German-style potato salad uses a tangy vinaigrette, rather than mayo, slathered all over tiny, red potatoes and bacon. Served warm (but still pretty darn good cold), it’s a worthwhile departure from what you might be used to.
To avoid the common problems of disintegrating potatoes and a flavorless vinaigrette, we used low-starch small red potatoes, cut in half and cooked in heavily salted water. For flavor, we fried up plenty of bacon, then used part of the rendered fat in the vinaigrette, along with white vinegar, whole-grain mustard, sugar, and some of the potato cooking water, which added body to the dressing. Use small red potatoes measuring 1 to 2 inches in diameter. A traditional skillet (as opposed to a nonstick skillet) will allow the bacon to form caramelized bits on the skillet bottom. This will result in a richer tasting dressing and a more flavorful salad.–America’s Test Kitchen
IS IT BETTER TO MAKE THIS POTATO SALAD AHEAD OF TIME?
You can definitely make this ahead—but each way has a distinct advantage. You can cook and refrigerate the potatoes the day before. The following day, add the hot dressing to the cold potatoes, and this will help the potatoes retain their shape. Or, toss the dressing with the potatoes while they’re warm and they’ll absorb more flavor. It’s personal preference really, and how much time you have. However…the author does note “Personally, I do mine all on the same day. That way, I don’t need to plan ahead and can make the salad the day I’m craving it.” And we are all about satiating those cravings when they happen.
A NOTE ABOUT GERMAN-STYLE POTATO SALAD.
This recipe is a riff on more traditional recipes for German potato salad—still pretty darn delicious but a little different than what you expect if you’re looking for something just like Oma used to make. There’s no beef broth in the dressing and we don’t instruct you to peel the potatoes. If you came here looking for that recipe, we’d like to point you in the direction of a more traditional German potato salad. If you feel like trying something new, dip into the version below. They’re both superb.
German-Style Potato Salad
- 2 pounds small red potatoes halved if small or quartered if large (1 to 2 inch [2.5 to 5 cm] pieces)
- Table salt for cooking potatoes
- 8 slices bacon cut into 1/2-inch (12 mm) pieces
- 1 medium (6 oz) red onion finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade whole-grain mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or fresh chives
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, place potatoes, 1 tablespoon of salt and water to cover by 1 inch (25 mm). Bring to boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender and a paring knife can be slipped in and out of potatoes with little resistance, about 10 minutes.
- Reserve 1/2 cup potato cooking water, then drain potatoes. Return the potatoes to the pot and cover to keep warm.
- While the potatoes are simmering, in a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, move bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; pour off all but 1/4 cup fat.
- Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and stir until dissolved, about 30 seconds.
- Add vinegar and reserved potato cooking water, bring to a simmer, and cook until mixture is reduced to about 1 cup, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in mustard and pepper. Add potatoes, parsley, and bacon to the skillet and toss to combine. Season with salt to taste. Pile into a serving bowl and let the compliments roll in.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I was so happy with this recipe—it tastes exceptionally good, it's uncomplicated, and it's pretty snappy to pull together. We don't have a very long potato salad season here and I'm so thrilled to have something new to make, especially when it's this good. And I know, it's crazy that I've never made a German potato salad before, but here we are. Better late than never, I say.
There isn't much to say about this recipe, it works perfectly as written. I found that all the measurements were accurate—I didn't add any salt until serving. We used a pinch of Maldon at the table and found that was enough. I used thin-cut bacon and quite liked it because I also used baby potatoes, I think thick-cut bacon would have been too much.
This was exceptionally good warm but even the 4 bits of potatoes that were cold later that afternoon were pretty darn good. I look forward to making this again.
This German potato salad is an excellent accompaniment to meat dishes, I particularly like to serve it with grilled meat. It has an intense flavor, given by the bacon and the mixture of vinegar and mustard, without having excess fat, as is often the case with potato salads based on mayonnaise, and it's very easy and quick to prepare.
Originally published June 26, 2021