Who Made the Potato Salad?

A flexible recipe to suit your own tastes that will have people asking who made it

Photo: Cooking from the Spirit / HarperCollins Publishers

Yes, there is such thing as vegan Southern food. In her beautiful new cookbook, the actress and home cooking star Tabitha Brown, who was born and raised in Eden, North Carolina, shares plant-based Southern classics such as mac and cheese, peach cobbler, and this picnic-ready potato salad.

“Who made the potato salad? Growing up in my family, that was always the question, whether we were with Moma’s mom—that was Granny—or my daddy’s mama—she was Grandma Etta,” Brown writes in Cooking from the Spirit. “Everybody always wants to know who made the potato salad, because it’s just that important. If you’re going to eat it, it has to be right.”

She adds: “Potato salad is one of those things that can be served in any season, right? It’s great in the summer, for a Fourth of July cookout. It’s great during the holidays, for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s great at a birthday party or baby shower. And I’ll ask again, don’t we love potatoes? It is really one of those things that can be made and enjoyed year-round—but it better be done right. You don’t ever want to be the person where they be like, ‘Who made the potato salad? Oh, Lord, not…Oh, Lord, nah, I’m all right. I ain’t gonna have that.’ So make sure you make this potato salad so ain’t nobody looking at you crazy!”

A note: Most of Brown’s recipes, like this one, include minimal or no specific measurements so that you can season to your own taste and scale to fit your needs.


  • Who Made the Potato Salad?

    • White potatoes, like Yukon Gold or another thin-skinned variety (I don’t peel them, but you can if you want to)

    • Sea salt

    • Garlic powder

    • Vegan mayonnaise (Brown’s recipes are vegan, but you can substitute regular mayonnaise)

    • Yellow mustard

    • Chopped white onion

    • Chopped celery

    • Sweet pickle relish

    • Onion powder

    • Pinch of black salt (also called kala namak)

    • Pinch of sugar

    • Ground black pepper

    • Smoked paprika, for serving


  1. PUT the potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat and add some salt and garlic powder. Gently boil the potatoes until they are soft when pierced with a skewer or sharp knife. You make sure you cook them enough. You don’t want to be the person who undercooks the potatoes for the potato salad.

  2. DRAIN the potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl. Use a spoon to break them up as much as you like.

  3. ADD your vegan mayonnaise, mustard, onion, celery, relish, garlic powder, a little bit of onion powder, just a pinch of black salt, a little pinch of sugar, a pinch of sea salt, and some pepper. Mix it together until well combined. Taste and adjust any seasoning you think it needs.

  4. SPRINKLE the top with some smoked paprika, because it’s cute and my mama used to do it like that.

  5. PUT it in the refrigerator and let it chill. You’re ready to go!

  6. Tabism: Throw salt over your left shoulder once in a while, just like Grandma did.

From Cooking from the Spirit by Tabitha Brown. Copyright © 2022 by Tabitha Brown. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.