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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!
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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. 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 its tangy dressing and spicy bits of onion. It’s definitely our go-to over any mayo based potato salad, and is a holiday staple. However, if you are missing that creamy mayo flavor, try my Southern Potato Salad recipe.
- White Potatoes – New potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes work the best.
- Onion – White onion, peeled and diced. Red onions or green onions can also be used.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – White vinegar or champagne vinegar can be used as a substitution but will alter the intended flavor. You can use any light colored vinegar, like 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.
- Vegetable Oil – A neutral oil like canola oil will also work.
- Salt and Pepper
- Optional Garnish – Parsley or chives
How To Make German Potato Salad
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 4-5 months. Thaw thoroughly in the fridge and add a splash of oil to moisten if needed.
This particular potato salad can be served at room temperature; it’s actually good that way. While it’s not typically served warm, it wouldn’t hurt it to do so.
Celebrate Oktoberfest with an authentic German meal! Here are some of our favorite German dinners to serve with Bavarian potato salad.
Of course, you can serve it with any dinner recipe that you love, like Chicken Fried Chicken, Baked Chicken Drumsticks, or Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs.
More Side Dish Recipes
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Authentic Mexican Rice
- Twice Baked Potato Casserole
- Red Potato Salad
- Oven Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Potatoes
Easy German Potato Salad
- 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
- 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 information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
I make similar salad use red skins leave skin on slliced thi n 2C finely sliced celery .
I use salt between layers of potatoes onions and celery. My great Aunt Marge Gootemotes reciepe.
Nice! Thanks for stopping by Kristine.
My Mom was from Sandhausen, Germany. This was the only way she made her potato salad , although, she added her own flair to it… sliced hard boiled eggs, chopped tomatoes. Her additions added a bit of colour and another level of flavour.
My grandma from Germany made this for us all the time and we love cold German potato salad! She didn’t follow a recipe for how much oil and vinegar she used but just eyeballed it so this recipe is very helpful for me, thank you!
You are so welcome Michele! Thanks for sharing.
My Australian mother (German background) made this potato salad and everybody loved it. I couldn’t replicate it until I found the recipe here and it’s just right. Adding the vinegar first is a handy tip that makes a big difference. Many thanks
You are so welcome Ann! Love the feedback, thanks for stopping by.
I have been looking for a recipe like this. My Mom made this for my graduation and communion dinners. She had not made this for a long time so I intend to make this for my husband and I know we will really enjoy it and think of my Mom. Thank you so much.
You are so welcome Lois! Thank for taking the time to share.
What oil? Olive, safflower, other?
Vegetable oil is listed in the ingredients.
Loved this! It was simple and easy to make and I’ll be making it quite often in the future:)
Awesome feedback Vanessa! Thanks for stopping by.
My mother is from the swabisch area of Germany and she would add some cucumbers ( outer skin peeled) into our potato salad to mix it up every now and then.
I never liked the creamy mayonnaise type of potato salad so was interested in this type of recipe. It was excellent. I love the tanginess so would maybe add another splash of apple cider vinegar next time.
This is the way my mom (now 98) made her German potato salad. Simple but delicious. We add some bacon crumbles sometimes…..served cold.
Nice! Thanks for the awesome comment Judy.
By far the best oil and vinegar based potato salad recipe. My parents are Croatian and this is the way we always had it with summer BBQs etc. Perfect with fish as well.
Thanks Kristin for sharing your recipe. This looks very similar to the way my German Grandma made hers’. But, after peeling and ‘chunking’ (not slicing or cubing) the still warm potatoes, she’d add diced onion, vinegar, salt, and sour cream (not oil). Lightly mix, then add chopped chives and/or green onion. Tastes best after chilling for a few hours.
I want to make some….but I need to get some Yukon gold potatoes first!…
I could totally see this being delicious with sour cream! Love that it brought back memories for you.
This is the way my mom always made her potato salad. Everyone loved it! They looked forward to coming to our place..they knew they would get potato salad.
I don’t think you were mistaken, I do think your grandma put green onion in hers….mom always did in the summer when she had them in the garden.
I have been looking for a recipe like this Germany. We lived in Bamberg for 6 years and I remember the wonderful Potato Salad served at many Guest Houses. Recipes in the USA call for bacon and I don’t remember that ingredient. Thank you for sharing this family recipe. Tonight we will enjoy an at home Oktoberfest in November!
You are so welcome Mary Jo! Thanks for stopping by.
This recipe is so close how my mom made it. Slight differences, I use red potatoes, I create onion juice rather than mincing the onion, the oil I use is corn oil (prefer Mazola corn oil) and a pinch of sugar and of course salt and pepper. I only serve this at room temperature. .
Hi Bernie, yes it does sound very similar! Your tweaks sounds delicious though!
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