German Potato Salad is a savory, no-mayo side dish that can be served warm or cold. The bacon vinegar dressing is what makes this dish a hit!
For your next family BBQ, try one of our many popular BBQ side dishes including the recipe below or our popular Macaroni Salad or fresh and zesty Cucumber Salad.
German Potato Salad
This German Potato Salad is the perfect side dish for BBQs and potlucks. It is tossed in a flavorful bacon-dijon vinaigrette and full of flavor. It is the perfect “no mayo” potato salad for any occasion. My husband lived in a town bordering Germany and had this tasty side dish all the time. It quickly became one of his favorite German-inspired dishes, and for good reason! It’s delicious!
German Potato Salad vs. American Potato Salad
The biggest difference between German potato salad and American “homestyle” potato salad is the “dressing”. The German variation has a vinegar-based dressing while the American variation is mostly mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip) based. American-style will sometimes include egg while most German variations do not. German potato salad can be served warm or cold and American potato salad is always served cold.
What Potatoes Are Best?
For German Potato Salad (or any potato salad for that matter), you want to use a good, waxy potato. Red potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes are a perfect example of a waxy potato. Russet potatoes are more starchy and don’t hold up as well in a potato salad. We like using baby potatoes, small potatoes, or potato gems for this recipe because they cook quickly and just need to be cut in half.
To Peel or Not To Peel?
We like to keep the peels on the potatoes for this potato salad, but there are some authentic variations that call for the potatoes to be peeled. To do this, boil the potatoes just as you would if you are keeping the peels on. Don’t peel the raw potatoes with a peeler first. Drop the potatoes in the boiling water and when they are cooked to fork-tender, take them out and drop them in cold water. The peels should come off easily by hand. Use a knife to scrape off any excess peels.
This recipe is great as-is, but there are several different add-ins you can add to bring out different flavors, including (add any of these, to taste):
- Celery seed
- Mustard seed
- Dill Relish or chopped dill pickles
Tips For Making German Potato Salad
- Salt that water (or use broth). If you want your potato salad to have flavor, make sure you use plenty of salt in your potato water. After cooking, if you find your potatoes still aren’t flavored enough, sprinkle the potatoes with a little salt and gently toss to combine before adding the other ingredients.
- Don’t overcook the potatoes. You want them to be fork tender only. If you overcook the potatoes they will become mushy and difficult to toss in the dressing.
- Cook the bacon until it is crispy. Especially if you are using a thick-cut variety, you want to get that bacon nice and crisp.
- Use red potatoes or Yukon Gold. As mentioned above, waxy potatoes are the best choice for potato salad.
You can either cook the bacon in whole strips and crumble it over the potato salad before serving or cut it up first and cook it with the onion. Either way, you want to cook the onion in the bacon grease so it absorbs that delicious flavor.
It really just comes down to personal preference. We prefer German potato salad to be on the warm to hot side, but it still tastes great cold.
YES! In fact, a lot of people like making it a full day ahead of time because the flavors have a chance to infuse the potatoes overnight. I actually think it tastes BETTER the next day, but that’s just me. You can re-heat it in the microwave or serve it cold.
Yes, if you make the recipe as written below, it is a gluten-free side dish.
Yes, technically it *can* be made without bacon but the flavor won’t be the same (or as good). You can make this without bacon by simply omitting the bacon and cooking the onions in canola oil.
What Goes With German Potato Salad?
Potato salad is a great side dish for BBQs and potlucks. That being said, it goes well with anything that is grilled or smoked. Here are some of our favorite dishes to serve as an entree to this recipe:
- Bring a pot of salted water or broth to a boil. Add potatoes and boil for 10 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool.
- Cut bacon into small pieces and place in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until bacon becomes crispy and onions are cooked through. Using a metal slotted spoon or spatula, remove the bacon from the pan and set on a plate lined with a paper towel. Remove all but about 1/3 cup of bacon grease from the pan.
- Combine apple cider vinegar, dijon, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour vinegar mixture into the pan with the bacon grease and stir well, scraping the bottom of the skillet to deglaze the pan. Remove from heat and set aside. Cut potatoes in half and place in a large bowl. Pour the bacon-vinegar mixture over the top and add the bacon. Gently stir with a rubber spatular to combine.
- Garnish with parsley and serve hot or refrigerate to serve later.