Some things are sacrosanct. For many of us, that includes our mom’s potato salad. And yet one taste of this compelling potato salad made the Southern way with Vidalias, olives, and Duke’s mayo and you may begin to lose your religion.–David Leite

Southern Potato Salad FAQs

How do I fix undercooked potatoes for my potato salad?

The nature of potato salad is such that poorly cooked potatoes will ruin the entire dish. As the star of the bowl, you’re gonna want to ensure that they’re tender yet firm—but not crunchy. Starting the potatoes in cold water lets them cook more evenly, so you don’t have little raw surprises in your salad.

Once they’re boiling, cook until they’re just tender when pierced with a fork. Depending on the size of the potato pieces, this can take between 8 and 12 minutes. If for some reason, you drain them and find that they’re undercooked, they can be saved.

Dump them into a bowl lined with a paper towel, cover with another paper towel, and pop them into the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds at a time. If you’re making lots of potatoes, don’t try microwaving them all at once—do a portion at a time.

What is the best type of potatoes for potato salad?

Choose waxy potatoes like the red potatoes used here, or other waxy ones like fingerlings or baby potatoes. They hold their shape well during cooking. Avoid starchy varieties, such as Russet potatoes, which will fall apart during cooking.

A bowl filled with Southern potato salad with a wooden spoon ad a scoop of salad on the side.

Southern Potato Salad with Duke’s Mayo

5 / 2 votes
If you're going to make a Southern-style potato salad, it needs to contain several things. Vidalia onions, Spanish olives, hard-cooked eggs, parsley, and always Duke's mayo.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories462 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 3 pounds small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 large (about 1 1/4 cups) Vidalia or sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced Spanish olives
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup Duke's mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • In a pot or Dutch oven, bring the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough cold water to cover to a boil. Cook just until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander.
  • Place the onion in bottom of a large serving bowl. Top with the warm potatoes and let stand 5 minutes.
  • Top the potatoes with the olives, eggs, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and gently toss until blended, being careful not to break apart the potatoes. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (If the potato salad seems dry when you’re ready to serve, stir in more mayonnaise or Greek yogurt, if you prefer).
A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen Cookbook

Adapted From

A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 462 kcalCarbohydrates: 40 gProtein: 7 gFat: 31 gSaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 78 mgSodium: 793 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Matt Moore. Photo © 2015 Time, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a lovely potato salad that’s easy to make and has the perfect flavor and texture. I served this salad alongside smoked beef ribs and brisket. So I wanted it to be on the cool side. I made it in the morning, refrigerated it, and took it out of the fridge about an hour before serving. I didn’t need to add more mayo. I simply stirred it again.

The way the salad is “built” is very smart and important. The hot potatoes soften the onions in the bowl and reduce their sharpness. Then the rest of the dressing goes on top with no need to get another bowl dirty. I like that.

The only thing I would change is to cut the potatoes a bit smaller next time, around 1/2 inch. This will help to get a better potato to mayo ratio for me. Another idea is to include maybe an additional egg. I like more eggs in my salad. These personal preferences really and not a criticism of the recipe.

This is my new “go-to” potato salad recipe. It’s easy-peasy—no peeling of potatoes and a nice mild onion flavor created by topping Vidalias with just-cooked potatoes. We liked this dish when it was slightly warm after just being prepared. We liked it right out of the refrigerator. And we still liked it 3 days later as we polished off the last bits of it.

The brininess of the olives is a nice contrast to the creaminess of the mayonnaise and the eggs. After I prepared the recipe, the salad seemed a little dry. Since I really didn’t want to add more mayonnaise and I didn’t have plain Greek yogurt on hand, I added a couple of tablespoons of sour cream which finished off the dish perfectly.

Have you had food that gave you a sense of nostalgia even though you didn’t grow up eating it? This Southern potato salad was exactly that kind of food for me (my mom’s potato salad didn’t have mustard or Spanish olives). It’s all it needs to be—unpretentious, comforting, and delicious.

I like the technique of letting the hot potatoes sit over the chopped onion; I think the heat took the edge off the raw onion a bit. The easy-to-follow recipe yields enough potato salad for 8+ people, especially when it’s served with a substantial main dish like barbecued beef ribs. The leftover portion kept well for a few days in the refrigerator.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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