German Potato Salad

4.72 from 7 votes
45 minutes
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This recipe for German Potato Salad has been a family favorite for over 70 years! The intensely flavorful, vinegar-based dressing is sweet and tangy. Perfect as a hearty side dish!

“Tonight was the first time my husband told me I made the best German potato salad he ever had–and it was yours!”

German Potato Salad in round earthenware bowl garnished with egg slices and fresh parsley with serving spoon.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Look no further if you’ve been searching for an authentic and delicious warm recipe for German Potato Salad! This version has been in my husband’s family for 70 years. His family is German, making this potato salad tried and true.

While the potatoes are important, the flavorful vinegar-based dressing is the real star of this dish. It adds tanginess without being rich, like a traditional mayonnaise-based American potato salad. The fat component in this German potato salad is the bacon grease rendered after cooking the bacon.

From there, vinegar, some sugar, and a touch of paprika balance out the delectable dressing. Onions are sauteed directly in the fat as well for even more savoriness. Just what this warm German potato salad recipe needs to tie it all together!

While remaining authentic, this easy, warm recipe for German Potato Salad is simple to put together. After the potatoes and bacon are made, the dressing can be made immediately with the hot bacon grease. It emulsifies quickly and thickens after only 5 to 7 minutes on the stovetop.

This potato salad is best served warm or at room temperature. It’s the perfect side dish that everyone will enjoy, whether you are serving it up at a barbeque, your Oktoberfest celebration, or a holiday dinner!

This recipe for German Potato Salad is:

  • Easy! The dressing comes together quickly and uses the fat from the bacon.
  • Flavorful. Bacon and onions make this recipe super savory, and the dressing is sweet and tangy!
  • Authentic! This recipe for German Potato Salad is a long-time favorite in my husband’s family that has withstood the test of time!
German Potato Salad in round earthenware bowl garnished with egg slices and fresh parsley with serving spoon.

How to Make Authentic German Potato Salad:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this warm German Potato Salad recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for German Potato Salad in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Russet Potatoes: Traditionally, Russet potatoes were the variety used in this family recipe for German Potato Salad. Seventy years ago or so, that was all many people grew, and grocery stores didn’t carry many varieties. Although we now have access to many kinds of potatoes, Russet is still the best choice because of their starchiness, so they absorb the rich and tangy dressing. Yukon Gold and red are considered “waxy” potatoes but will work fine with this recipe.
  • Bacon: You can use turkey or beef bacon here if you don’t consume pork. Especially if using turkey bacon, you may need to add extra oil to cook the onions.
  • Paprika: If possible, use Hungarian paprika for an extra kick.
  • White Vinegar: Plain and inexpensive white vinegar is what brings the tang to this salad.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs: If you’re looking to skip the process of hard-boiling eggs for this German Potato Salad, pre-made hard-boiled eggs are now easy to find in most grocery stores’ egg/dairy departments.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or other pot and fill with water to cover. Add a generous amount of salt, approximately 1 tablespoon. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a paring knife, being careful not to overcook.
  • Drain the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes and transfer them to a mixing bowl.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, brown the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle over the potatoes. Reserve bacon grease.
  • Add the onion to the hot bacon grease and cook until tender, approximately 4-5 minutes, being careful not to brown the onions. (They will pick up some color from browning the bacon.)
Cooked, lightly browned onions in white enamel cast iron skillet.
  • Stir in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the water, vinegar, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until thickened and the dressing is translucent.
Cooked salad dressing for German Potato Salad in white enamel cast iron skillet.
  • Pour the hot dressing over the sliced potatoes and carefully fold it in.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with sliced eggs and chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
German Potato Salad in round earthenware bowl garnished with egg slices and fresh parsley.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • If you’re using lean bacon, such as turkey bacon, you may need to add a tablespoon or two of cooking oil to the skillet to cook the onions.
  • When adding the dressing to the potatoes, stir gently, carefully folding it in. This salad is best when the potatoes retain their shape for a better texture.
  • If you prefer a wetter, saucier potato salad, increase the dressing ingredients (flour, water, vinegar, and sugar by 1/4th).
German Potato Salad in round earthenware bowl garnished with egg slices and fresh parsley with serving spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s the difference between German and American potato salad?

German potato salad is made with a vinegar-based dressing instead of the mayonnaise-based dressing most typically seen in American potato salads. This recipe is also served warm or at room temperature, unlike its American counterpart which is often served chilled.

What is German Potato Salad made of?

Bacon and onions bring savoriness to this authentic German Potato Salad. The dressing is tangy thanks to the vinegar and has a kick from the paprika. Hard-boiled eggs also add a textural component to the dish but remain a garnish rather than an ingredient in the salad.

What is the history of German Potato Salad?

As the name implies, German Potato Salad originated in Germany. It was a hearty dish that combined bacon and potatoes with a vinegar-based dressing. Potatoes were a common food for the working class in Germany during the 18th century, and this dish was likely inspired by those trying to stretch the little meat that they had, like bacon.

Can warm German Potato Salad be made ahead of time?

This warm German Potato Salad recipe is best prepared immediately before serving it. You can, however, make the dressing ahead of time. You can make the dressing 1-2 days ahead.  Cool and refrigerate.  Cook the potatoes, reheat the dressing on the stovetop or in the microwave, toss with the warm potatoes, and serve.

Can you freeze German Potato Salad?

German potato salad is more freezer-friendly than its American counterpart. Since this dressing is vinegar-based instead of mayo-based, it does hold together better. However, potato salad generally doesn’t freeze very well due to the potatoes. After freezing, their texture can become grainy and mushy.

German Potato Salad in round earthenware bowl garnished with egg slices and fresh parsley with serving spoon.

Storage:

  • Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy within 3 to 5 days.
  • German Potato Salad is perfectly fine cold, too, but if you prefer it warm or hot, reheat it in the microwave.

Serve with:

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German Potato Salad in round earthenware bowl garnished with egg slices and fresh parsley with serving spoon.

German Potato Salad

4.72 from 7 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
This authentic recipe for German Potato Salad has been a family favorite for over 70 years! The intensely flavorful, vinegar-based dressing is sweet and tangy. Perfect as a hearty side dish!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Salads
Cuisine German
Servings 6
Calories 231 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds Russet potatoes - (4 large), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon salt - plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided
  • 5 slices bacon - diced
  • 1 medium onion - chopped
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 large eggs - hard-boiled, shells removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
 

  • Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or other pot and fill with water to cover. Add a generous amount of salt, approximately 1 tablespoon. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a paring knife, being careful not to overcook.
  • Drain the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, brown the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle over the potatoes. Reserve bacon grease.
  • Add the onion to the hot bacon grease and cook until tender, approximately 4-5 minutes, being careful not to brown the onions. (They will pick up some color from browning the bacon.)
  • Stir in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the water, vinegar, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until thickened and the dressing is translucent.
  • Pour the hot dressing over the sliced potatoes and carefully fold it in.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with sliced eggs and chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS:
  • Yukon Gold and red are considered “waxy” potatoes and will work fine with this recipe.  (Some prefer them because they hold together well.)
  • If you don’t consume pork, use turkey or beef bacon.
TIPS:
  • If the bacon you’re using is lean, you may need to add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to the skillet to cook the onions.
  • If you prefer a wetter, saucier potato salad, increase the dressing ingredients (flour, water, vinegar, and sugar by 1/4th).
MAKE AHEAD:
  • You can make the dressing 1-2 days ahead.  Cool and refrigerate.  Cook the potatoes, reheat the dressing on the stovetop or in the microwave, toss with the warm potatoes, and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 231kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 1198mg | Potassium: 687mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 161IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.72 from 7 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have been searching for an authentic German potato salad recipe for a long time, and have finally found it! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe! It definitely is reminiscent of the delicious potato salad we used to get at the German restaurants many years ago. my hubby loves this recipe too, so it’s a keeper!

    1. Hi, Frankie, Thanks so much and that means a lot! I pass all these great reviews onto my mother-in-law. Appreciate your taking the time to come back and comment and rate.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi, I’ve been following you for years. I love your recipes thank you so much. Tonight was the first time my husband ever told me that I made the best German potato salad that he ever had and it was yours! So, thank you so very much.

    1. Hi, Judy! So nice to hear from you! So happy you both enjoyed so much. I will certainly pass this onto my mother-in-law, whose recipe it is; she’ll be tickled! Appreciate your taking the time to come back and comment. Thanks again!