My Mom’s Potato Salad

I have a new entry to add to my list of Foods-I-Hated-as-a-Kid-and-Only-Started-Liking-Recently. Up to this point, tomatoes and mushrooms held top honors, but now there’s a new kid in town and its name is potato salad.

Why yes I was listening to the Eagles on my way to work today…why do you ask?

So here’s the deal…when Carrie and I started planning our Sooner Tailgating Extravaganza, we decided to keep it really simple and cook some burgers on the grill. Since Tripp and I live closer and were coming down on Saturday morning, I volunteered to bring all the burger accoutrements and a side dish. I tossed around several ideas for a week or so and finally decided to bite the bullet and make potato salad. Then I called my mom for her famous potato salad recipe and the conversation went a little like this.


“Hey Mom!”

“Hey Sis! What’s up?”

“Well, you know how we’re going to tailgate at the OU game this weekend?”


“Well, I told Carrie that I’d bring a side dish and I decided to make potato salad.”

“I thought you hated potato salad.”

Here we go.

“I do hate potato salad, but everyone else likes it. Plus I can make it tonight and keep in the ice chest tomorrow.”


“So how do you make potato salad? How many pounds of potatoes do I need for 15-20 people?”

“How can you not know how to make potato salad? You make all kinds of weird stuff.”

Ummm…exsqueeze me, but butternut squash risotto is not weird.


“Ok… well for that many people you’ll need at least five pounds of potatoes. First you’ll need to peel them, then-“

***!! SCREECH !!***

Whoa….Hold up there Mema….

(Apparently she doesn’t realize that I don’t peel potatoes.)

“Wait, what if I use red-skinned potatoes? Can I just use those and not have to peel potatoes?”

“Well, I guess that’d be alright. Just cut them up into cubes before you boil them.”

“Okay. What next?”

“Well when you boil them, be sure not to cook them too much. You’ll want them tender but not mushy!”

“Gotcha…No mushy taters. What next?”

“Once the potatoes are done, put them in a giant bowl and add some sweet pickles. And don’t buy any weird, fancy pickles or bread and butter pickles. Just plain, ol’ sweet pickles. You can use sweet pickle relish if you want, but I like it best with chopped sweet gherkins.”

Yes mother. I get it – no fancy pickles.

“Okay…Chopped sweet pickles. How much?”

“It’s probably going to take a whole jar, but just eyeball it till it looks right.”

“Okay. What else?”

“Well I like to add a little chopped onion.”

“What if I don’t like raw chopped onion? Can I use green onions instead?”

I’m so glad my mother loves me.

“Sure, that would be fine.”

“Okay. Next step.”

“You need to salt and pepper it real good. And sometimes, if I remember, I’ll sprinkle some garlic powder over the top too. Are you planning to add hard-boiled eggs?”

“I don’t know…do I need to?”

Reason #57 why I hate potato salad – I hate eggs.

“That’s how most people make it and how I make it.”

“Okay fine. How many eggs?”

“At least four, but probably would be better with six.”


“Okay – potatoes, sweet pickles, green onions, hardboiled eggs. Got it. Now what about the dressing? I know it’s mayo and mustard, but what is the proportion?”

“Well you kind of have to eyeball that too.”

“Mother…I never make potato salad so I have no idea what it’s supposed to look like. I’m going to need more help than that.”

“Good Lord Sis…”


“Come on…I’m your favorite daughter.”

“Alright…what I do is add a whole mess of mayonnaise to the bowl and stir it all around. You want to coat all the potatoes, but you DO NOT want it to be too soupy. If it’s still too dry just add a little at a time.”

“Okay, but what about the mustard?”

“Well once I get the mayo right then I squeeze a bunch of mustard over the top and mix it in until it tastes right.”

“Maybe I’ll have Tripp taste it.”

“Well Tripp likes it really mustard-y like me. And sometimes if it’s not quite tangy enough I’ll sprinkle a little bit vinegar over the top.”

Let me guess…plain, ol’ vinegar.

“Okay. I’ll do that too.”

“If you want, you can sprinkle some paprika over the top once you get it in your serving bowl. That’s how my mom made it and she was famous for her potato salad.”


“Yeah. All of the women in my family made awesome potato salad.”

Great.  Now I feel like a total slacker.

“What? Well I can’t let the great potato salad legacy end with me! It’s my duty as your daughter to make great potato salad! I can do this!”

“Good Lord Sis…”

“Okay. I can do this. Are you going to be home later if I need to call you?”

“I think so, if not you can text Dad.”

O…M…G. That’s a blog post for another day right there.

“Okay. Well thanks. I’m going to run to the store. I’ll holleratcha later! Love you!”

“I love you too, Sis. Let me know how it turns out.”

“Okay! Bye!”


I am happy to inform you that my mom’s potato salad was a huge hit at the the tailgate. Tripp made my day when he said it was just as good as Mom’s.   So here is the basic recipe with some of the photos I took while making it.

Mom’s Potato Salad

Five pounds of diced red potatoes…


…cooked until barely tender.


(Just a little FYI – the glass of wine is not part of the recipe, but it did make fixing tater salad a lot more fun!)

One bunch of chopped green onions


One whole jar of plain, ol’ sweet pickles chopped.


Add everything to the potatoes including the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


And Lord don’t forget the hard-boiled eggs.


Then add a “whole mess” of mayonnaise.  I used one whole 15 ounce jar of mayonnaise for this giant batch.  And I do mean mayo – not miracle whip!  Then I squeezed a bunch of mustard over the top until it looked yellow like my mom’s.  I meant to add fresh parsley but I forgot that.


(I’m sure it had nothing to do with the two glasses of wine I drank while making it.)

Anyway, after I put it in my plastic container, I sprinkled paprika over the top and it looked very pretty.  And now I can hold my head high that the great potato salad legacy did not end with me!

Peace, Kelly


About Minding My Nest

wife, mom, not-so-empty nester.
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