This easy, classic Southern potato salad recipe with eggs, has been handed down from my grandma to my mom and then to me and includes their secret tips that make it the very best potato salad recipe every single time.
It may be pretty bold to claim, but saying this potato salad recipe is the best is a statement I’ll totally stand behind.
I’ve shared several variations of potato salad recipes here on the blog including my German potato salad, a creamy dill potato salad, my no-mayo potato salad with herbs, a bacon and sour cream loaded baked potato salad, and even more. But this salad is the one that readers have made a top recipe here on the blog, and definitely ranks as my personal childhood favorite.
How to Make the Best Potato Salad
This classic potato salad is the one I grew up on. It’s the recipe my Grandma Mary Jane originally made, then passed down my mom, aunts, and cousins, and me and my sister. It’s accompanied burgers, grilled ribs, and every other favorite summer dinner recipes under the sun.
As favorite family recipes do, it’s a food memory none of us can, or want to, forget. It shows up at nearly every BBQ, picnic or good old-fashioned supper soirée at my house, and it’s one I’m proud as punch to share when I go to other’s homes as well. And it’s extremely popular with readers who love it all year round, at Thanksgiving and Christmas too. Who knew? Looks like this recipe has found its Southern potato salad roots.
So now it’s your turn to give it a try. Here’s how to make the best potato salad ever. Let’s get started…
What’s in Potato Salad
I spent many a summer afternoon making and taste-testing this salad alongside my amazing mama, just like she did with hers. In fact, I’ve made it so many times I don’t even need the recipe. You know a recipe is that good when you know it by heart.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this classic potato salad:
- Yukon gold potatoes (see below why they’re the best)
- white vinegar
- hard-boiled eggs
- green onion
- Miracle Whip—it’s the secret sauce to this potato salad dressing
- yellow mustard
- celery seed
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
What Type of Potato Is Best for Potato Salad
We use white potatoes, or Yukon Golds, in our family’s recipe. Because they have thinner skin, they’re easy to peel after boiling and taste creamier, a little sweeter, and hold their shape well after cooking. Avoid using starchier potatoes like russets that too easily turn to mush in salads like this.
Also, remember to choose potatoes of the same size for the most consistent cooking.
How to Keep Potato Salad from Getting Watery
There are a couple of reasons potato salad can become runny. Here’s how to troubleshoot the problem.
- Use the right potato. Yukon golds are our go-to and absorb the dressing well.
- Be sure to add the dressing to cool potatoes before adding the creamy mayo dressing. Potatoes will sweat water as they cool, and that can contribute to watery potato salad.
- And then, reader Vicki sent in an email with her suggestion to avoid watery potato salad:
“I asked a renowned chef what I was doing wrong, and he told me NEVER to salt the potatoes either during cooking or preparing the salad. The salt makes the potatoes seep water. Ever since I took his suggestion, I have never had a problem with watery salad. You can season the salad with salt, pepper, and other seasonings just before serving and it won’t affect the potatoes once they have been mixed with the mayo. Just an FYI.”
How to Cook Potatoes for Potato Salad
One of the biggest potato salad controversies is do you cut potatoes before boiling for potato salad. My mom says, no.
My mom cooks her potatoes whole with the skin on. I follow her lead or will quarter them before cooking. The other method for cooking the potatoes is peeling and cutting the potatoes before cooking as suggested in the comments below. But, my mom says that method allows the potatoes to absorb more water, and so I do what mama says.
To cook the potatoes, add them to cold water and bring them to a boil and reduce to medium heat, rather than adding the potatoes to hot, boiling water. Boil the potatoes until fork-tender and the skin just begins to crack about 20-25 minutes.
Another cooking method a reader suggests is steaming the potatoes in 1 inch of water for 30 minutes, which works too. Just be sure to watch you don’t boil your water away and burn the pan.
My Mom’s Secret Tips
Add vinegar to the warm potatoes. One of the biggest flavoring secrets to the success of this recipe is white vinegar. That’s why I add a few hearty splashes of white vinegar to the cooked potatoes giving the salad its secret and subtle flavor punch. To do so, add the vinegar while the potatoes are still warm, and allow them time to rest and absorb the vinegar’s zing while they cool.
My mom’s next key ingredient is Miracle Whip. As noted in the comments, there is much debate over using Miracle Whip or traditional mayonnaise. Even though I’m a mayo fan, I’ve found that MW adds a sweet creamy flavor mayo just doesn’t have. That’s why time and again I’ve returned to my roots and back to Miracle Whip because that’s what mom uses and it’s the classic flavor I can’t get otherwise. If you’re a mayo fan, by all means, make the move. But maybe, just maybe, give the old Whip a try.
Always add eggs. My mom’s original recipe calls for just three eggs, but since I’m a super fan of eggs in potato salad, I’ve added two more. It probably stems from my adoration of egg salad, so feel free to adapt to your own taste.
Everyone has an opinion on what to add and what not to add to potato salad. For our family recipe, chunks of celery and bites of green onion add the needed crunch to classic potato salads. I’ve added diced pickles before because everything tastes better with pickles. Except for this version of potato salad. I’m saving the pickles for my tuna fish sandwiches.
Let’s talk celery seed. This is probably the only recipe besides a bloody mary (find my favorite bloody mary recipe here) that I use celery seed. It’s an integral part of the flavor profile, so don’t skip it.
Mustard adds the tang. In the realms of the mustard world, we don’t even dream about getting fancy schmancy with German browns, hearty seeded, or Frenchy dijon mustards. I save that for my German potato salad, because just like on my hot dogs, plain old yellow mustard is the best.
Give this salad time. Allowing the potato salad flavors to meld is important here, that’s why if I’m planning on eating the salad on the day I make it, I’ll prepare it at lunch so it can sit and build the flavors, or make it a day ahead. Potato salad will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If it doesn’t get eaten up before then.
Hail to mom mom’s best potato salad. Enjoy!
Everyone has their favorite ingredients that make up a pasta salad, just check out the comments below. Here are a few additions and variations you may be craving now.
- Can you use mayo instead of Miracle Whip? If you prefer to, go for it. Personally, the sweetness in Miracle Whip is what I have the most fondness for.
- Try a half-and-half situation by subbing in half sour cream or Greek yogurt for any part of the mayo/Miracle Whip combo.
- Try adding pickles. For more zing, adding diced sweet pickles, dill pickles or pickle relish will give this salad another layer of flavor.
- Chopped red onion or radishes will add a bit more heat.
- Add bacon for an earthy bite (or just make my Baked Potato Salad with bacon, sour cream, and cheddar cheese instead.)
- Instead of Yukon gold potatoes, try red potatoes instead and leave their jacket skins on for a more colorful potato look.
Recipes That Go With Potato Salad
- How to Make the Best Grilled Salmon
- The Best BBQ Chicken
- The Best Garlic Burgers EVER
- Bacon Double Cheddar Cheeseburger With Caramelized Onions
- The Best Greek Chicken
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
My Grandma's BEST Potato Salad Recipe
- 6 medium white potatoes or Yukon golds , about 2 ½ to 3 pounds, skin on and quartered
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 celery stalks (ribs) , diced
- 6 green onions , diced
- 5 hard-boiled eggs , peeled
- 1 ½ cups Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons celery seed
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- paprika for garnish
- Add the potatoes to a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a lightly rolling boil over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork or paring knife. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Peel the skins from the potatoes and cut into ½" to ¾" square pieces. Transfer the warm potatoes to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the white vinegar. Toss the potatoes with the vinegar and set the potatoes aside to cool, about 15-20 minutes.
- Add the celery and the green onions to the potato mixture. Chop 4 of the hard boiled eggs and add to the potato mixture.
- In a medium bowl, mix the Miracle Whip or mayonnaise, yellow mustard, celery seed and salt and pepper. Fold into the potato mixture and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Slice the last egg into thin slices and place the slices on top of the salad. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight before serving.
- If you prefer, substitute the Miracle Whip with mayonnaise. Or, use half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt or sour cream for more tang.
More Classic Potluck Recipe Ideas
- The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese
- How to Make Classic Macaroni Salad
- How To Make The Best Creamy Coleslaw
- Fresh and Easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad
- The Best BBQ Baked Beans
- 20 Potluck Side Dishes For The Classic Summer BBQ
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I have used my mother-in-law’s potato salad recipe for 60 years. When I try a different recipe, I always go back to her recipe that my family and friends prefer. She also used Miracle Whip for the same reasons you posted. The only difference between your recipe and mine is I use red potatoes; also mix a little rice vinegar with sugar before adding MW, mustard and sweet pickle juice. When the potatoes are peeled and diced and while still warm, I add the green onions and a big splash of Italian dressing (Wishbone, Kraft or other) and let it set for several minutes, then add eggs, celery, a little celery seed and paprika.
Without a doubt the best potato salad ever. Every single time I make it there is nothing but compliments. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Debbie! Glad you enjoyed.
mash the potatoes folks and then all the dressing ingredients will go through all of the potatoes and taste so much better
Greetings humans, my preferred pronouns are They/Them.
I would like to make this potato salad recipe but I am vegan and also allergic to potatoes, celery, and onions. What would be some vegan friendly substitutions and taking into consideration my various allergies?
This is now my go to potato salad. I love that miracle whip is a definite ingredient. A lot of people sneer at it, but for me it’s in daily use for sandwiches and anything else that needs miracle whip/mayo. I do add gherkins and bacon.
I’m glad you enjoyed Gail!
I found this recipe for my son graduation party last year..it was a hit!! Now it’s my go to recipe. I just made it this morning for a church picnic today and there’s one bowl left! It’s good! Thank you for the recipe, Erin
Glad everyone enjoyed Erin!
I will try this. I never met a potato dish I didn’t like. LOL
My Southern Mama always saved pickle juice and used combo of a little mustard added with Mayo, chopped dill pickles or relish. Regular diced Onion, lots of eggs and that’s it. Sat and pepper. Simple but good.
I use Dukes a lot because it’s SF and always has been and it has that slight lemony taste.
I just finished making this and it is HANDS DOWN the BEST POTATO SALAD EVER!!!! I used a few more green onions and maybe an extra celery stalk and six eggs, but all the dressing ingredients as written (used only mayo) and WOW!!!!
So yummy!!! I’m so glad I found you. Grandma knows BEST!!
Thank you, Susanna! So glad you enjoyed it!
Stellar recipe! I especially like the vinegar which adds a perfect note of tang to the potatoes. I made one change, used 1/2 mayo and 1/2 whole fat Greek yogurt for a delicious flavor and texture! Happy Summer!
Outstanding! The best! I’m a brand new follower because of this recipe!
Used Hellman’s Real Mayo… the first two ingredients in Miracle Whip are unhealthy and are probably the reason the potato salad has a a slightly sweeter different taste: Water, Soybean Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup. Nope!!!
I add some tang with Hungarian Sweet Paprika and a couple of baby dills. I didn’t have any yellow mustard but did have Coleman’s Mustard powder which gave it added zing.
Otherwise… it is a great recipe as followed with some awesome tips.
This is very much like my mothers recipe except we add radishes (which I love).
Reminds me of my mom recipe, thanks for sharing
This really is the Best Potato salad, however I loved Mayo too much to replace it with Mircle Whip , I made it with Dukes Mayo !
This potato salad is delicious. It’s exactly what I would expect from a southern picnic style potato salad.
My suggestion if you decide to use mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip is to add a little bit of sugar. Like 1/2-1 tsp.
The only things I did a little differently was I baked my Yukon golds instead of boiling (put on a sheet pan tightly covered with foil and baked at 375 until tender) and used Japanese Mayo with a bit of sugar and I added 2/3 the vinegar to the hot potatoes and chilled overnight then the rest of the vinegar with the mayonnaise . Do not skip the celery seed!
Hi I’m a bit confused about the salt. You first said not to add whilst cooking, but the instructions say to add salt after they come to a boil. Thanks
I make this potato salad for every special event!! It is so amazing just as the recipe is written, but you can turn the basic into whatever you like!!my entire family loves it so much. Thank you!!!
Best recipe ever!!! Was out of celery seed so I substituted dill weed.
And if you don’t make a recipe according to the exact written recipe you aren’t even commenting on the real recipe. Don’t comment on your changes. Not interested in any comments except on the original recipe please!
Took a lot of time to make this and followed receipt exactly, only to end up with everything tasting like vinegar, it was awful! I put 3 tablespoons and still trying to figure out if I add too much, and/or was I supposed to dump it out? I’m so confused and frustrated.
Thank you for posting this recipe! My family LOVED it and I’ll never make it differently again. The flavor and zip of this salad is perfect heaven!
I’m glad you all enjoyed it!
Excellent recipe. I added chopped homemade sweet pickles. Store bought pickles don’t do it justice. If you must buy sweet pickles, believe it or not, Walmart brand sweet pickles work best. I agree that boiling the whole potato and then peeling it is best. I also used Miracle Whip. For potato salad, it tastes great. . Other than adding sweet pickles, I followed the recipe exactly and it came out great.
I’m glad you enjoyed!
Sooo good! Followed your recipe all the way and will fix it again! So much better than (sorry mom) what I have fixed for years.
I’m glad you enjoy!
I noticed a lot of comments here are about Miracle Whip vs Mayo. I grew up in a house where mom hated MW and dad insisted on having it, so there were always two bowls for potato salad! I love the tanginess of MW, but loved mom’s Helman’s recipe as well. It’s a preference. Same with celery seed vs celery chopped. Dill or sweet pickle. Cut potatoes before, or after cooking them. And finally, whether to mash the yolks with the mayo/whip. All these subtle differences make potato salads unique. But of all the variations, the one I will never change is whether the potatoes are Organic, or not. I will never use anything but organic ever again. Glyphosate enters the American (very sick) diets with the basic potato. We love them, but they have been ruined with big Ag. Preserve your family’s health and stop thinking those cheap bags of spuds in the grocery store are a bargain. They are NOT. Potatoes are the easiest thing in the world to grow. In fact, you almost can’t get rid of them. The come back every year on their own. Reds, russets, and yukons. They are beautiful, bountiful, and this year more than ever, you should consider having your own garden. More people have died of starvation than violence. Remember that when you read about all the food processing plants “mysteriously” catching fire.
This is the first time I’ve made homemade potato salad. It was for my mom’s 83rd birthday potluck. I doubled the recipe and hoped putting 6tbsp of white vinegar would be fine instead of 3tbsp. I lost my sense of taste and smell due to Covid, so I was worried the 6tbsp was too much. Luckily, It was a hit at the potluck!! My question is, was it ok to use the 6tbsp of white vinegar since I doubled the recipe? Instead of 6 potatoes, I did 12. Any advice is appreciated!
This looks great! I would just leave the skins on, myself! I used to have a fantastic potato salad recipe that called for dropping the eggs in with the boiling potatoes at the end to hard boil them. Made so much sense rather than boiling 2 pots of water but I lost the recipe. Anyone ever hear of it? It was either called Southern Potato Salad or Old Fashioned? I think it also called for diced dill pickle and bacon on top?
Wayne M Schronski
What do you think about using apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?
Sure Wayne, apple cider works too, just has a little more tang to it.
Wayne M Schronski
Well, I bought a small bottle of white vinegar anyway, because all I had on hand was apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar. I didn’t cost much and I figure it’s probably smart to keep it on hand.
But thanks for answering. I think I’ll stick with the white vinegar. I’m going for something classic, that won’t disappoint my wife, who’s been finicky lately!
This recipe is so good it has ruined all other potato salads out there. The other thing we do different is use miracle whip and mayonnaise plus we add pickles. This is definitely our favorite potato salad, ever!
So glad it’s a fave for you too Johna. And, pickles never hurt anything! :)
Delicious just added items without measuring till I found my taste. Be sure that eggs and potatoes are cool before blending.
Yvonne M Kriz
Thank you thank you for your recipe! For years I have tried to make it and basically gave up. Husband would tote some home from grocery store, I would eat some of it. I liked the containers more than the contents. I happened to have a bag of potatoes that I had parked in my crisper drawer and thought I better do something with them. So what else do you do with potatoes? I decided I would give it a whirl one more time. My husband was so jazzed up he went to the store to pick up the celery seed, celery and I made him get a bag of radishes which he looked dejected over. But he came home with everything I put on the list. Well, I have to tell you he, we loved it! I cant include a picture because it is already gone. I read all your tips beforehand and followed the recipe. My husband refuses to allow me to use MW. And I will work on that because I would like to try it with MW. Told me it was right up there beside his own mothers potato salad. And it was so spectacular I dont know whose mother could top it. Yes, I kept that to myself. I can finally bring something I made to gatherings and serve company that I made myself. The celery seeds are amazing! Who knew? Thank you Thank you Thank you!!
Robert R Gayda
Absolutely wonderful recipe the texture the crunch the taste everything is just as good as it gets
Just like grandmas! Thank you!
I made this… Delicious!
I loved the recipe. Although I tried a kind of different version since my wife doesn’t like eggs.
So I mixed Cottage Cheese and Potato’s and shallow fried it in butter. Actually more like roasted than fried.
Then added lemon and Jalapeños and olives and black pepper and salt.
I am sure it was way different than your receipt but tasted great.
My wife loved it. Thanks for the idea of Potato salad although I did it different.
This is identical to the recipe I grew up on in the 50s and 60s except it was made with Hellmann’s real mayonnaise. I didn’t taste Miracle whip until I visited friends who were originally from the Midwest and only had Miracle whip. I thought it was too sweet.
Your recipe is awesome! This recipe is definitely a keeper in my kitchen! Great every time. I might add a bit more mustard too, but that’s just personal preference. Thank you for sharing!
I don’t add celery because I simply don’t like it but otherwise, this recipe is just so good for our family.
This potato salad recipe is a MUST try!
This recipe is very similar to one from my Grandmother/Mother that I grew up with and have made for years. The differences are mlnor. Instead they/we use Best Foods mayo instead of Miracle Whip, but add a bit of sugar to the sauce. We used lots of eggs. We used red onions instead of green ones, but I can see the appeal of both. They/we use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, and sprinkled it on the hot potatoes. They/we then added the remainder of the vinegar to the dressing to make sure the tang appeared throughout the salad. Both are great recipies!
Sugar seems to be the secret Connie :)
Can I use russet potatoes instead of Yukon ?
Yes Teresa, you can, but they will break apart more when mixed.
I’ve seen a Japanese potato salad recipe that calls for mashing half the potatoes. It’s really good that was as well.
I have never tried potato salad and this is going to change after reading this post. have to try it to see how it tastes.
I have made many potato salads and didn’t like very many of them. I made your grandmother’s yesterday and I love it. Great Pinterest find! Thanks for sharing!
Glad you like it Cheryl!
Wow! I just wanted to verify ingredients and quantity before i started putting the salad together…but then i scrolled down here and WOW! Again!!!
So MANY mom and grandma and daughter stories ABOUT POTATO SALAD. Sorta seems like that is the spice that makes EVERYONE’S salad so good!!!
Thanks for the smiles that will make my salad tonight’s favorite food on the plate.
Love this salad!!! I’ve been making one that’s very similar but I got some great tips here. I just bookmarked your page!
Funny, my mom used to make her potato salad by mashing the potatoes and then adding the the onions, celery, etc to the salad. I’ve personally always cubed my potatoes.
I think she made hers this way because of where she came from.
would love to try this asap.
Pretty much like my moms as well but I add celery red onion hard boiled eggs dill pickles and a little pickle juice and I use MW its the only potatoe salad my hubby will eat sometimes I had a hint of mustard for the tang. salt and pepper I like it warm not so much cold but love it warm .Or when its first made
Love my potato salad warm too & i dont add eggs
I made this potato salad recipe today and it is the best type of potato salad ever hands down! I will continue to make this for any and all occasions easy peasy thank you for the recipe
Nice and tangy the way I like It!
I must say that this is one of the most interesting comment strings I’ve ever read on a food blog. Surely, potato salad must be a personal thing. I found your recipe as I was looking for a typical potato salad like I used to eat when I lived in the US. Yours sure seems to fit the mold. We don’t have Miricle Whip in Sweden, but our mayo tends to be sweeter than Helman’s, so I’ll be using that. Thanks so much for the recipe…
I just have to say I thought I hated Miracle Whip, (Best Foods girl), but this is my favorite potato salad. Thank you for a great recipe and making me try MW:)
Glad you enjoyed Sandy!
I quite like this recipe.. Not overpowering with seasonings like a lot of recipe’s.. simple & delicious. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed Melissa!
I’ve not tried potato salads, but this is a great recipe. Lots of good suggestions, too. I read that you should add your mayo mixture while the potatoes are still warm which encourages absorption of the yummy flavour. I do that, saving back a bit, and add the other good bits after a short while and then finish with the rest of the dressing about 1 1/2 hours before serving. Then it is not too dry and not too runny.
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
You will love it! Enjoy!