Authentic Texas Potato Salad

IMG_5303bbUntil not too long ago, I was a serious potato salad bigot.  This was not entirely my fault.  My mother, good ole gal, born and raised in the Brazos Bryan, Texas, made potato salad with onions, sweet pickles, pimento, eggs, mayonnaise and mustard and so did everyone else we knew; family or friends.  But one day, I must have been about 10 years old, our family was invited to a backyard barbecue by new friends of my parents who were neither southern nor Texan.  The woman came towards the table with a big bowl of boiled potatoes mixed with mayonnaise and asked me if I would like some “potato salad”.  Horrified, I looked at my mother who was already looking at me and said, “Yes Ma’am”.  In those days, your parents could backhand you from the table and no one would think anything of it or be embarrassed except the victim, who was mostly wondering, “What was  I thinking?!” I helped myself to a decent amount and choked those potatoes down with a smile that was very close to a grimace.  Discourtesy was not an option, no matter what.  We raised our children like that also and we’re proud of them 🙂


Anyway, that was it for me.  After that, I never depended on the potato salad of strangers.  Unless we were with Texan friends, at table I would take the least amount possible and at potluck buffets, when no one was looking, I would take my mother’s or nothing.  When I got married and saw the boiled potatoes with mayonnaise at my mother-in-law’s home, I always volunteered to make the potato salad which won me brownie points with the in-laws and saved me from the embarrassment of retching at the table.  This is a true story.


However, you can’t imagine the shock I experienced when invited to my sister’s house for a barbecue and she mixed up a bunch of bizarre items in an empty mayonnaise jar, poured it over boiled potatoes and declared that it was Mom’s potato salad!  Of course my mother was dead by then or my dear sister wouldn’t have been able to avoid the disciplinary backhand for lying.  She couldn’t help it because this sister was never in the kitchen when anything was being prepared, so she couldn’t possibly know.  You would have thought that the taste would have given her a clue, though.  I didn’t say anything because my husband and son were giving me a look 🙂


Abdoulaye the cook.  When Abdoulaye first came to work for me and we were working out a menu for a barbecue buffet, he suggested potato salad as one of the side dishes.  My hair stood on end (Burkinabe, French trained, Moslem) but, in order not to discourage him, I agreed and made sure that I was not in the kitchen during preparation with disgust written all over my face.  Just before the guests arrived, I went into the kitchen to see how things were going and to my amazement, Abdoulaye had made my mother’s potato salad!  “Where did you learn that?”, I asked.  “My last patronne taught me.  She was from Texas.”  said Abdoulaye the Great.  Case closed 🙂

Times change and I have have changed with time.  I now make and enjoy Japanese and many other varieties of potato salad but there will always be a special place in my heart for my mother’s Texas potato salad.

Note:  I had to use hot dog pickle relish today for this salad because I didn’t have any gherkins.  But I suggest that you don’t substitute pickle relish for the chopped gherkins.  The dice is too small and too much sweet pickle juice comes along for the ride.  Also American yellow mustard is mandatory.

Authentic Texas Potato Salad

5 large potatoes, boiled and vaguely cubed

1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped sweet gherkins

1  4 oz jar diced pimentos

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

2 tbsp American yellow mustard

3/4 – 1 cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper

Mix everything together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Overnight is better.

About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes, Salad and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Authentic Texas Potato Salad

  1. That sounds to me to be a very sexy potato salad. Really good flavours.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Ha ha – the best bet is to take your own to all barbecues – your’s sounds very good!

  3. Tessa says:

    I love a good potato salad and yours looks perfect!

  4. In my opinion…this is the perfect potato salad. Very much like my mom’s too…only she did not use pimentos, she used olives. Great story to go along with your recipe! 🙂

  5. A am a huge potato salad fan (hehe. I just visualized myself as a really big fan made from potato salad). Will try yer Texas styles fer sure! 🙂

  6. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Exactly like what my grandmother used to make. What a riot. My potato salad is very different from hers.

  7. Mommas are always good for that “look”. 🙂 A great story.

  8. Michelle says:

    Hilarious! (The potato salad sounds quite good, too.)

  9. Good Cooks says:

    Looks very good potato salad, like the flavors alltogether.

  10. Trish says:

    we don’t have a strong cooking tradition in my family, so I have had to ‘rely on the potato salad of strangers’, or worse, of supermarket deli counters. This looks great! I have had lots of trouble when boiling potatoes, getting the consistency right, so I have taken to roasting them.

  11. Karen says:

    Your mother’s potato salad is very similar to my mother’s except she always used dill pickles. It must always have mustard. Have a nice Mother’s Day. 🙂

  12. Love your potato salad story!! I come from Bavaria where we make our potato salad totally differently – perish the thought of mayonnaise! So when I went to England and was confronted with new potatoes covered in mayonnaise my thoughts were similar to yours. But I am a potato junkie, and I can eat them in almost any guise. AND I have gotten to like all sorts of other kinds of potato salad! 🙂

  13. Pingback: Lots of Potato Salad Recipes « WHOLE LIVING WEB MAGAZINE

  14. Wallace. says:

    This is just the way my grandma tought me to make it and I love it. But one day I decided to give it a little kick. I used Colmans mustard and Wow. You can also use Command for deviled eggs too. Try it once and see what you think.

  15. joan says:

    I just made 20 pounds of potatoes into this recipe to take to a Texas bbq themed going away party. I’m trusting you!

  16. Sting says:

    This is a great recipe!. I made it and it tasted like a popular BBQ restaurant in Texas that I ate at. “Two thumbs up and a karate chop”!!!!

  17. Tony Aguirre says:

    Hey, I’m married to a gal from Big Spring, Texas and we have the very same recipe, now we live in south Florida and have been exposed to various potato salads, from New York style to you name it, but none beats my Texas style.

  18. Pingback: Travers de Porc Laque | Cooking in Sens

  19. Pingback: Enfant de Supermarche | Cooking in Sens

  20. Pingback: French Pork Belly Ribs | Cooking in Sens

  21. Kathie says:

    That’s MY Mom’s recipe too…..except she snuck some parsley and celery into it, as well. Love your story about your sister’s version. Potato Salad is like the culture from which it stems….we’re from Washington State so, I guess, it’s really an Authentic American Potato Salad, in a lot of ways. Growing up, it’s all I knew. Now, I’ve been introduced to warm potato salad and hot potato salad and baked potato salad….versions as diverse as the people and their cultures! Thanks for sharing this. I do enjoy reading your blog very much.

  22. Thanks Kathie.

Leave a Reply