Appalachian Food

The Way We Make Potato Salad

bowl of potato salad

I love potato salad. I wouldn’t touch the stuff when I was young, but one taste of Miss Cindy’s made me change my mind right quick.

Potato salad recipes vary as much as the people making them. I’ve had potato salad so simply made that it only had eggs and potatoes and I’ve had really elaborate potato salads that have every thing but the kitchen sink thrown in.

Not long after we were married The Deer Hunter and I called Miss Cindy to ask for her potato salad recipe. As Miss Cindy called out the ingredients he wrote them down on the back of an envelope a friend had sent me a card in.

All these years later we still use the same recipe—the messy paper shows how well loved the recipe is.

Most of the time we don’t add the celery cause I never seem to have it on hand.

The real secret to Miss Cindy’s potato salad, and ours, is the pickles. We use 14 Day Pickles that we put up every summer. Miss Cindy’s grandmother passed the pickle recipe down through her family. And the potato salad recipe actually came from Miss Cindy’s father Curtis.

Sorta of neat we’re still making Dolly’s 14 Day Pickles and we’re still making Curtis’s potato salad.

Hope you’ll leave a comment and share your potato salad recipe with us.


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  • Reply
    April 30, 2021 at 10:40 am

    wow, my late mother used pickels in her potato salad. iv been trying to replicate it from memory. we live in southern york county pennsylvania, although her dad’s family was in elkton virginia. im thrilled to find a recipe like her’s. i do remember she used store bought sweet gherkins, but once again i find a connection tipper. thx, e

  • Reply
    barbara branham
    June 12, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    All the potato salads sounds good. I do not use mayo or miracle whip. I do not use eggs. I do use onion, potato and pickles dill or sweet or both. I will use Italian or make my own or just use red wine vinegar. It is great to read all the different styles and types of foods.

  • Reply
    Sandra Poore
    May 30, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    In my family we use Miracle Whip not mayo. Celery seed ( cause I never have celery). We use a general salad mixture for potato..mac salad and coleslaw. Ingredients::1/2 cup can milk….1/2 cup sugar…..pickle juice….several tablespoons miracle whip. Put all into a jar and shake well till mixed………add more miracle whip if to thin and about 1 tablespoon mustard. shake again……taste and adjust to your own liking . pour over your bowl of cooked diced potatoes….onion…pickle…..5-6 boiled eggs chopped…..couple dashes of celery seed….mix well taste and adjust to your liking……I can’t chill till I have large helping while still warm !!!!!!…………..add green pepper chopped when making mac salad. All there is to it and I do LOVE tater salad !!!!!!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t really have a recipe for potato salad, just depends on whats on hand. Such as chives from the garden, if I’ve got them. And homemade mayo – if I’ve got the makings. I don’t add hardboiled eggs because I’ve never learned to like eating them – I wish I did! Seems like they’d be a perfect quick snack food, and also pickling eggs would be a great way to use my abundance of eggs from Agatha and Eloise.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 9, 2020 at 12:18 am

    I pretty much make potato salad with the recipe shown…potatoes, eggs, celery, onion, finely chopped pimento for color and mayo a bit of mustard, S/P to taste…..however, I always added my Moms recipe for sweet crisp cucumber pickles if I have them…Yes they take several days to make…I can just betcha the recipe is the same or close to Cindys…
    We have Ham, potato salad, fresh green peas n’ onions or green beans, rolls..for Easter dinner..can’t wait yummm! Maybe a coconut cake from scratch…

  • Reply
    Paula V
    April 7, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Tipper, you really hit a nerve with the potato salad recipe. Amazing how many people love it. Also amazed how many people still say “tater.” Joke? Made me smile.

  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    April 6, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    I never follow a recipe for potato salad. Usually depends on what ever I have on hand at the time, including green onions, olives, even hotdog relish, but my secret ingredient is Worcestershire Sauce. Sure do miss my church family right now. Our Homecoming is 4th Sunday in June. Lord willing, there will be several bowls of ‘tater salad, each made with love and guaranteed to all taste different. God bless!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Gigi’s Salad, 6 to 8 Red potatoes, 3/4 c chopped onion, 1/2 t pepper, 1/2 t salt, 1/4c milk, 1 1/2 mayo, 1/4 c mustard, 2 boiled eggs, paprika. Cut and cube potatoes, boiltill done. In a smaller bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard and milk together untill smooth. Add salt, pepper or to taste. Add onion and gently mix or toss in potatoes. Top with sliced eggs, sprinkle with paprika. This is so good. Always a winner.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    We all love potato salad around here too, and our favorite was how ”Memama” made it. Her recipe was like yours shared except for the vinegar( think that would be good to add though). We also put a tablespoon of sweet pickle juice from the (bread and butter pickles) . I could make a meal out of potato salad and cornbread. It’s a beautiful day here today, hope you day is lovely too.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    I have a social-habit called “going to pot-lucks”. Most folks say they will not eat ‘Tater Salit’. I call mine ‘Turbo-Veg Slaw’. I give the recipe freely frequently. Their versions of ‘Turbo-” show up on the buffet tables now and the cooks tell me how they tweaked their favorite ‘Turbo-‘. …a rose by any other name…

    Lost in the Flatland

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    April 6, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    My potato salad recipe is just about like yours, except I don’t put vinegar in just a little pickle juice with the chopped pickles. Also, I never have any celery except around Thanksgiving so I don’t use that. We usually had potato salad for Sunday dinner with green beans and ham. We also had it when we had burgers cooked on the grill and baked beans. My recipe came from my mother, but I have tasted some delicious potato salad from other recipes. The funny thing is, the recipes from the older folks in my family always called for mashed potatoes in potato salad.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Mine is simply taters, boiled eggs, diced onion, celery seed, salt, sugar, and mayo…recipe was handed down from granny and is at least 100 years younguns hear i’m making tater salad for dinner and they show up…very rarely any left…

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Yep, looks pretty much like ours, except we don’t add onions.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    April 6, 2020 at 10:46 am

    I sometimes used chopped lime sweet pickles for potato salad and they’re good in tuna, etc. I got out some frozen cooked chicken to make chicken salad a few days ago & didn’t realize I got out so much.We’ll be eating a lot of it!!

    I make potato salad to try to suit my husband who dislikes both celery & onions–there’s something bad wrong with him!! He will eat them cooked, thank goodness. I need to sneak a vidalea into something & see if he notices. Mine is potatoes, boiled chopped eggs, sweet reslish & Miracle Whip and sometimes a little squirt of mustard or a little vinegar. We all prefer mayonnaise on sandwiches but I think Miracle Whip is better for salads.

    One of my brothers is just crazy about potato salad. He likes it more vinegarry.

    I am canning from my freezer–the situation with the virus is getting more frightening every day so I’m working on getting some stuff shelf stable.

    A funny note–our son has been getting our groceries and him and my husband used to tease me about buying so much and having so many bags. Now they understand!! I do miss going myself somewhat–I always saw stuff I forgot I needed.

    Hope yall are well!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 10:31 am

    I don’t really use a recipe, but here are the ingredients: boiled red skinned potatoes, cut into pieces, chopped celery, chopped onion, celery seed, salt, pepper, a little mayonnaise and a lot of sour cream, all mixed together. No eggs, because I don’t like hard-cooked eggs.

  • Reply
    John Love
    April 6, 2020 at 10:30 am

    I have been following the blind pig and the acorn for a year or so. I live in south Louisiana, my parents grew up in north Louisiana but moved there from Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. I am always surprised to see so many traditions of my family that are the same as in yours. This also includes saying I recall hearing in my Grandparents homes. I don’t think of us being mountain people but many things are the same. The potato salad, the pickles and many sayings. We enjoy.

  • Reply
    Tamela Baker
    April 6, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Same one my Grandma and Granny taught me – we use Miracle Whip, don’t add celery, use 1015s cause we grew fields of them, use chunked potatoes with no skin – Idahos best though I’ve come to like Little Reds(skin on) and Yukon Gold, I use sweet pickle relish, no paprika. I always thought their recipe came from the County Extension agent when those came about. On the other hand, Grandpa’s family still has distant relatives in what is now West Virginia – might be a connection there.

    • Reply
      Melinda Kessler
      April 7, 2020 at 3:46 am

      Yes! Miracle whip, Tamela Baker!

      Like most folks I think my mom made the best potato salad in the world. She boiled her potatoes whole in salt water, peeled them while still warm, added about the same number of boiled eggs, plenty of diced onions, & (she grew up in town) ‘Aunt Janes Candied Dill Pickles’ chopped. Salt & pepper to taste. Add some pickle juice. Sample while still a bit warm: DELICIOUS!
      After I married & made 14 day pickles I found they were just as good & Much less expensive!

      We will get through this Corona Virus thing… Staying home in SW Ohio.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 6, 2020 at 10:06 am

    4 to 5 large taters cut in ½ in dice, boiled until just tender, rinsed, drained and chilled.
    3 or 4 boiled eggs minced (I don’t actually boil my boiled eggs, I just let them simmer for an hour or so)
    1 medium to large sweet onion finely diced
    2 small stalks of celery including the leaves, if possible, finely diced
    2 tablespoons of finely diced bell pepper (red or green or both)
    ½ cup more or less (usually more) Dukes Mayonnaise (only Dukes will do)
    1 small jar of sweet salad cubes drained (I poke holes in the top and set it upside down in a bowl in the refrigerator for several days.)
    Celery seed, parsley flakes, red pepper flakes, cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder depending on how I feel that day.
    Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl then then add salt and pepper to taste. (Dukes mayonnaise is salty tasting, so you don’t want to overdo it.)
    Fold in the taters so as not to break them up.
    Top with sliced boiled eggs, paprika, chopped green onions or whatever looks good.

    I never use vinegar or any kind of sour pickles. I like my tater salad on the sweet side.
    If I’m feeling particularly freakish I might peel my eggs and leave them in sweet pickled beet juice for a few days.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      April 6, 2020 at 10:15 am

      I make chicken salad using the same basic recipe. I just substitute chicken for the taters and cut back on the eggs a little.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 9:30 am

    That recipe is very much like mine. It must be good because I was asked to submit it to the church cookbook. My son-in-law and brother-in-law request that I make it for Thanksgiving dinner every year. My daughter doesn’t like potato salad and wonders if they lost their mind asking for a summer salad for the holiday dinners.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    April 6, 2020 at 8:59 am

    I got in the mood and made some potato salad on Saturday. My recipe is a combination of my sister’s and my wife’s cousin’s recipe. I cook until just tender 4 cups of chopped potatoes and 3/4 cup of diced carrots. Drain and stir in 1/2 cup of zesty Italian dressing and set aside to let cool. Combine 1/2 cup of either mayo or Miracle Whip (whichever you prefer) 1/4 cup of sour cream and a squirt of mustard. Stir this mixture into the cooled potatoes and carrots. Then stir in 4 T. of relish and 3 boiled eggs that you have cut up. Place your potato salad into a large bowl and top with a boiled egg that has been sliced and sprinkle with pepper. I actually talked my youngest son into eating some. He wont touch store bought potato salad. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 8:43 am

    I love potato salad, but grandson won’t touch. I only make for holidays or reunions. My recipe is very similar, but I don’t use special pickles. I use pickle juice instead of vinegar. I ate some delicious very simple potato salad at a barbecue once. It seemed to be potatoes drenched in a sauce. Wish I had obtained the recipe. That is one dish I never leave finely chopped celery out of. Then I freeze the rest of the celery for Chicken gumbo.

    I can never think of potato salad that I don’t remember our old timey “Dinners on the ground.” I only saw them as a small child, and yes everything spread out on sheets on the ground. I went later as a teen to the same place they have had the meetings probably over a hundred years. To my surprise they had everything on tables and no longer called it “dinner on the ground.” I guess I do not like change much, because I will always miss when all our folks would load up, even in the back of trucks, and go to that dinner. A cousin and I had talked about going last Summer, but when I found out they had finally moved it into a church a few miles away I totally lost interest. I think they now call it a homecoming or some such name. In my mind the greatest pleasure of it was slowly lost along the way. I remember the preaching as we sat on log hewn benches. It was my Dad’s family, and we would stroll over to the cemetery and look at my grandparents’ oval pictures on those old tombstones. Appalachian deep roots always include those who have passed on. There was a lady with a huge goiter who attended, and fortunately goiters have become a thing of the past. Now just how did I get from potato salad to a dinner. I got there because there was always such a great variety of homemade potato salad full of their own farm eggs. Makes me wonder why people give up tradition for convenience!

    • Reply
      April 6, 2020 at 10:38 am

      My childhood church had homecoming the 3rd Sunday of September every year. It seemed like it rained on the 3rd Sunday for so many years, and the food tables were inside. Other churches had homecomings, and we went to theirs and they came to ours. I don’t think many churches have them any more, but the food was sure good. All homemade.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 6, 2020 at 8:23 am

    Well, I don’t have a recipe. But my wife’s ingredients are same as yours with also Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing. I like potato salad. It is one of those things that says “summer” to me. It reminds me of Homecoming dinners at church because there would always be several.

    I usually load mine up with olives, diced jalapenos, extra mustard or sometimes even some horseradish and I put regular or creamy Italian dressing on it as well. Probably some folks would say I have made it something else entirely, more hot and sour anyway. I don’t recall ever having had celery in it but I think the crunch might just be a nice feature.

    By the way, the potato salad I know is always with mashed potatoes, not chunky or with skins on. I would eat that to but not my first choice.

  • Reply
    Margie Neese Goldstein
    April 6, 2020 at 8:09 am

    The potato salad passed down through my family is much the same as yours with the exception of fewer eggs, and if there’s no celery on hand, celery seed adds that extra something special that will tweak your buds! I think for Easter, potato salad will be a great idea! Thanks for the share , Tipper, and Happy Easter to you and “yourn!” Also, I often incorporate some of what you discuss into conversation with my mother (like talking the fire out) and we really get long winded discussing such. Thanks for all you add to the spice of conversation.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 6, 2020 at 7:59 am

    Tip, those really are great pickles, my dad was a good cook. I should try to make some this summer.
    We also used them to make a very nice tartar sauce for fried fish. It’s been so long since I fried fish or made tartar sauce that I don’t even remember.
    We’ve tried to eat healthier for a few years now which means less sugar and less fried foods…but, oh my, they are soooo good!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 7:32 am

    Surprise, surprise. That’s the same recipe I have used for years. Came from my mum in law.

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