If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people take their Classic German Potato Salad very seriously. Please take my version with a grain of salt, I am not claiming that it’s authentic, but I’m just going to add that this is my copy of a German potato salad that I ate in a pub in Karlsruhe Germany and have been meaning to replicate ever since!
Do I trust that pub in Germany? Maybe, maybe not. I ordered the MEATLOAF and potato salad and received what was basically a loaf made from hot dogs or bologna. Meatloaf in Germany can most definitely not be what we consider meatloaf here. I have since found out that Leberkaese was what I ate and was called meatloaf, and yes the texture resembles bologna! “Leberkaese consists of corned beef, pork and bacon and is made by grinding the ingredients very finely and then baking it as a loaf in a bread pan “. Luckily I like bologna/hot dogs and happily ate it, but it’s the potato salad that I remember the most. It was SO different from the heavy mayonnaise based salads that we eat here in North America. It was tangy, hot and so light comparatively!
What is German Potato Salad?
German Potato Salad is made from potatoes tossed with bacon and vinegar, to be concise. The dressing can use apple cider or white vinegar based, and there is NO MAYONNAISE. I know, this is hard to wrap our North American brains around for sure, how can a potato salad not have mayo? Well, German potato salad doesn’t. Consider it the vinaigrette version of our heavy mayo-based traditional potato picnic salad. German potato salad can be served hot or cold, but it’s especially nice served hot.
Can I use apple cider vinegar in German Potato Salad?
Yes, you can! If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that there are many different versions of German potato salad. Some variations include:
- using apple cider vinegar
- using dill as a flavouring
- no bacon
- Dijon mustard or even just yellow mustard
- Whole grain mustard seemed to be the most common in the potato salads in Germany
Tips & Tricks for Making German Potato Salad
- Always use a waxy potato like red potatoes. You want the potato to stand up to being boiled, drained and tossed in the dressing. A Russet potato will absolutely fall apart into mush if you use them.
- Adjust the mustard flavouring to your own liking.
- Using a whole grain mustard adds a fantastic taste and texture and there are many varieties available in your local grocery stores.
- Make sure that the onions are fully cooked before you add the vinegar. The acidity will actually STOP the onions from cooking further sometimes! You don’t want crunchy onions in the salad.
- Feel free to adjust the amount of bacon or leave it out to make it a vegetarian salad. The dressing is still amazing on it’s own with potatoes and onions. ( Although the bacon is the best part in my opinion.)
Looking for more Salad Recipes? Try these:
- Greek Orzo Salad
- Cucumber Salad with Tomato and Dill
- Summer Tomatoes Panzanella Salad
- Fast and Easy Greek Pasta Salad
- Simple Mexican Coleslaw
- Classic Retro Picnic Macaroni Salad
Happy cooking! Let me know if your family has a traditional version of German potato salad, I’d love to hear it!
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Classic German Potato Salad
- Prep Time
- 30 minutes
- Cook Time
- 20 minutes
- Total Time
- 50 minutes
- Karlynn Johnston
- 6 cups diced red potatoes peel on
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Place the diced potatoes into a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes completely.
- Bring the water to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. You don't want them to start falling apart when pierced, however.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside.
- Place the bacon and onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon is cooked.
- Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard and pepper. Taste test and adjust accordingly. ( make it sweeter or more mustard, etc.)
- Add the liquid to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add in the potatoes and parsley.
- Heat completely through.
- Spoon into a serving dish or bowl and serve.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.
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Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!
This came out delicious! I followed your recipe however since I do not like the skin on potatoes in a any type of potato salad, I first boiled the red potatoes in their skins and when cool enough to handle I removed the skins. This is the first time I have ever made potato salad without mayo. I preferred it at room temperature, but my husband liked it hot. I served it as a side dish along with breaded pork chops. Thank you for this recipe, it’s something different rather than always making either mashed, scalloped, au gratin, etc.
Kimberly N Riefstahl says
Just made this recipe and it was so easy to make and delicious!
I add chopped German style dill pickles. This is a fabulous addition.
A trick to getting potatoes at the perfect texture for cutting into salad is to cook them whole in the skins and then drain them and peel the skins off using a small knife after a few minutes of cooling — painstaking, to be sure, but worth the effort… unless you’re like me and don’t care about having skins in your salad. It’s how my grandmother and mother have always done it!
This recipe is very different from the Czech potato salad they made, however, and I am excited try it out!
I also wanted to mention that no matter what kind of potato salad I make, I always add some sweet chili sauce to it, [A Taste of Thai] brand name; so good, it adds something to a salad or almost any savory dish to add that secret ingredient that seems to be missing from a lot of dishes; it’s a mild heat, and no one can figure out why my potato salad tastes so good 🙂
potato salad and hotdog are a classic combination; the Danes do that as well, they serve hot danish potato salad and boiled european weiners; they also have regular dogs for those who don’t like the skin on the other.
Victoria Schwalbe says
I grew up eating German potato salad. If my mom said she was making potato salad there was no question …it was German style. My dad came from Germany as a teenager. No mustard, no dill, no caraway.only cider vinegar, sugar, some water, bacon, onion, red potatoes. My husband grew up with it too. After his mom passed and his first wife died he thought he’d had the last taste of the salad he so loved. He almost cried the first time I made it for him. That’s how much of a tradition it is in our lives.
Oh this is close to my Oma’s! She uses caraway seeds and they are the best! Try it!
Karlynn Johnston says
I’m so glad to hear it!