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.
Served this to a group of 15 adults plus kids with 2 other sides and a main dish and had 1/2cup left of a doubled recipe. It was reported to be better than someone’s mother’s recipe:)
I boiled my potatoes whole, cooled overnight, then skinned and cut to bite size before adding vinegar.
Needed more salt, some yellow mustard, pickle juice for my taste. plus, I skipped the celery and substituted a seasoned salt with some celery in it for the celery salt.
Made this today and it was the best potato salad. I like all of the options and will definitely try adding a little bacon next time. My only change was that I put much less mayo as I do not like a lot and it was perfect for me.
Excellent. I used extra paprika and eggs and added radishes. Very yummy. Thank you.
I don’t particularly care for potato salad but my boyfriend likes it so I made this recipe for our BBQ. It is so good! This will be a staple from now on to our bbq’s. Thanks for sharing!
I’ve made this twice and both times I followed the recipe to a tee, except I used Walla Walla onions instead (any other onions do not agree with me) and needles to say, this is the best recipe for potato salad. I’ve received nothing but praise when I’ve made it, even for fussy aficionados.
I made this for the first time to go along with a brisket and baked beans. It received rave reviews and I was asked for the recipe multiple times. The only thing I did different was to mash the potatoes with a potato masher after letting the potatoes rest with the vinegar and before adding the other ingredients as I prefer mashed versus chunks of potatoes. I added smoked paprika to the top for color. It was delicious and almost as good as my grandmother’s (the only difference was she must have added love to hers).
Fantastic! We used Yukon gold and left out the celery And red onions, added bacon and green onions.
Delicious, the first time in 30 years my brother-in-law asked me for the recipe
Oh my God that was easy peezy. First time maker. And that was wild and fun, Too easy. Thank you again. Christopher
This was so good! I just did the sauce and added all the veggies into the bowl and mixed it all up as one, let thy sit in the fridge for a few hours and added the potatoes and eggs in later. I added 2 tablespoons of milk into the mayo mixture also, and put the apple cider vinegar into the sauce as well. I drizzled the potatoes with another tablespoon or less with the ACV too. Other than that I followed the recipe as written. My personal touch on it though was to chop up about 2 tablespoons of the celery leaves and sprinkle them in. It gave such a nice herby flavor that blended in really well. I also used 3 dill pickles in place of the relish and a few shakes of onion powder!
I also used a mix of new potatoes and red and yellows! 3.5 lbs total
I used spicy sweet relish instead of dill, horseradish mustard instead of Dijon (only because that was all I had!), omitted the celery, used 1/2 tsp. celery seed since I didn’t have any celery salt, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 6 eggs, 6 slices of bacon, and 1 whole white onion.
The proportions of the dressing were PERFECT. I’ve made potato salad for years, but never bothered to measure the mayonnaise (or anything), so decided to try a real recipe. I’m very glad I picked this one! There was no adjusting needed!
Made this recipe yesterday, but with this difference…..I cut my small red potatoes to the 3/4″ size, tossed them in a bit of olive oil and S&P, then roasted them on a flat sheet 425*/ about 30 min, hit ’em with the vinegar and carried on with the recipe. Hands down , best PS ever. Thanks
Used baby yukon gold potatoes, halved the smaller ones and quartered the larger ones. Substituted celery seed for celery salt . Also added two extra cooked yolks to the creamy mixture. Delish! This really is the BEST Potato Salad. I like the list of variations you can use to customize to your own taste. This recipe is a keeper.
this was wonderful. i followed as instructed. the chopped pickle and the smoked paprika added so much, don’t forget the smoke paprika it made this dish so tasty thank you.
This recipe results in an excellent potato salad, full of flavor, but not extreme in any direction. Adding a half cup of sour cream enriches it a touch more. Highly recommended!
Great recipe. Just finished making this Potato Salad. I love it.
I didn’t even have celery or red onion so I decided to go ahead without them (and the eggs because I’m not a fan) but it may be the best potato salad I’ve ever made, even so.
WOW! This will be my go to recipe for sure. I opted to roast my Yukon gold potatoes and it gave the salad a phenomenal flavor. I made this for a family dinner for 13 and it was a hit! Thank you for the many options you provided but the base recipe was the best! Will make and serve it again soon!!!
This is delicious!!!!
Just made this recipe… yummm. Super quick and easy too!
YEARS AGO, my “Nana” made her dressing separately
And added a little bit of Evaporated milk to the
Mayo., salt,pepper, etc. just a little depending on
How much mayo. Say, 2 or 3 Tbl. spoons @ most.
It doesn’t change the taste, rather adds a bit of
“ creaminess” to the dressing. ( again, you don’t want to “thin it out”. I’d suggest a tablespoon, or 2 just to
Try it out.
This was good, but I was always taught to cut big potatoes in half and cook small potatoes whole and peel after they are done. I have tried cutting them up to cook and you just end up with watery potatoes. They are easy to peel when cooked, just use the back of a knife or a spoon and the peel almost falls off. Potatoes are cooked through and still firm.
I always add chopped radishes as well as a spoonful of horseradish to my potato salad,
I am using your recipe as a basis for tomorrows potato salad. I did tweak it a bit by adding diced jalapenos and a 1/4 tsp of powered Fatalii pepper. We will see the results but I’m very optimistic.
Love it! We added more mustard, but besides that, it’s pretty much perfect! ~A&E
I love this site, this lady is a damn fine cook. I would add one note which makes a more delicious potato for the salad. You must cook the potatoes skin on in salted water to fork tender, test more than one potato to make sure there all cooked. Drain and let cool enough to handle. Peel using a paring knife to lift a edge of skin and just peel it off. The potato flavor is so much more, really delicious. Better. My Mother did it this way.
This is the best recipe! My whole family loved it!
Absolutely love love love this recipe!!! Super easy to make and it tastes delicious. Cut the recipe in half and still turned out perfect ??! Definitely adding this to my book of recipes. Thanks :)
This potato salad is beautiful! I didn’t have dill relish so I used sweet relish…might be a bit too much but I can’t get enough of this I could eat the entire bowl!! Potato salad in the winter? SERVE IT WARM ?!! I only let the potatoes sit for a little bit do they were medium temp after cooking then drained the vinegar and added everything, including the warm eggs. Serve it just like that, with lots and lots of crunchy bacon and it is delicious!
Made it loved it.. so easy and delicious. One for the recipe books will make again and again and again..
This was seriously SO GOOD. No changes to the recipe needed!
I’ve made this recipe a couple times now and my family loves it. Sometimes I throw in some fresh dill or crumbled bacon. Delightful!
So good! Didn’t alter the recipe at all!
Great the eggs and recipe – my hubby loves it and requested it specifically today when I told him I planned to cook him steak tonight! I did omit the eggs and I put the cider vinegar in with the dressing rather than with the just-boiled potatoes, but other than that, this recipe is already a keeper. :D
Could I make this a day ahead of time?
Thank you for fantastic recipe!
Greetings from Greece.
Just made this, and it is indeed the best potato salad I have ever made. Thank you so much for this recipe!
This tasted exactly like the potato salad I ate in my childhood with some variations but this recipe is a fantastic base. I added extra pickles, no celery (also didn’t have celery salt), used low-fat mayo and miracle whip in 50/50 ratio and chopped in some apple. Ya gotta add the apple chunks!
Also, leave the potatoes skinned; it’s healthier and way easier and doesn’t affect the salad at all at the end. Thank you so much for posting this!
Simple and great!
I overcooked the potatoes, but still turned out delish! Made my own mayo which turned out to be exactly the amount needed for the recipe :) Added some chives, smoked paprika, and edible violets on top to make it pretty.
Very delicious potato salad recipe. My wife and I enjoyed it and even better the following day – even had a bit left for lunch the day after that. Just great tasting.
JUST MADE IT FOR THE FIRST TIME . LOOKS GOOD . WILL COMMENT AFTER I TRY IT .
Excellent! Thank you.
I made this recipe today. It was easy to make and very tasty. My husband loved it and said it tasted like his mothers’n recipe. I will make it again.
Amazing! Followed recipe exactly as is. Wouldn’t change a thing
My hubby is a a great critic of potato salad. He asked to make him some. Haven’t made potato salad in 20 years. Made this recipe and he absolutely loved it! Followed all ingredients exactly. Thank you for a great recipes which will now be a family favorite ?
This is, by far, the best potato salad ever! Made this for Memorial Day get-together and I will always remember to make this every year for gatherings. Sp easy to make and delicious to eat! Thank you for a great recipe!
All the recipes online are pretty much the same yet none are as good as my mother’s recipe she has made for the past 70 yrs. I embellished a bit and would like to share…..
POTATO SALAD ALA SUZANNE
– one 5 lb bag of salt potatoes (available in Syracuse or any Wegman’s store)
– lots of hard boiled eggs
– celery (diced thin)
-scallions (sliced thin)
– cucumber (discard seeds and chop small)
– Hellman’s Mayo blended with a healthy dollop of yellow mustard
– fresh chopped parsley and/or dill
• the salt potatoes are boiled with the enclosed bag of salt The texture of these potatoes is unique and perfect for potato salad. If you cannot get or aren’t familiar with salt potatoes, unfortunately substituting small white spuds will not have the same texture so be sure to use potatoes with a firm, dense texture. Don’t overcook!
• skins remain! You will want to cut your cooked salt potatoes in small pieces. I find large chunks ruin a potato salad
• LOTS of hard boiled eggs for taste and consistency. Use your grater (large holes) for perfect egg shreds
• cucumber is the magic ingredient. Doesn’t overpower like relish (yuck) and adds more crunch and flavor to contrast the delicate potatoes & eggs
• whisk together mustard & Mayo. Yellow mustard or Batampt brand is best. Never substitute the Hellman’s!
• no added salt needed but don’t forget some fresh cracked black pepper
• relish and vinegar gives it a store-bought flavor and I personally hate any prepared potato salad. It’s just all wrong.
. My potato salad ALWAYS gets 5 star reviews. This recipe will be a hit at any picnic, party or meal
This turned out amazing! I added the vinegar to the mayo mixture by mistake and still drizzled a little on the cooked potatoes. Added a teaspoon of sugar to offset the vinegar mishap. I used one cup of mayo and a quarter cup of miracle whip. I don’t like miracle whip but a little but in potato salad, it’s a flavor enhancer imo. My husband likes it yellow and generally goes behind me and adds it. I used spicy mustard and some yellow mustard.