German Potato Salad

Classic German Potato Salad! Thick-sliced potatoes tossed with bacon, onions, herbs, and vinaigrette. Serve hot, warm, or cool.

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Photography Credit: Coco Morante

I like all kinds of potato salads, but German might be my favorite!

For German potato salad, sliced potatoes are tossed with bacon, sautéed onions, fresh herbs, and a mustardy white wine dressing. It’s a nice change-up from the mayonnaise-based version, and you can serve it warm or chilled.

I follow a couple rules to ensure an excellent potato salad.

First, I make sure to use waxy potatoes, the smaller the better. The baby red potatoes I used in the photos are about six to a pound, and they steam in just 20 minutes. You can use creamer or fingerling potatoes instead if you like — those will cook even faster!

Second, I let the potatoes cool for at least 20 minutes before handling them. They’re easier to deal with when they’re cool, and you can easily peel off the skins with your fingers or a paring knife.

The potatoes are also more firm and less likely to fall apart once they’re a bit cooled, so you can easily cut them into even slices. (Don’t worry if the slices don’t have perfectly clean edges — that’s part of the charm!)

German Potato Salad

Some recipes for German potato salad use butter or oil, but I find that the bacon provides plenty of richness all on its own.

For a vegetarian version, you could cook the onions in butter or oil instead. Just up the salt, or else add a handful of capers for a salty, savory twist!

Serve the salad hot, warm, or chilled. It’s a perfect side dish for grilled sausages (a classic pairing!), or any of your standard cookout fare.

German Potato Salad Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Cooling time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

This salad can be made up to a day ahead. It can also be easily doubled or even tripled.

Vegetarian variation: Instead of bacon, sauté the onions in butter or oil. Stir in 2 tablespoons of capers along with the fresh herbs, or increase the salt in the vinaigrette to taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 8) small red potatoes
  • 3 slices (about 4 ounces) thick cut bacon, diced
  • 2 medium (3/4 pound) red onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (I like a mixture of chives and parsley)

Special equipment:

Method

1 Steam the potatoes: Fill a pot with an inch or two of water and set a steamer basket inside. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Rinse the potatoes and place them in the steamer basket.

Steam the potatoes, covered, for 20 minutes. To test for doneness, use a paring knife to pierce one of the potatoes; steam for a few more minutes if not quite done.

Remove the steamer basket from the pot and let the potatoes cool for 20 minutes.

German Potato Salad German Potato Salad

2 While the potatoes are cooling, make the bacon dressing: In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the bacon until it begins to render some of its fat, about 5 minutes. (For crispier bacon, cook for 8 minutes.)

Add the onions and sauté for 5 more minutes, until the onions are softened and translucent, and the bacon is cooked through.

Add the vinegar to the skillet. Stir it in with the onions and bacon and let it reduce, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, mustard, salt, and pepper, and turn off the heat.

(If your potatoes aren't quite ready yet, turn off the heat, but then warm briefly again before mixing in the sliced potatoes in Step 4.)

German Potato Salad German Potato Salad German Potato Salad German Potato Salad

3 Peel and slice the potatoes: Use your fingers or a paring knife to gently peel the potatoes. (You can also leave the skins on if you like a more rustic potato salad.) Slice the potatoes 1/4-inch thick.

German Potato Salad German Potato Salad

4 Stir the potatoes and herbs into the warm dressing: Add the potatoes and chopped herbs to the skillet with the vinaigrette. Gently stir until the potatoes are coated evenly with the herbs, onions, and bacon.

German Potato Salad German Potato Salad

5 Serve the salad warm or chilled. This salad can be made up to a day ahead.

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Coco Morante

Author of The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, Coco Morante writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

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German Potato Salad

Showing 4 of 23 Comments

  • Rochelle

    I have made German potato salad many times and I serve it warm or chilled. I lived in Germany for several years and had it served both ways there as well. I think this recipe sounds wonderful and I will be making it soon.

  • jenni

    hmmm…my (very) german grandmother made a version of this, and it was ALWAYS served warm. I’m guessing it is not a german-american thing, but most likely originates from a certain area of Germany (don’t know offhand what region my grandparents were from). Grew up loving it, HATE cold american mayo potato salad!

  • Summer Miller

    I loved this potato salad! It was so nice to have a potato salad without mayo! I didn’t have have yellow mustard or red potatoes so I substituted Dijon and Yukon golds! It worked beautifully! I took it to an backyard BBQ. Three other people brought potato salad and this one was the first to go! The best part is I didn’t even have to feel guilty eating it. Also, if you are a Whole30 person this recipe is a great one!

  • Joscelyn Pierce

    According to Wikipedia, in Germany it is called “Kartoffelsalat” and is typically made with red potatoes, vinegar, olive oil, herbs and bacon and is usually served warm. My father and his family came from Germany and were wonderful cooks. They brought many of their recipes from Germany and my father made the best German Potato Salad and always served it warm.

  • Hana

    Thank you contributor from Germany.

    I have heard of warm potato salad but it does not come from Europe and none of the recipes I have involve mustard or chicken broth. Why would you actually need chicken broth ?? And yes if you put that in it would get soggy by the next day……ugh…
    As far as taste, potato salad recipes I use are actually better after some standing time in the fridge for the flavour to develop, but there usually are many more ingredients needed for that to happen.
    On the positive side, at least the potatoes were pealed after cooking, not used with their skins on.
    Vinegar and mustard dressing is great for mixed bean(includes fresh beans) salad and that is cooked and served hot and is possibly ok cold. Never lasted long enough to find out.

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