Play Me a Recipe

Southern Potato Salad Recipe

January 29, 2021
1 Rating
Photo by Meiko Temple
Author Notes

The most controversial and acclaimed dish at the Black family cookout is, hands down, the potato salad. If invited to a family function, you are bound to be prompted with the question, “Who made the [fill in the blank]?” A handful of dishes complete that question, but most commonly, you’ll hear it filled with potato salad.

So why is potato salad so important to Black culture? According to this article exploring its origins, Jeffrey Strickland explains that 19th century German immigrants and enslaved African Americans “enjoyed relatively positive social, economic, and political relations during the mid- to late-nineteenth century.” This openness of exchange set the scene for the potato salad as popular southern staple. Over time the dish has evolved by including ingredients that help stretch the plate and the wallet. Over time the dish has evolved by including ingredients that help stretch the plate and the wallet.

There is no denying that Black people take their potato salad very, very seriously. It’s so coveted that to make sure it is made right, it is assigned to a tried-and-trusted elder for family get-togethers. Everybody knows you don’t eat just anybody’s potato salad!

Depending on the region you are from, we may disagree on minor details like the type of mayo, relish variety, or the inclusion of onions. [If you’re from the South, you’re probably loyal to Duke’s plus a sprinkling of sugar; while contentious, I like Miracle Whip, which brings its own subtle sweetness. But some things are musts all around: Southern potato salad should be a blend of chilled, fork-tender potatoes, dressed in a creamy and tangy sauce made of mayonnaise and mustard, loaded with hard-boiled eggs, and doused with a hefty sprinkle of paprika.

Southern Potato Salad is a crowd-pleaser. Precept upon precept, this cookout-approved version here follows all of big mama’s guidelines and a few extras: a little bit of hot sauce for a kick of spice and color, celery seed to add an earthy freshness that brightens up the salad, chopped celery for crunch and contrast, and a sprinkle of green onion on top (because that’s what my family prefers).

While sometimes contentious, the battle of the potato salad is as simple as its ingredients. At the core, it’s all about ingenuity—making something out of nothing—and showing the people you love how much you care through your food.

This recipe was featured on our new cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Meiko boils, whisks, and folds her way through this dish, offering tips and backstory along the way.Meiko And The Dish

  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 13 minutes
  • Serves 6-8
  • 5 pounds Russet potatoes, cleaned, peeled, and cut to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs (4 peeled, diced, and chilled; 1 sliced, for garnish)
  • 2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet relish
  • 1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Paprika, for garnish
  • Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish
In This Recipe
  1. Place the cubed potatoes and chicken stock in a medium pot. If the potatoes aren’t fully submerged by the chicken broth, add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and the bay leaf, and cover with a lid. Turn heat to high; once boiling, remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 13-15 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.
  2. To test for doneness, pierce a potato with a fork; there should be slight resistance, and the potato should retain its shape. When ready, immediately transfer the potatoes to a colander and drain. Spread the potatoes out on a sheet pan to cool, and once at room temperature, transfer to the fridge.
  3. In a bowl combine the celery, relish, Miracle Whip, mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, kosher salt, and black pepper and mix the dressing until combined. Chill in the fridge.
  4. Once both the potatoes and dressing are cool, remove from the fridge. In a large bowl, add a third of the potatoes and the dressing and mix until combined. Use the back of a wooden spoon to slightly mash the potatoes. Add another third of the potatoes and dressing and fold them in. Finally, fold in the last third of the potatoes and dressing.
  5. Top with the sliced egg and green onions, then sprinkle with celery seed and lots of paprika. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Meiko is corporate America retiree turned full-time foodie and host. Besides her obvious love of cooking she obsessed with designing foodie apparel, celebrity gossip sites and hosting elaborate dining experiences. She shares her recipes, kitchen hacks and entertaining tips on the blog Check it out!

1 Review

Nicole S. February 3, 2021
I don't see the Miracle Whip listed in the ingredients list. Currently making it, I'll wing it!