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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