The Soul Food Pod Episode 7: Black Cookout Food

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“If Black folks’ Southern fried chicken is Michael Jackson, Black folks’ Southern potato salad is Prince.” – Shaunda Necole 

What is Black cookout food?

On The Soul Food Pod episode 7, host Shaunda Necole, and her mom, Mama Mary (Ma-Ma), explore why Black cookouts are a beloved tradition in the African American community, the cultural significance and love for Black folks’ potato salad at African American gatherings and cookouts, alongside other soul food dishes such as BBQ meatscollard greenscoleslawbaked beans, and pig pickin cake.


Black Cookout Food
The podcast dives into the importance of making these dishes correctly and how they reflect on the legacy and culture of Black Americans.
Mama’s recipe for Southern potato salad is shared, along with some of its signature ingredients.
The episode also touches on the differences between Southern and soul food cuisine and explains why Black people don’t trust potato salad made by non-Black people.
Finally, Shaunda and her mom share their three must-have Black cookout food dishes!


What you’ll learn in this episode?

  • The history of Black cookout food
  • Why Black cookouts are a celebration of soul food
  • Why a Black cookout menu matters
  • The history of Southern pig pickin cake and it’s deliciousness
  • Common Black cookout foods 
  • The phenomenon of Black folks’ potato salad
  • “Would You Rather” game with Black cookout food
  • Cracking the code of Black cookout potato salad
  • Why do Black people care so much about Southern potato salad?


🎧✨Listen Now!  


Apple Podcasts: Black Cookout Food

Spotify: Black Cookout Food


Black family cookout

What does cookout mean in the Black community?

Black family cookouts are a tradition in which African Americans celebrate by gathering for a meal and spending time with family and friends.
It’s an outside gathering featuring a menu of soul food favorite dishes.
At the center of it all is the love poured into the cookout food menu, often focusing on barbecue and slow-cooked soul foods.
Black cookouts have taken on many different names and themes, from family reunions to church potlucks, and even elevated all-white attire parties.


What is a Black cookout?


Black BBQ menu

What’s on the Black cookout food menu?

How Black cookout food dishes are prepared impacts whether it’s a good cookout. Or not. 
This is why a Black cookout food menu matters. 
So what do you serve at a Southern BBQ?
Shaunda points out examples of regular cookout food vs. Black cookout food. 
For example, if you’ve only had fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes at a cookout – then you were not at a Black folks’ cookout. 
Likely you were at a picnic because many different foods are served at a Black cookout, including various chicken entrées (barbecued, grilled, baked, and fried) and plenty of soul food side dishes


What items are at a Black BBQ?

These are the most common foods you’ll find on a Black BBQ menu:


What sides for the Black BBQ?


What sides for the Black BBQ?

What are good sides to bring to a cookout? Start with these most common Black soul food cookout sides:


Black cookout activities

Inspired by the Steve Harvey Morning Show, Shaunda and her mom play a hilarious game of “Would You Rather?” (cookout version!) and encourage listeners to try Black folks’ Southern potato salad and other delicious recipes on the official Black folks’ cookout menu!

“Would you rather have baked beans or coleslaw?”  


What not to do at a Black cookout?

So what are the rules of Black family barbecues?

Starting here with this very important one: A mandatory main dish that must show up at every African American cookout, potluck, party, and every Black BBQ menu is a Black folks’ Southern potato salad recipe!

Then follow these Black cookout etiquette rules from’s piece on What you not fid’na do at a Black family cookout:

  • Don’t disrespect Big Mama.
  • Don’t pack take-home dishes before everyone eats.
  • Don’t put raisins in anything that’s not dessert. Seriously. Even if you are newly Black.
  • Don’t ask who made the potato salad… (not out loud, anyway.)
  • Don’t touch the food without washing your hands.
  • Don’t call it a picnic.
  • Don’t show up and not eat.
  • Don’t act like you’re too good to do the Electric Slide.
  • Don’t put anything “bought” on the table.
  • Don’t have everyone asking why the macaroni tastes funny when you know it’s vegan.
  • Don’t come with only off-brand sodas, and try to leave with five “to-go” plates.


What’s on the Black cookout food menu?


Black cookout food FAQs

What do you do at a Black cookout?

Eat, drink, and be merry outside because Black cookouts are a tradition in which African Americans celebrate by gathering for a meal and spending time with family and friends outside featuring a menu of soul food favorite dishes.  


What are the best Black cookout songs?

Black family cookouts are also home to Black cookout songs. An African American cookout or Black family reunion playlist will likely include these iconic songs:

  • Before I Let Go by Franky Beverly And Maze (The official Black cookout song anthem)
  • Family Reunion by The O’Jays
  • Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead
  • That’s the Way of the World by Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Celebration by Kool & The Gang
  • Love and Happiness by Al Green
  • Flash Light by Parliament
  • Candy by Cameo
  • Da’ Butt by E.U.
  • Never Too Much by Luther Vandross
  • Got To Give It Up by Marvin Gaye
  • Outstanding by The Gap Band
  • Remember The Time by Michael Jackson
  • Kiss by Prince
  • Return Of The Mack by Mark Morrison
  • Poison by BBD
  • This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan
  • It Takes Two by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
  • Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince 
  • Real Love by Mary J Blige
  • Finesse by Bruno Mars
  • Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide) by Marcia Griffiths
  • Cupid Shuffle by Cupid
  • Cha Cha Slide by DJ Casper
  • Wobble by V.I.C.


Black cookout potato salad rules


What do you bring to a Black cookout?

What is usually at a cookout? 

Main dishes for the cookout – HERE

Black family cookout side dishes – HERE

Desserts to bring to a Black cookout – HERE

Black cookout menu appetizers and drinks – HERE


Why is food so important to Black culture?

Soul food has a rich and flavorful history that ties Black culture to its African roots. That history is deeply reflected in Black people’s food.

Soul food history and recipes began because of Black people’s lack of food access.

“Making something from nothing” with the leftover scraps was the food system for enslaved Africans. 

Being able to feed someone is a significant and respected part of Black food culture.

Black people gather, connect, and celebrate with soul food. Food is a way to show how much another person is cared for, thus the tradition of African American cookouts and Black cookout food.  


What holidays do Black people celebrate with cookout food?


What is a Black folks’ potato salad recipe?

Simply answered – it’s flavorful.

The same way Persian people feel about their beloved fesenjan recipe is also how Black folks cherish soul food potato salad.

If Black folks’ Southern fried chicken is Michael Jackson.

Black folks’ Southern potato salad is Prince.

Its fans are Die. Hard!

People will wait in line for Black folks’ potato salad. And if it were to ever die, people would mourn it for months. (If not years!)


What’s special about Black America’s potato salad?


What goes in Black folks’ Southern potato salad?

A classic soul food Southern potato salad dish consists primarily of potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, celery, and onion with a dressing of mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip), mustard, and various seasonings. 

There are many ways to season the dressing, and some recipes include relish, pickles, horseradish, or hot sauce.


Links & resources mentioned in the episode:



Like this post? Pin the below image to your Pinterest “Soul Food Recipes” board!

What’s special about Black America’s potato salad?

What’s special about Black America’s potato salad?

Black Cookout Food | Black Southern Potato Salad Recipe

Host Shaunda Necole explores why Black cookouts are a beloved tradition in the African American community and the cultural significance and love for a Black Southern potato salad recipe - also known as Black cookout potato salad! 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Pressure Release Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Servings: 6
Calories: 399kcal


  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker optional
  • Instant Pot trivet rack (comes with the Instant Pot) or egg rack
  • Potato peeler


  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 4-6 potatoes small red or purple potatoes (optional)
  • 2 cups water divided
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 1 boiled egg sliced to garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • cup sweet pickles diced (or sweet relish)
  • ½ cup celery diced
  • 2 tablespoons yellow onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • cup mayonnaise *Add another ⅓ cup for creamier potato salad
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika to garnish


You can use the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker to easily boil the potatoes and eggs.

  • Peel the russet potatoes and leave them whole. (If you’re using the optional small red or purple potatoes, do not peel them.)
  • Open the Instant Pot lid and place the Instant Pot trivet rack inside the stainless-steel inner pot. (The trivet rack isn’t required – but it keeps the potatoes above the water in the pot, so they’re steaming instead of boiling on only one side.)
  • Add 1 cup of water and then the potatoes on the trivet rack.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes.
  • To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  • Use an oven mitt to remove the trivet rack with the potatoes.
  • Allow the cooked potatoes to cool enough so they’re still warm to the touch (but not hot).
  • Then coarsely chop the potatoes into medium-sized chunks and add them to a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour the vinegar over the chopped potatoes while they’re still warm, and set the bowl aside.
  • Add the trivet rack or egg rack inside the Instant Pot stainless steel inner pot.
  • Add the eggs to the racks and then pour 1 cup of water over the eggs.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
  • While the eggs are boiling, dice the pickles, celery, and onion and add the diced vegetables to the bowl of chopped potatoes.
  • Add the mustard, mayonnaise, sugar, salt, and pepper to the bowl and set the bowl aside.
  • When the cooking time for the eggs is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 5 minutes.
  • To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  • Open the cover immediately after the pressure release. Using tongs (because the eggs will be hot!), place the boiled eggs into an ice bath to cool off.
  • Once the eggs are cool to the touch, coarsely chop four eggs and add them to the large bowl of potatoes and seasonings.
  • Gently fold the ingredients into the potatoes so that the vegetables, seasonings, mayonnaise, and mustard are evenly mixed to coat the potatoes.
  • Garnish this Black folk’s potato salad recipe by sprinkling paprika and then slicing the remaining boiled egg to garnish on top. Serve right away and enjoy!



Some Black folks’ potato salad recipes get really fancy and garnish with deviled eggs for a soul food deviled eggs potato salad!
Black Cookout Food Recipes


Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 611mg | Potassium: 1288mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 3mg
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5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Teresa Pooler says:

    5 stars
    I really enjoyed listening and reading this podcast! However, it’s not the real deal cookout if you don’t have my potato salad w/egg and sweet pickles, angel eggs,( I don’t want to eat anything deviled)😂baked beans, barbecue chicken grilled crispy, but not burnt, hot dogs and hamburgers, ribs, and last but not least WATERMELON! 🍉 Yes!Yes! Yes! #soulfoodcookoutforme