Not Your Mama’s Potato Salad

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God just winked at me.
  I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  Peace comes over me.

I’ve been recruited to make potato salad for 85 hungry folks that will show up in about 8 hours for the 4th of July BBQ lunch.  Okay, potato salad … for 85.  Potatoes, eggs, celery, onions, relish, mayonnaise.

I power up my computer and sign on to my website.  I’ll just take a peak at my mom’s potato salad recipe, which I have no doubt shared with readers some time during the past 4 years of blogging.  I type  p o t a to  s a l a d  into the search box.  A moment passes.  Nothing.  I click through to the INDEX tab, scroll down to S A L A D and begin to scan for mom’s recipe.  Nothing.

My brain can’t quite comprehend that I haven’t written her recipe, her exact instructions and her special magic.  How can this be?  Then I remembered her telling me she “just makes it“.  No exact measurements, just by feel.  I remember thinking I would take time to watch her make potato salad and write down the process and ingredient measurements.

But I never did it.

So now God is flat-out laughing at me and no longer winking!  I’ll just call mom and we can “chat” about the recipe.  No wait.  It is 3:30 a.m. Central time and she is sleeping soundly at my brother’s home in Kansas City.

Cooked Potatoes
So, I knew what I had to do — put on my big girl panties (sorry guys) and get to work!  I fill big pots with water and put five pounds of potatoes in each pot.  I fill another kettle with water for the eggs.

Here is what I do know:

  • Mom says the potatoes must be cut up while they are still warm. This creates chunks of potatoes with just enough mushy potato to make the best salad.
  • Eggs need to be cut up small and a little mushy
  • The mayo dressing should have little mustard, but not too much, a little sugar, but not too much, and there should be a hint of onion, but not too much.
  • Mom always uses celery seed, but HH hosts bought beautiful celery for the salad, so I will use fresh celery, cut up very small.

Cooked egg, onion, celery, pickle

In NYC potatoes take about 55 minutes to cook at a slow rolling boil. During that time I cooked the eggs, took off the shell, cut them up, diced up the celery and chopped the onion very fine.   I added sweet pickle relish and this lovely concoction was ready for the potatoes and the dressing.

These potatoes were slightly cooled but I still played a little “hot potato” as I skinned off the peeling.

Potato salad before dressing

I’ve mixed the egg mixture with the potatoes and am ready for the dressing.  Here is where a wing and a prayer came in.

Dressing Potato Salad

I don’t care for dry potato salad and I knew the warm potatoes were going to absorb this dressing pretty fast.  So you can see from this picture there was plenty of dressing making it a little wet looking.

Half Potato Salad Panful

It took me exactly 3 hours from start to finish to make potato salad for 85.  That includes washing up the dishes!  Just as I finished at 7:30 a.m. folks started arriving in the kitchen for breakfast and to get the rest of the food ready for the 1:00 p.m. BBQ.

Potato Salad Panful

This pan holds a 5 lb bag of potatoes and all the eggs, veggies and dressing to make it ready to serve 25 people. The salad stayed in the refrigerator until 12:55 p.m. and was cold and ready to serve at 1:00 p.m.  The dressing was perfectly absorbed and the salad not-too-dry, not-too-wet.


Chief Potato Salad Taster Lee and “the other Catherine” serving the guests!

When my Chief Potato Salad taster came in to the kitchen I popped a spoonful of potato salad into his mouth.  He said …

It’s not your mother’s potato salad … ”   (me, holding my breath …)

” … but it is delicious!”

That was good enough for me.  I planned to give you a picture of this salad plated but when the crowd cleared from the food line – there wasn’t a drop of potato salad left.  But we had plenty of watermelon to go around!


Russ and Lee getting the watermelons ready.

Happy salad making for your next get-together!

Not Your Mama's Potato Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Not my mama's potato salad ... but darn good anyway!
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 25
  • 5 lb. white potatoes
  • 6 hardboiled eggs, diced small
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup sweet pickle relish
  • 3 ribs celery, diced small
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • ½ cup Milk to thin dressing
  1. Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover, 45 minutes or until tender; drain and cool slightly. Peel potatoes, and cut into ½-inch cubes.
  2. Stir together diced egg, diced celery, chopped onion, and pickle relish. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add to cut-up potato. Mix well.
  3. Stir together mayonnaise, sugar and mustard. Stir in up to ½ cup milk, making the dressing just thin enough to pour but still quite thick. Gently stir into potato mixture.
  4. Cover and chill well.



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