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


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.


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.

A bowl of German-style potato salad with a fork resting in it.

German-Style Potato Salad

4.67 / 3 votes
Unlike other potato salads, German potato salad is best served warm. This version offers big flavors from bacon, vinegar, whole-grain mustard, and the inclusion of bacon fat in the dressing.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories243 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 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 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.

Adapted From

The Complete Salad Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 243 kcalCarbohydrates: 27 gProtein: 7 gFat: 12 gSaturated Fat: 4 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 19 mgSodium: 252 mgPotassium: 792 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 3 gVitamin A: 235 IUVitamin C: 18 mgCalcium: 27 mgIron: 1 mg

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 America’s Test Kitchen. Photo © 2021 America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.

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.

This German potato salad was very good and the recipe yields quite a bit. I found the potato salad was even better the next day. Not having to peel potatoes is a time saver. At first, the sauce seemed very watery but once the potatoes are added the sauce thickened to create a nice dressing for the potatoes.

The addition of potato cooking water is a great idea to help thicken the sauce, it is very similar to adding pasta water to a recipe. It is an easy recipe to make, an alternative to regular potato salad, and even the leftovers at room temp were very tasty. We served this with hot dogs and corn.

Vinegar and mustard are the way to go for potato salad, and bacon makes it even better! This recipe for German-style potato salad is easy and tasty, the only thing I might change is to add a bit more mustard. Definitely go for thick-cut bacon, and if you don’t have whole-grain mustard you can use Dijon or spicy brown. The potatoes will soak up all of that vinegary bacony mustardy goodness and pair well with steak and shrimp.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this for family and friends over the 4th of July weekend and it was a huge hit! I have some friends who dislike mayo marvelous much, and they were delighted with this unique and wildly delicious version of potato salad. Thanks, Leite’s!