Southern Baked Potato Salad is a creamy potato salad loaded with tender red potatoes, thick cut bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and fresh chives! Each decadent bite is packed with delicious flavor and texture!
Recipe by Leidi Rodriguez
Southerners are no strangers to potato salad! But I, who grew up on the east coast, didn’t always appreciate its importance. Of course, my family had its own version called “Ensalada de Papa” which translates directly to “potato salad”. But the ingredients were different and the resulting flavor was very different from the salads you’ll find at the grocery store or summer bbq.
It wasn’t until I moved to Texas in my early 20’s that I became familiar with the iconic southern potato salad. Creamy, tangy, sweet, and spicy, classic potato salad is the perfect accompaniment to a rack of ribs, a roast chicken, or plate of hot wings! This the savory salad of the South like Ambrosia is the sweet salad of the South.
Baked Potato Salad Recipe
Today’s recipe steers away from the more traditional potato salad to create something new, fun, and delicious!
Baked Potato Salad, or Loaded Baked Potato Salad, combines the classic flavors of potato salad with the best parts of a homemade baked potato potato. It’s crunchy, creamy, and spiced to perfection!
Outside of salt and pepper (which should be included in just about everything you make) this recipe only requires 10 ingredients: all simple, pantry-staple items.
But, before I send you off to get cooking, let’s talk about a few potato salad ingredient substitutions that will help you navigate allergies and/or flavor preferences.
SKIN-ON RED POTATOES offer gorgeous color and, when cooked, a fluffy texture. I also find that the flavor of the skin itself is better. The best substitute would be Yukon Gold potatoes.
THICK-CUT BACON is smoky, hearty, and salty. The small bits littered throughout the salad add crispness and flavor. If you don’t eat pork, try turkey bacon instead! Don’t eat meat at all? Omit the ingredients all together.
MAYONNAISE AND SOUR CREAM both introduce tang and creaminess, while also bonding all the other ingredients together. Grocery stores often carry lactose-free and/or completely dairy-free mayonnaise and sour cream options. If you’re not a fan of sour cream at all, try Greek yogurt!
MUSTARD added in small amounts can bring a whole lot of flavor to the party. Depending on what kind of mustard you use, the taste will vary from sweet to spicy. Use whatever variety suits you best, or replace with fresh horseradish or dried mustard.
PICKLE JUICE is basically just flavored vinegar; it’s acidic and tangy. Just a splash cuts through heavy seasoning and introduces brightness. You can replace this ingredient with sweet or spicy relish. Don’t like pickles? Leave it out completely.
CAJUN SEASONING can be sweet, smoky, spicy, and just about everything else in between. Any form of creole, or even chipotle-style, seasoning blend should work.
PAPRIKA adds a bit of extra color to the salad, as well as a bit of extra flavor. Sweet, smoked, or regular paprika is great. Don’t have any at all? Try a bit of chipotle powder instead!
CAYENNE PEPPER turns up the heat a bit! A little tickle at the back of the tongue is always welcome in my book but you can leave it out if that’s not your jam.
SHARP CHEDDAR tends to have a bite, almost an acidic zing reminiscent of fresh lemons and limes. You can use just about any cheese you’d like but I’d stay close to the cheddar family.
CHIVES add herbaceous flavor and bright color. If you can’t find any at the market, use cilantro instead.
Homemade baked potato salad comes together in no time! So, what sets apart the delicious tater salads from the ones that get left behind at the bbq? Quality of ingredients is one thing but technique is another.
Here’s what you can do to guarantee yourself a bomb potato salad:
- Use the right potatoes! Skip the russet potatoes and use a waxy variety instead, like Yukon gold, red potatoes or fingerlings. This will prevent your salad from turning to mush.
- Don’t overcook or undercook the potatoes. They have to be just right! After boiling for about 10 minutes, poke potatoes with a fork. When the fork goes in cleanly with a little resistance, you’re ready to drain.
- Don’t dress hot, watery potatoes. Allow the water to evaporate and the potatoes to cool for about 5-10 minutes before topping. If you skip this step, you’ll end up with a runny, slightly curdled potato salad.
- Let the salad chill. I think potato salad is best when served nice and cold. To get there, you’ll need to let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour but, ideally, two.
How Long Does It Last in the Fridge?
Any leftover baked potato salad should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator anytime it’s not being served. This recipe will stay fresh for up to 5 days.
I would not recommend freezing potato salad as the dairy will separate and, most likely, curdle.
Do not consume potato salad if it has an off-smell, there’s mold in the container, or its texture has changed.
More of the Best Potato Sides
I say potato, you say dinner! Grab a bag of spuds and join me in cooking up a quick side to upgrade tonight’s weeknight meal!
Baked Potato Salad
- 3 lbs skin on red potatoes washed and chopped into large chunks
- 6 thick cut bacon slices
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp yellow or honey mustard
- 1 tsp pickle juice or relish
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp creole or cajun seasoning
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup chives finely chopped
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a few heavy pinches of salt to the water and stir. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender.
- In the meantime, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp enough to crumble. Once cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon into bite-sized bits. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the mayo, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, and all the seasonings. Mix well to combine.
- Drain the potatoes into a large strainer and immediately rinse with cold water. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes into the bowl with the mayonnaise-based dressing, along with the bacon bits and cheese. Toss to combine. Season to taste.
- Garnish with any leftover cheese, bacon or chives, then serve warm or refrigerate for an hour to serve chilled.