People take their potato salad very seriously here in the south. I learned that quickly after moving to southern Louisiana twenty years ago (omg, how has it been that long??). I was never a fan of potato salad in my youth but it quickly became my favorite after eating it made the southern way—with mayo and mustard. It’s rich, creamy, tangy, and with just the right amount of crunch. Southern Style Potato Salad is what comfort food dreams are made of.
Originally posted 3/12/2010 updated 6/23/2021
What is “Southern Style” Potato Salad?
Southern Style Potato Salad has a creamy and tangy dressing that has both mayonnaise and mustard, plus plenty of texture from the finely diced celery and sweet relish. I do like my potato salad with slightly less dressing, rather than super heavy or goopy, so if you like yours more “wet” you may want to make more dressing.
What Kind of Potatoes are Best for Potato Salad?
Waxy potato varieties, like Yukon Gold or red potatoes, are best for potato salad because they hold their shape and don’t break down quite as easily as russet, which are great for mashed potatoes. Waxy varieties also tend to have a creamier texture, rather than mealy, so they’re extra luscious in this potato salad.
Potato salad is pretty flexible and every family has its own special way of making it. In general, here are a few items that are pretty easy to substitute without straying too far from the southern style potato salad roots:
- Red onion in place of the green onion
- Apple cider vinegar in place of the red wine vinegar
- Lawry’s or another seasoning salt in place of the Tony’s Chachere’s
- Dill relish or chopped sweet pickles in place of sweet relish
- Creole mustard or Dijon mustard in place of yellow mustard
- Miracle Whip in place of mayonnaise for a sweeter finish
How Long Does it Stay Good?
Potato salad will stay good in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days. If you can not finish a full 8-cup batch within that amount of time, consider making a half batch instead. Simply change the number of servings in the recipe below and all the ingredient amounts will adjust accordingly.
What to Serve with Potato Salad
Potato salad is a potluck and summer BBQ classic! You really can’t beat the creamy combination of potato salad with sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. This week I ate my potato salad along side my BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken and Three Bean Salad, but it would also make a great side dish for Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Glazed Ham Steaks, hamburgers or Black Bean Burgers, Classic Homemade Meatloaf, or Blackened Salmon with Zucchini.
Classic Southern Style Potato Salad
- 3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes ($3.49)
- 1 tsp. salt ($0.03)
- 2 large eggs ($0.42)
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise ($0.75)
- 1 Tbsp yellow mustard ($0.08)
- 1 Tbsp sweet relish ($0.08)
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp Tony Chachere’s seasoning* ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- 2 green onions ($0.22)
- 2 ribs celery (1 cup chopped) ($0.32)
- Peel, wash, and chop your potatoes into one inch cubes. Briefly rinse the cubed potatoes with cool water in a colander to remove excess starch. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 tsp of salt to the water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they are tender (about ten minutes). Pierce the potatoes with a fork to make sure they are tender, then drain in a colander. Briefly rinse with cool water to cool the potatoes.
- While the potatoes are boiling, cook the eggs. Place the eggs in a small pot and cover them with cold water, then bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Let them boil for one minute before turning off the heat. Cover the pot with a lid and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes, then carefully pour out the hot water and run cool water into the pot to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, peel and dice the eggs.
- While the potatoes and eggs are cooking, make the dressing. Stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, relish, red wine vinegar, Tony’s (or seasoning salt), and freshly cracked pepper.
- Finely dice the celery, and slice the green onions.
- Add the cooked, cooled, and drained potatoes to a large bowl along with the diced celery, sliced green onion, diced eggs, and dressing. Stir until everything is combined and coated in the dressing. If you prefer a softer, less chunky potato salad, mash the potatoes slightly.
- Taste and adjust the mustard or seasoning to your liking, then serve.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Creamy Southern Potato Salad – Step By Step Photos
Peel and cube 3 lbs. of potatoes. Rinse the potatoes briefly with cool water to remove excess starch. This will help prevent your potato salad from getting dry and gluey.
Add the cubed potatoes to a large pot and cover with cool water. Add 1 tsp salt to the water. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they’re tender (about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes). Use a fork to pierce one of the larger pieces to test the doneness and make sure they are fully tender. There’s nothing worse than hard potatoes in your potato salad! Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander and rinse again briefly with cool water to cool the potatoes and rinse away excess starch. Let them drain well.
While the potatoes are boiling, cook the eggs. Add your eggs to a small pot (I cooked extra just to have on hand) and cover with cool water. Bring the pot up to a boil and then let the eggs boil for one minute before turning off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the hot water with a lid on top and the heat turned off for 15 minutes, then carefully pour out the hot water and run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking process. Once the boiled eggs are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs and dice them.
Make the dressing for the potato salad by combining 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp mustard, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp sweet relish, 1/2 tsp Tony Chachere’s or your favorite seasoning salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Whisk the ingredients together, taste, and add more seasoning salt if desired. Remember, you want the dressing to be heavily seasoned because the flavor will be less pronounced once mixed with the potatoes.
You can also finely dice 2 ribs of celery and slice 2 green onions while waiting for the potatoes and eggs to cook.
Place the cooled potatoes in a large bowl along with the diced celery, sliced green onion, and diced eggs.
Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and then stir until everything is combined and coated in the dressing. To make the Southern Style Potato Salad slightly less chunky, mash the potatoes as you stir.
Taste the potato salad and adjust the mustard or seasoning to your liking.