This German potato salad is the perfect addition to any grilled meat or veggie platter! It’s a delicious and hearty side dish made with tender potatoes, crispy bacon, tangy vinegar, and a touch of sweetness.
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Try this German potato salad recipe if you want something delicious to serve at your next barbecue or gathering. It’s made with buttery sliced potatoes tossed in a tangy bacon dressing. It’s an excellent way to switch up the typical creamy potato salad. Serve it warm for a hearty side dish, perfect for pairing with grilled meats or vegetables.
Grab a few pounds of Yukon gold potatoes or your favorite waxy variety, and get boiling! While the potatoes cook, crisp up pieces of savory bacon to make the warm vinaigrette. The dressing combines beef stock, vinegar, savory seasonings, and herbs to increase the flavor. It’s a simple yet flavorful potato dish to share!
- Potatoes: Use a waxy type of potato like Yukon gold, yellow potato, or red potatoes. This will hold its structure better when mixing. Russets are starchy, which will give a creamier texture.
- Bacon: Strips of classic cut or thick-cut types of bacon can add a savory and smokey flavor. Cut them up into 1/2-inch thick pieces, then saute until crispy. The grease will be used to make the dressing.
- Onion: Diced onions add an earthy flavor and slight crispness to the salad. Use Yellow, white or red onions.
- Dressing: A savory and tangy combination of ingredients. Beef stock, vinegar, sugar, and Dijon mustard make the base for the sauce.
- Herbs: Traditionally, chopped parsley is used in the salad. Sliced chives or dill are an excellent addition.
Prepare the potatoes
I prefer Yukon gold potatoes or a similar variety to make the German potato salad. It has a rich buttery flavor and holds its shape well. The skin doesn’t need to be peeled. It’s very thin unless you prefer to remove it. If you purchase potatoes 2 inches or smaller, keep them whole.
Cut larger ones in half lengthwise for quicker cooking and better seasoning in the salted water. I wait to slice them into smaller pieces until after cooking because I don’t want them to break apart on the edges as they boil.
Boil the potatoes
Add the potatoes to a large pot, and cover with about 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, stir in the salt, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until fork tender but not too soft and mushy, about 15 minutes.
This process will gently cook the spuds throughout and season them well. The potatoes should hold their shape so it’s easy to slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
Cook the bacon
I use strips of bacon that are cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces. This will make it easy to saute. Spread the bacon pieces onto a large skillet, then turn the heat to medium. Cook until crispy, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Leave ¼ cup of the bacon drippings in the pan. It will add richness and flavor to the potato salad.
Make the dressing
The dressing is cooked on the stovetop to make a hot German potato salad. Saute the onions in the reserved bacon fat over medium-low heat. Add the beef stock and white wine vinegar to the pan. Reduce the sauce over medium heat to about 1 cup.
This will mellow out the acid’s tanginess and concentrate the broth’s flavor. Turn off the heat and whisk in the olive oil, Dijon mustard, and sugar to balance the intense ingredients, salt, and pepper. It will be runny in consistency.
Make the potato salad
Add the warm sliced potatoes to a large bowl. Pour the hot dressing on top, half of the crispy bacon, and some of the chopped parsley. Give the mixture a gentle toss, then let it marinate for 15 to 20 minutes. The dressing is very thin, unlike mayonnaise-based potato salads.
Over time the potatoes will absorb the liquid, further flavoring the spuds. If not served within 2 hours, refrigerate it. Toss the salad, then garnish with the remaining bacon and parsley.
This recipe for German potato salad is easy to customize! Try these delicious ways to switch up the flavor:
- Herbs: Chives, green onions, dill, or thyme for a stronger herbaceous note.
- Vinegar: Distilled white vinegar is the traditional ingredient. Use white wine, red wine, or apple cider vinegar for a milder taste. Lemon juice is a quick swap for tartness but not the fermented tanginess.
- Mustard: Whole grain Dijon mustard, stone ground German mustard, or spicy brown mustard.
- Sweetener: Brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup can be swapped for granulated sugar. The salad should not taste sweet. It’s there to balance the sharp vinegar taste.
- Spices: Sweet or smoked paprika adds a touch of color or charred flavor. Add chili powder, cayenne, or chipotle powder for a hint of spice.
- Pan-fried pork chops or sausages
- Roasted chicken
- Chicken schnitzel
- Grilled zucchini or mushrooms
- Barbecue ribs
- Braised beef short ribs
Frequently asked questions
German potato salad is sliced waxy potatoes tossed in a hot vinegar-style dressing, bacon, and herbs, served warm or cold. American potato salad typically uses diced waxy potatoes coated in a creamy mayonnaise dressing with freshly chopped vegetables and is served cold.
Speck is a European cured, lightly smoked but uncooked ham traditionally used in German potato salad, found at specialty markets. The bacon can be omitted, however, use ¼ cup of olive oil to saute the onions.
It can be prepared and left at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat in the microwave if you prefer to serve it warm.
The benefits of marinating the potato salad
German potato salad is different from most styles of the side dish. Instead of a rich mayonnaise dressing, hot and thin beef stock and vinegar sauce are added. To maximize the flavor of the dressing, marinate the warm sliced potatoes until they soak up the liquid. This will season the potatoes throughout, allowing their flavor to shine through. All you need is about 15 minutes, and the starches in the potatoes will soak up the dressing like a sponge.
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German Potato Salad
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, yellow, or red
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 8 slices bacon, cut into ½" pieces, 8 ounces
- ½ cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
- ¾ cup beef stock, or broth
- ⅓ cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Boil the Potatoes – Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise if larger than 2 inches in size. Add potatoes to a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once it starts to bubble, add 1 tablespoon salt and stir to dissolve.Reduce to a simmer over medium heat, adjusting as needed. Stir occasionally and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 13 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the bacon and dressing.
- Cook the Bacon – Add the bacon pieces to a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Saute until crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease. Reserve ¼ cup of the grease in the pan.
- Saute the Onions – Add the diced onions to the pan with the bacon grease. Cook over medium-low heat until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Make the Dressing – Add the beef broth and vinegar to the pan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the mixture to 1 cup, cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the olive oil, mustard, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
- Cut the Potatoes – Drain the potatoes and cut them into ½-inch thick rounds, semi-circles, or dice. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Toss the Salad – Pour the dressing over the sliced potatoes. Add half of the cooked bacon and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Toss to combine. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes before serving. It will still be warm. Refrigerate if a cold salad is preferred.
- To Serve – Gently mix, then garnish the potato salad with the remaining bacon and some parsley.
- Recipe Yield: 6 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Storing: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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