how to make german potato salad | kelly’s kitchen

Hello and thank you for stopping by Kelly’s Kitchen today, I am happy you’re here! Here we are: Memorial Day weekend – the big kickoff to summer. Summer cookouts are one of my favorite aspects of the season. I love cooking and eating outside; it always feels special, like a vacation. Even eating a simple sandwich for lunch on my screened porch reminds me of summers spent with my grandparents at their summer home in the country. 

But food is like that, isn’t it; it can take us for lovely walks down memory lane. One of my favorite summer cookout side dishes is potato salad. Potato salad is one of those recipes that I like to get creative with, every time I make it, it’s different and I never write down a recipe. Which is annoying because when Alex says, “this is your best one yet,” and I don’t remember what all went into it, I can’t replicate it exactly

Today’s recipe isn’t totally like that though because it’s a classic German Potato Salad. I love this particular potato salad because it doesn’t have a mayonnaise-based dressing; and after last week’s Alabama BBQ mayonnaise-fest, something lighter felt like a good idea. Another thing I like about this salad is that it’s delicious served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

So, let’s make German Potato Salad!

How to make German Potato Salad

Similar Pepper Mill | Dish Towel | Mercer Bowl

I made a small-ish batch, using only one pound of small red potatoes. But you could easily do two pounds of potatoes with this recipe. And because I can’t help putting my own spin on things, I added some of my homemade pickled green beans, definitely optional (and not traditional) but so delicious! The pickled green beans add a pop of brightness to the richness of the creamy potatoes and the crunch adds variety to the texture. 

5 from 4 votes
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German Potato Salad

Course dinner, lunch, Salad, Side Dish

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs Red Potatoes
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt in the potato boil
  • 1 Package Bacon
  • 1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard If you don't have a whole grain mustard, you can just use more dijon.
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped

Bacon

Might I suggest you bake your bacon rather than fry it; the bacon cooks more evenly, it’s so much easier to clean up and it doesn’t make your whole house smell like bacon grease. Lay the strips on a wire rack placed on a rimmed sheet pan. This method helps the bacon cook on all sides and makes collecting the bacon fat easy. Bake it at 350 degrees. Timing will vary on the thickness of the bacon. But once you can smell it cooking (about 15 minutes), turn the tray in the oven and then just watch it from that point on (checking it every couple minutes).  

When the bacon is done, let the tray cool, then set your bacon aside and collect the fat in a glass jar or bowl to use for the German Potato Salad dressing. 

Potatoes

Dansk Enameled 4 QT Casserole

I like to cut my potatoes before they’re cooked for a number of reasons: it cuts down on boiling time, they hold up better when you mix all the ingredients together (because we’re not making mashed potatoes!) and I don’t have to worry about them being too hot to handle once they’re cooked. 

Start your potatoes off in cold water, rather than adding them to the pot once the water is boiling; they will cook more evenly and retain the creaminess that makes red potatoes so good. Fill your pot to cover the potatoes and add a teaspoon of salt. Potatoes are done when they are fork tender. 

While you wait on the potatoes, prep your ingredients. 

Once the potatoes are done and drained, take the bacon grease you collected and add it to a large skillet or dutch oven. Since I only have one pound of potatoes, my cast iron skillet is big enough, but if you’re using two pounds of potatoes you’ll need something bigger to mix everything well. 

Over medium heat, pour in your bacon fat, vinegar, whole grain mustard, dijon, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk to combine and bring to a simmer. 

Add the minced garlic and cook just until the garlic softens, about 1 minute.

Add your chopped bacon to the mixture and stir to coat the bacon.

Turn off the heat and add in your potatoes. Stir very gently so as not to break up the potatoes too much. 

This is when I added my pickled green beans, but you can skip this step if you aren’t adding anything else.

Toss in the chopped parsley, give it a light stir and that’s it!

Thank you so much for joining me this week. I hope you give this summer side a try, give it your own spin by adding a crunchy veggie and let us know how you make it your own! Be sure to pop by again next week as we revisit an American classic. Remember, you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too. Thanks again, everyone, be well and take care. xo Kelly

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32 Comments

  1. Sylvia Espinoza wrote:

    Oh, Kelly, you’ve indeed taken me on a lovely walk down memory lane, all the way to my childhood! A neighbor across the street made warm German potato salad and he’d share with our family. It was delicious and fascinated me. Everyone else made cold, mayo-based potato salad. But his was warm, with a unique flavor. He would not share his recipe, stating only that it was his late mother’s recipe. For years I’ve longed to relive that taste and your recipe today seems as if it just might make my dream come true. Thank you! Let me also say how much I appreciate your creativity in selecting what recipe to share with us every Saturday morning. Most Friday nights am wondering what Kelly is bringing us in the morning! Keep them coming! Hugs!~

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Good morning Sylvia, thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful memory! I hope this recipe captures the flavors you remember. It is really special when you find a long lost recipe or taste something again after so long. Do let me know how it turns out for you. Have a lovely Memorial Day weekend. Thanks so much for your support, it means a lot to me. xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  2. Robin wrote:

    5 stars
    Hi, Kelly! Thank you for this awesome recipe, and all the others you’ve shared with us – this is my favorite potato salad! I never thought to add green beans, but will the next time I make this salad.

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Hi Robin, I had never added green beans before either, but I thought “why not” and I am so glad I did! Thanks for tuning in today, Have a great Memorial Day, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  3. Andrea wrote:

    Thanks so much for this recipe Robin. My best friend, who passed away far too young, several years ago, was German. She was a fantastic cook and food is part of my best memories of her, especially in summer. It will be wonderful to make this salad in memory of her – food memories are the best memories 💕

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Hello Andrea, I agree. So many of my best memories are somehow associated with food. Making a special dish is a wonderful way to revisit memories and reminisce. Thanks so much for tuning in today! I hope you have a great Memorial Day, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  4. Est wrote:

    Can’t wait to try this! My aunt used to make this; it was delish! Thanks for sharing some great recipes.

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Thank you so much Est! It’s definitely a keeper, and so easy to whip together! Have a beautiful Memorial Day! xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  5. Karen White wrote:

    5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing this Kelly. I’m planning to serve bratwurst and this will go perfectly with it! I even have a jar of pickled green beans I got at the farmers market and hadn’t figured out how to use yet!

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Hi Karen, Ohhh, I love having this along with bratwurst. And so cool you have some pickled green beans on hand! Let me know how you like the addition of the pickled green beans. Have a great Memorial Day! xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  6. Cathy wrote:

    This sounds good, an alternative to the kind of potato salad with mayo which I’m not fond of. On another topic, I’m wondering, do you have an air fryer? I’m considering getting one but wonder how often I’d use it and what it is especially good for making.

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Hello Cathy, this potato salad is lighter than than the mayo-based version, which is a welcome difference. You know, I don’t have an air fryer; but I have read they’re good for making all the fried things in a healthier way! I bet things like cauliflower tater tots, or sweet potato fries would be especially good. I did see a recipe for beef empanadas that looked particularly great. I have considered buying one too, because I always want to make fried things at home, but really never want to go through all the trouble (and mess!). Let me know if you get one and how you like it. Happy Memorial day and thanks for reading the post and writing in, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  7. Carroll Niesen wrote:

    It looks delicious!

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Thanks Carroll! Happy Memorial Day to you! xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  8. Elisa wrote:

    I love the useful details you add when summarizing your recipes. They are all winners. My husband is German, and I know he will like this recipe much more than the one I make. Would have never thought of making it with mustard!

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Hi Elisa, Thanks so much for your kind words! Do let us know how your husband likes this version of the potato salad, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  9. Gayle Murphy wrote:

    I enjoy how your recipe is more than just the ingredients and a method. Suggestions like how to cook the bacon, and why to start potatoes in cold not boiling water are very helpful. Real teaching moments. Could you please be a bit more specific about the amount of bacon? Where I live, bacon comes in many different sized packages. And, also, a bit more specific about the amount of fat. Again, some bacon is fatter than others. All the best.

    Posted 5.23.20
    • Hi Gayle, yes of course; I usually use a 12 ounce package of thick-cut bacon. I haven’t noticed a significant difference in the amount of fat produced between thick and thin cut. A 12 ounce package of bacon produces around three tablespoons of fat. I hope this answers your questions, thank you so much for reaching out and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. xo Kelly

      Posted 5.23.20
  10. Regina wrote:

    The salad looks really delicious!! I am german, but have never seen this version of a potato salad 😉 Greetings and a nice weekend!

    Posted 5.24.20
    • Hello Regina, I have read that there are many regional styles of potato salad across Germany, and this recipe is more of a Bavarian style of potato salad. But here in America, we usually refer to this style as “German Potato Salad” even though it’s just one of many styles. I hope you try the recipe and be sure to write back to let us know how you like it! Take care and be well, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.24.20
  11. Gloria wrote:

    Hi Kelly! I’ve never made German potato salad, but this looks easy to prepare and delish! Having guests for a few days and I’m thinking I’ll serve this. I discovered cooking bacon in the oven several years ago. What a helpful revelation! I line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy aluminum foil and skip the wire rack, simply because the one or two times I used the rack it was a pain to clean. Do you spray yours first with cooking spray? Thank you! Loving Kelly’s Kitchen on Saturdays. You’re a natural teacher!

    Posted 5.24.20
    • Hi Gloria, thanks so much for tuning in this week! I appreciate your kind words and support. To answer your question, I just give the rack a rinse and then put it in the dishwasher, easy as that! But if you don’t have a dishwasher, cooking spray could be a good strategy and then maybe a soak in hot soapy water could make it easier. I used to line my baking sheet with foil for easier clean up, but I always felt that too much of the bacon fat would get caught in the crinkles of the foil, and I like the fact that the rack let’s the fat drip off the bacon and then I don’t have to use a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess grease. I hope this helps! Thanks again and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! Take care, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.24.20
  12. Lorilee wrote:

    5 stars
    I too grew up with German potato salad. You have made this look easy, I am going to try it for Memorial Day. I so appreciate your clear, thorough directions.

    Posted 5.24.20
    • Thanks so much Lorilee! It is a very easy recipe, do let us know how it turns out for you – I am sure it will be a hit! Thanks again, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.25.20
  13. Terry wrote:

    I made this today, I thought we would have it with our BBQ sausage. I was never a fan of German potato salad, WOW this is amazing I had to step out of the kitchen so I wouldn’t eat the whole thing before dinner 👍🏼👍🏼 DELICIOUS….

    Posted 5.24.20
    • I knew you’d like it, Mom! I am happy you gave it a try. xo Kelly

      Posted 5.25.20
  14. Dorothy wrote:

    HI, did I miss the link for the entire recipe with instructions? All I see listed are the ingredients then the long instructions with pictures. Was hoping for just the written after the ingredients? Thanks so much. It looks fabulous!

    Posted 5.25.20
    • Hi Dorothy, I did not include the directions in list form in the post, but here are the instructions consolidated for you:

      – Bake your bacon on a rimmed baking sheet at Bake it at 350 degrees. Timing will vary on the thickness of the bacon. But once you can smell it cooking (about 15 minutes), turn the tray in the oven and then just watch it from that point on (checking it every couple minutes).
      – When the bacon is done, let the tray cool, then set your bacon aside and collect the fat in a glass jar or bowl.
      – Start your potatoes off in cold water. Fill your pot to cover the potatoes and add a teaspoon of salt.
      Potatoes are done when they are fork tender.
      – Once the potatoes are done and drained, take the bacon grease you collected and add it to a large skillet or dutch oven.
      – Over medium heat, pour in your bacon fat, vinegar, dijon, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk to combine and bring to a simmer.
      – Add the minced garlic and cook just until the garlic softens, about 1 minute.
      – Add your chopped bacon to the mixture and stir to coat the bacon.
      – Turn off the heat and add in your potatoes. Stir very gently so as not to break up the potatoes too much.
      – This is when I added my pickled green beans, but you can skip this step if you aren’t adding anything else.
      – Toss in the chopped parsley, give it a light stir and that’s it!

      I hope that helps, Dorothy. Thanks so much for tuning in, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.25.20
  15. Suzanne Smith wrote:

    Oh, I’m going to make this. Sounds delicious. Gonna do so this week. Thanks!

    Posted 5.25.20
    • Hi Suzanne! Thanks so much for tuning in this week, I think you will really like this recipe. Have a great week, xo Kelly

      Posted 5.26.20
  16. Dora Renata Pala wrote:

    5 stars
    Ciao Kelly sono Dora Renata da Bologna
    Simpatica questa ricetta. La proverò durante il fine settimana nella nostra casetta in montagna al confine con la Toscana di cui ti ho già parlato. Se daranno il permesso di uscire fuori regione senza problemi faremo un salto a Firenze e da piazzale Michelangelo invierò un saluto alla splendida città da parte tua di Alex e naturalmente Beth. Un affettuoso abbraccio. 😋

    Posted 5.26.20
    • Ciao Dora, è così bello sentirti! Sono sicuro che apprezzerai questa ricetta. Che meraviglia andare a Firenze! Speriamo di tornarci di nuovo un giorno … Abbi cura di te e goditi il ​​tuo tempo in campagna. xo Kelly

      Posted 5.26.20

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