There’s nothing quite like a delicious bowl of authentic German Potato Salad to pair with a delicious summer barbecue. The combination of bacon, bacon drippings, onions, and vinegar provides tons of flavor, while the potatoes provide a creamy texture.
I distinctly remember eating warm German potato salad in a German class in high school when I was living in Nebraska. I decided to take German because my dad had lived in Austria and I thought it would be fun if he and I both spoke a language that no one else in the family could understand.
I fell in love not just with the German language but with German culture and German food. Eventually I was able to live in Germany during part of my law school career while doing an internship at a large international law firm in Frankfurt.
This is the best German salad recipe and it is as close as I have been able to come to all of the delicious versions of this dish that I have enjoyed over the years. It's still a family favorite with it's punchy and rich flavors of crispy bacon and vinegar from the tangy dressing with the savory tender potatoes and fresh parsley.
We love all different types of potato salad from the classic American versions, to Greek potato salad, to this German potato salad. It's the perfect side dish for everything from grilled chicken, fish, or bratwurst to German Sauerbraten (like a delicious German pot roast). We especially enjoy it during the summer as an alternative to American-style potato salad that is made with mayonnaise.
What is the difference between German potato salad and American potato salad?
American potato salad with mayo is served cold and frequently has more vegetables in it like chopped celery, chopped dill pickles, or grated carrots and can be quite varied. These creamy potato salads are also a little sweeter.
Traditional German potato salad can be served warm or cold and it has a vinegar dressing for a sharper, tangier flavor. It also has bacon and onion which gives it a smoky, savory flavor and usually fresh herbs sprinkled on top.
- Potatoes - I prefer to use waxy potatoes like Yukon gold or even red potatoes for this German potato salad recipe, but russet potatoes can also be used instead.
- Bacon - I prefer regular cut bacon as opposed to thick cut bacon for this recipe.
- Diced onion - Use a yellow onion, sweet onions, or red onion.
- Vinegar - I have used both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. I don't know that one is more authentic than the other, but I prefer white vinegar, personally.
- Sugar - There is actually a little granulated sugar in the recipe to balance the acidity of the vinegar flavor.
- Black pepper
- Fresh parsley
- Celery seed - I don't recommend leaving these out as they really add a lot of the classic flavor to this hot German potato salad.
- Dijon mustard or spicy brown mustard
How to Make Hot German Potato Salad
- Boil the potatoes. Add yellow potatoes to a large pot and cover with at least 1 inch of cold water. Generously salt the water (about 1 Tablespoon of salt), then bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain well and slice the hot potatoes into thick discs or chunks. Set aside.
- Cook bacon until crispy. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving at least 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat.
- Saute onions in bacon grease. Cook the onions in the reserved bacon drippings until softened and starting to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Make the dressing. Add the tangy vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, celery seeds, and mustard to the onions. Bring to a boil, then add the cut potatoes, parsley, and half of the crumbled bacon to the warm dressing.
- Toss to combine. Gently toss the potatoes in the dressing to coat and make sure everything is evenly heated through, then transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the remaining crumbled bacon and chopped parsley. Chopped green onions or chives would also be good sprinkled on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
No, there are traditionally no eggs (hard-boiled or otherwise) in German potato salad, at least not any versions that I have tried. Adding hard-boiled eggs to potato salad is more of an American thing.
German potato salad has a distinct vinegar, bacon, herb, and potato taste to it that is much more savory and punchy than other potato salad recipes.
Potatoes are a very popular and common ingredient in Germany and German cuisine is replete with delicious potato recipes! Some of our other favorites besides kartoffelsalat (German potato salad, which is arguably the most famous German potato dish), are kartoffelpuffer (uber crispy potato fritters or potato pancakes served with applesauce or sour cream), and kartoffelknödel (a German potato dumpling).
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use those bacon drippings! Real German potato salad uses the bacon drippings to infuse the dish with flavor.
- Make enough for leftovers. Many folks think German potato salad is even better reheated the next day after the flavors have had time to marry.
- Don't bother peeling the potatoes. Unless you are using russet potatoes with thicker skins, there is no need to spend time peeling the potatoes for this recipe.
What to Serve With German Potato Salad
This side dish is delicious with almost any grilled meat from chicken to sausage to brisket. But it's practically a meal itself if you want to serve it with a delicious salad and some crusty bread. Here are some of our favorite dishes that we like to serve with German potato salad.
- Perfect Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet BBQ Pork Rub
- Best Roast Chicken
- Juicy Lucy Burgers
- Grilled Whole Fish
- Corn on the Cob
Storage & Reheating Instructions
Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can reheat it on the stovetop by adding a splash or two of water over medium low heat or in the microwave.
More German Recipes
- German Plum Cake
- Easy Homemade German Spaetzle
- Pork Schnitzel & Mushroom Gravy (Jägerschnitzel)
- Homemade Soft Pretzels
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Hot German Potato Salad Recipe
- 6 cups peeled potatoes, cut in half if large (we prefer Yukon gold or red potatoes, but Russett potatoes will also work)
- 12 slices bacon
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, more or less, to taste
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons celery seeds
- 1 Tablespoon dijon or spicy brown mustard (optional)
- 2-3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with at least 1 inch of water. Generously salt the water (about 1 Tablespoon of salt), then bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain well and slice potatoes into thick discs or chunks. Set aside.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove from the pan, crumble, and set aside, reserving at least 2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- Cook the onions in the bacon grease over medium heat until softened and starting to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, celery seeds, and mustard. Bring to a boil, then add potatoes, parsley, and half of the crumbled bacon. Toss to coat the potatoes and evenly heat everything through, then transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the remaining crumbled bacon. Serve warm.