Potatoes and bacon tossed with a drool-worthy vinaigrette? Sign us right up! German Potato Salad is totally different than the creamy American-style potato salad that graces potluck and backyard barbecue tables across the U.S. Instead, this potato salad is all about a dijon-vinegar dressing that utilizes the bacon grease for even more flavor. It can be eaten either hot or cold which makes it a really interesting potato side dish. Hot, it’s great for savory meals, and cold makes it perfect for all the potlucks, barbecues, and family gatherings.

Serve this up hot as part of a traditional German meal alongside schnitzel, spaetzle, and cucumber salad!

Why Our Recipe

  • Uses diced red potatoes for easy preparation and a beautiful presentation.
  • The most delicious bacon-dijon vinaigrette that’ll have everyone going for seconds.
  • Serve it hot with savory meals, or serve it cold for potlucks and gatherings.

German potato salad.

In Germany this dish is known as Kartoffelsalat. You’ll find variations of it throughout Germany. I’ve created my own unique twists on the authentic version for a potato salad that gets gobbled up at every event I take it to.

Traditional German potato salad typically uses peeled and sliced yellow potatoes similar to a Yukon Gold. In my version, I prefer red potatoes for their ability to hold their shape and their color. A pretty salad tends to go over better in my experience. Classic recipes might skip the onion altogether or use a different variety, but once again I love that color as well as that extra bite from a red onion.

The dressing in this recipe also takes a unique twist. While traditional recipes use just bacon drippings and vinegar, I’ve added olive oil to help prevent the dressing from solidifying when served cold. A touch of Dijon mustard adds depth and a bit of heat, creating a more complex flavor profile. Fresh parsley isn’t a traditional ingredient in German potato salad, but it adds another pop of color, because once again, it’s all about that beauty.

Ingredient Notes

  • Potatoes: Red hold their shape well and have a lovely color, but you can also use Yukon Gold, Yellow, Fingerling, or Baby potatoes. Make sure they have a thin skin that’s pleasant to eat.
  • Bacon: Use good quality bacon for the best flavor. The bacon grease is essential for the dressing, so don’t skip it!
  • Red Onion: Adds a nice bite and color to the salad. You can use white or yellow onions if you prefer a milder taste.
  • White Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can be used as an alternative for a less punchy flavor.
  • Olive Oil: Helps dilute the bacon grease so it doesn’t solidify as it cools.
  • Sugar: Just a touch to balance the acidity of the vinegar.
  • Dijon Mustard: Adds depth and a bit of heat to the dressing. Use whole grain mustard for a different texture and to add more visually appealing elements.
  • Fresh Parsley: Adds a little color. You can also use chives or leave it out altogether. Parsley isn’t a traditional inclusion in German potato salad anyway.
Overhead view of German potato salad.

Hot or Cold

Serving it Hot: Kartoffelsalat in Germany is traditionally served hot, especially in the southern regions. This warm version is perfect for pairing with savory dishes and is especially comforting during the colder months. It’s a great accompaniment to main courses like sausages, schnitzel, or roasted meats, bringing a touch of German tradition to your meal.

Serving it Cold: A cold version of this dish is more in line with how American potato salads are served. Chilling the salad allows the flavors to meld together. You can prepare it in advance and simply pull it out of the fridge when you’re ready to serve. Whether you’re hosting a family event or bringing a dish to a party, cold German potato salad is sure to be a hit.

Storage Instructions:  

To chill, simply cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. This works best for storage up to 24 hours.

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. No reheating is required if serving cold.

To reheat, place a serving in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating. Or microwave on high in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until warmed through.

More delicious salad sides…

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.