A warm German Potato Salad recipe is the best way to bring authentic flavors to your next summer barbecue! This easy and traditional side dish is full of tender potatoes and crispy bacon with a sweet vinegar sauce that takes it over the top. It’s exactly what your July 4th potlucks and Memorial Day picnics have been missing!

Traditional German potato salad is shown on the counter.

The first time I ever tasted a warm German potato salad I was swept away by the tangy vinegar dressing, salty bacon, and tender potatoes.

Where had this incredible concoction been all my life?!

Unlike a traditional Southern potato salad recipe that is served cold, this one is served warm, was much lighter since it lacked mayonnaise, had a delightful combination of acidity and sweetness, and even seemed a bit healthier.

All that aside, it just tasted so darn good!

For months when we would frequent this local spot, I always insisted we order the potato salad instead of fries. (Still to this day I have no idea what their fries taste like!!)

Until one day I finally mustered up the courage to try my hand at this German classic at home. After a few rounds of testing and tasting, this recipe you’ll find here was born.

And if I do say so myself, it’s as close as you can get to the one at Central Machine Works here in Austin!

Pototoes, onion, bacon, vinegar, salt, pepper, chicken broth, sugar, and parsley are the ingredients for this recipe.

Ingredients

To make this German Potato Salad recipe you need:

  • Potatoes. Opt for a waxy variety like red or Yukon gold. It’s your preference whether to keep the peel on or not.
  • Bacon. The onions are cooked in the bacon fat first. Then the crispy bits are added on at the end.
  • Onion. Sweet is used to balance the vinegar, but a white, red, or yellow onion can be subbed.
  • Garlic. Freshly minced garlic cloves are best. But, you can use garlic powder if that’s all you have.
  • Broth. Regular sodium chicken broth is recommended. Vegetable broth can be used in a pinch. Avoid using beef broth as it may overwhelm the dish. You can sub a reduced sodium variety, but be sure to adjust the salt.
  • Vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is best, like the kind you use to make pickles. If you don’t have that, you can use white wine vinegar or even apple cider vinegar, but it will have a pretty big impact on the finished taste.
  • Sugar. Just a teaspoon or two will do. The sweetness helps to counteract the acidity from the vinegar. If you’re watching your sugar intake then you can leave it out.
  • Mustard. Pay attention here–use Dijon or German mustard. Do NOT use yellow mustard as it will be way too strong and pungent which will end up overtaking the flavors in the dish.

How to Make German Potato Salad

The basic steps for making German Potato Salad are simple to follow:

Boil the Potatoes

Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with one inch of water. If you have a steamer basket, you can use it to keep the potatoes from soaking up too much liquid and getting soggy.

Cook in boiling water over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes. Start checking the potatoes with 5 minutes left. You want them to be fork-tender but not overly mushy.

Drain the potatoes into a colander in your sink. Let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. You can also rinse them with cold running water to speed up this part.

Here are more tips on how to boil potatoes.

Peel and Cut into Cubes

Once the potatoes are cooled, remove them from the colander. If you don’t want skins in the dish, carefully use a spoon to remove the peel. You can also use your hands once they have cooled, the skins should slide right off.

Place the potatoes on a cutting board. Then, cut them into ½-inch chunks. The smaller pieces will soak up the sauce better.

Add cubed potatoes to a large bowl and set them aside.

Cook Bacon and Onion

While the potatoes are boiling, cook the bacon.

Chop the bacon into small pieces. Place a large skillet on the stovetop on medium heat. Evenly spread out the pieces of bacon and cook for 7-8 minutes until crisp, stirring occasionally.

Remove the meat from the pan using a slotted spoon. You want to leave the bacon drippings in the skillet for added flavor in the next step. Place the bits on a plate lined with a paper towel so they can drain.

Finely cut the onion until you have about one cup prepared.

Add the diced onion to the bacon grease and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional 30 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant.

Whisk and Simmer the Sauce

With the heat on medium, pour in the broth and vinegar. Then, carefully add the mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper. Be sure not to splash anything out as things are hot.

Whisk until well combined. Stir along the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck-on bits.

Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally during this period. And don’t skimp here! It’s very important that the liquid is reduced by about half.

Toss Together and Serve

Once the sauce has reduced, it’s time to combine everything.

Add the potatoes to the vinegar mixture and pour in the oil. Fold the ingredients until they are completely coated. Warm it all up for a few more minutes until the potatoes are heated through.

Finely chop the bacon you set aside. Smaller pieces will evenly disperse throughout the dish making sure you get that delicious flavor in every bite.

Sprinkle the chopped bacon over the potatoes along with fresh parsley or chives, if desired. Enjoy!

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: This dish can be entirely prepped ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 1 to 2 days. Or, cook the potatoes and cut the onion the day before.
  • To Store: Place leftovers in an airtight container. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: Tightly wrap in a Ziploc bag or plastic and save in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To Reheat: Allow potato salad to thaw in the fridge. Heat in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium until warmed through.
A fork is used to eat warm German potato salad.

FAQs

What is the difference between German potato salad and American potato salad?

The main differences between these potato salads are mayonnaise and temperature. The German version has a vinegar base and is served warm while American potato salad has mayo and is usually chilled.

Do you put eggs in a German potato salad?

Typically, there are no eggs in German potato salad. This version has potato, bacon, and onions in a sweet vinegar sauce.

How do you perk up potato salad?

You can add extra flavors like celery seed, cayenne, or rosemary to change up the taste of your potato salad.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Go for gold. Yukon and red are the best potatoes for this dish. Russet can be used if needed.
  • Keep it sweet. Opt for sweet onion for the best flavor.
  • Distilled is best. Plain white vinegar is what you need for this recipe for the most authentic taste.
  • Save the grease. Keep the drippings from the bacon to cook the onion and garlic and then make the sauce.
  • Smaller is better. Keep the pieces of potatoes less than ½-inch for best flavor.
  • Serve warm. German potato salad is best served hot, unlike traditional varieties.
A white bowl is filled with authentic German potato salad for a delicious side dish.

Make it a Meal

Make this German Potato Salad recipe even better by pairing it with one of these main dishes:

More Potato Recipes

Haven’t had enough of this spud? Potatoes are the star of the show in each of these recipes:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 11 votes

German Potato Salad Recipe

A warm German Potato Salad recipe is the best way to bring authentic flavors to your next summer barbecue! This easy and traditional side dish is full of tender potatoes and crispy bacon with a sweet vinegar sauce that takes it over the top.
Yield 8 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 40 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 lbs. red potatoes
  • 6 oz. bacon coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • ¾ cup chicken broth regular sodium
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar to taste
  • 2 tsp. mustard Dijon or German (NOT yellow!)
  • 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • Parsley optional

Instructions 

  • Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with one inch of water. Boil for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, or until fork tender. Drain in a colander and wait until they are cool enough to handle. If desired, you can peel the potatoes. Then, cut into ½-inch chunks.
  • While potatoes are boiling, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat for 7-8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the skillet using a slotted spoon in order to keep the drippings. Add the chopped onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and continue sauteeing for an additional 30 seconds, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  • Pour in the broth and vinegar and add the mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  • Add the potatoes to the vinegar mixture along with the oil and toss until they are completely coated. Finely chop the cooked bacon and then sprinkle it over the potatoes along with fresh parsley or chives, if desired. Enjoy!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 11 votes

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: This dish can be entirely prepped ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 1 to 2 days. Or, cook the potatoes and chop the onion the day before.
  • To Store: Place leftovers in an airtight container. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: Tightly wrap in a Ziploc bag or plastic and save in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To Reheat: Allow potato salad to thaw in the fridge. Heat in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium until warmed through.

Nutrition

Calories: 219kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 496mg, Potassium: 600mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 18IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
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Comments

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Julie! That’s high praise. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, John! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!