Southern Potato Salad

4.94 from 15 votes
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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.

Recipe Science

  • Boiling cubed potatoes until tender allows them to absorb the dressing more effectively, ensuring a well-seasoned and cohesive salad.
  • Adding vinegar to the hot potatoes helps to infuse them with tangy flavor while they are still warm, balancing the richness of the mayonnaise-based dressing.
  • Mixing in eggs and other ingredients while the potatoes are slightly warm helps the flavors meld together, creating a creamy and flavorful texture throughout the salad.

Why It Works

If you are tasked with bringing 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 meat, seafood, or juicy grilled burgers.

Ingredients You’ll Need

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.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

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 homemade ranch dressing.
  • Herbs: Mix in fresh chives, dill, tarragon, basil, parsley, rosemary, or thyme or a mixture.

How to Make Southern Potato Salad

Step 1: Prepare the Potatoes

For quick cooking spuds, peel and cut them into 3/4-inch diced pieces. This size will leave hearty potato chunks in the salad.

Cubes of potato submerged in water.

Step 2: Boil the Potatoes

Add the potatoes to a large pot, then cover with cold water. Starting in a cool liquid cooks the potatoes gradually and evenly. Simmer until they are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.

Person pouring apple cider vinegar into a bowl of cooked potatoes.

Step 3: Marinate in Vinegar

Starchy potatoes are the perfect sponges to soak up the flavor. To enhance their taste, marinate them in apple cider vinegar before adding the rest of the dressing.

Spatula stirring the potato cubes to coat them in vinegar.

Let the potato mixture sit for 20 minutes. You’ll notice the spuds become seasoned throughout, not just on the surface. This also gives the potatoes a chance to cool down before mixing.

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

Step 4: Make the Dressing

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 some sweeteners like sugar or honey to balance the tanginess. Start with 1 teaspoon and increase to taste.

I use full-fat mayonnaise for a creamy dressing consistency. If you have extra time, you can also make homemade mayonnaise. It’s delicious! 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.

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

Step 5: Add the Mix-ins

Add the marinated potatoes, celery, 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 best when it has time to fully disperse the flavors of the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

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

Step 6: Ready to Serve

I like to garnish with paprika sprinkled on top and green onions for a pop of color.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

What type of mayonnaise should I use for the dressing?

You can use homemade or store-bought mayonnaise. Southern-style recipes typically use Dukes, Miracle Whip, Best Foods, or Hellmans. The availability of these varieties depends 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.

Do I peel the potatoes before boiling?

I peel and dice the potatoes for faster cooking and better flavor. I 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. I add plenty of salt to the water to season the potatoes throughout so they don’t taste bland.

Serve This With

If you tried this Southern Potato Salad, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

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.
4.94 from 15 votes
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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

YouTube video

Notes

  • 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. 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!

  2. 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!!

  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. 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!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much! I’m so happy that you are playing in the kitchen and having fun! I’m so happy to be a part of your culinary adventures.

  5. 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!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’ll have to try adding in the sweet onions, I’m sure that is delicious with the potato salad!