Recipes » Side Dish Recipes » Southern Potato Salad

Southern Potato Salad

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5 from 4 votes
This Classic Southern Potato Salad Recipe is great to take to a potluck. It's made with tender, steamed potatoes and a mayonnaise dressing.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Southern potato salad on a white plate with a hamburger and slice of watermelon.

What’s the perfect dish to bring to any potluck? Why, this Classic Southern Potato Salad Recipe, of course! With its steamed, tender potatoes, celery, pickle relish, and a dressing made from mayonnaise and yellow mustard, this recipe goes with nearly anything and is great year round.

I wonder how many recipes there are for potato salad. Hundreds? Maybe thousands? At least.

Southern potato salad on a white plate with a hamburger and slice of watermelon.

It seems that every culture, every country, every cuisine has some sort of salad, hot or cold, based on potatoes. And, of course, every cook puts his or her special touch on the recipe.

That’s definitely true of this recipe. It’s based on the southern-style potato salad I grew up enjoying, but I’ve tweaked it over the years to suit my family’s tastes. It’s the perfect side to serve with fried chicken, southern green beans, okra with tomatoes, and buttermilk biscuits!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s an absolute classic and works as a side dish with almost any protein.
  • It’s ready in 30 minutes. The majority of the time is spent steaming the potatoes.
  • Even better when made ahead!
  • The recipe is easily multiplied to serve large crowds.
  • It’s versatile – add, take away, or vary ingredients to suit your own tastes.

About the Ingredients

Photo of ingredients used in the recipe.
  • Small Red Potatoes (Look for potatoes free from surface blemishes. There’s no need to peel them, just cut into bite-sized pieces.)
  • Onions (I prefer green onions or shallots but any kind you have on hand works fine. Our Georgia sweet Vidalia onions are delicious!)
  • Sweet Pickle Relish (Some cooks prefer dill pickles, but we like sweet relish.)
  • Diced Pimiento (I never make potato salad without pimiento. If you haven’t tried it, please do! It really makes the recipe!)
  • Mayonnaise (It wouldn’t be southern potato salad without mayonnaise. I often make mine from scratch, but if I’m short on time I use my preferred brand is Duke’s.)
  • Paprika (Every southern cook that I know garnishes theirs with a sprinkle of paprika.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Classic Southern Potato Salad

  • Prepare the potatoes by cutting them into bite-size pieces.
  • Put the cubed potatoes into a steamer basket over boiling water and cook until fork tender. 
  • While the potatoes cook, chop the celery and onions and add them to a large bowl along with the sweet pickle relish and well-drained pimiento. 
  • In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Drain the potatoes very well. You can even return them to the hot pan for a few minutes to allow all the water to evaporate. You want them quite dry but still warm.
  • Combine the drained, cooked potatoes in a large bowl with the celery, scallions, pickle relish, and pimiento.
  • Add the mayonnaise mixture
  • Gently toss until well combined.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and dust with paprika. Serve warm or chilled.

Storage

Potato salad shouldn’t sit out at room temperature for extended periods of time – two hours is the absolute maximum. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Freezing is not recommended.

Finished southern potato salad on a wooden spoon.

Variations

  • Many southern cooks include chopped hard boiled eggs. Cook two eggs separately, chop finely and add along with the celery, onions, relish, and pimiento.
  • I often add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar into the mayo-mustard dressing. It perks up the flavors a bit.
  • Add two or three slices of crispy crumbled bacon.
  • For a spicy kick, add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Finished potato salad in a white serving bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is southern potato salad?

Southern potato salad is tossed with a mayonnaise and mustard based dressing and typically contains finely diced celery, onion, pickle relish (dill or sweet according to your preference) and sometimes chopped hard boiled eggs.

What is the best potato for potato salad?

Some cooks swear by russets for potato salad but I actually prefer a waxy red skinned potato. In my opinion, russets tend to turn the recipe into mashed potato salad where the red potatoes hold their shape and texture better. I also steam my potatoes rather than boiling them which also helps keep the shape and texture.

How do you make potato salad not mushy?

The best way to make potato salad without a mushy texture is to use a waxy type of potato such as red skinned potatoes. Steaming the potatoes rather than boiling also helps preserve the texture. And take care when mixing – use a folding motion and don’t stir vigorously. 

Can I make potato salad a day ahead?

You can easily make potato salad a day before serving! In fact, it’s even better the second day. Just be sure to store it tightly covered in the refrigerator until needed.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love for you to give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card and/or in the comments section further down. You can always stay in touch on social media by following me on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest and Sign Up to Get my Newsletter, too!

Recipe

Southern potato salad on a white plate with a hamburger and slice of watermelon.

Southern Potato Salad

This Classic Southern Potato Salad Recipe is great to take to a potluck. It's made with tender, steamed potatoes and a mayonnaise dressing.
5 from 4 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 245kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small red potatoes cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 ribs celery diced
  • ¼ cup onion (green onions or shallots) diced
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons diced pimiento
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika for garnish

Instructions

  • Prepare the potatoes by cutting them into bite-size pieces.
  • Put the cubed potatoes into a steamer basket over boiling water and cook until fork tender. 
  • While the potatoes cook, chop the celery and onions and add them to a large bowl along with the sweet pickle relish and pimiento. 
  • In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Drain the potatoes very well. You can even return them to the hot pan for a few minutes to allow all the water to evaporate. You want them quite dry but still warm.
  • Combine the drained, cooked potatoes in a large bowl with the celery, scallions, pickle relish, and well-drained pimiento.
  • Add the mayonnaise mixture and gently toss until well combined.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and dust with paprika.
  • Serve warm or chilled. 

Notes

Ingredients:
  • Look for potatoes free from surface blemishes. There’s no need to peel them, just cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • I prefer green onions or shallots but any kind you have on hand works fine.
  • I never make potato salad without pimiento. If you haven’t tried it, please do! It really makes the recipe!
  • It wouldn’t be southern potato salad without mayonnaise. My preferred brand is Duke’s.
Storage:
Potato salad shouldn’t sit out at room temperature for extended periods of time – two hours is the absolute maximum. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Freezing is not recommended.
Variations:
  • Many southern cooks include chopped hard boiled eggs. Cook two eggs separately, chop finely and add along with the celery, onions, relish, and pimiento.
  • I often add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar into the mayo-mustard dressing. It perks up the flavors a bit.
  • Add two or three slices of crispy crumbled bacon.
  • For a spicy kick, add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
You can easily make potato salad a day before serving. In fact, it’s even better the second day. Just be sure to store it tightly covered in the refrigerator until needed.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 1129mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 481IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on July 17, 2009. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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Favorite Summertime Potato Salad - Our favorite classic potato salad with a mayonnaise based dressing. https://www.lanascooking.com/potato-salad/

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6 Comments

  1. Now it is late, and I have planned my lunch for tomorrow, potato salad! Looks very good with that nice touch of paprika…I made a similar one in my cafe, and it was a big hit as well…I like most varieties, as long as they have little amounts of dressing…

  2. That’s great that you put your special touches with this recipe! It looks really great and the best part is the dusted paprika… lovely!

  3. Lovely potato salad. It’s been a while since I’ve had some. I love the dusting of paprika on top.

  4. I love potato salad. I think my grandmals is the best ever and she adds pickle juice! Yum!
    I love that you added red potatoes