There’s an unspoken rule at every BBQ/cookout/picnic/family reunion I’ve been to. That rule is this: you must know who made the potato salad before you eat it. If your potato salad doesn’t have a super-flavorful pickle relish dressing and fluffy potatoes, then you need this recipe. With this Country-Style Potato Salad, you’ll not only be the star of the cookout, but you’ll also attain deity status. I’m basically teaching you how to be a god.
What makes this a Country-Style Potato Salad?
When I think of a “country-style potato salad,” I think of one that tastes like I’m sitting in a homey cafe while I’m eating it. Said cafe must be run by an older, slightly-pudgy woman with two first names. Ethel Mae or Mabel Ann sound perfect. Instead of ending her sentences with periods, she should end it “Baby.” The potato salad must walk a fine line between side dish and being a meal on its own. It has to be bright yellow, contain eggs and copious amounts of mayonnaise. If not, it ain’t country-style.
Think of any soul food restaurant you’ve eaten at. And, please, don’t mistake my use of the term “soul food” to mean “Black.” I’m speaking of the comfort foods of a culture that make you smile at first bite. Most of those potato salads are loaded with flavor. They have the briny twang of pickles with consistency: a cross between mashed potatoes and chunky boiled potatoes. That’s what makes this recipe what it is. No, I’m not from the country, but I’ve studied at the side of many a country Madear and they taught me well.
What potatoes do I use for potato salad?
Because there are something like 4,000 different types of potatoes, we need to narrow it down. Russet potatoes or Yukon Golds are the only potatoes I think are suitable for this recipe. Maybe new potatoes (red potatoes) if I’m desperate and they’re all I have.
Since russets are floury potatoes, you must take care not to overcook them. I want a slightly mashed consistency here, but not so much that we are talked about at the family BBQ. Red potatoes I recommend as a last resort. They are waxy potatoes and tend to not break down (and mash) as the former does. Yukon Golds are an in-between tater. They’re not as fluffy as russet and not as waxy as reds. Just use a russet or Yukon Gold for this recipe here.
What other ingredients do I need to make this Country-Style Potato Salad?
Additionally, you need spices like granulated garlic, seasoned salt (Lawry’s is the seasoned salt for country-style anything), paprika, and black pepper. Also, roasted red peppers, red (or purple) onion, yellow mustard, dill and parsley, and mayonnaise, of course.
I think country-style potato salad has to have eggs in it. Furthermore, I believe that sweet pickle relish, and yes, it must be sweet, is also a must. Both of these make soul food potato salad what it is. So, grab eggs and sweet pickle relish while you’re shopping. And, of course, the potatoes.
The cooking takes place in a large pot, and mixing happens in a large bowl. If you have a big-ass metal kitchen spoon, I think that will add to the flavor. No real rhyme or reason; it’s just a thing.
Can I leave the eggs out of my potato salad?
If you have an aversion or allergy to eggs, don’t worry, you can omit them from this recipe. Since we’re using a lot of them in here, replace them with another potato. That way, your salad isn’t overly creamy (if that’s even a thing).
If you want to add more eggs, feel free to add up to 6 more (for a total of 1 dozen). That will border on egg potato salad, but I’m not here to judge. On the contrary, if you want to reduce the number of eggs in your salad, go ahead and add as few as you want. No biggie.
How long do I boil the potatoes for potato salad?
There are a few ways you can prepare your potatoes for this recipe. It’s more efficient to peel, cut, then boil your potatoes, though. If you go lobbing whole potatoes into your stockpot, more likely than not, you’re going to have mushy exteriors with crunchy interiors. The only crunch in this dish should be from the onions.
So, after scrubbing and peeling your spuds, cut each one into 1-inch chunks. This doesn’t have to be super-precise, but you want all of the potato chunks to be roughly the same size. Should you leave some larger than the others, they won’t be done at the same time.
Once your taters are cut, throw them into a pot of cold water. The water needs to cover the potatoes 5-6 inches. Put the pot on the stove to boil on medium-high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the eggs to the pot. Boil the potatoes and eggs for an additional 15 minutes or until the largest chunk offers a knife minimal resistance when pierced.
Hard-boiled eggs only take 12 minutes to cook, but a few extra minutes won’t hurt them. Plus, it’s just easier to get all the cooking done at the same time.
What are the most common seasonings in Potato Salad?
While the taters and eggs are cooking, go ahead and start the sweet pickle relish dressing. The dressing begins, as many of my recipes do, with a generous amount of seasonings. Nothing labeled country-style should taste bland. This potato salad won’t start the trend, either. I’ve seen some folks only use salt and pepper in their salads. Listen, I’m not here to judge a soul, but why not use the spices God has blessed us with? If you’re only going to use two spices, at least make one of them Lawry’s seasoned salt. That’s like 80-million spices in one. Lawry’s is the classic seasoning for most soul food dishes, but especially potato salad. I’m using it along with pepper, paprika (also a must in soul food potato salad), and granulated garlic.
Add the spices to a large mixing bowl. I don’t use fresh garlic in this recipe because its flavor is too overwhelming.
I don’t have/like yellow mustard. Can I use a different one?
Yellow mustard, the humble ingredient that it is, is the mustard for potato salad. Its bright yellow hue gives the country-style potato salad its distinctive color. The tanginess of the mustard cuts through the richness of the mayonnaise and highlights the sweetness of the relish. I strongly recommend it. But, if you don’t have yellow, substitute brown mustard, dijon, or deli mustard in its place.
You can even omit the mustard if you want to.
More flavor from minced red onions, that sweet pickle relish, fresh parsley and dill, and roasted red peppers (the jarred kind) get thrown into the bowl. If you don’t have red onions, use Spanish onions or yellow onions. They’re milder in flavor than white onions. The parsley and dill are optional, but the salad tastes so good with them.
Can I make the Pickle Relish Dressing for this Country-Style Potato Salad ahead?
Next, add 3/4s of the mayonnaise to the bowl. Stir everything together nice and smooth with a large rubber spatula. I leave a quarter of the mayo out to add to the chilled potato salad later. Something about that step makes the salad so much creamier than it is when I skip it.
Now, if you’re pressed for time, go ahead and make this sweet pickle relish dressing one or two days ahead. Transfer it to a storage container and stir it in when you’re ready.
How long do I let the potato salad chill?
Once the potatoes and eggs are cooked, strain them in a colander. Leave them in the colander to cool for an hour or so, then transfer them to a mixing bowl. I put my potatoes and eggs in the fridge for another hour so both can firm up. It makes peeling the eggs easier, and the yolks and whites hold together better when I cut them. You don’t have to, though. This is just a preference of mine.
Once cool, peel the eggs. Cut the eggs into quarters or sixths and throw them in the bowl of potatoes.
Next, pour the salad dressing over the potatoes and use that wide rubber spatula to fold the potatoes into the dressing.
Cover the bowl and chill the potato salad completely. This usually takes about 4-5 hours, but a potato salad should be cold cold.
How do I make a really creamy potato salad?
Here’s how to make this the creamiest country-style potato salad in all the land: stir in that last portion of mayonnaise. The first part of the dressing was to flavor the potatoes. Though chilled, they still absorb some of that dressing. Once they’re cold, though, they kind of stop sucking up the flavor and dry out a bit. Stirring in this last bit of mayonnaise wakes it up with creaminess.
Fold the last of the mayo in really well, then garnish the salad with sprigs of fresh parsley, dill, and (because you can’t leave this out) a generous dusting of paprika. Because, like most people, if I don’t see paprika on your potato salad, I’m judging it as not good.
What do I serve this Country-Style Potato Salad with?
As I said, I think a good potato salad should be able to stand on its own. By that I mean, it must be so good that people must want to eat it as a meal by itself.
But, maybe you’re more normal than I. If you do need something else to go with it, I invite you to pair it with:
Any of these recipes will bring out the creaminess and flavor of this country-style potato salad.
How do I store leftovers?
Be sure to keep your potato salad chilled. If I take it to a BBQ where the food will sit outdoors, I bring a larger dish to sit the bowl of my potato salad in. I fill the outer bowl with ice and make sure to stir the salad frequently. No one’s getting sick from my potato salad. No, thank you.
Once you’ve had your fill, cover the bowl tightly and store it in the fridge. The salad may crust over a little because of the cold air hardening the potatoes’ starch, but a quick stir will make it creamy again.
Potato salad will keep in the fridge for 3 days after you’ve mixed it. Be sure not to leave the salad sitting out for too long. Serve what you will, then cover and return it to the fridge.
Can I freeze this dish?
I honestly have never frozen potato salad. Because of the mayo in this recipe, I don’t think it will thaw with the same consistency had you not frozen it. That’s to say, I don’t recommend freezing this potato salad.
If you do freeze it and have success, let me know what you think after tasting it again.
What other cold salads do you have?
I’m a sucker for a creamy cold salad. Here are a few more floating around here:
Be sure to pin this recipe to your salad board, and don’t forget to tag me on social media if you make it.
Country-Style Potato Salad
- 12-quart stock pot
- 5 pounds (2 1/4 kilos) russet potatoes cleaned and peeled
- 6 large eggs
Sweet Pickle Mayo Dressing (can be made 2-3 days ahead)
- 3/4 cup (from 1/2 a large) red onion minced
- 1/2 cup (130 grams) sweet pickle relish
- 1/3 cup (70 grams) red pimiento peppers drained and minced
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley), plus more to garnish
- 1 tablespoon dill leaves chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried dill leaves)
- 3 cups (715 grams) mayonnaise separated
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika plus more to garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
Cook the Potatoes and Eggs
- Cut each potato in half, then cut those halves into 8 equal pieces. Make sure the potato chunks are roughly the same size so they cook evenly.Once cut, throw the chunks of potatoes into a pot of cold water. The water should cover the potatoes by 5-6 inches.
- Set the pot on the stove and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the eggs to the pot. Boil the potatoes and eggs for an additional 15 minutes or until the largest chunk offers a knife minimal resistance when pierced.
- Once the potatoes and eggs are cooked, strain them in a colander. Leave them in the colander to cool for an hour or so, then transfer them to a mixing bowl. Put this bowl in the fridge for an hour to firm them up.
Prepare the Sweet Pickle Relish Dressing (can be done 2-3 days ahead and stored in the fridge)
- Add the minced onion, pickle relish, pimientos, parsley, dill, 2 1/4 cups of mayonnaise, mustard, seasoned salt, granulated garlic powder, paprika, and pepper to a mixing bowl. Stir everything together until smooth and well-blended.
Finish the Potato Salad
- Once the potatoes and eggs are cool, peel the eggs. Next, cut the eggs into quarters or sixths and throw them back in the bowl with the potatoes.
- Pour the prepared salad dressing over the potatoes and use a wide rubber spatula or spoon to fold the potatoes into the dressing. Cover the bowl and chill the potato salad completely or about 4-5 hours.
- Once fully chilled, stir in the remaining mayonnaise really well, then garnish the salad with sprigs of fresh parsley and a generous dusting of paprika. Be sure to keep your potato salad chilled before, during, and after serving.
Swaps and Subs:
- If you have an aversion or allergy to eggs, you can omit them from this recipe. Replace the amount of eggs in this recipe with one large potato.
- If you want to add more eggs, up to 6 more (for a total of 1 dozen) can be added to the pot with the potatoes.
On the contrary, if you want to reduce the number of eggs in your salad, add more or less to suit your preference.
- If you don't have yellow mustard, substitute brown mustard, dijon, or deli mustard in its place. You can also omit the mustard in this recipe.
- If you don't have red onions, use Spanish onions or yellow onions.
- If you're serving this at an event where the potato salad will sit outdoors, bring a larger dish to sit the bowl of my potato salad in. Fill the outer bowl with ice and a little cold water. Make sure to stir the salad frequently. This will keep the salad from becoming too warm and spoiling.
- To store leftover: cover the bowl tightly and store it in the fridge. Potato salad will keep in the fridge for 3 days after you've prepared it.
- Be sure to never leave the salad sitting out for too long. Serve what you will, then cover and return it to the fridge.