My go-to recipe for classic, creamy, zesty, Southern potato salad.
For years and years, I’ve been receiving requests from many of you mayo lovers for a classic, ultra-creamy, mustardy, pickle-y, homemade potato salad recipe here on the blog. And, at the same time, I’ve been receiving requests from others 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! A potato salad for everyone!! I have high hopes that one of these three recipes will become your new go-to this season. And 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.” 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!
The BEST Potato Salad Recipe | 1-Minute Video
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.
About how long do you cook the potatoes?
As Ali writes in the recipe, for about 5-8 minutes after the water has come to a boil. I use a metal skewer to check mine after 5 mins to judge when they are done, but still firm. You want them to hold their shape when folding in all the other ingredients.
Lol it says in the recipe..bring to a boil, turn heat down, then 5-8 minutes
I like the flavor of pickle relish in my potato salad, but not the itty bitty pieces of pickle. I keep a jar of sweet gherkins in my fridge and use a teaspoon or two of the liquid in my potato salad.
That’s what I do too!
Oh, Ali! This is so like my MIL’s recipe (without the red onions, she hates them). I can almost taste this just looking at the picture, and it takes me back to the early days of our marriage (37 yrs ago) when we would travel to her home in the Mississippi Delta. She would ALWAYS have her delicious potato salad (and chicken salad) waiting for us. Thanks for bringing back a great memory. I will be making this SOON.
This recipe looks a lot like the potato salads we do here in Brazil! I have a special hint for you: try to put some sliced apples in your potato salad (either fuji ou green apple) It’ll definitely put your potato salad in a whole other level!!!
Awesome hint with the green apple! Thank you!
I fry my bacon the first thing in small pieces – very crisp! Take out of pan and lay on paper towel to drain. My potatoes are boiling – yes I take the skins off. I then cool down the potatoes in frig for a bit. Cut up my egg. Get my Mayo or whatever mayonnaise I am using. I mix the potatoes with mayo – a little dab of mustard – a little shot of dill seed – mix up with potatoes – little salt. Take the bacon in my hands and crunch it all up in little pieces and mix in with the potatoes and mayo. I then cut my eyes up nice and lay them on top of the potato salad. I then sprinkle the top with paprika – just for color. Now that is a potato salad.
I never heard of vinegar in a potato salad or pickles or any kind of vegetable. This recipe comes from way back in my mother’s files, so it is the old kind of potato salad, but it’s good and I get nothing but compliments when I put it on the table.
I made an error in there – I meant to say I CUT UP MY EGGS – not my eyes!
This is the way I have always made my potato ? salad. I learned from my mother. Everyone raves when I fix it.
Good for you, Pat!
Where are the other 2 potato salad recipes? I have looked and looked and cannot find them.
Eggsactly. I looked for the other two recipes mentioned in the tease. Maybe it was the add bacon or omit the relish haha?
Mayo is my go to salad mixer .
potatoes, eggs, chopped dill pickles, chopped onion, mayo, mustard, dill pickle juice, salt pepper, garlic and paprika..chopped pimentos. mix all together
chill at least 4 hours
I always use Real mayo when making potato salad or coleslaw. This the best. I learned this recepie from my mom 70 years ago.
A very good potato salad. I will be making it again.
Absolutely delicious! My husband kept saying “this is so good” after every bite! Thank you for the simple yet tasty recipe.
Finally! The way a tater salad should be made! I add a dozen hard boiled eggs, use only Best Foods mayo, Walla Walla sweet onions and add a dash of liquid smoke, dill relish and poof! Every time there’s a BBQ happening, I get reuests for my salad, it’s the one thing I do well. Thank you for sharing!
Why do you put vinegar in the boiled potatoes?
I made this yesterday, and it turned out delicious. I did make a couple of changes to suit our tastes. I doubled the pickle relish (we LOVE pickles). I had never had potato salad with celery before so I was a bit hesitant. I added the celery salt but did not add the diced celery. Next time, I think I will add it. I also used a variety of red, purple, and gold potatoes straight from the garden. YUM!
This is THE best potato salad recipe EVER!!! The white wine vinegar made a HUGE difference. Only change I made was I added some smoked Paprika, and a dash celery seed. Absolutely divine, thank you!
Thank you for this delicious recipe, it was my first time making potato salad and this is better than what my mom and grandma used to make! Loved your pics and instructions, too.
This was delicious!
Thank you! The pictures and blog is lovely.
Our potato salad turned out spectacular!
This is the best potato salad I’ve ever had! I’ve never heard of putting relish (I diced some pickles, like some other commenters suggested) in potato salad and it was great!
Just made this! Only minor tweaks, added small cut of the celery ends to boiled water for potatoes just for flavor. It doesn’t overwhelm. I didn’t have purple onions so added 1/2 a shallot. At the end it felt a tad acidic (not sure if it was the ACV or dijon) so I threw in some shredded carrots I had on hand and voila. Love the extra crunch. I also found that I had to boil my potatoes a tad longer. I used yukon gold tiny potatoes. Oh, I skipped the pickles since the hubby and daughter are not fans.
I will be making tomorrow as I love trying new recipes and I do like the carrot idea. I will be trying radishes from our garden?
The first potato salad was exact what I made when I was a young wife between 21 and 31. All loved it and asked me to make it for each picnic I am now 84 and no longer cook much .
Very delicious. My husband loved it!
Do you peel the potatoes before dicing and boiling?
You’re welcome to if you’d like! :)
This recipe is very good! If I don’t have sweet pickle relish or sweet pickles/sweet pickle juice on hand I add a small amount of sugar to the dressing mixture (in this recipe I would say about a scant tablespoon). The sugar is a real flavor enhancer & smoothes out the “tartness” of the vinegar…
Made it taste wonderful!
Yummy recipe! I added in basil and parsley from my garden and some garlic
I’m 75 years old and have been making my potato salad just about the same. One thing I always add to it is sliced radishes. My children and grandchildren love it. Give it a try, you will be amazed.
Twyla the radishes add the most delicious zing to this already scrumptious recipe! Thanks for that!!
Hi Twyla. That’s how my mom made it too. Was very good! Thanks for that memory.
Great potato salad! Thanks for the apple cider tip, which made it exceptional.
May I just say that I have been trying out so many of your recipes and I have yet to be disappointed. In fact, I’ve been blown away! I’m not a fan of potato salad at all because everyone that makes it does it in a totally bland way and I’m always disappointed. So when my husband asked me to make some I thought I’d check out your site to see if you had a recipe posted. Alas, there it was and yet again, it was another winner! We all LOVED it! Thank you for what you do! My family and I are grateful!
I agree with your blog post title – this really is the perfect potato salad! I love the crunch from the celery and onion, and slightly sour tang from the relish. Will definitely make this my go to potato salad recipe!
This is the best potato salad I ever made! I used diced onions, Old Bay seasoning, fresh parsley and Dukes Mayo.
Dukes mayo is the best. I am a convert from the Midwest and grew up on Miracle Whip. Lol
Will it be ok to boil the potatoes a day ahead and refrigerate them plain overnight before proceeding with the rest of the ingredients/recipe?
Tripled this recipe for a block party, using unpeeled Yukon Gold, Hellmans mayo, and no relish. Everyone loved it!
This is great base recipe for what I know to be Midwest potato salad. I like both mayo and whip, but for this style potato salad the miracle whip is better because it is tangy and sweet.
You can achieve the same taste with adding white sugar to the mayo
I’ve made a certain potato salad for years and thought I would make this one. Honestly this salad was excellent. I’m going to make it from now on☺️
The potato salad we grew up with a few tweeks….awesome!
This is pretty much how I make mine too with a couple twists. I use both zesty garlic dills cut up and sweet gherkins cut up as it adds a great dill/sweet note and crunch. I also put in juice from pickles. Sometimes will use the dill juice sometimes sweet pickle. I do add garlic/onion powder too. That’s what I love about great recipes. You can add/subtract/ change it up or stick strictly to it!
I also sometimes sub in scallions for the onion or put both in! It’s one of those recipes you can just make it your own! Thanks it’s a keeper for sure!
I loved it, i learned a new way of preparing porato salad.
Made this with the dill relish and celery seed instead of celery salt. It was fantastic! My husband thinks it’s the best potato salad he’s ever had, and he’s had a lot.
Dukes mayo is the best. I am a convert from the Midwest and grew up on Miracle Whip. Lol
I am 90 years old an this recipe was just like what MY mother used to make I had lost the recipe an was SOOOO glad to find it it is the BEST,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Flavors were awesome in this potato salad! I cut up a dill pickle instead of using relish and it added the perfect crunchy, vinegary tang. I thought it could get away with about a cup of mayo, but my husband thought it was JUST RIGHT the way that it was. Thank you so much for this recipe!
This was quite good. I love a variety of potato salad types, and I certainly would choose this one again!
Sooo good! The extra salty boiling water plus the vinegar really ramped up the flavor. I did use sweet pickle relish, had to use regular mustard … omg the smoked paprika was so spectacular on this potato salad that I pitched a little more everywhere.
I forgot to add that I used Duke’s Mayo, and Russets that I rescued from death.Ha!
Love this! So good
Boil the potatoes in a lot of salt water and I add fresh dill to the boil. Potatoes absorb the flavoring in the water as they boil. Adds a nice hint of dill flavor. (Can add just about any herb, garlic, onion to the water to get other flavors.)
Could I get a ballpark calorie count on a serving?
I think it is funny “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.” I always leave the skins on . I do boil my potatoes whol and cut the after being cooked! Was thinking of adding some pimento just to be different. :)
This is very near the same recipe I’ve always used. Many people and all my grown children ask for the recipe. After I’ve drained the potatoes and returned them to the warm pot, I add the mayo/mustard sauce (I eliminate the vinegar.) to the potatoes while they are hot; so the potatoes absorb all the wonderful flavors of the dressing.
I made this for our small Memorial Day BBQ and it turned out very well! Skipped the pickle relish, but might try it for next time. I love the flavor and the textures! The celery gives it crunch. Happy we made enough to eat over the course of multiple days :)