German Potato Salad is a scrumptious, warm red potato salad that’s made with bacon, onion, and mouthwatering sweet and tangy mustard dressing. It only takes approximately 30 minutes to make from start to finish and is perfect for picnics, potlucks, and all other occasions!
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What Is German Potato Salad
Did you know that potato salad originated in Germany? Potato salad was originally served warm and usually with tangy dressing. It was then brought to America by the German and Eastern European immigrants, who over time, changed the recipe as it was passed down from generation to generation.
Chances are, you’ve had an Americanized potato salad at least once in your life. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a barbecue or picnic that didn’t have a tasty chilled potato salad!
So what is the difference between Potato Salad and German Potato Salad? The main differences between the potato salad we’re used to today here in the states and what we refer to as the German potato salad is the temperature and the dressing.
Traditional German potato salad is served hot or warm with a bold vinegar based dressing, while American potato salad is made with a creamy dressing and served either chilled or at room temperature. As much as I love creamy, cold potato salad, the tangy dressing in this recipe is show stopping! It’s made with vinegar, Dijon mustard, bacon (and bacon grease), and sweet shallots.
Ingredients in German Potato Salad
Red Potatoes – Red potatoes are perfect for this potato salad because they have delicate thin skin and an almost sweet flavor that balances magnificently with the more savory flavors.
Bacon – The bacon itself as well as the rendered fat from cooking the bacon are needed for this classic recipe. You can try to use turkey bacon in place of pork bacon, but this recipe really needs that rendered fat that you can only get from pork.
Shallots – I love the flavor of shallots because they are actually a different species of an onion and related to garlic. This onion is delicate with a sweet flavor and a hint of garlic.
Chicken Broth – Try to opt for a low sodium chicken broth, if possible, to lower the amount of sodium in the dish. The bacon will already provide a salty taste, so you don’t necessarily need to amplify that with more saltiness. You can also use homemade chicken stock.
Red Wine Vinegar – Although it won’t produce the exact same flavor, you can substitute apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar if need be.
Dijon Mustard – No, this cannot be substituted with plain yellow mustard! Dijon is creamier than regular mustard, contains less vinegar, contains wine and sometimes other spices.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Best Way to Cook Potatoes For Potato Salad
Although I’ve seen it made both ways, through the personal experience (and by what my mom taught me), I’ve learned that you only cut potatoes before boiling them when making mashed potatoes. For any potato salad, cook them whole!
Cook the potatoes until they’re fork tender, but do cook them whole. When they are cooked quartered, they will take in a lot more water than needed and become quite mushy.
At the end, if you cook them cut, you will end up with mashed potato salad. When cooked whole, they will stay together and won’t soak up water. You will be able to cut them, quarter them, chop, or dice them.
How to Make German Potato Salad
Add whole potatoes to the pot and fill a pot with cold water. Make sure the potatoes are completely covered by water, then bring it to a boil with a dash of salt . Cook the potatoes until they’re fork tender. Strain off all of the water, then allow the potatoes to cool.
While they are cooling, make the dressing!
Cook the diced bacon in a pan over medium heat with a little cooking oil, just until the fat begins to render. Add the shallots (2) and continuing to cook until the bacon is fully cooked and all the fat is rendered.
Next, mix in the chicken broth, vinegar, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper (3). Combine everything together and allow it to simmer for a minute longer before removing from heat (4).
Once the potatoes have cooled down enough to handle without burning your hands, cut them into small pieces and toss them into a mixing bowl.
Pour in the warm dressing mixture (5) and stir everything to fully combine. Oh, and don’t forget to toss in some fresh parsley, too!
Serve the potato salad right away!
Have any leftovers? Great! This potato salad will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Be sure to keep it stored in an airtight container to keep it from drying out, of course.
I definitely recommend that you reheat leftover German potato salad, at least to a warm temperature, not necessarily fully hot. Because this potato salad is made with bacon and has some bacon grease, it will be much more pleasant to eat when warmed.
You can only leave this potato salad at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Do not leave German potato salad at room temperature overnight.
Much like with most cooked and fresh cut food, bacteria starts to develop and grow pretty quickly, which lead to spoiled food. Leaving food at room temperature and allowing the bacteria to grow on it, will lead food-born illnesses.
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German Potato Salad Recipe
- 2 lbs red potatoes
- 1 tbsp canola oil for cooking
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 2 shallots
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp minced parsley
- Place potatoes into a pot and fill the pot with cold water until potatoes are completely covered. Bring water to low boil, add some salt, and cook until potatoes are fork-tender.
- Strain off all the water and let potatoes cool on the cutting board until you can handle them.
- While potatoes are cooking, prepare bacon, shallots and dressing.
- Dice bacon while it's still cold and slice the shallots.
- Preheat a cooking pan over medium heat and add oil. Add bacon and cook until bacon fat just to render.
- Add shallots and cook until bacon is completely done and all fat is rendered.
- Mix in broth, vinegar, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Simmer for just about a minute and take off heat.
- When potatoes are cooled enough to handle, cut them into about 1/2-inch pieces and add to a mixing bowl.
- Pour in the dressing mixture from the pan over the potatoes, add parsley, and gently mix to combine.
- Serve right warm.
- Store German potato salad in an air-tight food storage container, in the refrigerator. It should be good for 3-4 days. I do recommend that you reheat it until it's warm when needed. Since there is bacon and some bacon grease from cooking in the salad, it will be much more pleasant to eat warm.
- Cooking for a crowd? Feel free to double this recipe when cooking for a bigger event!
- Cook potatoes whole! You only cut potatoes before boiling them when making mashed potatoes. For any potato salad, cook them whole! When they are cooked quartered, they will take in a lot more water than needed and become quite mushy.
- Serve German Potato Salad warm!