How to Make German Potato Salad


Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 as a side dish
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

In Germany, potato salad — or Kartoffelsalat — can come in either the cold or warm variety. A traditional warm potato salad, utilizing a vinegar and bacon base, is a frequent addition to meals in the South. The tangy, smoky and salty flavors pair nicely with a wide variety of hearty main dishes, including the roasted meats and sausages that are often used in German cuisine. The preparation differs significantly from traditional American potato salad, which is typically served cold and made with a base of mayonnaise or dairy and mustard.


  • Potatoes
    2 ½ pounds of red-skinned new potatoes, sliced in half

    Vinegar Sauce

    • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
    • 12 ounces bacon, chopped
    • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
    • 1 tablespoon flour
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

Boil the Potatoes

  • Place a stockpot on your range and bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil until the potatoes are fork tender, but still firm, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and set aside in a covered, heatproof dish.

Make the Vinegar Sauce

  • While the potatoes cook, add oil to a sauté pan, swirl to coat and heat over medium heat. Add the bacon to the warmed sauté pan and fry until crisp and browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked bacon to a bowl and set aside, leaving the drippings behind in the pan.

    Lower the heat under the sauté pan to medium-low and add the onions to the pan. Sauté the onions, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and translucent — about 8 to 12 minutes. To the sautéed onions, add garlic and parsley and continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.

    Increase the heat to medium and add flour to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the flour slightly browns. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and water or stock, stirring vigorously, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until slightly thickened.

    Pour the finished vinegar sauce over the potatoes and toss to coat.

    Adjust the salt and add pepper to taste and toss again. Serve warm as a side dish.


  • For larger potatoes you may want to quarter them instead of cutting them in half. Aim for slices that are about 1 or 2 good-sized bites in size.

    When boiling the potatoes, use about 1 tablespoon coarse salt per quart of water. For table salt, use less — about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt per quart.

    If you prefer a tangier potato salad, increase the ratio of vinegar to stock in the recipe. You can also substitute water for stock if you wish — however, the flavor is not as rich.


  • Do not overcook the potatoes -- you want them to be tender, but still somewhat firm. Overcooked potatoes have a tendency to turn into mush when you toss them with the vinegar sauce.

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