German Potato Salad Recipe

German potato salad in a white ceramic bowl with a spoon.

Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

Why This Recipe Works

  • Browning the onions in the bacon fat adds depth to the finished salad. 
  • Fresh parsley and chives balance the earthiness of the potatoes and onions. 

Barbecue sides can be as much of an art as slow smoking meat itself. It's confounding to me then why so many joints treat sides as an afterthought, thinking it's ok to serve sorry items like bland mayo-drenched potato salads alongside masterful pieces of beef and pork. I know the meat is the main attraction, but there's something to be said for a more robust meal, one that is only enhanced by seriously delicious sides like this German potato salad.

What's commonly referred to as "German potato salad" in the United State has its origins in Southern Germany. There, mayo is dropped in favor of vinegar and oil, and the whole thing is laden with crispy bacon. It just so happens that this combo of salty smoked meat and tangy vinegar is a perfect complement to American barbecue.

For this recipe, I like to use a waxy variety of potatoes rather than starchy since they hold their shape better when mixed with bacon, sautéed onions, vinegar, and mustard. Traditionally it's finished with a dose of parsley, but because I find too much parsley starts to overpower and taste a little bitter, I add a mixture of parsley and chives to give the right amount of freshness with a bonus light oniony flavor.

Now this is a side worthy of a seat next to a stack of fatty brisket. The tartness of the vinegar and slight bite of mustard flavor the potatoes well. Add to that the smoky bacon and slightly sweet onions, and the usual bases of barbecue flavor are covered. This potato salad fits seamlessly into a barbecue meal and offers a nice change when you need a break from chomping down on meat alone.

August 29, 2013

Recipe Details

German Potato Salad Recipe

Active 35 mins
Total 35 mins
Serves 6 servings


  • 2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 3/4 cup finely minced yellow onion (about 1 small)

  • 1/3 cup white vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives


  1. Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot and cover with cold water until water level is 1 inch above potatoes. Set over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until a paring knife can be inserted into potatoes with no resistance, 10-15 minutes. Strain potatoes and set aside.

    Cooked and drained potatoes in a metal colander.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. While potatoes are cooking, place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving as much rendered fat in the pan as possible. Pour out all but about 3 tablespoons of fat from pan.

    Bacon being fried in a stainless steel skillet.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add onions to pan with bacon fat and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Onions being cooked in bacon fat in a stainless steel skillet.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, mustard, 2 teaspoons of salt, and pepper to make the dressing.

    Vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper being mixed together in a white ceramic bowl.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Place potatoes, bacon, onions, parsley, and chives in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss gently to combine. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld, then serve immediately while still warm.

    Cooked potatoes being tossed with vinaigrette in a white ceramic bowl, with a wooden spoon.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
342 Calories
14g Fat
37g Carbs
17g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 342
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 17%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 37mg 12%
Sodium 1143mg 50%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 22mg 110%
Calcium 29mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 1063mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)