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What is German Potato Salad?

By Kate Monteith
Updated May 16, 2024
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German potato salad is a popular side dish for a hearty meal. Containing a rich mixture of sweet and sour tastes tossed with bacon and potatoes, German style potato salad is best served hot. While it is somewhat different from traditional potato salad, it is worth considering as an alternative.

The actual origin of this dish is southern Poland, and there are two basic recipes. The lesser-known Northern style is close to American potato salad, made with mayonnaise, and served cold. The style more commonly known as German potato salad contains no mayonnaise, and it is served hot or warm.

The basic ingredients are potatoes, bacon, vinegar, sugar, and onions. It doesn’t matter much if the vinegar is cider or white, or if the potatoes are red or russet. What makes a German potato salad recipe really stand out are the added spices, herbs and little extra touches. It is not hard to make, and recipes are usually very forgiving. The ingredients are fairly inexpensive, and leftovers may be reheated without losing any of the flavor.

Recipes for hot German potato salad are often calculated in dashes and pinches, allowing for a bit of creativity to suit the chef’s culinary imagination. Some cooks will add herbs such as dill or rosemary for a richer flavor with more depth. Others will add a sprinkling of celery seed, chives or parsley. Chefs who like a little kick might add a bit of dried or prepared mustard and a little cayenne pepper. Of course, a few dashes of salt and ground black pepper are almost always included in a recipe for this salad.

Many people think hot potato salad is best served with sauerkraut and sausages, such as kielbasa. At Octoberfest celebrations, large dollops of potato salad are consumed as a compliment to beer and bratwurst. It is also a favorite side dish for a family dinner or a special German feast. Cooks can take a great deal of pride in their potato salad recipes, and cooking competitions are common.

The Internet is a great place to find hot German potato salad recipes. There are multiple coking websites with authentic recipes passed down for generations. Seasoned chefs may know at a glance if a particular list of ingredients will suit their taste, but beginners should look for testimonials from satisfied chefs. A long list of happy comments can be the sign of a good German potato salad recipe.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon992506 — On Sep 13, 2015

Two facts you need to know.

There are actually two types of potato salad recipes in Germany, which are both very popular. One was invented in the north of Germany with a mayonnaise sauce and the other one in the south with a vinegar sauce.

Only this southern variation is sometimes served warm, which

indicates that it is fresh made.

By anon991355 — On Jun 14, 2015

Any German knows the German potato is served warm or hot; it does not have mayo in it; boiled potatoes; peeled or not; sliced (one onion; 5-6 stalks of celery chopped;) with added onions and celery chopped and fried; depending on how much one makes a 1/2 to one lb of bacon fried; chopped into bite size pieces; add 1/2 c cider vinegar; only cider not white or rice or any other; always cider; some cornstarch for thickening -- about a tablespoon or two; and 1/2 to 1 c of water and sugar, 1-2 tablespoons; mix in cup then pour over potato mixture; salt and pepper to taste; probably more pepper as there is salt from the bacon; and keep warm on stove top or keep warm in oven; delicious as a left over if you have left overs. I have gotten lots of compliments on my potato salad. I made it for many years. The recipe is from my german grandmother from the early 1900's.

By anon303585 — On Nov 15, 2012

I've had the pleasure of eating German potato salad in German (Munchen & Augsburg) and in the USA. Every time is was served hot and was outstanding. A travesty? Really? Such a statement about food. Who cares as long as it is good?

By anon116738 — On Oct 07, 2010

Who said German potato salad is supposed to be served hot? Every German I've ever met (including me) think that this is a travesty. Potato salad should not be hot -- ever.

By anon93221 — On Jul 02, 2010

I was looking for information on knackwurst. I couldn't find anything online couldn't help me and taste of home didn't either. Somehow my aged fingers choose this site and it explained everything (how it was made, serving, cooking)thank you very much. --sgt. ski

By lokithebeak — On Dec 27, 2009

The only German Potato Salad I've ever eaten has been from the grocery store deli section. And it apparently it isn't actually German! The only difference is they use the little red potato's and add black olives, and omit the mustard. That's the only thing that separates it from the "plain" potato salad!

I've never eaten ANY potato salad warm though, probably because it usually isn't a good idea to eat warm mayonnaise, but if the real thing doesn't even use mayonnaise it might be good that way.

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