Primal Purple Potato Salad

There’s no argument that sweet potatoes, both the regular varieties and the purple Okinawan potato, are delicious served baked and topped with butter. But this isn’t the only preparation method that brings out the best in sweet potatoes. Boiled and cooled and then tossed with homemade mayo, they make a mean potato salad with the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and, if you like, spicy flavor.

A light coating of homemade mayo and a small bit of chopped pickle, jalapeno and/or chives is all you need to make this potato salad come together. If you throw too many ingredients into the bowl, you risk overwhelming your taste buds. Remember, sweet potatoes have a lot more flavor than regular old bland, starchy tubers do. If you’re heading out to a BBQ on a hot summer day and don’t want to risk using mayo with raw egg, then simply toss the potato salad with olive oil, vinegar and sea salt. It’s just as delicious.

Because the flavor of sweet potatoes is more robust than regular potatoes and the texture is richer and creamier, a small helping is surprisingly filling and satisfying. The vibrant color, whether it’s the deep purple of Okinawan potatoes or the vibrant orange of most sweet potatoes, also sets this potato salad apart from less exciting bowls of traditional potato salad. Set your purple potato salad out on the pot-luck table and watch it fly. For the ultimate pairing, serve sweet potato salad alongside a salty, savory piece of meat like a grilled steak or pork chop.

Servings: approximately 6


  • 4 large Okinawan purple potatoes* or regular sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup homemade mayonnaise (see below)
  • One or more of the following:
  • 2 pickles, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

*Okinawan potatoes are often only found at Asian markets.

Homemade Mayonnaise

  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


Peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into small chunks that are the same size. Because the flavor is quite sweet and the texture is rich, smaller chunks tend to taste better in potato salad.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then add the potatoes. Boil until a fork easily pierces the potatoes. The amount of time will vary depending on the size of the potato chunks, but will probably be somewhere between 10-25 minutes.

Drain the water and let the potatoes cool completely.

To make the mayonnaise, whisk together the egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, salt and water by hand until frothy, about 1 minute.

Continue whisking while drizzling the oil in very, very slowly. Once the mayonnaise starts to thicken, you can drizzle the rest of the oil in a bit faster, whisking the whole time. The mayonnaise is done when all the oil has been mixed in and the consistency is fairly thick.

Gently mix 1/4 cup of the mayo with the potatoes. You can use more if you like, but start with this amount and then add more to your taste. Store the remaining mayo in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Add salt and pepper to the potato salad to taste. Then, mix in other flavors as desired, starting with 2 finely chopped pickles, 1 finely chopped jalapeno and/or 1 tablespoon of chopped chives.

Other possible additions to this potato salad included crumbled bacon, chopped red onion, and hardboiled egg.

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42 thoughts on “Primal Purple Potato Salad”

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    1. Ez-pz if you go to any of the Asian grocery stores in Fairfax, Annandale, Seven Corners, etc. – try H Mart, Gran Mart, or Super H Mart.

      1. I actually found some at Eastern Market today. Grown local in southern Maryland. I remembered seeing this post and bought a whole bunch.

  1. I LOVE sweet potatoes!! I have been on the search for different varieties. I’m in the Denver area and rarely come across anything other than traditional American sweet potatoes and garnet style yams. If anyone knows where I can find Japanese and Okinawan varieties I would appreciate it!!! Once I find them I am going to start growing them so I never run out!!

    1. I haven’t found any yet, but I haven’t it all the farmer’s markets. I still have to check out the Cherry Creek and Pearl street ones. I do get regular purple potatoes at Sprouts, but it isn’t the same as sweet potatoes. I’m going to try the recipes with those, cause I have them on hand right now. It makes my daughter giggle to eat purple potatoes.

  2. Ok, this recipe looks so good you’ve convinced me to try to make mayonnaise one more time! I’ve failed 6 times now and ended up with runny goop, but I’ll give it one more whirl.

    1. Hey, what’s wrong with runny mayonnaise! All ours is like that. And it makes a better salad dressing or dip, that way.

    2. I would recommend taking a look at Alton Brown’s video “Mayo Clinic” on youtube. The ingredients might be different but the concept is the same.

    3. Do you have a food processor? I make my own mayo about once every 2 weeks (it keeps about that long). Let me know if you want the recipe….otherwise I won’t bother you with it 🙂

      1. I would appreciate your mayo recipe – can you email it? Thanks in advance.

        1. 2 whole (fresh) eggs
          2 cups(ish) light olive oil (as you make it you’ll see what I mean)
          1 tsp mustard powder
          cayanne (to taste, or any other seaoning you might like, really)

          Put the eggs in the food processor, and turn on low. (I use the serrated blade, just because it seems to be my sharpest).
          Add the tsp of mustard powder while the processor is still running. Then, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. You’ll see it start to thicken after a few minutes. About half way through add the oil (10 min maybe? max), add a tsp of apple cider vinegar (this helps it keep longer). Add the rest of the olive oil, again, very slowly and steadily. Add seasoning.
          Continue to add olive oil until its the consistency you prefer! Super easy, usually takes me about 20 minutes. I don’t do more than 2 eggs at a time, because its hard to get the right thickness.
          Hope it works for you like it does for me!!

    4. Are your eggs and acid (lemon juice or vinegar)at room temperature? If not, maybe that’s the issue.

    5. yup, I tried 10 times and always end up with loose goo. Mabe the secret is to use the wisk. I always used the blender. always a flop!!! I thought I am the only one…..

  3. This looks awesome, Thanks! As said in the post, look for purple potatoes in your Asian markets.

  4. I had “Hawaiian sweet potatoes” in Hawaii (where else). I’m sure they’re either Okinawan, or developed from the Okinawan. We ate them in the usual baked, then buttered and cinnamoned way. Delicious.

    Haven’t found any around here though. Yet. When I have sweet potato, I go for the garnet over the jewel. IMO, they have better flavor. I might try a salad out of them, sounds interesting!

  5. Try making the mayonnaise with an immersion blender. 20 seconds and it’s done. It’s the only method that I’ve had any success with…I guess I’m too impatient for the traditional way. And apparently Julia Child said an egg yolk cannot absorb more than 3/4 cup of oil.

    1. I’ve used the immersion blender method too. So quick and easy…

      1 whole egg
      1 cup extra light olive oil
      lemon juice (about half a lemon + )
      salt (decent pinch)

      And just blend for seriously about 5 seconds… You can add other flavours if you like.

  6. I made mayo yesterday with a regular blender, a whole duck egg (the Joy of Cooking recommends using some white with blender mayo and duck eggs have huge yolks and less white so they work well). I used a couple of tsp. lemon juice, sea salt and high oleic safflower oil, since I think olive oil over-flavors the mayo. It was great.

    1. I have tried making mayo so many times, and I end up throwing it out. and I keep adding more oil thinking it will kick in. never does.. Its cheaper to buy. I hate throwing out food.

  7. Oooh, nice, I had been thinking about sweet potato salad recently, and this completely fits the bill!

    Since I didn’t feel like spending tons of time looking for a recipe, though, I ended up trying out and serving the bacon-broccoli salad from the Primal Blueprint Cookbook, and it went over super-well with my SAD-eating friends.

  8. Ahh, I miss those purple potatoes. I lived in Okinawa for 5 years and remember the guys pushing carts of freshly baked sweet potatoes around the neighborhood. They even make them into a purple ice cream.

  9. mmm grabbing asian potatoes at farmers market tomorrow! mayo is easy to make in a good smoothie blender..

  10. Thanks for the recipe. I currently live on Okinawa and will definitely try this. Yum! Think I may go for the alternate dressing though – it’s really hot/humid here.

  11. I just made a similar version using a little bit of homemade mayo and coconut butter. Out of this wold…it’s worth a try.

  12. In New Zealand we are big sweet potato eaters – we call them Kumara. Our most common type has a red/purple skin with a cream colour inside – its not as sweet as the orange sweet potato that are more popular in Australia.

    I cook a kumara and orange salad up for bbqs:

    1kg kumara, peeled
    2 oranges
    1 red onion, thinly sliced in rings
    2 tbsp white wine vinegar
    2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1. Cook whole kumara in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and set aside to cool. When cold, cut kumara in thick rings and place in a large bowl.

    2. Remove zest from oranges in strips (using a citrus zester) and reserve. Cut the peel from the oranges and discard, then cut the flesh into segments, reserving any orange juice.

    3. Add sliced red onion, orange segments, juice and zest to the kumara. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well and serve.


    The other thing I do is mash them, add cream and a teaspoon of mild curry powder – goes great with smoked fish.

  13. If you live on the west coast, you can get these at Ranch99 markets. But don’t confuse them with purple potatoes as the titles says. These are purple sweet potatoes!

  14. Sounds great, might make this for 4th of july BBQ. I live in Hawaii and we can get Okinawan potatoes at our local grocery store since we have such a large Japanese population. They are super tasty, and I’m excited to use them for potato salad. I think I will go ahead and add bacon and red onion.

  15. It looks like ROCKS. I mean that as a compliment. I think cave kids would enjoy chomping on little boulders. Or maybe I am weird … looks tasty.

  16. Made this yesterday and had some today, really good, i also mixed some with a little quark and cottage cheese, MEGA 🙂

  17. I’ve never had purple Okinawan potatoes, are they similar in taste as the regular sweet potatoes? Is it readily available in most local supermarkets, or are they exclusively sold to specialized markets?

  18. Thanks for the recipe. I tried it with my home-made macadamia nut mayonnaise and it turned out phenomenal. I find macadamia oil to be far superior to olive oil when it comes to mayo. It’s sweet, nutty and highly aromatic whereas olive oil, in large quantities, tends to dominate. I know how you love your macadamia oil – I actually learned about it here and am addicted to it. Thanks for telling me about it!

    Also, just wanted to point out a really easy way to make mayo. It takes 30 seconds (literally) and turns out great every time. Sorry about posting a link to my blog here, but here’s a post I wrote a few months back. It has a recipe for the mac nut mayo and my little story of how I lost weight by going low carb/paleo.

    Thanks for all your amazing resources. You have truly changed my life through this blog.

  19. Looks like a great big serving of glucose(carbs). Why we promote these kinds of meals to these so called “paleo” dieters, ill never understand.

    1. for us poor people. For example, cheapest guaranteed free-range organ meat I can get in Toronto (or anywhere in cow country like Grey County and here in Niagara) is eight dollars/pound. People in the states might find this hard to believe. I’ve scoured the countryside for years on bike and walking for chickens who run around AND have thick shells and nice round yolks. Complete empty set anywhere south of the French River. Zilch. Nada. Hence the cheap carbs. I won’t always be this poor but for now, chest la vie.

  20. Just tried making potato salad with sweet potatoes (the pale yellow kind, not the orange kind, which we call “yams” here in Canada). Added a bit of mayo, some spicy brown mustard, and a dusting of salt. Wow! Perfect. No need for gobs of mayo; a little goes a long way. I think red onions, olive oil and apple cider vinegar would also work really well. A lovely addition to steak and salad or to an omelet on Sunday mornings. And a great, easy-peasy dish to take to a potluck or BBQ. Vegetarians, SAD’s and paleos will all love it.