Creamy Potato Salad

Barbecues are famous for grilled and smoked meat, but side dishes and salads are what complement the meat and complete the barbecue. Potato salad is one of the most popular sides to serve at a barbecue and this Creamy Potato Salad recipe is one of our favourites.

Bowl of potato salad

This recipe has been years in the making. We have added to it and changed it up over the years until we finally came up with this recipe and it has become a favourite. It has been served at BBQ get-togethers for over five years now.

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A Twist On The Classic Potato Salad

One of the best things my mother made when I was growing up was her potato salad. It was always requested at family gatherings and something my mom was proud of.

The one thing that stood out about my mom’s potato salad was that it was made from mashed potatoes. I was in my teens by the time I was introduced to potato salad made from cubed potatoes. And to this day, I still do not like potato salad made from cubed potatoes.

When my mom made her potato salad, it was usually for a large crowd so I never learned to make a smaller batch. The recipe can be halved easily, but I always make the full recipe. Leftovers from this salad are always expected.

Our Creamy Potato Salad

Our recipe is based on my mom’s original recipe. There are a few additions and substitutions to her original recipe.

Like the Miracle Whip my mom always used, we prefer real mayonnaise in our salad. Green onions replace the cooking onions she used.

My mother’s recipe was simple. It had basic ingredients: potatoes, eggs, mayonnaise, onions, and paprika. We changed that up a little.

Ingredients For Creamy Potato Salad

The recipe for this salad is still simple like my mom’s was. But we add a few ingredients for more flavour and texture.

  • Potatoes. Yukon gold or yellow potatoes are our choice for this potato salad because they mash well.
  • Eggs. Like most potato salads, we mash the eggs into the mashed potatoes for this dish.
  • Mayonnaise. We like to use a thick mayonnaise to make potato salad. Our choice recently has been President’s Choice Real Mayonnaise because it is the thickest we can find. Hellmans is our second choice. And we use the full-fat version for its richness.
  • Green Onions. These taste much better than the cooking onions my mom used. And they add colour to the salad.
  • Bacon. Usually, we use reduced-sodium bacon.
  • Pickles. Our choice is garlic Kosher dills The more garlic the better. The pickles add crunch.
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly ground pepper.
  • Paprika. This is optional. We only use it to sprinkle on top of the salad which is what my mother taught me. It is used to “Fancy it up”, she would say.

Equipment Needed to Make This Recipe

A large pot is necessary to make Creamy Potato Salad. The recipe uses 10 pounds of potatoes, so you need a pot large enough to boil that many potatoes. A smaller pot can be used for a half batch of this recipe.

An additional large pot is needed to boil the eggs.

A potato masher is needed to mash the potatoes. We like to use an old-fashioned stainless steel potato masher. Because of the amount of potatoes used, our teenage boys are usually called to help mash the potatoes. Sometimes it takes a couple of people to complete this task.

To cube the potatoes before boiling, a sharp knife is recommended.

Can Potato Salad Be Made Ahead?

Yes, definitely this can be made the day before. And we recommend making it the day before or the night before. The flavours of the dish will meld together as it sits, making it taste even better.

Food Safety Is Important

One thing I have learned is that food safety in the summer especially, is very important. (I have a food safety license from my career in food service.)

Because this dish is made with mayonnaise, it is important not to leave it out of the fridge for too long. When serving this dish outside here are some tips.

  • When serving this dish at a BBQ, only bring out a half or third of the potato salad at a time. Keep the rest in the fridge in bowls ready to replace an empty bowl.
  • We like to fill a larger bowl with ice and place the bowl of potato salad inside the larger bowl of ice to keep it cool.
  • Keep the bowl out of the sun. Even in the shade, we like to place a small towel, like a tea towel over the potato salad to keep it cooler.
  • To take this salad camping, we place it in a container, and then into a freezer bag. This way we can place it in the coolest part of the cooler and keep it from getting waterlogged.
  • For the beach, we pack it in individual containers for a single serve. That way everyone can grab a serving of their own without taking out a large bowl every time someone wants a serving.
  • If the potato salad has been in the heat outside for more than 90 minutes, it is probably best to toss it. Don’t chance it.

What To Serve Creamy Potato Salad With

This potato salad goes with just about anything. It is great for a BBQ or picnic. We take containers of this potato salad on camping trips and for day trips to the beach.

We serve this salad with brisket, as a side for pulled pork sandwiches, and with BBQ Rotisserie chicken.

Creamy Potato Salad makes a good side dish for Smoked Bologna sandwiches.

It also makes a good side for lunch. Paired with a sandwich or some slices of deli meat, cheese, and baby carrots.

On really hot summer days, when it’s too hot to cook, even standing near a hot BBQ is too much, if we have this salad already made, it is great to add to a cold plate for lunch or dinner.

And my favourite way to eat this salad is on its own. Sometimes as a snack in the afternoon.

Storing Leftover Potato Salad

This recipe makes a large batch that is great for sharing and for leftovers. When we have a barbecue or family gathering, there are rarely any leftovers for us. If you do have leftovers, store them covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Can Potato Salad Be Frozen?

The short answer to this is yes, it can be frozen. Do we recommend freezing it? No.

When mayonnaise is frozen, the texture and flavour are affected. The taste can be off after freezing, so it is not recommended.

Bowl of potato salad

Creamy Potato Salad

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 25 servings


  • 10 pounds yellow potatoes, cubed
  • 18 boiled eggs, peeled
  • 3 cups mayonnaise
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 12 bacon sliced, chopped
  • 6 large dill pickles, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • sprinkle of paprika is desired


  • In a large pot of salted water, boil potatoes until cooked through
  • Drain potatoes and mash. Set aside to let cool
  • When potatoes are cooled, add boiled eggs and mash eggs into potatoes
  • Stir in mayonnaise, green onions, bacon and pickles
  • Add salt and pepper and stir well.
  • Cover and refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
  • Garnish with paprika if desired


We don't peel the potatoes to make this salad, but if you prefer, you can peel them. 
If the salad appears too dry, add additional mayonnaise a little at a time until desired creaminess is reached.


  1. This looks so good! Definitely my kind of potato salad. Can I do it with diced potatoes, or is the mashing the real key to making this great?

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