Salt Lick Potato Salad Recipe

This is a copy cat of the amazing potato salad at the Salt Lick BBQ. It is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, too!

salt lick potato salad copy cat recipe is also gluten-free and dairy-free

Salt Lick Potato Salad

The Salt Lick is a BBQ institution just outside Austin in Driftwood, Texas.  We’ve been going there since my college days at The University of Texas in Austin starting around 1990.  

We take friends when they come to visit us and now that we live kinda close enough we’ll go there for dinner on a Wednesday.  And they are always busy.

My usual at the Salt Lick is to indulge in pork ribs and brisket.  Everything is gluten-free except the bread and desserts.  Although sometimes I opt for the smoked turkey instead of the pork ribs.  But always brisket and a few burnt ends.  That’s BBQ candy.

There are so many great places for BBQ in this town, but the Salt Lick feels like home to me.  And let me tell you that the potato salad is one of my absolute favorite BBQ side dishes.  

So of course, I had to learn to make it at home.  Copy cat time!

It takes just a little prep but it is super easy and will be a perfect side dish for the Forth of July, BBQ, picnics, potlucks or if you are like me – just ’cause I’m feeling like it!

What You Will Need to Make the Salt Lick Potato Salad

  • potatoes
  • Salt Lick BBQ sauce (it’s gluten-free)
  • vinaigrette 
  • pickle juice
  • onions
  • celery seed
  • salt and pepper

This is a recipe that can be scaled depending on the crowd you are serving and adjusted to taste.  

The vinaigrette is unspecified so I usually just make a simple one with red wine vinegar, EVOO, salt and pepper.

The secret is that the onions are chopped and then marinated in pickle juice overnight.  It’s pretty cool because they serve you pickles and onions with your BBQ plate at the Salt Lick but they also use them in the potato salad.

The other tip is that you cook the potatoes first, then sprinkle them with a decent amount of celery seed, salt and pepper.  

Then place them in the fridge until chilled.  Then you add the pickled onions, vinaigrette, BBQ sauce, and mayo (if you are using it).  MMMM.  It’s so good.

Salt Lick Potato Salad

A delicious copy cat recipe of the Salt Lick’s potato salad, which is gluten-free and dairy-free, too!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword bbq sauce, copy cat recipe, potato salad, salt lick potato salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12
Author Deana Larkin Evans


  • 2 white onions
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice
  • 15 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tbsp celery seed
  • 1/2 cup vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup Salt Lick BBQ sauce
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Chop the onions and add to a bowl. Pour in the pickle juice so that it covers the chopped onion. Marinate in the fridge overnight.

  2. Wash the potatoes and peel. Cut into one inch cubes. Boil in salted water until tender to the fork, about 15-20 minutes.

  3. Drain the water and place the potatoes in a bowl. Sprinkle with celery seed, salt and pepper. Place in the fridge until cooled and ready to serve.

  4. Mix together the vinaigrette and BBQ sauce. Drain the pickled onions. Add both to the potatoes. Toss until everything is incorporated. Taste test and serve.

Update: So I found this recipe years ago online from a former Salt Lick employee. But recently I bought the Salt Lick Cookbook and found the recipe inside. We were close but not exact. Here is the original recipe from the cookbook below!

Salt Lick Potato Salad Recipe from the Salt Lick Cookbook.

And what is even better, is that you can order Salt Lick BBQ & sauces online and have it delivered from their store. BBQ is shipped frozen and simply reheated on the grill or in the oven when ready to eat.

Want More Recipes Like Salt Lick Potato Salad?

Deana Larkin Evans

You get one life - do your best to ENJOY IT! So hi, I'm Deana. This food blog is all about cooking wholesome real food and developing gluten-free recipes for some of our favorite comfort foods. I had to start eating gluten-free in 2010, then cut dairy and casein (except for the occasional Parmesan) in 2014. We learned A2 casein (goat, sheep and buffalo milk) is easier to digest than the predominate A1 form in cow milk. So we brought back goat milk dairy into our recipes in 2016. Thank goodness, right! So I'm kind of a science nerd, too. In the '90s, I earned an undergrad degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. Hook 'em! Then followed up with a PhD in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of Houston. I recently earned a certificate in genomics/sequence analysis from Johns Hopkins University, where I also took a very cool food microbiology course. Currently, I'm learning about the microbiome and gut health. And trying to come up with healthy recipes to feed those gut bugs! #feedthegutbugs

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Sue,

    I just love the Salt Lick, too! So I posted this copy cat recipe years before we got the cookbook that unveiled the actual recipe. In the Salt Lick cookbook they soak the onions in white vinegar – just enough to cover them. Then they drain and use those pickled onions in the potato salad. That is where the vinegar comes from just like you thought. And there is no vinaigrette added.

    Before I knew that, we guessed that the onions were soaked in pickle juice and a vinaigrette was added to the potato salad (1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil). I thought about changing our guess at the recipe but decided to leave it because either way, it comes out really delicious. So you have options.

    Did did you know they now ship their meats and sauces all over the country? You can order directly from their website. So you can still enjoy a “trip” to the Salt Lick at home! Hook ‘Em! 🙂

  2. Sue Davis says:

    Hi Deana,

    Hook ‘Em Horns. I’m a UT Grad as well. I graduated in ’87 before you began in ’90. I’ve lived in Austin 3X & enjoyed the Salt Lick during each stint in Austin. We lived in Legend Oaks in SW Austin which was on the edge of town at that time & closer to the Salt Lick than other areas. Our last tour there we lived in West Lake.

    I don’t see vinaigrette in the ingredient list. We know from many bowls of their glorious potato salad that there is indeed a vinegar flavor present so I thought perhaps the vinegar from pickling the onion was the flavor we’ve cherish in Salt Lick’s potato salad.

    I would greatly appreciate clarity and if you don’t mind sharing your vinaigrette ingredient ratios.

    Thanks in advance.

    Hoping for a Longhorn win this weekend.

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