The Best Potato Salad – My Mother’s Recipe

The Best Texas Potato Salad

I grew up in Texas where potato salad is a staple at backyard cookouts, graduations, family celebrations and even weddings and I believe the best potato salad is my mother’s recipe.

The Best Texas Potato Salad
The Best Potato Salad Is My Mother’s Recipe

Potato salad is pretty much a blank canvas that you can prepare to your own tastes. So what is it about a recipe that makes it go from a good to great tasting side dish? Are there secret ingredients that can make potato salad special? I believe that my mother had the answer to those questions.

In Texas smoked meats and potato salad are a real crowd pleaser at backyard cookouts, graduations, family celebrations and even weddings. Texans know good potato salad and most every family has their favorite recipe but to my thinking, my mother’s recipe was and still is the best. Like many other home cooks, she used hardboiled eggs, onion, celery, and mayonnaise but what made hers special were dill pickles, some of the pickle juice and mustard. The zesty flavor of mustard and briny pickles brighten the flavor of the potato salad and goes especially well with the smoky goodness of barbecue. She did one other thing that made her recipe special and that is to “cook the potatoes in their jackets” as she used to say. She cooked the potatoes with the skin on then peeled them so they retained their nutrients and flavor, didn’t get watery and didn’t fall apart.

The Best Potato Salad - My Mother's Recipe
My Mother’s Potato Salad Made With Eggs, Dill Pickles And Mustard

My mother never measured when cooking, everything was done to taste. Like her, I usually don’t measure unless I’m sharing a recipe with my readers then I measure all of the ingredients until the flavor is just right. I like to taste as I go and you should as well. The last thing you want is bland potato salad and the potatoes you use will determine how much seasoning your potatoes will need. This recipe creates a flavorful potato salad that has a zippy taste from the pickles and mustard while the red onions and celery add a nice crispness to counter the softer eggs and potatoes.

The Best Potato Salad - My Mother's Recipe
The Best Potato Salad Is My Mother’s Recipe

My Mother’s Potato Salad

  • 3 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, washed but not peeled
  • 1/2 large red onion diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 or 2 dill pickles, diced, I use Claussen’s refrigerated pickles
  • 1 c. mayonnaise, I used Duke’s
  • 5 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tsp. salt, to your taste
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. pickle juice (if needed add an addition Tbsp., one at a time, until the taste is to your liking) I needed a total of 8 Tbsp. for the potatoes I used
  • 6 hardboiled eggs, peeled (5 cubed and 1 sliced for garnish)
  • chopped parsley or dill for garnish

Place the whole potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water by 2 – 3 inches and salt water generously. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium, cook at a gentle boil until tender about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Add additional water, if necessary, to keep the potatoes covered. Drain the potatoes and let rest on a large tray until cool enough to handle then peel and cut into cubes.

Place the potatoes into a very large mixing bowl then add the onions, celery and pickles. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and 4 Tbsp. of pickle juice. Pour over the potatoes and mix gently until all the potatoes are well coated then taste and adjust seasonings and pickle juice, if necessary. Add the cubed hardboiled eggs and gently mix. Cover and refrigerate several hours but preferably overnight for the flavors to blend. When ready to serve, taste one last time to see if any additional seasoning is required, then garnish with sliced hardboiled eggs and parsley.

Notes:

  • Use good quality waxy potatoes, I used Yukon gold.
  • Use potatoes that are firm, with no dark spots, deep cuts or sprouting eyes.
  • Try to use potatoes that are all the same size. If not, you may need to remove smaller potatoes when cooked while larger potatoes may need to cook a little longer.
  • Make sure the potatoes are cooked through. There is nothing worse than eating undercooked, crunchy potatoes.
  • Potatoes are done when a long metal skewer, fork or thin knife can slide all the way through without resistance.
  • Remember that potatoes need to be well seasoned. You may need to increase or decrease some of the ingredients so I would suggest to taste several times before refrigerating.
  • Don’t over mix or you will end up with mashed potatoes.
  • Add eggs at the end and mix gently so that they don’t completely fall apart.
  • Potato salad tastes better after being refrigerated for several hours or even better made one day in advance.
  • Garnish the potato salad with sliced hardboiled eggs, parsley, dill or paprika, if desired.
  • Depending on your taste, you can add or remove ingredients to your liking. Make the recipe your own by adding chopped bacon, sliced scallions, olives, capers or even sweet pickle relish but then again, it won’t be My Mother’s Recipe.

****

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and backyard cookouts so I thought this was the perfect time to share this old-fashioned recipe of my mother’s with my readers. It is one of my favorite summer sides to serve with barbecue, hamburgers, hotdogs or sandwiches, it is great to take to a potluck meal for a group of friends or to serve with southern fried chicken or baked ham at your family dinner table. Tell me, do some of the foods that you love come from recipes that your mother originally made for you. My mother’s fried chicken and potato salad will always be my favorites.

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124 thoughts on “The Best Potato Salad – My Mother’s Recipe

  1. Karen, potato salad is a staple for me and perfect for outdoor picnics and parties. Your mother’s recipe is very similar to mine. Have a most wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

  2. Growing up in Kansas, I believe the words you wrote to describe potato salad, could have been my own. Except for the Dijon. My mom always used plain yellow mustard. And don’t get me started about her fried chicken — ohmygood. Great post Karen. And yay for potato salad season. Or is it always potato salad season? 🙂

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment Lea Ann, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post about my mother’s potato salad. It sounds like I would like your mother’s cooking as well.

  3. I love potato salad and make mine similar to your mother’s. I also use pickle juice when I make deviled eggs. Thanks for sharing her recipe. Old recipes are gems 💎
    Cheers,
    Carolyn

    1. Hi Carolyn, Pickle juice really is a nice ingredient to add…I like the idea of using it in deviled eggs. I’m glad you like the potato salad recipe, thank you.

  4. It’s funny, my mother’s potato salad was NOT my favorite dish, probably because she used Miracle Whip which I quickly grew to dislike. My brothers all love it. I prefer YOUR mother’s version or sure!

    1. Hi David, Miracle Whip is not my favorite either although my husband likes it. It is a little too sweet for me. I’m glad you like my mother’s version of potato salad, thank you.

  5. Oh, Mom’s recipes are definitely among my favorites! In fact, a lot of the things we cook up in our kitchen are riffs off of recipes that my Mom made years ago. I love a good potato salad! It’s a staple for summer cookouts, and I might just have to make a batch this weekend. You know what’s funny? My Mom’s version also includes dill pickles…it’s a requirement! I like the idea of a bit of the juice in there, too. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. It seems our cooking is definitely influenced by our mothers. I’m glad you like the idea of pickle juice, it really adds lots of flavor. Thank you for your nice comment David.

  6. I am a great lover of potato salads and make them often in the summer as they remind me of home. Ours, which in Spain we call Ensaladilla Rusa (Russian Salad) is very similar to yours, with added roasted peppers and tuna. I have never heard of dill pickles, but if I come across them, I’ll give them a go. Thanks for sharing yet agin.

    1. Hi Fatima, I’ve had Ensaladilla Rusa when we lived in Santo Domingo, it was good. Perhaps another name for dill pickle is a sour pickle where you are.

  7. My mom’s potato salad was OK, but mine is better. Mainly because I used some pickle relish and/or chopped up dill pickle! I like mustard, too, but usually make a mustard potato salad when I do that. Anyway I’d be delighted to eat your potato salad, and only your potato salad, because it looks terrific. Thanks! (And thanks to your mom!)

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment John, I’m glad you like my mother’s version of potato salad…I always thought it was the best. 🙂

  8. Isn’t that funny. My mother’s potato salad is also my favorite! It’s surprisingly similar to yours, hold the red onions in favor of green.
    Now to make certain the universe isn’t too terribly silly: are your favorite deviled eggs your Mother-in-law’s recipe? (Mine are.)

    1. Hi Plumdirt, It sounds like we both appreciate our mother’s potato salad as being the best. My mother-in-law was a good cook but she never made deviled eggs.

  9. Your mom’s recipe is very similar to my mom’s! I’m so hungry just thinking about a big scoop for an afternoon snack. Food memories (and recipes!) are the best.

  10. I’m guessing many of us could title a post “The Best Potato Salad – My Mother’s Recipe” and I’m one of them. Hers was very similar to yours, including the mustard but without the pickles and we still make it the same way – make it early afternoon so the flavors can marry, then leave it setting out until served at room temperature. I sure wish I had wanted her to teach me to cook and ended up with more of her recipes. Enjoy your mom’s potato salad.

    1. You gave me a smile Larry, I thought exactly the same thing when I was deciding on the title for the potato salad recipe. 😀 I imagine we all think our mother’s version is the best.

  11. Pickle juice and dill pickles sound like a wonderful addition. I am trying this!! We grew up with sweet pickles or olives in our potato salad.

    1. Thank you Penny, I hope you will enjoy my mother’s recipe for potato salad with dill pickles and I will have to try your version with olives. 🙂

  12. That sounds delicious to me. I have a chef friend in Barcelona who makes amazing celery pickles – I’ve been meaning to ask him for a long time, for the recipe…

    1. Hi Amelia, I’m sorry you don’t have your mother’s recipe. I have my mother’s recipe for potato salad because I would help her make it…she never used a written recipe.

  13. *smile* Have read thru’ your recipe more than once and it is going straight into my kitchen file. I truly hope you can see this as a compliment as I use potatoes about once a month and make a ‘potato salad perchance twice every summer . . . oh, the mayonnaise will not be there, but methinks you know that ! Actually Mom I believe used a rather similar recipe in my childhood with sour cream substituting for mayonnaise . . .in my case rice, beans, noodles and ancient grains have taken over . . .

    1. I do appreciate your lovely compliment Eha. Oven the years, we do get to know the foods that our blogging friends like so I thank you.

    1. Hi Tandy, It is nice to know that your grandfather’s recipe for potato salad is similar. Yes, there really is not a reason to measure for lots of dishes we prepare unless we are passing them along to others.

    1. Hi Caroline, I hope you will enjoy my mother’s version of potato salad if you get a chance to try it…my husband and I really enjoy it.

  14. YUM! As an Okie, you know I love potato salad as well! I use my aunt’s recipe that is pretty much just like yours except you chunk your potatoes and we mash ours. Now I want some potato salad. Great recipe!

    1. Thank you for your compliment Kelli. I’ve had a mashed version similar to my mother’s at several BBQ stands and it was good as well. 🙂

  15. Also being a Texan by birth, I know a good potato salad when I see it and this one looks fantastic. My mom’s recipe was very similar. She made the potato salad sauce with mayo, pickle juice, yellow mustard and an egg yolk that was pressed through a tea strainer. I see a potato salad on our menu soon. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. From one Texan to another, thank you Ron for your compliment. It is interesting about pressing the egg yolk and here I try so hard to keep them from breaking up too much. 😀

  16. Karen, that sounds delightful, even if it is a little different from MY mother’s potato salad! Though I will always only *make* my mother’s, I will enjoy *eating* any good homemade potato salad, and yours is definitely a good one.

  17. Thanks for this recipe, Karen! A fellow at church was just talking about potato salad with dill pickles (something I’d never experienced until I moved to the South) and now I know how to make it, thanks to you! Beautiful bowl, too.

    1. Thank you Kim, I’m happy to be able to pass on a good potato salad recipe with pickles. Everyone I’ve made it for really enjoys it.

  18. Mom’s recipes are always the best. We also do not usually use measurements when cooking but need to measure exactly when testing and writing up recipes. This potato salad is going to styling at so many backyard BBQ’s this summer. Take Care

  19. I would love to have a helping of your potato salad right now with a German hot dog and mustard. My mom also made a great potato salad with bacon and vinegar. I have not been able to reproduce it.

  20. Thanks for sharing your mother’s recipe. 🙂 It sounds delicious and I love the idea of the pickle brine in the mix. My mom never wrote anything down either, and I’m always trying to recreate her dishes. ~Valentina

    1. I’m happy to have shared my mother’s potato salad recipe Valentina. I used to help my mother make hers so I was able to recreate how she made it.

    1. Hi Dawn Marie, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment and hug. I do hope that you will enjoy the potato salad if you get the chance to try the recipe.

  21. I love all the tips, Karen. Like cooking the potatoes in their jackets! That’s a great idea! This recipe is very close to my grandmother’s potato salad, which is the recipe our family claims as the “world’s greatest!” LOL! But I’m intrigued with the dill pickles. My grandmother used sweet pickles and quite a bit of that juice. I’m definitely going to try your mother’s method and compare the two tastes. My son-in-law likes to smoke meats, and I like the rationale for the dill pickles with Texas BBQ!. 🙂

    1. Hi Debra, While you have the “world’s greatest” potato salad recipe, I do believe you will enjoy my mother’s version with the dill pickles for a totally different taste. 😀 And yes, it does indeed go very well with Texas BBQ.

  22. I noticed the potatoes are Yukon gold and they’re not peeled — perfect. And the pickle juice? Totally! Karen, this does sound like the best potato salad recipe and I love that your mom passed it on to you. 🙂

    1. I’m happy to know that you like my mother’s potato salad, it is always a hit when I serve it to friends and family. Thank you for your nice compliment Judy.

  23. For as common as they seem to be, a solid potato salad is shocking hard to come by. I usually go for more German-style recipes with oil and vinegar, plenty of herbs and capers, but this does sound like a real winner for the creamier style!

    1. Hi Hannah, I’m glad that you like the recipe, thank you. Your potato salad sounds good as well, especially with the herbs and capers.

  24. Your mom and my mom made pretty much the same potato salad, and I’ve never found any better. I made your Jamaican shrimp curry Friday night for friends and we all loved it.

    1. Hi Linda, It seems that a lot of my readers mothers made similar potato salad…I do think it is “the best”. Thank you for letting me know that you made and enjoyed my Jamaican shrimp curry. 😀

  25. I will have to get my sister to send me my mom’s recipe. Yours very much looks like mom’s. Yes, you are right, Texas BBQ/smoked meats must be accompanied with potato salad and a close second is a good coleslaw! Thanks for sharing.

  26. mmm. . . the potato salad looks wonderful – and would be perfect for a summer picnic. It reminds me of some of the potato salads that I remember eating at family reunions when I was a child.

  27. Sounds good Karen. 🙂 We make potato salad the Bavarian way, like my partner’s Mum used to make it with just onion, vinegar, salt and pepper and a dash of oil. She always cooked the potatoes in their skins too and I inherited the fork she used to hold them while peeling them – I still always burn my fingers though! 😉 I like the idea of using pickles for the flavour.

    1. Hi Cathy, Yes I sometimes burn my fingers as well while peeling the skins off the potatoes…I just need to learn to wait until they cool a little longer. I do enjoy German potato salad and usually have it several times during our travels in Bavaria.

  28. Your potato salad takes me back in time. My Mom made potato salad similar to yours. Our Mother’s generation had a lot of gifts to teach us. I still treasure the recipes she handed down as I know you treasure your Mother’s. Great post!!

    1. I appreciate your kind words Jan, I’m happy you enjoyed the post about my mother’s potato salad. I’m happy that it brought back memories of your own mother’s recipes.

  29. oh how delicious does this sound. i love a good potato salad with lots of flavour. i make a dutch one that i got from a friend’s mum years ago which includes beetroot and apple and onion etc. this sounds like it would come close to being as delicious! cheers sherry

    1. Hi Sherry, It is so interesting to hear about all the different versions of potato salad that we all make. I had a potato salad while living in the Dominican Republic that was made with beetroot, peas and carrots…it was called Russian potato salad and was very popular on the island. Thank you for your nice compliment, I glad you enjoyed my mother’s recipe.

    1. I agree with you Dawn about family recipes…they are to be treasured. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m happy to know that you like my mother’s potato salad.

    1. Hi Inger, I think if you try cooking the potatoes with their skin on and then peeling them after they have cooked that you won’t have watery or falling apart potatoes.

  30. This recipe sounds pretty close to my mom’s potato salad too. 🙂 . I love that you used yukon gold potatoes — they’re hands down the best!

    1. Hi Marcie, I really like Yukon Gold potatoes for potato salad. They have a nice taste, texture and color. Thank you for your compliment.

    1. Thank you for your compliment Amy. I’m happy that you like my mother’s potato salad recipe and yes dill pickles and some of the juice really does add lots of flavor.

  31. I would love to have some of this right now. It looks so good!! I’m a fan of eggs in my potato salad, so I’m loving this! Homemade egg rolls and Vietnamese caramelized pork and eggs are the food I think of when I think of my mom. Yum!

  32. Yes, yes, yes. Yes to all those ingredients, though I don’t necessarily use them all at the same time. My most recent potato salad definitely had cut-up pickles, hb eggs, and mayo, but also another regional specialty: Durkee’s Dressing. (You can’t buy it in Michigan where I live, I have to get it elsewhere!)

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    1. Hi Mae, I’m glad you like my mother’s potato salad. Durkee’s Dressing, my mother used that in some of her cooking as well. 😀

  33. The previous generations seriously had it figured out by using pickle juice as a secret ingredient. My grandpa used to drink it (and sometimes he got me to as well!). I bet this potato salad puts allllll those grocery store ones to shame.

    1. Thank you Laura, I agree with you that my mother’s recipe creates a delicious potato salad. Way better than what you can buy at a grocery store and it costs less too. 😀

    1. Thank you Michelle, I’m glad you agree about cooking the potatoes with their skin on. I think it improves both their texture and taste.

    1. Thank you Joanne, for your nice compliment. I believe that you will really like the addition of Dijon mustard when making potato salad, it really adds lots of flavor.

  34. Like you Karen I love red onion, egg and seed mustard in my potato salad…. I must try it with the dill pickle…I bet that lifts it to an even higher level of tasty. I also put in diced cooked bacon…it’s one of my son’s favourite side at Christmas, when it’s around the mid 30sC.

  35. How lovely that you shared this beloved recipe with us, thank you. I’m usually not a mayonnaise potato salad lover but your dear Mom’s recipe has me intrigued; the pickles and pickle brine addition sounds incredible. This tasty recipe is definitely going on my summer to do list!

    1. Thank you for your lovey compliment Eva. I believe this potato salad would be to your liking. There is only about a 1/3 cup of mayonnaise per pound of potatoes. Just enough so the potatoes aren’t dry and the addition of the mustard and pickle juice adds to the overall flavor.

  36. You are so right that especially with potato salad, home-made is tops. The store-bought version just tastes like it’s sat around too long. But home-made? It tastes so fresh and wonderful. And when it’s Mom’s recipe, it definitely can’t be beat.

    1. I appreciate your visit and compliment Heather. I know what you mean about this potato salad…I have a tendency to go back for a second helping. 😀

  37. Hi Mimi, The pickle juice does add lots of flavor. You could always serve pickle spears on the side as I think they are a nice addition at a bbq for those that like them. 🙂

    1. Hi Jeff, I’m glad our tastes are similar when it comes to eggs in potato salad. I wish more people would it include it. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  38. Your mother’s recipe is exactly the same as my aunt’s recipe which I have always, always prepared and nothing else. The only tiny difference is the addition of the pickle juice which I must try the next time. And you’re right, Karen, this recipe is the best!!!

  39. You know I love potato salad and this one is so similar to one I make. However I have yet to try Duke’s mayo. I know it is legendary but I’ve never been in a spot where I could find it. But that won’t stop me from making potato salad! Now if you’d just send the fried chicken over!

  40. I really like how your Mom’s recipe is what you love best! (and I love that green cabbage bowl!) I miss out on a lot of summer salads because I don’t/can’t eat raw onions. It isn’t a health issue, I just dislike them completely (cooked are fine). I love dill pickles, though, and I haven’t tried them in potato salad. Looking forward to doing that! 🙂

  41. There’s just something special about our mothers’ recipes, right? I always enjoying my Mom’s potato salad, even though it’s not “my” potato salad. I make it in her style for summer gatherings with the kids, who prefer hers to mine, and we all enjoy the side of memories served up with it.

  42. Nothing like a potato salad, especially at a barbecue. My mom’s recipe was quite similar. I always use hers. The potatoes should always be cooked with the skins on, always. I can’t abide bacon or any meat in a potato salad. Now I’m hungry for mom’s potato salad. I guess I’ll make one tomorrow.

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