German Potato Salad

THE BEST German Potato Salad is a hot potato salad recipe featuring tender red potatoes and bacon in a tangy dressing for the ultimate side dish, from summer grilling to Oktoberfest!

German Potato Salad recipe with text overlay.


 

If you're a fan of potato salad, be sure to check out my Simple German (Swabian) Potato Salad {Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat}, Herb & Greek Yogurt Potato Salad, or Classic Potato Salad!

The temperatures are rising and summer is on the horizon. That means that grilling season is right around the corner as well! And what goes better with dinner from the grill than potato salad? Even better if it's flavorful, bacon-loaded, hot German Potato Salad!

What Is German Potato Salad?

It's the million-dollar question, y'all.

When Americans ponder potato salad, we often think of two distinct varieties. There's the mayonnaise-based potato salad popularized in the U S of A, of course, that's served cold. It typically features some combination of peeled Russet potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, celery, and often a touch of mustard.

And then there's German Potato Salad, which we tend to think of as being served warm and featuring unpeeled red potatoes. It's loaded with bacon and dressed in a delicious combination of vinegar and bacon grease.

The truth is, different regions of Germany have their own distinct styles of potato salad, and what Americans commonly think of as "German Potato Salad" -- like today's recipe -- is most typically associated with the Bavarian region of southern Germany. That being said, you will encounter different types of potato salad even across Bavaria!

Hot German Potato Salad with bacon and parsley.

So to summarize, every person's German Oma probably makes her potato salad differently.

  • My mom is actually from Germany, but she typically made us mayo-based potato salad growing up -- ha.
  • My Oma and other relatives in Germany make a traditional Swabian potato salad, common to the Stuttgart area. If you want authentic, that one is!
  • And while the warm, bacon-loaded recipe in today's post is what we Americans typically think of as "hot German Potato Salad," it's not actually found in that many areas of Germany. 😉

Nevertheless, it's positively scrumptious. So I'm going to unashamedly call it German Potato Salad (I'm half German, after all, so I can do that) and show you how to make it today!

Ingredients

German Potato Salad is one of those recipes where simple ingredients combine to make a dish that's truly complex and delicious!

Aerial view of ingredients to make German Potato Salad recipe.
  • Potatoes. This recipe calls for red potatoes, as they have a waxy texture that holds its shape after boiling yet absorbs the warm dressing. The size of your potatoes will dictate how long they take to boil, and they will be sliced into bite-sized pieces after cooking. Boiling followed by slicing is what allows the potatoes to absorb more dressing. If you don't have red potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes (or another type of waxy yellow potato) will also work. However, I would not recommend russets as they are starchier and will likely fall apart when stirring together all of the ingredients.
  • Bacon. Not only is this German Potato Salad studded with pieces of crispy bacon, but the bacon grease is a primary component in the hot dressing.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Combines with the bacon grease to lend tangy depth of flavor to this recipe. You could also substitute white vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  • Sugar. Balances out the vinegar and mustard and lends a slighty sweet undertone to the dressing. Since different people prefer more or less sweetness, I recommend starting out by adding the lesser amount of sugar to the dressing, tasting, and then adding more until your desired balance of flavors is reached. (As an aside, when I make this recipe, I do add the full 3 tablespoons... 🙂 )
  • Dijon mustard. Dijon is easy to find and works beautifully in this recipe. But if you have any on hand, feel free to swap in real German mustard instead! I would not substitute regular prepared mustard for the Dijon.
  • Salt + pepper. The water should be generously salted when you boil your potatoes, and then you'll add more salt and pepper (to taste) when finishing the recipe.
  • Garlic. This German Potato Salad recipe is flavored with garlic rather than onion and my family has never missed the onion. However, if you'd like to include onion in your own version, you may add a diced medium yellow onion to the bacon grease in the pot after removing the bacon. Sauté the onion in the bacon grease for a few minutes until translucent, and then proceed with the recipe by adding the other dressing ingredients.
  • Fresh parsley. Chopped parsley is stirred in just before serving for a pop of freshness and color!
German Potato Salad close-up in bowl.

How to Make German Potato Salad

(The below photos are intended to be helpful, but please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for FULL DIRECTIONS.)

Now that we've established that German Potato Salad has as many different definitions as there are stars in the sky, this recipe starts out in a pretty standard way.

  1. Wash some red potatoes and cut any large potatoes in half so that all of the pieces are about the same size. Toss your potatoes in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, add plenty of salt, and simmer until tender.
Red potatoes in pot of water ready to boil.
  1. After draining and setting aside your potatoes, you get to start on the most delicious step — frying the bacon! I find that using kitchen shears to snip raw bacon directly into the pot is the easiest method for dicing it. But, of course, you can just chop it with a knife if you prefer. Once the bacon is nice and crispy, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Snipping raw bacon into pot.
Cooked diced bacon on slotted spoon over pot.
  1. While the bacon is cooking, slice your hot potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
Slicing boiled potatoes on cutting board.
  1. Once the cooked bacon is removed, don't discard that hot bacon grease! Instead, it's going to form your dressing once you stir in the vinegar, mustard, and sugar (feel free to add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time and then taste in order to achieve your desired sweetness). After allowing the mixture to simmer for a couple of minutes, add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant and just golden.
  2. Add your sliced potatoes to the hot dressing in the pot.
Bacon grease in pot plus other ingredients to make dressing for German Potato Salad.
Adding sliced potatoes to pot of warm bacon vinegar dressing.
  1. Gently stir your potatoes into the sizzling mixture, taking care not to break them up too much. Fold in the cooked, crumbled bacon and the fresh parsley as well, stirring until just combined and coated.
Stirring together German Potato Salad ingredients in pot.
Adding bacon and parsley to pot.

The potatoes soak up all of that bacon-y, vinegar-y, sugary goodness, leaving you with a recipe that’s tangy, salty, and slightly sweet all at the same time. Holy moly, can't you just taste it???

Hot or Cold?

I think that this particular potato salad is best served hot or warm. However, it’s also tasty at room temperature, should it start to cool down before serving. It’s a side dish that can readily go from grillside to potluck to picnic without too much stress over keeping it on ice.

Of course, this potato salad (as well as any food prone to spoiling) should not sit at room temperature for more than an hour or two before being refrigerated. So if your picnic or potluck isn't starting right away, pop it in the fridge as soon as you make it!

Close-up of German Potato Salad in dish.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover German Potato Salad can be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to five days.

Leftovers may be eaten cold or allowed to sit for 30 minutes and enjoyed at room temperature.

To reheat individual leftover servings, microwave at 50% power for 1 minute at a time (stirring and testing after each increment) until heated through.

How to Reheat German Potato Salad

This German Potato Salad recipe is best enjoyed warm, immediately after preparing it.

That being said, if you wish to make it up to one day in advance, you may reheat the entire dish before serving. However, please keep in mind that the potatoes will absorb the dressing while chilling and your German Potato Salad will likely be slightly drier than if you enjoy it immediately after making it.

To reheat this recipe, transfer it to an oven-safe baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Place in a 325°F oven until heated through, checking after 30 minutes, although it may take longer.

Aerial view of German Potato Salad in serving dish.

Tips for Making German Potato Salad

  • Scrub those potatoes before you boil them. And then be sure to cut the big ones into equally sized chunks to ensure even cooking of all of the potatoes.
  • Always start your potatoes off in cold water before bringing them to a boil. If you put potatoes directly into boiling water, the outsides will cook immediately and the insides may take longer, resulting in potato salad that could have some hard and soft pieces
  • After the potatoes are cooked and drained, let them steam (or dry) a bit in their still-hot (but drained) pot. This will allow them to absorb the bacon grease-vinegar dressing more easily.
  • Be very gentle when stirring the potatoes into the dressing. Otherwise, your dish may end up looking more like mashed potatoes.

So have I convinced you to try this hot German Potato Salad soon? Whatever the occasion -- from summer grilling to Oktoberfest (and whether it's like your German Oma's recipe or not!) -- I guarantee that it'll disappear like that!

Warm German Potato Salad in white serving bowl with spoon.

More German Favorites

Aerial view of German Potato Salad.

German Potato Salad

THE BEST German Potato Salad is a hot potato salad recipe featuring tender red potatoes and bacon in a tangy dressing for the ultimate side dish, from summer grilling to Oktoberfest!
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 294kcal
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, for boiling the potatoes
  • 12 ounces bacon
  • cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar*
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt, for seasoning the potato salad
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic, about 3 cloves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Scrub the potatoes and cut any large potatoes in half so that all of the potatoes are approximately equally sized. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce heat and simmer the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender when stabbed with a fork. Drain the water. Leaving the potatoes in the pot, return the pot to the still-hot (but turned off) burner. Leave the lid off of the pot and allow the potatoes to steam dry for a couple minutes.
  • Set another large pot over medium heat and, using kitchen shears, cut the bacon strips into approximately 1-inch pieces directly into the pot. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, cut the potatoes into ½-inch thick slices, cutting any extremely large slices in half. Set aside. Once the bacon is done, remove the pot from the stove and use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces to a plate or bowl while leaving the bacon grease in the pot (I had about ¼ cup).
  • Slowly and carefully add vinegar, sugar*, Dijon, salt, and pepper to the pot of bacon grease. Place the pot back on the burner, bring the mixture to a simmer, and stir for a couple of minutes. Stir the minced garlic into the mixture and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic starts to turn a light golden.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and toss in the sliced potatoes, gently mixing until potatoes have absorbed all of the liquid. Carefully fold in the cooked bacon pieces and chopped parsley.
  • Transfer the potato salad to a serving dish and serve hot or warm. Potato salad should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours before refrigerating any leftovers.

Video

Notes

*When I make this recipe, I do use the full 3 Tbsp. sugar and we find the flavors to be balanced. However, if you think you may prefer less sweetness in your dressing, I recommend starting out with 1 Tbsp. sugar (or less), tasting (blow on it first!), and then adding additional sugar until your desired tangy-sweet balance is reached.
  • Always start off your potatoes in cold water before bringing them to a boil, which promotes more even cooking.
  • After the potatoes are cooked and drained, let them steam (or dry) a bit in their still-hot (but drained) pot. This will allow them to absorb the bacon grease-vinegar dressing more easily.
  • If you'd like to add onion to this recipe, you may add 1 diced (medium) yellow onion to the bacon grease in the pot after removing the bacon. Sauté the onion in the bacon grease for several minutes until translucent, and then proceed with the recipe by adding the other dressing ingredients.
  • Make sure that the pot is off of the burner and the bacon grease has slightly cooled before slowly and carefully adding the vinegar (in order to prevent the mixture from potentially bubbling up).
  • Be very gentle when stirring the potatoes into the dressing. Otherwise, your dish may end up looking more like mashed potatoes.
  • Leftover German Potato Salad can be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to five days. Enjoy leftovers cold, at room temperature, or reheated in the microwave (50% power) for a minute at a time, stirring between increments.

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 890mg | Potassium: 800mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 445IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1.6mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

Post originally published on May 19, 2014, and updated on May 26, 2019, and April 6, 2022.

Save

You May Also Like

4.93 from 239 votes (100 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




195 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My husband has spent six years of his life in Germany (military) and is always searching for good German food here in the US. He’s so happy to found his favorite nostalgic German potato salad in our own home. I’ll be making this a lot! I followed the recipe as written but, sadly, halved everything. Too bad so sad we won’t have very many leftovers.