Hot red potatoes dressed in a warm bacon, mustard and vinegar dressing are what make this traditional German potato salad a family favorite.
I can taste the pucker now. It’s the telltale sign of the ultimate German potato salad. That vinegar punch mixed with spunky, grainy mustard in a bacon-studded dressing. The unexpected zing that makes me wonder who could possibly pass up a mayo-less ‘tater salad?
Not this German girl.
Although when I just asked Smudge her opinion on which photo to use as the main for this post, she said, “That’s potato salad? I didn’t know it was potato salad when we have it. I always thought it was just hot cooked potatoes.”
I suppose hot potato salad served in a frying pan threw her for a BBQ-side-dish-loop. Surprise is good for her. And for all of us when it comes to giving traditional dishes a try. Leave it to the Germans who originated Christmas, Legos, Nutella and the VW bug to hand down yet another classic.
What’s in German Potato Salad?
The ingredients needed for this hot German potato salad are few, but they’re all the right ones. Before you ask, no, I don’t recommend using any substitutions for this recipe. It’s perfect as is.
For this vinegar potato salad, you’ll need:
- Red potatoes
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Yellow onion
- White vinegar
- Coarse German-style mustard
- Fresh parsley
How to Make German Potato Salad
This potato salad is super simple to bring together and a must when we make our Beer Braised Bratwurst with Onions. It’s adapted from one of my German-immigrant grandmother’s handwritten recipes she added to the inside cover of her dog eared and worn Joy of Cooking cookbook. I’m finding I’m reaching for that cookbook to remake her recipes more and more these days.
To start, I quarter medium size red potatoes and cook them in generously salted water. Once they’re easily pierced with a fork and the skins are juuuuuust beginning to pull away from the cut edges, they should be cooked. Pull them from the water and allow to cool until you can hold them then slice into large chunks.
While the potatoes are cooking, it’s time to cook the sliced bacon in the skillet you’ll be mixing all the goods in, so allow room for the amount of potatoes. The onion is then quickly cooked in the reserved bacon renderings—aka fat/grease/drippings—and the vinegar and mustard is whisked in and all the ingredients are tossed together so that the warm potatoes soak up the warm dressing. It’s the ultimate flavor bomb.
How Long to Cook Potatoes for Potato Salad
You’ll want to cook the potatoes over high heat in a large saucepan until water comes to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium so that the water is still gently bubbling and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with a fork. Immediately drain the potatoes to prevent them from becoming too soft.
Can I Make This with Apple Cider Vinegar?
I know I said to not make any substitutions, but if you’re in a pinch and don’t have white vinegar you technically can use apple cider vinegar instead. It’s a little more mild in flavor than white vinegar and not quite as sour, so try using 1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar to just 1/2 cup water when you stir together the hot German potato salad.
Tips for Making German Potato Salad
A coarse ground or stoneground mustard is key to flavoring this salad and the better the quality, the better the salad. The whole mustard seeds add tons of flavor to the dressing that you won’t get from yellow, brown or Dijon mustard. Don’t even bother with trying to achieve that classic taste if you don’t have this classic mustard. It’s easily found in the grocery aisle so just take a gander and toss it in your cart.
Also note that somewhat frozen bacon makes for the easiest slicing, unless you have a sharp knife like my favorite knife here. Simply pop the bacon in the freezer for 10-15 minutes then slice away.
More Potato Salad Recipes You Need to Try
- How to Make the Best Potato Salad Ever (my grandma’s famous recipe!)
- Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon Dressing
- Loaded Baked Potato Salad
- Chunky Stetson Potato Salad
- No-Mayo Potato Salad with Herbs
- Creamy Dilled Red Potato Salad
German Potato Salad
- 3 1/2 to 4 pounds medium red potatoes quartered
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound bacon cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
- 1 large yellow onion minced
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons coarse or stoneground German style mustard
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the potatoes over high heat in a large saucepan until water comes to a boil. Season generously with about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Reduce the heat to medium so that the water is still gently bubbling and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a fork and the skins are barely starting to pull away from the cut edges of the potatoes. Drain the potatoes and cool until they can be handled. Cut into large dice and add back to the pan you cooked them in to keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the sliced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned, about 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally. Transfer the bacon to a plate topped with paper towels to drain.
Add the onion to the bacon grease and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the onion is transparent but not brown. Stir in 1 cup water, the white vinegar, mustard and sugar and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the dressing has reduced to about 2 cups.
Add the potatoes back to the pan with the dressing and toss to coat. Add the chopped bacon and parsley. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve warm.
*Somewhat frozen bacon makes for the easiest slicing. Simply pop the bacon in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, then slice away.
More Classic Potluck Sides to Make
- Greek Pasta Salad with Cucumbers and Artichoke Hearts
- How to Make the Best Creamy Coleslaw
- BLT Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Asian Ramen Noodle Salad
- The Best BBQ Baked Beans
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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