This warm German potato salad recipe is packed with textures, beautiful colors, and bright flavors. Bacon adds salty richness, while the vinegar and sugar help to balance. Whole grain mustard adds to the presentation while adding a zesty acidity and punch.
When I was younger, the only potato and pasta salads I’d tasted were the kinds from the grocery store deli counter. You know the ones I’m talking about: heavy, too much mayonnaise, and muddled flavors. Once I began experimenting with homemade versions, I realized how incredibly delicious they can be (my Greek pasta salad is a perfect example). This old-fashioned German potato salad is a perfect example.
What Is German Potato Salad?
Old-Fashioned German potato salad originated in Southern Germany. Unlike American and Northern Germany versions which use mayonnaise, this potato salad recipe uses a mustard and bacon vinaigrette.
- Some recipes include diced celery, which would certainly work here. It will add additional texture and a touch of bitterness. I personally don’t think the recipe needs it. However, if you want to add some, I’d finely dice 2 ribs and stir them in along with the parsley.
- You can substitute regular Dijon or German mustard if you don’t want to purchase whole grain. However, whole grain mustard adds to the colorful presentation and also offers a subtle crunch. I think it’s worth it, and it’s fantastic on sandwiches so it won’t go to waste!
- If you can’t find red potatoes, Yukon gold are a good substitute. You want to use a potato variety that isn’t too starchy (don’t use russet potatoes, which are better baked or in soups).
What to Serve With German Potato Salad
The acidity and fattiness of German potato salad pairs especially well with meats: roasted or fried chicken, sausages, hamburgers, hot dogs, meat-based sandwiches (ham, turkey, roast beef, etc). Grilled fish would also work well. I would avoid serving it with starchy entrees like pasta.
Can This Potato Salad Be Served Cold?
I think this potato salad is much better served warm or at room temperature because of the bacon fat. The flavors aren’t as bright straight from the refrigerator. However, you can taste it and decide for yourself! If you don’t want to serve this warm, a better option is to serve it at room temperature (but don’t leave it sitting at room temperature for more than a couple hours).
How to Reheat German Potato Salad
You can reheat German potato salad, but keep in mind that there’s a chance you’ll wind up with mushy potatoes since they’ve already been cooked to the proper doneness. But that’s ok! The texture might not be quite as good, but the flavors will still be tasty.
Reheat individual servings in the microwave at around 70% power, using 30-60 second increments. To reheat the entire potato salad, use a casserole dish covered with foil, and heat at 325-350 degrees F until warmed through (check after 20 minutes).
More Side Dishes
German Potato Salad
- 2 pounds medium red potatoes, unpeeled and halved or quartered (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 8 ounces thick-cut bacon, 1/2-inch dice
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon or German mustard, or more to taste (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons minced chives
- Place potatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, and water to cover in a Dutch oven or large saucepan, bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes; return potatoes to pot and cover to keep warm.
- While the potatoes are simmering, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, around 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towel-lined plate or cutting board; discard all but 1/4 cup bacon grease (it's ok if you have a little less; the fattiness varies by brand).
- Add onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, vinegar, mustard, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and the liquid is reduced by around 75%, 3-5 minutes (you want the potatoes coated, not sitting in liquid). Add the reserved potatoes and bacon.
- Remove from heat, add the parsley, and stir until the ingredients are evenly combined and coated. Stir gently (almost more like folding) to avoid damaging the appearance of the potatoes. Taste; adjust seasoning if desired.
- Garnish with chives (garnish either individual servings or the full recipe in a serving dish), and serve warm. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Serving SuggestionsGerman potato pairs well with meat. Try serving this pasta salad alongside buttermilk roast chicken, crispy baked chicken thighs, or grilled steak!
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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