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 ½ cups of cider vinegar to just ½ 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
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram or Twitter with #foodiecrusheats.
German Potato Salad
- 3 ½ to 4 pounds medium red potatoes quartered
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound bacon cut into ½-inch pieces*
- 1 large yellow onion minced
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons coarse or stoneground German style mustard
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ 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.
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
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Made this last night, it was quite delicious and a big hit with the group.
My first try at German potato salad this recipe was delicious
Dolores Hansen Nelson
I’m a fourth-generation lover and maker of German Potato Salad. When I serve it, it disappears, and people ask for the recipe. I cook celery with the onion; I think it improves the texture and makes it a bit lighter. One tip: If you are not going to serve it soon, I chill both sauce and potatoes, warming both when ready to serve, and THEN adding the potatoes to the sauce.
Made this tonight to go with knockwurst. Everyone said this is the best German potato salad ever! Thanks.
So glad you liked it Chip. Knockwurst is a great idea to go along with it!
I made this recipe of German potato salad for a family reunion and they liked it so much that at the end there was some left that they took the leftovers home for themselves and I was left with an empty dish. I was also told that I HAD to make it again next year
Love your recipe, but I have to quibble a bit. LEGOs were invented by a Dane and Nutella was invented by an Italian. But I did own a VW bug and it was my favorite car. Cheers!
My husband found this recipe and made it a couple of years ago to rave reviews. I made it again a few weeks ago to continued rave reviews. Thanks for this delicious recipe!
I love that! So glad everyone is enjoying this recipe!
Hi Heidi: I know that the bacon is the key ingredient here, but I don’t eat bacon. Think it would taste good without?
Hi Carole, I think that without the bacon you wouldn’t have any drippings and the potato salad would be dry. If you don’t do bacon, try my Dilled Potato Salad, it’s delish and no bacon :) http://www.foodiecrush.com/creamy-dilled-red-potato-salad/
Coursework help online
This formula turned out awesome for me! My husband other loves german potato plate of mixed greens however has dependably said that his Grandma made the best. He truly delighted in this! I
“Leave it to the Germans who originated Christmas, Legos, Nutella and the VW bug to hand down yet another classic.”
I think you’ll find that Lego is Danish, Nutella is Italian and ‘Christmas’ is derived from Old English.
Today for the kickoff of our 500th year on Reformation Sunday (we’re Lutherans and 500 years ago next year is the day Martin Luther posted his paperwork in Wittenberg Germany), we held an Octoberfest. We had brats, sauerkraut, hot German potato salads and German chocolate cakes. I took a potato salad and doubled your recipe. I used the apple cider vinegar and sliced my potatoes. Ended up with a large crockpot of it that disappeared quickly. Was enjoyed by all. Will definitely make it again! Thank you.
Denise! I’m so happy to hear it was a crowd pleaser. Thanks for coming back around and letting me know.
Heidi, we’re coming up on the actual 500th anniversary on Tuesday so Sunday evening we’re doing another Oktoberfest at the church. After how popular it was last year, I’ll be doing it again!
I am going to an Oktoberfest party tomorrow and bringing this warm potato salad. Do you think I have to use red potatoes for authenticity or can I use small baby white ones cut in half? Red potatoes scare me since sometimes they can have a bitterness but if necessary I will take that risk. I hope this one works for me….my fried/hostess is a real “foodie”
Hi Julie, you could surely make it with small white potatoes too. I like red for the color and presentation :)
I made this for my husband and he absolutely loved it! The only things I did differently were using apple cider vinegar instead of white and sautéing diced celery along with the onion. Thanks so much for an awesome recipe!
I want to make this for our family reunion (German) this weekend. We have a competition on who makes the best German potato salad. Do you use all of the bacon fat from 1# or just a reserved amount?
My Mother-in-law gave me her (German) Mother’s recipe years ago and have made German Potato Salad a few times. But, when if I can recall the recipe used Dill instead of Parsley.
If this is another variation of the your wonderful recipe, can you please tell me how much Dill I would in place of the Parsley?
Man, I must have been VERY tired when typing the above reply! I guess I should have read it few hundred times before posting.
Great Potato salad recipe. However, I must correct you. Legos are a Danish invention, not German.
Doubled the recipe for a Memorial Day party tomorrow. You were absolutely right about the mustard. Excellent! Thanks.
I made this a few months back for dinner with friends. We loved it so much I’m making it again this weekend. Thank you for the recipe!
I made this as a side dish at a very small pulled pork competition and had five or six people tell me it was he best dish there! This is now my go to side dish!
I can not access your page, “How to Make the Best Potato Salad Ever.” Making it tomorrow for a picnic and already got all the ingredients. Can you copy just the recipe to this reply please?
With German ancestry myself, I am a big fan of all things German. I do, however have to clarify two things in your post: Nutella was developed in Italy and Legos are from Denmark. Thanks for the great potato salad recipe. Can’t wait to try it!
I made this for my husband for dinner tonight, and he loved it! I had heard so much about the potato salad at a German restaurant he frequents when he’s out of town working. I had never heard of a warm potato salad, and had no idea what German potato salad was. I was so glad to come across your recipe. Thank you so much – it’s a keeper!!
Wishing I was shoveling this into my month right now! Delish!
Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles
We Germans are a good bunch. ;) Great potato salad, Heidi!
Oh yum that looks so tasty! great post i will have to try making it!
My maternal grandparents were from Germany, and we made a hot German potato salad like this. We used cider vinegar instead of white and we used brown sugar instead of white. We also sliced the potatoes instead of cubing them. Also, you can add two tablespoons of flour to the baccon fat while stirring to make the dressing thicker and then add the water cider vinegar. Or you can make a slurry with a tablespoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of water stirred together. This will also thicken the dressing a little more.
Oh HR, I like that idea of a thicker dressing. I’ll have to give it a try the next time around. My dad makes the BEST sliced potatoes with onion. I’m going to have to get roust him into sharing the recipe. Thanks for the comment.
My father’s family hails from Germany and this is the potato salad I ate while growing up. It is so delicious and I will be making it soon as a result of this post. Each time we were together with extended family, this dish was served. It brings many warm memories for me.
Awww, Ann! Thank you so much for the sweet comment and memories you’ve shared, I’m thrilled this will be making its way onto your table. Auf Wiedersehen!
Brian @ A Thought For Food
This is a total game-changer. I mean, that bacon. Who wouldn’t look at this and immediately start drooling?
I like a it of mayo in my potato salad, but I’m totally on board with the zing of a German potato salad. Especially in the fall/winter months, anything to brighten up a meal is definitely welcome.
It’s all about the zing :)
I was told long ago, by a lady from Germany, that had her own German restaurant, that there is no such thing as Hot German Potato Salad, from Germany… I am going with that answer,,,………
Like anything Jeanniue, I’m sure it depends on what region of the country you’re from. Heck, I always thought hush puppies were a brand of shoe until I was 25! Thanks for sharing that tidbit :)
being German myself, I can tell you she is right, though some people like their potato salad warm, it is not common to eat it hot.
There are two typical versions of potato salad here, one made with broth and vinegar and the other made with mayo .. regional variations would include adding cucumber, diced bacon, pickles, boiled eggs, etc
walter b marvin
I always like to keep the onions raw and throw in some carrots and celery, and a few boiled eggs. The hot oil can usually reduce the vinegar, but you can just bring it to a boil if you add more vinegar and leave out the water
Thanks for your input Walter, great tips!
Then it’s not German potato salad.
Do you think I can keep the ingredients relatively the same but substitute cider vinegar for the white?
HI Steve, you could substitute cider vinegar. It’s a little more mild in flavor and not quite as sour so try using 1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar to just 1/2 cup water. Look forward to hearing how it works!
Dynamo of Dixie
Looks delicious! I can serve this with my neighborhood-famous currywurst.