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Mom’s Old Fashioned Potato Salad Wows ‘Em Every Time

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potato salad

No cookout would be the same without potato salad—and this is the real deal!

Easily overlooked, a good potato salad is the perfect foil for BBQ. And yup. This is the stuff. Just like Mom made it. And—she won’t like me telling you this—it’s simple to make. The secret to Mom’s old fashioned potato salad is that the dressing is a blend of mayo and sour cream. It is a good idea for you to read my article on the Science of Potatoes first.

Since I first published this old fashioned potato salad recipe I was surprised to learn that there is a vocal minority of you who hate pickles in your potato salad and you claim no self-respecting Mom would ever commit such a crime. Among you are my sous chef and my wife. Well, in the immortal words of Steve Martin “Excuuuuuuuse me!” I like it that way. If you don’t, just omit the offending green things. Sheesh.

And the movie below? Those are the Ross sisters of Texas, big hits in the 1940s, from the 1944 movie “Broadway Rhythm.” Watch it at Things start getting strange at about 2:40…

Like what you’re reading? Click here to get Smoke Signals, our free monthly email that tells you about new articles, recipes, product reviews, science, myth-busting, and more. Be Amazing!

Old Fashioned Potato Salad Recipe

potato salad
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
3.85 from 112 votes
Make mom proud with this recipe for the perfect potato salad. No backyard BBQ is complete without potato salad but often times it can be lacking in flavor. The secret to old fashioned potato salad recipe is the dressing, a simple blend of mayonnaise and sour cream that perfectly complements the other ingredients.

Side Dish
difficulty scale


About 2 1/2 pounds (1.1 kg)
Servings: 8 servings


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 2 scallions
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 stalk celery
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt (read about the science of salt here)
  • 2 pounds waxy potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • Black pepper to taste


  • 1 jalapeño or hot pepper flakes
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works. 
Note. If you want to turn Mom's Potato Salad into Dad's Potato Salad, dice a jalapeño and throw it in. Better still, get 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, chop it finely, and mix it with the mayo. This will give the whole dish a slightly orange color and a rich, earthy, smoky heat that is perfect for whatever you are grilling.
Low fat version. Substitute more sour cream for the mayo.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Chop the scallions, bell pepper, and celery into pea-sized chunks, then mix them and all the other ingredients except the egg, potato, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Scrub the potatoes thoroughly. If the skin comes clean, you can leave it on. If not, get rid of it. Now cut them into ½ inch (6.4 mm) cubes.
  • Boil. Bring a pot filled with enough water to cover the taters a roiling boil and add the ½ teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes until the tip of a sharp knife easily slides through a cube. Drain, cool, and add to the large bowl.
  • Prep again. Bring the water back up to a boil and add the eggs gently, lowering them in with a spoon so they don't crack when they hit the bottom. When the water comes back to a boil, for standard large eggs, boil for 11 to 12 minutes. For more on the best way to make hard boiled eggs for perfect yolks and easy peeling, read this article.
  • Chop. Chill the eggs in ice water for about 5 minutes, crack, peel, and chop. Add the egg to the bowl with the other ingredients.
  • Coat with the dressing. Add pepper and salt to taste. Chill then serve.

Nutrition per Serving

Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 420mg | Potassium: 577mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 497IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

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Published On: 12/12/2013 Last Modified: 2/15/2024

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  • Meathead, Founder And BBQ Hall of Famer - Founder and publisher of, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", and is a BBQ Hall Of Fame inductee.


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