Skip the mayonnaise and dive into this flavor-packed German potato salad! Tossed in a tangy, warm vinaigrette and loaded with smoky bacon and crunchy veggies, this side dish elevates any barbecue or family gathering.
A picnic staple: potato salad! Although I love potato salad, it’s one of those foods where I can only eat it in small quantities. It’s so rich, thick, and mayo-heavy.
That’s why you’ll love this German potato salad that’s 20x more delicious without a drop of mayo. Apple cider vinegar, grainy mustard, and smoky bacon make a potato salad that’s bright and summery. The addition of finely chopped celery and red onion add crunch that’s traditionally missing from potato salad.
While this German potato salad is delicious and hearty enough to serve by itself, you can also serve it as a side dish to BBQ staples like Oven Brisket, grilled German sausages such as bratwursts, or wilted greens like Sautéed Spinach. Prepare yourself for the best potato salad upgrade ever!
What’s even better is this potato salad is best served at room temperature or slightly warm, which is perfect for a summer picnic or even satisfying a cozy craving during the winter.
What is German Potato Salad?
A classic dish in Germany, German potato salad stands out from many other potato salads by replacing the mayonnaise-based dressing common in American potato salad, with a mouthwatering warm vinaigrette made from vinegar, olive oil, and sometimes bacon, mustard, and sugar. This German potato salad recipe is traditional, with the addition of red onion and celery for extra crunch and slightly fruity notes from the apple cider vinegar. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!
German Potato Salad Ingredients
- Baby red potatoes – baby red potatoes have a creamy texture when cooked and a subtly sweet flavor. Best of all, because of their small size, baby red potatoes cook more quickly than their larger counterparts.
- Red onion – red onions provide a slightly sharp, sweet, and tangy flavor that contrasts nicely with the creaminess and earthiness of potatoes. They also add a great pop of color to the dish!
- Celery stalks – celery stalks provide a crisp and crunchy texture!
- Bacon – bacon… because when was adding bacon ever a bad thing? But in all honesty, the bacon adds a smoky, crisp flavor while also adding richness to the dressing through the bacon drippings. Bacon is traditional in German potato salad!
- Extra virgin olive oil – extra virgin olive oil serves as the base to the vinaigrette.
- Dijon mustard – extra grainy Dijon mustard adds a tangy note and great texture.
- Apple cider vinegar – apple cider vinegar provides a tangy and slightly fruity note that counters the richness of other ingredients in German potato salad.
- Garlic – garlic… because garlic makes almost anything better!
- Honey – honey adds a touch of sweetness that’s traditional in German potato salad.
How To Make German Potato Salad
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Boil the baby red potatoes until tender, then drain, and let cool. Chop into quarters after cooled.
Cut bacon into strips and cook until preferred crispiness. Reserve bacon drippings for the dressing.
Combine garlic, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, and bacon drippings for the dressing.
Toss together the potatoes, onion, celery, bacon and dressing. Serve warm or room temperature.
Tips and Tricks
- Clean the potatoes before boiling. Make sure to get them nice and clean!
- Don’t worry about peeling the potatoes. The benefit of using baby red potatoes is that their skins are thinner and more tender than the skins of their larger counterparts. Save yourself the time and enjoy the extra earthy flavor they add to the dish!
- Stir gently. As you toss together all of the ingredients, be sure to toss just until everything is coated. If you toss too long or too aggressively, it can begin to break down the tender potatoes and make them look a little more like chunky, mashed potatoes.
How to Serve German Potato Salad
German potato salad pairs so nicely with a variety of entrees, served warm or at room temperature. Here are some of my favorite serving suggestions:
Grilled meat: Serve alongside grilled German sausages like bratwursts, this delicious Grilled Pork Tenderloin to round out the meal.
Sandwich: Keep it low key and serve as a side dish to a filling yet simple sandwich such as this Salami Sandwich.
Potluck, Picnics and BBQs: Potato salad is a staple at BBQs and this one will leave your guests raving! German potato salad is great served at room temperature which makes it a perfect picnic side dish. Serve with other BBQ staples like Oven Brisket, Cornbread Muffins, Mexican Coleslaw, and Creamed Corn.
Storage and Reheating
German potato salad is not only delicious the day-of, but even days to come as well! Make your life a little easier and make enough to have some left over. Below are my recommendations for storing and reheating:
Storage: Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Because the dish keeps so well in the refrigerator, it is perfect to make ahead of any event as well!
Reheating: When you are ready to serve, gently reheat in the microwave if desired, in increments of 30 seconds. You can also serve room temperature, left out on the counter 30 minutes ahead of servings.
Freeze for later: Make extra to freeze and enjoy later! Once you let the dish cool completely, store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw the night before, in the refrigerator, before serving.
More Potato Side Dish Recipes You’ll Love!
- Easy Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes
- Colcannon Potatoes (Delicious Irish Mashed Potatoes)
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Breakfast Potatoes with Crispy Shallots & Peppers
- 3 pounds baby red potatoes
- ½ medium red onion finely chopped
- 6 celery stalks finely chopped
- ¾ pound good-quality bacon
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup grainy Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- ½ tablespoon honey
- Salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Boil the baby red potatoes until fork tender but not mushy, about 10-15 minutes. Drain water and let cool enough to be able to cut the potatoes into quarters without burning your hands!
- While potatoes are cooling, cut bacon into small strips, and cook over medium heat in a pot until crispy, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from the pot and place in a separate bowl lined with a paper towel to soak up the extra juices. Drain most of the fat out of the pot, and reserve bacon drippings (the little tidbits of bacon and juices after most of the fat has been drained from the pan).
- In a medium bowl, combine garlic, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, and bacon drippings.
- In a large bowl, add potatoes, onion, celery, bacon, and dressing. Toss gently until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.