This German potato salad is loaded with tons of bacon and has the best homemade sweet and tangy dressing that has no mayo. It's a classic for your summer table!
Why you'll love it
I'm not kidding when I say that this is the best potato salad recipe you'll ever try. Really! The magic comes from tossing the potatoes in the fat that's left from cooking the bacon. It infuses so much goodness without being too heavy. There's no mayo in the dressing here, but it's overflowing with extremely satisfying flavor.
The dressing is both savory and slightly sweet, and the smokiness of the bacon paired with the fresh parsley just takes it over the top. It's a flavor explosion. This is typically served warm, so if you've never eaten potato salad that way before, you're in for a treat!
What is German potato salad?
- Every German grandmother makes her potato salad a little differently. There are literally thousands of versions out there! Generally what many people are looking for in a German potato salad is one that uses bacon, has no mayo, is made with a warm tangy-sweet vinaigrette, and is often served without chilling it first.
- Some use a splash of broth to add a bit of moisture to it like in my version, and others do not. Mine is more of a Bavarian style. It varies from region to region in Germany, and probably everyone won't agree on a single definition. But I think every adaptation I've come across is pretty tasty, to be honest!
What you'll need to make it
- Red potatoes - you can use Yukon Gold potatoes if you prefer or another waxy variety. You don't need to peel them either.
- Bacon - one of the stars of our dish! It's easy to cut up with kitchen shears. Make sure to grab a pack with lots of white marbling since the rendered fat is very important for the dressing.
- Red onion - this variety is best for any salad since it's not sharp
- Garlic - if you're not a garlic lover like me, it'll still taste delicious without it
- Chicken or vegetable broth - adds a little moisture to the salad. I wouldn't recommend omitting it.
- White vinegar or cider vinegar - either is good, but I prefer the extra tang of white vinegar
- Sugar - a touch of white sugar just balances out the acidity and goes well with the bacon. It doesn't make this overly sweet, but if you're someone who knows they like really sweet dressings, you can increase the sugar up to about 1 tablespoon or so!
- Mustard - if you can find actual German mustard, go for that, but Dijon works beautifully too
- Italian parsley - for a great pop of freshness and color. You could use fresh chives in addition to it for even more flavor.
How to make German potato salad
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Boil your potatoes whole (skins on). Add the dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk together. Meanwhile, cut the bacon up and fry it in a skillet until crispy.
Transfer it to a paper towel lined plate, leaving the bacon fat in the pan. Add in the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, then stir in the garlic and dressing mixture and cook it until it's reduced by half.
Chop the boiled potatoes, and add them in along with the cooked bacon and parsley. Toss it right in the skillet and serve hot with extra salt & pepper if needed!
Can you eat it cold?
- Yes! I find that it's definitely tastiest when it's hot and freshly made, but it's really good at room temperature or chilled as well. You definitely won't have any complaints either way.
What to serve with German potato salad
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken, wieners, Easy Pan Seared Pork Chops, or a schnitzel would go fabulously.
- It's a rich and filling dish and has protein, so you could even serve it with simple lettuce-based salad and call it dinner.
- It also works as a dish that you can bring to a BBQ, potluck, or any summer gathering.
Leftovers and storage
- When potato salad has been sitting out for up to 2 hours, be sure to finish it right away or throw it out for food safety reasons.
- If properly refrigerated in a covered container, it'll last 4-5 days; that is, if no one eats it sooner!
Questions about this German style potato salad? Do you like it better than American versions? Let me know in the comments below!
German Potato Salad
- 2 pounds red potatoes
- 12 ounces bacon cut into small pieces
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon white sugar see note
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or German mustard
- 2-3 tablespoons Italian parsley chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Chives for garnish optional
- Boil the potatoes (cut them in half if they're large and leave the peels on). Once they're done, drain and let them cool just enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, add the broth, vinegar, sugar, and mustard to a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- When the potatoes are close to being done, cut the bacon cup (easy with kitchen shears) and fry it in a large skillet until crispy (about 10 minutes).
- Turn the burner off for this step to allow the skillet to cool a bit. Take the bacon out of the skillet and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
- To the skillet, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, cut the cooked potatoes up into chunks or slices (large or small is totally up to you). You can leave the peels on or peel them with a knife - the peels will be very easy to remove.
- To the skillet, stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the broth mixture to the skillet. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, let it come to a boil, and then cook for 1-2 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about half (don't let it evaporate too much).
- Take the skillet off the heat and then add the potatoes, cooked bacon, and parsley to it. Toss to coat.
- Season with salt & pepper as needed and transfer potato salad to a serving bowl, or you could serve it right in the skillet as it retains heat and will keep it warmer for longer. Top with chives and enjoy warm.
- Serves 4-6 as a side depending on how hungry people are. Or share it with one other person and eat it as a main course. I won't judge.
- The dressing is fairly sweet without being cloying. If you're someone who loves sweet dressings, increase sugar up to 1 tablespoon (I found it too sweet with 1 tablespoon sugar when I first tested it). You could probably use less than suggested if you don't like sweet dressings, but it helps balance the vinegar.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.