Authentic German potato salad made with an amazing warm bacon vinaigrette, straight from Mom’s recipe box!
German potato salad
A photo can only hint at all the wonderful things going on in this German potato salad. It turned out perfectly, with all the right warm-tangy-savory-crispy elements in perfect balance. It comes from my mom’s recipe box where, I have to say, the salad section is a little lean! I’m guessing a salad had to be pretty good for her to save it, and this one definitely is. Even though mom was strictly in the mayo based potato salad camp, my dad would have grown up with this vinegar and bacon version, so it made regular appearances on our backyard picnic table. It’s phenomenal, I’ll be making it again on the 4th of July for sure.
did you know?
German potato salad, known as kartoffelsalat, is a staple in German cuisine. Warm potato salad with a bacon and vinegar based dressing is from southern Germany and is known as warmkartoffelsalat. It’s a highlight of Oktoberfest and beer garden menus, and just like we do, Germans enjoy warm potato salad with barbecues and outdoor grilling.
lets break it down: German Potato Salad ingredients
- I cooked up 1/2 pound of bacon but of course as we all know the amount of bacon that actually makes it into a recipe is in inverse proportion to the cook’s willpower. Adjust accordingly 😉
- red onion
- parsley and chives
- salt and pepper
warm bacon dressing
- bacon grease
- cider vinegar
- brown sugar
- celery seed
- Dijon mustard
how to make warm German potato salad
- Peel potatoes, halve lengthwise, and cook until just tender.
- Meanwhile cook bacon and reserve some of the grease for the dressing.
- Slice the hot potatoes and combine with onions, celery, and crumbled bacon.
- Make hot dressing and drizzle all over salad.
- Toss gently and serve with fresh herbs.
helpful tips and secrets to making German potato salad
Use similar sized potatoes, and peel them before cooking. I also slice them in half lengthwise before cooking them to make the process quicker.
Don’t sauté the onions and celery in the hot dressing. This is the classic method but I say don’t do it! I love the little bit of crunch from the raw veggies, it works so well with the soft potatoes.
Use a light hand with the dressing. The dressing in this recipe is just right for 3 lbs of potatoes. In too many German potato salads there is too much soupy dressing and the vinegar flavor overpowers everything. If you prefer a ‘wetter’ German potato salad, just make a little extra dressing.
Don’t worry if you can’t serve this warm. The salad cools off very quickly after you add the hot dressing, so room temperature will be just fine. The main benefit of the hot dressing is that it soaks right into the potatoes.
Serving leftovers: if you want to rewarm a serving of cold salad, you can microwave it briefly to revive it.
a few variation ideas
- Add some chopped dill pickles
- Top with wedges of cooked egg.
- Use dill instead of parsley and chives.
the bottom line
I was all set to start peeling another batch of potatoes when I began to slice mine and realized that they were fairly soft. I figured I boiled them a few minutes too long for the defined slices I was aiming for. But I tell you what…this stuff is gooooood, just as is. The soft edges of the potato drink in that amazing dressing and the whole package is pretty perfect. So as far as I’m concerned this recipe is a big success. (It’s helped banish the memory of those gloppy tubs of supermarket German potato salad from my mind forever.)
more summer sides to try
German Potato Salad
- Peel the potatoes and halve them lengthwise. Cover with cold water and add a tablespoon of salt. Cook until just tender but not soft or falling apart. Check with the point of a sharp knife.
- While the potatoes cook, fry the bacon until crisp. Reserve the grease. Drain the bacon on paper towels and then finely chop or crumble and set aside.
- In a small saucepan mix 1/4 cup of the reserved bacon fat, the vinegar, sugar, salt, celery seed and Dijon mustard. Whisk to combine and keep warm over a very low heat. Note: taste the dressing to adjust any of the ingredients. Remember the vinegar taste will mellow out once you mix it with the warm potatoes.
- Drain the potatoes and thickly slice while still hot. Place in a large serving bowl along with the celery, onion, and crumbled bacon. Toss gently with the hot bacon vinaigrette.
- Top with the fresh herbs, and some fresh cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.