three brand new potato salad recipes to share with you! Basically, a potato salad for everyone!! I have high hopes that one of these three recipes will become your new go-to this season, so stay tuned to see which one will be your pick. But as for today, I’m kicking off this series by returning to my Midwestern roots by sharing the classic potato salad recipe that reigned supreme at the thousand church basement potlucks of my childhood…
…this classic, creamy, Southern potato salad. ♡
It will forever be the first version that comes to mind when I hear the words “potato salad.” And if you also grew up with this dish in your life, you know exactly what we’re working with here — hearty potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, celery, onion, and pickle relish (optional, or not, depending on who you ask). Plus a rich and creamy sauce that is spiked with mustard, celery salt, vinegar, and paprika. And — yep — an unapologetically mega scoop of mayo or Miracle Whip.
There are of course all sorts of other fun ingredients you can add in (hello, bacon). And I’ve also included ingredients below for how you can customize your own potato salad recipe with different seasonings or lighten it up a bit with some creamy alternatives to mayo. But however you make yours, this classic recipe is guaranteed to be total, nostalgic, creamy comfort food.
So if you’re on Team Mayo, grab a jar and let’s make a batch together!
Potato Salad Ingredients:
Alright, let’s talk ingredients! To make this Southern potato salad recipe, you will need:
Potatoes: I prefer buttery Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe, but Russets or red potatoes would also work well too. Feel free to peel your potatoes if you do not like the skins, but I always leave them in because I like the extra texture that they add.
Mayo or Miracle Whip: Up to you! Miracle Whip (a lighter, slightly sweeter and spicier mayo “dressing”) was always the standard for this potato salad in the Midwest. But feel free to choose either Miracle Whip or Mayo, or go 50/50. Or you could also mix in some plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for part of the mayo.
Vinegar: I make this salad with apple cider vinegar, but red wine vinegar or white vinegar would also work well. Whatever you have on hand!
Pickle relish (optional): If you’re not into pickles, feel free to leave this out. But if you love pickles, a good scoop of relish (or you can dice your own pickles) adds an irresistible sweet tang to this salad.
Veggies: Raw celery and onion are traditional here.
Seasonings: Celery salt, paprika (I prefer smoked paprika), salt and pepper are the classic seasonings in this potato salad. But see notes below for some other fun ideas to try!
Mustard: I like a good zesty Dijon mustard in this salad.
I recommend sprinkling your potato salad with smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning just before serving, to give it an extra pop of color and flavor. Or feel free to also garnish your potato salad with egg (extra hard-boiled eggs), chopped fresh herbs (chives, dill, parsley, etc.), or a sprinkle of bacon.
How To Make Potato Salad:
Here’s how to make the best potato salad recipe — it’s so easy!
Cook the potatoes: Dice your potatoes into large chunks. Then add them to a large stockpot and cover with generously-salted cold water, and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander, return them to the pot, drizzle with vinegar and let cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Prep the sauce: Meanwhile, whisk together the mayo, celery salt, mustard and pickle relish in a medium bowl until evenly combined.
Toss everything together: Once the potatoes are ready to go, add in the mayo mixture, diced eggs, celery and onion. Toss gently until evenly combined.
Season: Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Also feel free to add in a tablespoon or two of pickle juice if you would like.)
Chill: Transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to chill. Then serve chilled, topped with your desired garnishes.
Potato Salad Recipe Variations:
There are so many ways to customize this potato salad recipe, so feel free to experiment and see what you love most! For example, you could…
Add bacon: I will always be down for a potato salad with bacon stirred in.
Add fresh herbs: Feel free to also mix any fresh herbs you might love — chives, dill, parsley, basil, thyme, etc. — into this potato salad.
Add extra pickles: If you really love pickles, feel free to add in extra pickle juice and/or any other pickles you love!
Omit the pickle relish: If you don’t love pickles, just omit them entirely.
Omit the mayo: If mayo’s not your fave, feel free to use full-fat plain Greek yogurt instead.
Use different potatoes: Everyone has a different opinion about the best potatoes for potato salad! I say use whichever you love — Yukon Golds, Russets, red potatoes — all will work here. :)
Use baked potatoes: Happen to have leftover baked potatoes on hand? Chop them up and add them in to make this a baked potato salad!
Use different vinegar: If you don’t love apple cider vinegar, feel free to swap in white vinegar or red wine vinegar instead.
Use different mustard: If you don’t love Dijon mustard, feel free to swap in regular yellow mustard or your favorite spicy mustard instead.
Make it vegan: Just swap in your favorite vegan mayo to make this a vegan potato salad recipe.
More Make-Ahead Salad Recipes:
Looking for more make-ahead salad inspiration for summertime? Here are a few more favorite recipes:
optional toppings: smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning, chopped fresh chives, (extra) sliced hard-boiled eggs
Place the diced potatoes in a large stockpot and add enough water so that the potatoes are covered by 1 inch. Cook over medium-high heat until the water reaches a boil. Then reduce heat to medium to maintain the simmer, and continue cooking the potatoes for 5-8 minutes or until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork.
Drain the potatoes in a colander. Then return the potatoes to the stockpot, drizzle evenly with the vinegar, and let the potatoes rest for 20-30 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, whisk together the mayo, celery salt, mustard and pickle relish in a medium bowl until evenly combined.
Once the potatoes are ready to go, add in the mayo mixture, diced eggs, celery and onion. Toss gently until evenly combined.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Also feel free to add in a tablespoon or two of pickle juice if you would like.)
Transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to chill.
Serve chilled, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
*Potatoes: Feel free to peel the potatoes if you would like. I prefer to leave the skins on to add extra texture to the potato salad.