This traditional German Potato Salad is made with tender creamy potatoes, crispy bacon, and sauteed onions in a delicious tangy mustard vinaigrette. The ultimate side dish, enjoy this warm German potato salad recipe at your next picnic, potluck, or family bbq!
What is German Potato Salad
It is widely believed that German potato salad originated in Germany and later spread throughout Europe and the European colonies. Unlike the creamy, mayo-based potato salad we are familiar with here in the US, this German potato salad (or kartoffelsalat in German) is made by combining boiled potatoes with bacon and bacon grease, onions, and a zesty vinaigrette. Most often served warm, enjoy this humble potato recipe as a side dish with your favorite chicken, pork chops, or steak, or share it with friends at your next picnic or potluck.
Ingredients in Hot German Potato Salad
- Thick-Cut Bacon
- Yellow Onions
- Fresh Garlic
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- Brown Mustard
- Granulated Sugar
- Fresh Parsley
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditionally, it would have been served hot or warm.
Waxy potatoes are best in potato salad (whether it be this German version or the classic American potato salad). I used Yukon gold potatoes, but feel free to use small red potatoes, as well.
No. However, I did peel my potatoes. Not because I don’t care for the skin (quite the opposite) – but more because I seem to recall from my time living in Germany and traveling through Europe that potatoes are typically boiled and then peeled. It was rare to see potatoes with their peels on.
White vinegar is stronger than apple cider vinegar. I didn’t want the white vinegar to overpower the dish, but at the same time, I wanted a strong, tangy, vinegar taste. What happens when I can’t choose? I’ll usually add both.
How to Make German Potato Salad
1. Boil the potatoes: Transfer the potatoes to a large pot. Fill with enough cold water to cover the potatoes by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until you are just able to pierce the potatoes with a fork. If you start to see that the potatoes are crumbling apart, they’re probably overcooked and you’ll want to drain them right away.
Very carefully transfer the cooked potatoes to a clean baking sheet lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to cool.
2. Cook the bacon: Meanwhile, chop the bacon into small bits and add them to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the bacon is hot and sizzling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally until the bacon pieces are golden. Remove the lid and allow the bacon pieces to cook until the desired doneness is reached.
Transfer the cooked bacon pieces to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve approximately 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease.
3. Peel and chop the potatoes: Gently peel each potato using your fingers or a paring knife. You may also leave the skin on, that’s perfectly fine too. Chop the potatoes into small, equal-sized cubes or slices (the shape is entirely up to you!)
4. Sauté the onions and prepare the vinegar dressing: Return your skillet with the bacon grease back to medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Meanwhile, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, water, coarse brown mustard (dijon mustard), and granulated sugar.
5. Combine: Add the bacon and the vinegar mixture to the sautéed onions. Mix until just heated before adding the potatoes and parsley. Mix thoroughly, though gently, to combine.
Can This Be Made Ahead?
If you plan to serve your German potato salad warm, then I wouldn’t prepare anything (except for maybe the bacon) ahead of time. The problem is that the potatoes, once peeled, mixed, and chilled, tend to stick together (kind of like pasta noodles) and don’t typically hold their shape when remixed after reheating.
With that said, this salad is absolutely delicious leftover – warm or cold – it just may not look as pretty. If that doesn’t matter to you, give it a try making it ahead. You may also want to make extra vinaigrette to drizzle over your salad just before serving as the potatoes will probably absorb all the liquid as it rests.
How long will leftovers last in the refrigerator?
Leftovers, when stored properly in the refrigerator, last for approximately 4 days. The potatoes will absorb all of the vinaigrette so consider making a little extra if your potatoes seem dry.
How to Serve
The best way to serve German potato salad is with bratwurst or another sausage, brown mustard, and an ice-cold German beer. I also love to pair this recipe with sauerkraut and applesauce, lamb chops, or grilled chicken.
Have you made this German Potato Salad Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
German Potato Salad
- 4 pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes - (or red potatoes)
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound thick-cut bacon - chopped into small 1/2-inch pieces (see notes)
- 2 medium yellow onions - minced
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoon coarse brown mustard - like dijon mustard (not yellow mustard)
- 4 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ cup fresh parsley - minced (plus more for serving)
- salt and black pepper - to season
- Transfer the potatoes to a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until you are just able to pierce them with a fork (try not to overcook your potatoes). Drain and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, as the potatoes boil, cook the bacon. Add the chopped bacon to a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the bacon is hot and sizzling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover with a lid. Cook low and slow, stirring occasionally. Once the bacon pieces are golden, remove the lid and allow them to cook until the desired doneness is reached. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve approximately 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease.
- Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle – but still warm – gently peel. You can do this using your hands (the skin should rub and peel right off), or use a small paring knife. You may also leave the skin on if preferred. Chop the potatoes into small, equal-sized cubes or slices.
- Return the skillet with the bacon grease to medium-high heat. Add the minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
- As the onion is cooking whisk together the apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, water, coarse brown mustard, and granulated sugar in a small bowl.
- Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the bacon back to the skillet and add the vinegar mixture, mixing well to combine. Once heated, add the potatoes and parsley and gently mix well to combine. Garnish with additional parsley, to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
- You may also cook your bacon in the oven. If you do this, be sure to reserve 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease to cook your onions.
- Potato salad works best using waxy potatoes such as Yukon gold or red potatoes.
- You may substitute fresh dill or chives in place of the parsley if desired.
- Leftovers: Transfer to a sealed air-tight container and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Reheating: For best results, place a damp paper towel over a plate or bowl with the potato salad and reheat in the microwave until warm.
- This recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)