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Favorite Recipes: Mom’s Potato Salad

April 12, 2014


My mother was famous at certain potlucks for her shredded potato salad and certainly in our family it was something we all loved. At potlucks, we would look for Mom’s because we didn’t like the others.

She never used a recipe for this. A dollop of this and a plop of that.

I learned from watching her and then tweaking it on my own and now finally, here is the definitive Bertha Miller Shredded Potato Salad measured out and refined. You will see two places where it calls for “plus 1 tablespoon.” That is because I measured, then needed to add a bit “to make it taste right” or as most recipes say, “to taste.” So the key is after you have it all mixed up, taste it, add whatever you think is missing, etc. You may like just a bit more sugar, or milk, or salad dressing, or whatever.

The key is the shredded potatoes which help all the flavors blend together around the small potato surface (versus large blocks of big potatoes). Now, I can be a fan of some potato salads using larger chunks of potatoes—for a different slant and taste, like red potato salad with mayo—but Mom’s is a mixture of sweet and sour with crunch and deliciousness. Don’t use warm potatoes: the shredding or grating will turn them to mush.

And don’t miss my special hints at the end, especially if you have a kid (like I did, who shall remain nameless) that doesn’t like potato salad because of the mustard.

Bertha Miller’s Shredded Potato Salad

2 cups cold boiled potatoes (ends up as 3 cups shredded)
2 boiled eggs, cold
2 large stalks celery (1 cup chopped)
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup salad dressing, plus 1 tablespoon (my mother swears by Miracle Whip)
2 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup milk, plus 1 tablespoon (or plop, as in the sound milk makes coming out of a jug)
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp celery seed

Shred cold potatoes. (I use a grater like this. A food processor may turn the potato to mush, I don’t know. I don’t own one.)


Grate the boiled, cooled egg.


Chop and add the remaining ingredients.


Mix all together.


Refrigerate. Often tastes better if you can refrigerate an hour or more.

Serves about 6 – 8.


* I still prefer to make this without using measuring devices because you save washing the messy measuring instruments.

* Anytime you boil potatoes for mashed potatoes, throw some extra in the pot to have for potato salad, or to slice and fry as a quick side for any meal. Or bake an extra or two when baking, to have cold potatoes on hand.

* If you have just a smidgen of left over mashed potatoes, you can add up to 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes to the potato salad recipe without making the end result too mushy. It stretches the potatoes you have on hand and uses up leftovers.

* If you have a child who just doesn’t like potato salad because of the mustard or whatever, you can accommodate their differences by saving 1/2 cup or more of the shredded potatoes and frying them like a small patty of hash browned potatoes.

* You can “doll up” (as my mother would say) almost any deli potato salad by adding a bit of sugar and vinegar to dial up the zing.


What was a dish you always sought out at potluck or reunion that your mother (or father) made?


Coming next week: my deviled egg recipe, just in time for Easter.


From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

  1. jennifermurch permalink

    Tucking in my hat to try later. Thanks!

  2. Athanasia permalink

    I’m sorry ,but that is the kind of potato salad I avoid whenever I see it. 🙂 I only like My mother’s recipe, which was her mother’s. Don’t we get set in our ways?!

    I always was happy when I saw my mother getting the big bowl out and adding chopped onion, lots of celery, cucumber and slivered red radish. Then she would add a few tablespoons of French dressing, stir it up and let marinate for a couple hours. We use small red potatoes, peeled after boiling, halved and sliced, our usual amount is five pound of potatoes…I have made with up to twenty pounds. Sometimes I add eggs, sometimes not, as when I am making deviled eggs also.

    Then it would all be mixed together with Hellman’s real mayonnaise. We never used “salad
    dressing” for anything. The only seasonings were salt and lot of cracked black pepper. This is our picnic season potato salad; we would make German potato salad over the winter. We will be making a large.batch for my son’s wedding in May.

    The weather is getting nice and warm here now and should be almost 50°F today…sounds like a good day for the first potato salad of the season. Though I need to downsize it a bit as just the three of us at home, plus my husband’s brother who is living with us for three months. None of the other kids are around this weekend. I better get some dough going…buns and bread will rise nicely with cooking potatoes, and I always keep hamburger patties in the freezer. I may even have some left over baked beans in there too. Yes! Picnic food! Thanks for the inspiration. Ooh…four bean salad!

    • … interesting that this gave you inspiration even though it is the opposite of YOUR potato salad–and that’s the key, isn’t it, what we grew up eating and liking. I definiately have expanded what I like in terms of potato salad now that I’m “mature”! Thanks for the comment and story and I still haven’t figured out where you live. Must be north farther than Virginia. We are in the 70s today, yay!

  3. Athanasia permalink

    Yes, well my nice weather disappeared the last three hours. It started raining and if the temp drops four more degrees it could turn to snow.

    It’s a weird thing, when it is a food I know , I expect it to taste a certain way, and when it doesn’t I have a hard time eating it. I find this mostly with thing like the potato salad (the mustard, but I love mustard…i have at least six kinds in the fridge and more in the cupboard) , lasagna, turkey dressing/filling, soups. There is a restaurant in town here that makes the best Mac and cheese in so many people’s opinion. Just the smell of it turns me off…they put sage and rosemary in it, both of which I love but I can’t handle it in this dish. However I can try any kind of new to me food (like an ethnic dish) and I have no problems, probably because I have no preconceived taste memories.

    Well, back to the weather…I would actually prefer the snow because the ground is still pretty frozen and I don’t want any flooding.

  4. I bet this work work well with shredded hash browns cooked in a little water in the microwave first (in a microwave safe Pyrex bowl, of course)!

    • Hmm, Marilyn, you are suggesting instead of boiling my potatoes and shredding them by hand, to try buying shredded hash browns, cook them a little first, and then make my potato salad? I never thought of that. I need to make a big batch soon so I’ll ponder this! It would save a lot of work …! Thanks for your comment!

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