Recipe: Southern Smashed Potato Salad

updated Jan 29, 2020
4th of july
Southern Smashed Potato Salad
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(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

Everyone’s mother has a signature potato salad recipe, at least in the South it seems. I’ve got about four versions that I rotate between, including an Ina Garten recipe that uses whole-grain mustard and my mother-in-law’s recipe with Greek yogurt and plenty of chives.

With warmer weather promising lots of potential potlucks and barbecues, I decided it was high time I came up with my own signature potato salad.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

When I thought about the flavors I find most important, I kept returning to a potato salad I enjoyed at a little sandwich shop in my tiny North Carolina college town. I Googled it, hoping to find a description listed on the menu to guide me in the right direction. Unfortunately the only information I could find was its name, “Southern Potato Salad.” Not very helpful at all.

I racked my brain, remembering that it was rather chunky with both potatoes and their red skins. It was creamy, yet tangy, with the slightest hint of yellow. I also recall there being something crunchy and green, because I picked at everything around it. (At the time I didn’t like things that were either crunchy or green, a taste preference that I am very glad has since evolved.)

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

I grabbed a handful of ingredients and got started in the kitchen: red potatoes with the skins still on, mustard powder for spice, and prepared mustard for color. Mayonnaise is a given because no self-respecting Southerner doesn’t add at least a little bit, and finely chopped shallots and celery for both added flavor and color.

I started out slowly and tasted and stirred; a pinch of this and a handful of that. Then I left it to chill to see how it changed. A few hours later and what do you know? It was positively delightful! I’m not sure if it really is anything like that potato salad of my memory, but you can bet I’ve found my “signature” recipe. Of course like all recipes in this category, individual preferences differ. Feel free to adjust the seasonings to make it your very own.

What is your signature potato salad? Is it hot or cold, light or creamy? Is it a family recipe or did you come up with it on your own?

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

Southern Smashed Potato Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pounds

    petite red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

  • 3/4 cup


  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    dry mustard powder

  • 1

    heaping teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

  • 1/2 cup

    finely chopped celery

  • 1/4 cup

    finely chopped shallots

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish


  1. Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of salted water. Cook until tender and easily pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes total. Drain potatoes and return to the pot.

  2. Add the mayonnaise, dry mustard powder, yellow mustard, celery, shallots, salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Smash using a potato masher until desired texture is reached. (I like small chunks of potatoes throughout.)

  3. Refrigerate until chilled. Adjust seasonings to personal preference upon serving; the flavors will have married and become a bit less pungent.

Recipe Notes

This recipe was originally published April 2012.