Southern Potato Salad

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This mouthwatering Southern potato salad recipe brings a touch of the South to your next backyard barbecue. Packed with creamy mayo, tangy mustard, and a not-so-secret blend of herbs and spices, this classic side dish is sure to steal the show.

Delicious Southern potato salad served in a white bowl.

If you are tasked to bring a tasty side dish to your next barbecue or picnic, I’ve got you covered. Switch up a classic potato salad and learn how to make southern potato salad. It’s comfort food packed with flavor! I share all of my tips and tricks for maximizing the taste. Plus, it’s ideal to make ahead as it tastes even better the next day!

After boiling the potatoes until tender, I do a unique step you might not have tried. Briefly marinating the spuds in tangy vinegar makes for tastier spoonfuls. The potatoes are tossed with creamy dressing and crunchy vegetables. For a festive summer meal, serve with your favorite grilled meat, seafood, or juicy burgers.

Key ingredients

Ingredients needed to make this southern potato salad recipe.
  • Potatoes: For a creamy texture, use Russet potatoes. If you prefer a waxy potato that holds its shape, use Yukon gold, yellow, or red potatoes.
  • Dressing: The mixture consists of mayonnaise, yellow mustard, vinegar, sweet pickle relish, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix-ins: Fresh celery, red onion, and green onion add a delicious crunch and flavor to the potato salad.
  • Eggs: Hardboiled eggs add extra creaminess and protein.

Boil the potatoes

Cubes of potato submerged in water.

For quick cooking spuds, peel and cut them into 3/4-inch diced pieces. Once mixed, this size will leave hearty potato chunks in the salad. Add them to a large pot, then cover with cold water. Starting in cool liquid, cooks the potatoes gradually and evenly. Simmer until they are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.

Marinate the potatoes

Starchy potatoes are the perfect sponges to soak up the flavor. To enhance the taste of the salted cooked potatoes, marinate them in apple cider vinegar before adding the rest of the dressing. You’ll notice that the spuds are seasoned throughout, not just on the surface.

Let the potato mixture sit for 20 minutes. Trust me; it’s a flavor game-changer! This also gives the potatoes a chance to cool down before mixing.

Make the dressing

Mayonnaise, relish, mustard, and pepper inside a mixing bowl.

For a creamy dressing, use full-fat mayonnaise. You can also make homemade mayonnaise if you have extra time. It’s delicious! Whisk together the mayo, tangy yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Dill pickles can be used and chopped up, but add in some sweeteners like sugar or honey to balance the tanginess.

Start with 1 teaspoon and increase to taste. If you’d like, add in paprika for an earthy flavor, about ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon. Alternatively, use smoked paprika for a slightly charred flavor.

Add mix-ins

Large mixing bowl with hard-boiled egg pieces, celery, dressing, and potato cubes.

Add the marinated potatoes, celery, onions, green onions, and chopped boiled eggs to the mayonnaise dressing. Gently toss the ingredients together to combine. The potatoes will break down slightly, creating a creamier consistency.

The potato salad tastes the best when it has some time to disperse the flavors of the dressing fully. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour before serving. I like to garnish with a bit of paprika sprinkled on top and green onions for a pop of color.

Flavor variations

This southern potato salad recipe is a great base to add different mix-ins. Here are some tasty ingredients to try when you make your next batch:

  • Bacon: Add chopped pieces of crispy bacon for a smoky and rich taste.
  • Spicy: Minced jalapeno, chili powder, chipotle pepper, or cayenne makes a more spicy salad, or try my cajun seasoning blend.
  • Ranch: Add a savory flavor using ranch dressing.
  • Herbs: Mix in fresh chives, dill, tarragon, basil, parsley, rosemary, or thyme or a mixture.

Serving suggestions

Close up of a souther potato salad garnished with paprika and green onions.

Frequently asked questions

What type of potatoes should I use for southern potato salad?

Russet or Idaho potatoes work best for a creamier texture. Use Yukon gold, red, yellow, or white for pieces that hold their shape.

What type of mayonnaise should I use for the dressing?

You can use homemade mayonnaise or store-bought. Typically Dukes, Miracle Whip, Best Foods, or Hellmans are used in southern-style recipes. The availability of these varieties is dependent on your location.

Should I use yellow or Dijon mustard?

Yellow mustard is typically used in southern potato salads, but dijon can be substituted. Yellow mustard is made from yellow mustard seeds, with a tart and acidic taste from distilled vinegar. Dijon mustard is made from brown mustard seeds, and the pungency from the white wine, and distilled vinegar, add a complex taste with a slightly bitter flavor.

Wooden spoon serving potato salad out of a bowl.

Peel the potatoes before boiling

I peel and dice the potatoes for faster cooking, plus better flavor. Start them in cold water, then gradually increase the temperature. This prevents the outside from cooking too fast and falling apart before the center can cook. Add plenty of salt to the water to season the potatoes throughout so they don’t taste bland.

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Southern Potato Salad

Easy and delicious southern potato salad recipe. Not only does it pack a flavorful punch with its mustard-based dressing and fresh herbs, but it’s also incredibly versatile, making it perfect for summer barbecues or family gatherings.
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


  • 2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus ¾ teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup celery, ¼" dice
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion, ⅛" dice
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 2 large hardboiled eggs, ¼" dice
  • smoked paprika, or sweet


  • Prepare the Potatoes – Peel and dice the potatoes into ¾-inch cubes. Immediately place them in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch.
  • Boil the Potatoes – Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once it starts to bubble, add 1 tablespoon salt and stir to dissolve. Reduce to a simmer over medium heat, adjusting as needed. Stir occasionally and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Marinate in Vinegar – Drain the potatoes in a colander and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the vinegar and gently stir to combine. Let it sit and marinate for 20 minutes. The potatoes will still be warm.
  • Make the Dressing – In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, relish, mustard, ¾ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Add the Mix-ins – To the large bowl, add the dressing, celery, onions, green onions, and chopped eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To Serve – Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour before serving. Garnish with paprika and green onions.

Recipe Video


  • Recipe Yield: About 5 cups
  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • Freezing: Store in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month. Press into a flat layer, remove all of the air, and seal. Defrost in the refrigerator a day before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 10 servings
Calories 196kcal (10%)Carbohydrates 22g (7%)Protein 4g (8%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 5gMonounsaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0.02gCholesterol 42mg (14%)Sodium 332mg (14%)Potassium 485mg (14%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 163IU (3%)Vitamin C 7mg (8%)Calcium 118mg (12%)Iron 4mg (22%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Valerie C. says

    Your recipe sounds a lot like the one I’ve been making for years (my mom’s recipe) though we use a lot more onion (sweet onion as opposed to red) because we love onion. It sounds delicious!

  2. Shauna Richards says

    I have been making so many of your recipes for years. I have never had a recipe that went wrong. I love, love, love to cook as my husband can attest to. Can’t thank you enough for making my cooking experiences wonderful and very tasty. Sometimes I wish I had gone to culinary school instead of nursing school. But I am retired now so I enjoy cooking EVERY day. Thank You so much again!

  3. Tom Carpenter says

    In the ingredients you list garlic powder. In the directions you say add onion powder. No garlic powder. I used onion powder. Thought it would better. But it is a great recipe. Love the vinegar trick.

  4. Christine Nevins says

    I found your recipe and I am so excited to make it!!! When we travel in the in the southern states , I always make sure to try the potato salads! This will be part of our bbq feast tomorrow!!

  5. Heather says

    Hi there! This is my go-to recipe for potato salad, thank you! I usually make a half batch, because my husband doesn’t care for mayo or vinegar at all, so sad! I add some dried dill weed, and, when I’m out of parsley, I use the celery leaves instead. It’s a great way to eliminate waste, and tastes super too!

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