Nothing says Southern side dish like potato salad. With a creamy mayo and mustard base, this potluck staple is exactly the kind of recipe you have come to expect at a BBQ.
Plus, smothered with extras like chopped crispy bacon and shredded cheese, you can really take this side dish recipe to the next level as far as a common potato salad is concerned.
Made with golden potatoes over red potatoes, you get a finer, more silky and creamy potato that has an old fashioned and classic recipe taste. Grab your sweet tea and let’s get started!
Why you will love this Recipe
Potato salads have long been considered one of America’s favorite side dishes. They’re easy to make and versatile enough that you can use them in many different ways: as an appetizer with crackers; as part of a sandwich like BLT; as a topping for burgers; or even as a main dish by itself. And while there are countless recipes out there, this one is truly one of my favorites.
Before starting in on this homemade potato salad recipe, it’s good to see if you have all the ingredients on hand. Here is a quick glance grocery list and once you verify you have everything to start, scroll down for in depth instructions and a printable recipe card.
In this country potato salad, I use Gold potatoes. Gold potatoes refer to yellow potatoes or what are called Yukon potatoes. They have medium starch and hold up really well, which you need once all that creamy mayo and sour cream gets added.
- gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- sour cream
- real mayonnaise
- ranch powder
- bacon, cooked and crumbled
- shredded cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper
- parsley garnish
Potato salad is the perfect dish to make ahead of time and serve cold on hot summer days. It’s also great as an appetizer at parties because it can be made in advance and served right away. The best part about making your own potato salad? You control what goes into it!
Here are some tips for getting the best results:
- Use fresh ingredients. If you’re going to buy store-bought mayonnaise, choose one with full fat and flavor.
- You should choose potatoes that have smooth skin without any blemishes. The potato flesh should not be too hard to bite through.
- The boiling time depends on how big the potatoes are. For example, for medium-sized potatoes, cook them in about 8 cups water until tender. Mine took about 14 minutes.
How to make the Best Southern Potato Salad!
Make sure to check out the printable recipe card for full step by step instructions and ingredients.
- Peel and cut potatoes into large bite sized pieces, about 1/2 inch cubes.
- Add cold water and salt to a large saucepan. Make sure to choose a saucepan that will hold all potatoes and atleast 1 inch water ABOVE potatoes when boiling. Boil water on medium-high heat. Once boiling, add cubed golden potatoes to the large sauce pan. Again, make sure there is enough water to cover the potatoes by 1″. As a tip, putting potatoes into boiling water can be difficult without water splashing, so I use a ladle to lower the potaotes into the water slowly and carefully. Continue boiling potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until a fork pressed into a piece goes in easily. You want them to retain shape. Once done, remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water immediatly. Let the potatoes cool down and DRAIN completely before moving onto the next part of the recipe.
- In a large mixing bowl, add pre-cooked and cooled potatoes, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard and ranch powder.
- Mix all ingredients well. (side note that you can pre-combine the ingredients into homemade dressing first and then combine into potatoes if preferred) Season potato salad with salt and pepper. Mix again very well.
- Add in cooked, crispy bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and mix well.
- Refrigerate potato salad for about 4 hours or overnight before serving, which allows the flavors to acclimate. Potato salad is always one of those recipes that does better the next day, so I encourage you to make this one ahead.
Yes! In fact, I highly recommend making potato salads and pasta salads in advance as it allows flavors to really settle together. Also, potatoes themselves may be cooked and cooled the night before assembly.
Because this salad has dairy, it has a shelf life. I would not recommend keeping over 3-4 days. Take care to tightly cover potato salad and keep cold at all times. As with many recipes that are left in the fridge, they may lose moisture. It is fine to add a bit more mayo and mustard to bring it back to life if needed.
Potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, thiamine, zinc, copper, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, choline, selenium, molybdenum, iodine, calcium, sodium, and vitamins A and B6.
Potato salads made with waxy potatoes tend to be creamier because they don’t get as mushy from cooking. This means that they’re less likely to fall apart during preparation. They also keep their color better after being boiled, so they look prettier on top of a plate.
If you are making a Southern Potato salad, we recommend Yukon potatoes. While red potato’s go great in potato salads, they are more complementary to Dijon Red potato salad and red potato salad with dill (both on this site).
Which foods pair up well with Traditional Southern Potato Salad?
Traditionally, Southern Potato Salad is served as a potluck side dish that goes well with classic cook out foods including burgers, pulled pork and ribs.
Additionally, following are some of our favorite recipes that go great together:
1) Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich – The grilled chicken breast sandwich pairs perfectly with this traditional potato salad recipe because it’s a healthy meal option for your family! It also goes great as an appetizer or side dish at any time of year.
2) Fried Catfish Sandwiches – Fried catfish sandwich is another delicious way to enjoy this classic southern potato salad.
Potluck Favorite Recipes
Looking for more picnic and potluck-friendly recipes that please a hungry crowd?
- If you are looking for another classic, this is my Grandma’s favorite Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad recipe!
- Nothing says Thanksgiving like adding a green marshmallow and pistachio Watergate Salad.
- As far as sides go, Ambrosia Salad, complete with maraschino cherries and mandarin oranges, is a kid friendly and family holiday favorite.
- If you love a little bit of spice with BBQ, these Slow Cooked Baked Beans are hot and ready all day long!
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Southern Potato Salad
- 2.5 lbs potatoes - peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ranch powder
- 6 slices bacon - cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper
- Add water (enough to put 1 inch over the potatoes) to a saucepan. Season with salt. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, carefully add cubed potatoes to boiling water. Because boiling water can splash when potatoes are added, it's sometimes a good tip to use a ladle to lower potatoes into boiling water slowly and carefully. Make sure there is enough water to cover the potatoes by 1".
- Boil potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until a fork pressed into a piece goes in easily. You do not want potatoes to be mushy, but hold shape. 2-3 pounds of cubed potatoes take me about 14 minutes but please begin checking yours around 10 minutes. See the recipe video for a clip of a fork-tender potato if needed.
- Drain boiled potatoes and rinse with cold water to stop the potatoes from continued heat cooking. Let cool and drain COMPLETLY. It's best to leave potatoes in a colander for about 15 minutes to make sure all excess water is out before moving on.
- In a large mixing bowl, add cooked and cooled potatoes, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, and ranch powder. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Season potatoes well with salt and pepper. Mix again.
- Add in cooked bacon and shredded cheese and mix well. While this recipe has a specific amount listed, it's fine to add more cheese and/or bacon to your liking.
- Refrigerate potato salad for about 4 hours or overnight before serving.