Authentic German Potato Salad (Swabia Style)

This Authentic German Potato Salad is made with creamy gold potatoes and a tangy oil and vinegar dressing. It is traditionally served in the Swabian region in the southern part of Germany and this recipe has been passed down in our family for generations.

Nothing makes for a better side dish in the summer than a cool and creamy potato salad. This Easy German Potato Salad is a short-cut version that my German grandma used to make for us. It’s a vinegar and oil based potato salad that’s delicious with fish, brats, pork tenderloin or just about anything you could think of!

Sliced potatoes in a white bowl topped with onions and parsley and oil and vinegar dressing.

Authentic Swabian German Potato Salad Recipe

If you were to look up German Potato Salad you would get tons of different versions. Some are made hot with a bacon dressing, some are steeped in chicken or beef broth for flavor. The difference between German potato salad recipes and American potato salad, is that they are vinegar based and don’t use mayonnaise like traditional American recipes.

My grandma is from the Southern part of Germany, a region called Swabia, and in that part of the country they make potato salad with oil and vinegar and add beef or chicken broth for flavor. They will even sometimes cook the onions and/or the potatoes in the broth. My grandma started out making it that way but then decided to eliminate the broth step, opting to simply use salt and pepper for flavor. Hence the “short-cut” part of the recipe.

We love this potato salad recipe with it’s tangy dressing and spicy bits of onion. It’s definitely our go-to over any mayo based potato salad, and is a holiday staple.

A white plate with german potato salad on it and a fork.

How to Make German Potato Salad

  1. Start with a pot of salted boiling water and add your whole, unpeeled potatoes. Boil them until they are fully cooked through and soft (pierce one with a fork or a thin knife to test). Set the potatoes aside to dry and cool until you’re able to handle them. This can also be done the night before with the potatoes left whole and unpeeled in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  2. Once cooked and cool enough to handle (but still hot), gently peel the potatoes with a thin paring knife and then thinly slice them directly into the bowl. Sometimes they break apart a bit as you slice them and that’s totally fine. They don’t need to be perfectly round discs but should have a more rustic look.
  3. Stir in diced onions, salt and pepper, then vinegar, then oil – in that order! If you do the oil first it will interfere with the potatoes soaking up the vinegar flavor. Now as far as the vinegar goes, you can use any light colored vinegar. We use Apple Cider Vinegar but you could also use a white wine or champagne vinegar, or even straight white vinegar. We use Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar and find that it works the best; I have tried the raw and unfiltered kind and it just had a little different taste.
  4. Feel free to play around with the amount of vinegar, salt and pepper until you love it. I added some parsley and green onions for color and a little herb-y freshness, so feel free to swap out the green onions for minced red or white onion. I swear my grandma added green onions because I remember something green but I’ve been told I’m mistaken. Maybe it was because she always paired it with a green salad. Who knows? Either way though, it’s delicious!

German Potato Salad | Collage with three images of potatoes to make german potato salad

A close up of a serving of cold German Potato salad on a plate.

What to do with leftovers

Leftovers should be stored in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator. It will remain fresh and can be enjoyed for up to 3-5 days. The potatoes will continue to soak up the oil and vinegar as they sit, so if it seems a little dry just add a slash of oil to moisten before eating.

Can you freeze German Potato Salad?

Since most potato salads are made with creamy based dressings, they cannot be frozen. However, since this Authentic German Potato Salad is made with vinegar and oil it actually can hold up in the freezer. Place leftovers in a freezer bag or airtight container and into the freezer for up to 5 months. Thaw thoroughly in the fridge and add a splash of oil to moisten if needed.

A close up of sliced potatoes in a bowl being mixed with onions, oil and vinegar.

We love serving our German Potato Salad with these yummy dinners:

German Potato Salad is also the perfect side dish for Schnitzel!

For more delicious side dishes, try these:

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A bowl of German potato salad

Easy German Potato Salad

Authentic German Potato Salad is a cold salad made with an oil & vinegar dressing that is traditionally served in the Swabian region of Southern Germany.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine German
Servings 6
Calories 173kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds white or gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup white onion finely diced (green onions or red could also be used)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider or White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and/or chives optional

Instructions
 

  • Boil potatoes whole and unpeeled for about 25 minutes, or until soft (they can easily be pierced with a fork or knife). Depending on the size of the potatoes, this could take a little more or less time. Drain and lay in a single layer on a flat surface to cool slightly.
  • When potatoes are cool enough to handle but still quite warm, gently peel the skin off with a thin knife (works best) or a potato peeler.
  • Slice potatoes into very thin discs and place directly into a medium sized bowl. Season with salt and pepper, stirring gently to coat the potatoes. Stir in onions and pour in vinegar and stir. Repeat with the oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 173kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 4gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 307mgPotassium: 644mgFiber: 4gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 18.2mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 4.9mg
Keyword german potato salad

A pinterest optimized imaged with text overlay German Potato Salad Recipe collage

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. I made this and it was really, really good. If I wanted to try making it with the broth do you know when abs how much to add in?

    1. Hi Christina, I’ve never made it that way personally, but it’s my understanding that you would boil the potatoes in broth instead of water.

  2. Thank you so much! My grandmother made this potato salad she learned from her German grandmother and I just made it for a family reunion tomorrow. When I left my home state of Connecticut and moved to Texas, German potato was warm and had bacon in it. I was disappointed and confused as were my children who were used to cold German potato salad!

    1. I know what you mean! When I first saw warm potato salad I was very confused as well! I hope everyone enjoys it.

  3. Could the green specs in the salad have been diced pickles? That’s what my mom used and also some pickle juice instead of some of the vinegar.

    1. My mom swears they weren’t onions but I know they weren’t pickles. Great thought though! I think I might just remember it being served next to a green salad, but I prefer the green onions anyway!

  4. My Mother in Law taught me to make this & I love it. She always put minced green peppers ( not a lot ) in to give it color. We only use white onion. She was Croatian & loved to cook & bake. Now I’m teaching the granddaughters how to make it. We miss her.

  5. Hello!! My oma and my mom make this potatoe salad. You are right– green onions are used. Love your recipies!!!!

  6. I made this for company and it was really good. It was fairly easy to make. I used new potatoes and left the skins on. Very tasty. The ingredients stated were the right amount.

  7. Hi Kristin…it was fun to stumble upon your blog and this recipe! This Swabisch style potato salad has also been a favorite in our family. We learned how to make it from my Grandma who came to America from Germany when my Father was able to send for her and his younger sisters in the 1950’s. None of us can make it quite like she used to, but it is still one of our best “throw-back” recipes. The chives are a fundamental part for our family, and I also like to sprinkle on some ground mustard powder for an extra kick. I love that you mentioned the addition of broth because I’m convinced that was the step which took Grandma’s salad to the next level! Thanks for sharing your traditions…we have a unique connection with this recipe!! Be well

    1. Hi Sue, Thank you for your sweet comment! Yes it’s tru no one can make potato salad quite like my Oma could!My grandparents also came to America in 1955 when my mom was 3 years old. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story!

  8. My grandmother used to make this, it was the only thing we asked for when we went to her house. She always added yellow food coloring to make it a bright yellow… Keeping traditions alive. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I’m looking at the nutrition values for this German Potato salad and wondering what the serving size is that the nutrition numbers represent.

  10. We had a sweet German lady at church that introduced us to this recipe over 50 years ago only she added in torn iceberg lettuce right before serving and a little sugar to the vinegar. This was by far my favorite salad if all time when growing up. My brother just asked me to make it this week for our 4th celebration. I had completely forgotten how to make it, it’s unfortunately been so long. Thanks for the reminder!!

    1. I’m so glad you found us, Betsy! This was my German grandma’s recipe so I’m happy to be able to pass it along!

  11. This is very close to my grandmother’s recipe. One difference is she grated the onion… and another is she added a pinch or two of sugar to the dressing… i make it for parties or family dinners… everyone loves it!!!

  12. I tasted this recipe earlier this year because a German exchange student living in my home was looking for a recipe for potato salad that was like what he would have at home and he made this one! We loved it. My question is: why do you peel the potatoes after cooking them? My instinct would be to peel them before they’re cooked, when it would be less messy and easy to use a vegetable peeler. Thanks for the info!!

    1. I’m so glad you all loved it!! The reason we peel the potatoes after is because they will hold their shape better. When potatoes are peeled first, the potatoes tend to get mushy and fall apart.

      1. Thanks! That makes sense. I made the potato salad again this week and took your suggestion of boiling the potatoes in advance and then keeping them in the refrigerator, unpeeled, overnight. When they were cold, I was still able to use a vegetable peeler on them. Great tip!

  13. The Easy German potato salad lists onions in the ingredients but doesn’t mention them in the instructions.

  14. hi my name is ms, lynette a miller and i was just wonding if you could give me the ingredients for if you where going to make it for one person i would like to make it for me but i don,t know what i need for the ingredients for one person could you please help me ok thankm,s for your time ms, lynette a, miller.