Classic Potato Salad Recipe (2024)

By Millie Peartree

Classic Potato Salad Recipe (1)

Total Time
35 minutes, plus chilling
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The recipe for this Southern classic came from the chef Millie Peartree’s mother, Millie Bell. The sweet relish melds with the creamy potatoes for a deep, balanced flavor. Onion powder adds savory notes without the texture of diced onion, which could overpower the dish. Make sure that your eggs are rinsed thoroughly, so no pieces of shell remain, and that your potatoes are uniformly cut in roughly 1-inch cubes so they all finish cooking at the same time. (Millie Bell used her thumb as a measure.) And, most important of all, don’t overcook the potatoes — they take only 15 to 20 minutes to boil. You want potato salad, not mashed potatoes. You can prepare potato salad ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 4 days.

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Yield:8 servings (2½ quarts)

  • 3pounds russet, Yukon Gold or Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1cup mayonnaise
  • ¼cup sweet relish
  • 1tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
  • 6hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced small
  • 2celery stalks (optional)
  • Sweet paprika, for garnish

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

381 calories; 25 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 14 grams polyunsaturated fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 7 grams protein; 563 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Classic Potato Salad Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Set the potatoes in a large pot; add 1 tablespoon salt and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Set over high heat and cook just until fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. (You still want the potatoes to still have some shape to avoid turning the dish into mashed potatoes.) Drain potatoes, and set them aside to cool.

  2. Step


    As potatoes cool, make the dressing: To a large bowl, add mayonnaise, relish, mustard and granulated onion; whisk to combine.

  3. Step


    Add the potatoes to the dressing, along with the diced hard-boiled eggs, and celery, if using; stir gently to combine. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as needed.

  4. Step


    Chill for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. Serve cold. Finish with a sprinkle of paprika. Potato salad will keep for 4 days in an airtight container.



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Cooking Notes

june grinter

Reading the last line of the intro, I think it is funny that my kids (all older adults now) to this day think I make the best "Mom's mashed potato salad" ever. When they were young I was always in a hurry and often made potato salad with very warm potatoes. As it was mixed the potatoes broke up and some were very like mashed potatoes and others helter-skelter chunks. They and others love it to this day. I have made it with cooled potatoes and they don't absorb the flavors that warm ones do.


I’m a Southern girl, potato salad without chopped hard boiled eggs is unthinkable. You’re welcome.


'Brining' your cooked potatoes in pickle juice or relish juice adds a ton of flavor to this dish!


I love the comments on this recipe. The variations and your way of sharing them makes me feel I’m getting to know you all at a picnic! Here in Nova Scotia we eat potato salad - hard boiled eggs included - with lobster and sliced tomatoes on the side.


Don't bother with the granulated onion use regular onions finely diced, and add a little of the relish juice over warm potatoes . I use the hard boiled eggs in two ways, mash the yolks into the dressing and dice the whites and add to the potatoes. To get the best taste add the dressing when the potatoes are still a little warm, mix gently and refrigerate. Any variation is good with this salad a little horseradish adds a nice zip to it also.

patricia geary

The russets were cooked, peeled and cubed early in the morning. While hot added the cider vinegar. Put in frig until afternoon and then finished the rest.. My mom always added a small jar of chopped Dromedary diced pimentos and fine chopped baby jerkin's instead of relish. Still use the same large yellow Pyrex bowl

Thomas Pender

Try using 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. (Duke's mayo, of course!)Fresh dill, finely diced, is great in potato salad.I use red potatoes and leave the skin on.

Tim Huddleston

My mom added some celery seed. Anyone got a problem with that?


I would finely chopped the celery and add 1/3 cup of finely chopped yellow onions to this recipe.


I have to say I love the hard boiled eggs in the salad!


This is very nearly the potato salad my mother taught me to make when I was a little girl. We boiled russet potatoes whole, then peeled and cut them into cubes while still hot/warm. A little hard on the fingers, but boiling cubed russets, it seems to me, would cause them to get soggy. We always had a certain proportion of mashed to cubed potatoes, as the outsides were more cooked than the insides, but that was part of the goodness of the dish.


This is what I grew up with and made my recipe-free version last week. Use green/yellow/white onions but never dried/powdered. Also, boil your eggs with your potatoes. A bit of horseradish gives it a nice zing too.

Lind Hoquist

This is a great basic recipe but I stand with those who use diced sweet onions versus powder. I’ll add other ingredients depending on what’s at hand. Peas or seedless cucumber, leftover ham or bacon, whatever yellow mustard enhances.


When you cut up the potatoes use all parts not just the cubes, no one really checks to make sure that every piece is cubed

A Pollack

Re HB eggs in potato salad: the yolks crumble into the dressing, changing the consistency slightly - and they do add nutrition, of course.


I have a family member who will not eat anything with onions in it, but does eat onion flavored things, so I'm thinking of trying with the onion powder. Anyone else used onion powder? If so, did a teaspoon seem the right amount?

Sandi Edwards

I always bake my potatoes for potato salad. Bake them the day before and put them in the refrigerator overnight. Chopped HB eggs, finely minced onion and dill pickles. Mayo, yellow mustard,salt,pepper and pickle juice whisked together for the dressing. I get lots of compliments on my potato salad.

Jeff Bowles

"Separately, fry up a few strips of bacon. Save the grease in the pan, let it cool down. Slice-or-crumble the bacon and stir into the potato salad. Dump the bacon fat into the potato salad. Stir. Write the phone number for your cardiologist and put it next to the telephone."


Mom was raised in southern Idaho, used russets where they are grown. She used russets because the soil had volcanic ash that gave russets more flavor than other types of potatoes. Mom would use some onion powder, but also finely diced green onions including the scallion that added some color. The rest of the recipe is the same, and it is the best. My friends ask for it.


To add some flavor, mix in a simple French vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, salt, paprika) to the warm potatoes, then chill them several hours or overnight before adding the remaining ingredients. (IIRC, this tip is from my mom’s 1947 Women’s Home Companion Cookbook).


Well I have 3 pounds of undercooked potatoes potato salad. The author wrote twice not to overcook the potatoes and I overthought the instruction.

Diane K

I thought these were pretty dry and needed a lot more seasoning. And I would say it makes 8 servings for people who want a whole lot of potato salad. I used slightly under 3 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes and 5 hard boiled eggs for a BBQ for 7 and we probably eat about a quarter of the amount this recipe made.


Used this recipe as my base but made several changes: small sweet onion diced instead of powder and pickles diced instead of sweet relish… I also only used 4 eggs, which was enough for me personally. If anyone is looking for additional guidance on the potato cookery, I suggest Serious Eats’ potato salad recipe. I cooked the potatoes according to their directions, adding 2 tbsp salt and apple cider vinegar to the water. Cook for 10 min once boiling with potatoes starting in the cool water.


I add sliced olives to mine. And add the olive juice to the potato water when boiling them and adjust the added salt.

Stephanie Snider

My favorite potato salad recipe; just the basics. I would caution not to add additional salt as the relish and mayo are already salty.

Rodger Madison

1 cup mayo = 226 grams1/4 relish = 70 grams


Thought this came out fantastic. I took note of what others had suggested and I poured some pickle juice over the warm potatoes. So good. I also finely chopped a few dill baby gherkins to add in the dressing with the sweet relish.


Didn't have dill or celery, used some pickled beets from a store bought glass jar. Maybe a third of a beet and a tablespoon of the juice. Added a nice color, but obviously no crunch, also added about half a teaspoon of wasabi paste. It turned out tasty.

Ed Moser

Sweet pickle relish in potato salad is just plain wrong...hotdogs only. Never in any of the "salads": potato, tuna, chicken, ham, egg...never; just on hotdogs (if even that).Chopped onions and chopped celery are a onion powder. Hellman's or Duke's others especially Kraft salad dressing.

Ivan W

Midwest African American here. My mother would never leave out small bits of sweet pickle and carefully diced bits of fresh tomato, never peeled. The pickles' sweetness blended intoxicatingly with the eggs and potato. The skin still on the diced tomato added a savor and texture to the eating. (Mustard would have canceled all of this.) Eating this with crisp fried chicken, drinking cherry Kool-Aid, followed by cold watermelon, we knew we were in deep summer.

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Classic Potato Salad Recipe (2024)


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