German potato salad is one of those dishes that can confuse people at first. I mean, it’s nothing like American potato salad, and way, way different than the Japanese version, and the more you think about it – it’s not really a salad at all. However It is still delicious, and is likely the first type invented.
While most Americans hear potato salad and think cold, almost mashed potato with mayonnaise and some other vegetables, German potato salad is warm. It also doesn’t (usually) have mayonnaise. The recipe for this European iteration is actually different in different parts of Germany. My recipe is for the most recognizable style of German potato salad that I learned during my time in Bayreuth (Bavaria)!
German Potato Salad Ingredients
You may be thinking, “if the potato salad doesn’t use mayonnaise, what does it use?” and the answer to that common question is vinegar. In fact, the ‘dressing’ for the Bavarian style of potato salad is basically an emulsion of bacon fat and vinegar!
Here’s all of the ingredients for this classic German potato salad:
2 pounds (about 1 kg) Potatoes – There are so many potatoes you can use and still make an authentic recipe. I suggest just finding a potato you like that holds together well when boiled. I like to use small red potatoes for my salad.
1/2 pound (250 grams) Bacon – You can also use lardons if you want to make an even richer dressing as lardons tend to have a higher fat percentage.
1 small Onion – You can use any onion you want, but I would avoid a red onion as those a better fresh in my opinion.
1/3 cup (100 ml) White Vinegar – this is the standard vinegar used, but you can use an Apple Cider vinegar if you prefer. Just don’t add the extra sugar.
2 tbsp Sugar – the sugar is to help balance the acid in a German potato salad, but if you use AC vinegar instead of regular white you can omit the sugar.
1/2 tbsp Salt – plus more for boiling. Feel free to adjust to taste, but remember “you can always add more, you can’t take it away”
2 tsp Black Pepper – freshly cracked, adjust to taste.
1 bunch Parsley – I suggest using flat leaf parsley if available, although you can use what is convenient. Just chop it up and add as much as you want. This goes in the salad at the very end so you can easily eyeball it.
How To Make Bavarian Style German Potato Salad
Begin by putting all your cleaned and scrubbed potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with water and add salt as you would if it was pasta. Turn the heat on and allow to come to a boil.
While you are bringing the water up to a boil you can start frying the bacon. Start with a cold pan and slowly bring up the heat as the fat begins to render. Essentially the same method I use to render fat from a duck breast.
When the bacon is getting crisp and the fat is rendered, remove it from the pan. I just hold it with tongs and use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon into bite size pieces. Set these aside until everything is done.
Turn the head down to medium-low for the pan with the bacon fat. Add in the chopped onion and let the onion sweat and fry a little in the hot bacon fat. You can also add the sugar here if you are using it. If you are using apple cider vinegar then you shouldn’t add sugar at all in this recipe.
Once the onions begin to brown and reduce you should add in the vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Give everything a stir and once it bubbles turn the heat to the lowest setting.
Check your potatoes. If they can be easily pierced with a fork then drain the water and cut them into halves or quarters. If you are using large potatoes then just aim for bite size chunks.
Pour the sauce directly onto the potatoes and carefully mix. Add in the bacon pieces and parsley and mix a little more. Try not to smash the potato pieces if you can as it ruins the presentation. Then just put into a serving bowl, give another sprinkle of parsley or some freshly cracked black pepper and serve!
German Potato Salad
- 1 Pot
- 1 Pan
- 1 Knife
- 1 Bowl
- 2 pounds Potatoes (about 1 kg) There are so many potatoes you can use and still make an authentic recipe. I suggest just finding a potato you like that holds together well when boiled. I like to use small red potatoes for my salad.
- 1/2 pound Bacon About 250 grams. You can also use lardons if you want to make an even richer dressing as lardons tend to have a higher fat percentage.
- 1 small Onion chopped. You can use any onion you want but I would avoid a red onion as those a better fresh in my opinion.
- 1/3 cup White Vinegar 100 ml. this is the standard vinegar used, but you can use an Apple Cider vinegar if you prefer. Just don't add the extra sugar.
- 2 tbsp Sugar the sugar is to help balance the acid in a German potato salad but if you use AC vinegar instead of regular white you can omit the sugar.
- 1/2 tbsp Salt plus more for boiling. Feel free to adjust to taste but remember "you can always add more, you can't take it away"
- 2 tsp Black Pepper freshly cracked, adjust to taste.
- 1 bunch Parsley I suggest using flat leaf parsley if available although you can use what is convenient. Just chop it up and add as much as you want. This goes in the salad at the very end so you can easily eyeball it.
- In a pot add the cleaned and scrubbed potatoes and fill with just enough water to cover the potatoes. Add a handful of salt like you would for boiling pasta. Put on the burner on high heat and bring to a boil.
- While the potatoes are coming to a boil place your bacon in a pan and put on another burner. Start with low heat at first and as the fat begins to render start raising the heat.
- When the bacon is done remove it and cut it into bite size pieces.
- In the pan with the bacon fat reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped onion and sugar. Stir around a bit to let the onion brown.
- Once the onion has reduced a bit add in the vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Stir everything around and once the pan comes to a bubble lower the heat to the lowest setting.
- Check the potatoes. If you can pierce them easily with a fork drain the water. Cut the potatoes in half (if you are using large potatoes then cut them into bite size chunks) and put back in the pot.
- Pour the pan contents over the potatoes and give a careful mix. Then add in the bacon pieces and chopped parsley and carefully mix again trying not to mash the potatoes (they shouldn't be too soft).
- Take the potatoes from the pan and place in a large serving bowl. Present and await praise for your delicious side dish at your next get together.
German Potato Salad
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