German Potato Salad

This is a classic German potato salad! Thick-sliced potatoes tossed with bacon, onions, herbs, and mustardy vinaigrette. Serve it hot, warm, or cool at your next backyard barbecue!

classic German Potato Salad recipe served in a bowl on a cloth placement and a fork
Coco Morante

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

What Is German Potato Salad?

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 classic mayonnaise-based version, and you can serve it warm or chilled.

How to Make the Best Potato Salad

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 in a bowl
Coco Morante

Butter, Oil, or Bacon Fat?

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!

How to Serve German Potato Salad

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, like burgers, steak, or hot dogs.

German Potato Salad
Coco Morante

Make-Ahead Potato Salad

You can make this salad up to a day ahead. Serve it chilled from the fridge or let it come up to room temperature.

Leftovers will keep for up to five days in the fridge.

Try These Other Potato Salads

Want even more inspiration? Check out all of our potato salad recipes!

German Potato Salad

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Cooling 20 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 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)

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.

    Steam the red potatoes for German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
    Cook the red potatoes for German Potato Salad until they are tender and easily pierced with a knife
    Coco Morante
  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.)

    Cook the bacon for making German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
    Cook the onions for making German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
    Add vinegar to the onions for German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
    Start sauteing the onions for German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
  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.

    Peel the potatoes for German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
    Slice the potatoes for German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
  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.

    Stir the cooked and sliced potatoes into the bacon vinaigrette to make German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
    German Potato Salad
    Coco Morante
  5. Serve the salad warm or chilled:

    This salad can be made up to a day ahead.