Delicious warm or cold, German Potato Salad is an all-time favorite for potlucks, picnics, and barbecues. The slightly sweet but tangy dressing contains no mayonnaise, so it is a perfect choice for hot weather.
I love summer. But sometimes the weather is so hot, my meal planning becomes routine and ordinary. So I think... "let's eat alfresco!"...but mayo is a big hard no. So, salads that are typical "summer" salads like macaroni or pasta and classic potato salad are not even in my consideration.
But then there is German Potato Salad. Loaded with onion and bacon, it is a hot weather favorite of mine because there is no mayonnaise to worry about. Made mostly with pantry items and produce staples means I don't have to go to the market to make this potato salad.
Overview of How to Make This Salad
I start by boiling the potatoes and cooking the bacon at the same time. It saves a little time and I like my attention on the stove, so the potatoes don't get overcooked. I only cook the potatoes until they are barely tender. I have found using a fork to test the doneness of potatoes damages them too much. So, a toothpick is my favorite way to test if they are done.
While the bacon is draining on paper towels and the potatoes are cooling, I get out my cutting board and chop the green onions.
Next, it is the potatoes turn to be sliced. When slicing and cutting cooked potatoes, I find the starch can build up on the knife making it harder to get beautiful clean slices. So, I keep a damp paper towel on my cutting board and wipe the knife periodically to keep it clean.
Next it is time to crumble or chop the bacon and make the dressing.
Instead of using salad oil, this recipe uses the bacon drippings from the bacon that is cooked. There is all that lovely extra flavor from the bacon fat and there is an economy to using everything, which I like. I pour the drippings into a ramekin. The solids will sink to the bottom of the ramekin, and I can easily dip my measuring spoon in or gently pour the clearer drippings into my skillet.
The bacon fat is heated, and the white portion of the green onions is added. Even if you can't exactly remember the recipe, just remember, this dressing is a roux-based lightweight sauce. Two parts fat to two parts flour and a bit more than a cup of water with vinegar. A little sugar to tame the vinegar and salt and celery seed for extra flavor... oh... and the crumbled bacon. Oh my!
The dressing comes together very quickly and only needs to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. It all gets poured over the sliced potatoes in a large bowl and the chopped tops of the green onions are added.
Doesn't it look delicious? Now let's look at the ingredients and each step in detail.
• Small Golden Potatoes - The Yukon gold or golden potato has the very best flavor and texture for this potato salad. While you can use a white or red potato, definitely do not substitute russet potatoes. Russet potatoes are too soft in texture for this salad.
• Bacon - Everything is better with bacon! In this salad, bacon gives a smokey, salty, sweet flavor that is delicious when balanced with the potatoes and tangy dressing.
• Green Onions - Whether you call them green onions or scallions, green onions do double duty in the dish. The white portion brings soft-cooked onion flavor to the dressing and the green portion makes a lovely garnish and a burst of mild fresh onion flavor to the entire salad.
• Bacon Drippings - Bacon drippings add great umami flavor to the dressing and can't be replaced with any other oil or fat. What's even better is that drippings from cooking the bacon are used, which is both economical and makes full use of the bacon.
• Sauce and Gravy Flour - This flour will make the smoothest dressing.
• White Granulated Sugar - Sugar is the ingredient that gives the dressing its sweet and sour tangy flavor.
• Fine Sea Salt - Seasoning with salt is essential to bring out the flavor in both the potatoes and the dressing.
• Celery Seed - Packed with celery flavor, gives the salad extra flavor.
• White Vinegar - You need a strong vinegar flavor for this German potato salad and white vinegar is the best choice. You can use plain white vinegar or white balsamic vinegar. Both of these choices will give the best flavor to the dressing.
Please see the recipe card for the quantities of the ingredients.
STEP 1 - Put potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook potatoes until just tender about 10 to 15 minutes.
STEP 2 - Drain potatoes and cover with cold water to cool them. When potatoes have cooled, cut them into ¼ inch slices and put them into a large bowl.
STEP 3 - While potatoes are simmering, cook bacon in a medium skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and cool. Pour bacon drippings into a small heat-resistant container. Chop or crumble bacon and set aside.
STEP 4 - Finely slice the green onions and separate the white portion of the onions from the green onion tops.
STEP 5 - Measure two tablespoons of bacon drippings and add to a clean medium-sized skillet. Heat drippings over medium-low heat. Add the white portion of chopped green onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until onions are slightly transparent.
Add flour and cook for two more minutes until flour is absorbed by drippings. Add sugar, salt, and celery seeds and stir well.
STEP 6 - Whisk in water and vinegar and bring mixture to a boil, while stirring constantly. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until dressing is well combined and thickened.
Step 7 - Pour dressing over potatoes. Gently fold together dressing and potatoes. Add crumbled bacon and chopped green onion tops.
STEP 8 - Transfer potato salad to a serving bowl. Serve and Enjoy!
That's it. Easy right? Ahhh... but, don't be fooled. This German Potato Salad is seriously loaded with flavor!
You might be tempted to throw out the bacon drippings and use vegetable oil. All I can say is... don't. The flavor boost from using the bacon drippings is pure magic!
My Top Tips
Use Small Potatoes. The best potatoes to use are small Yukon gold or gold potatoes. But you can also use small white or red potatoes.
Don't Peel the Potatoes. There is no need to peel the potatoes for this recipe. Although some cooks do peel them, I think leaving the peel on saves time and gives the salad a beautiful rustic look.
Make It in Advance. Make this German Potato Salad a day in advance for the best flavor. After refrigeration let the salad come to room temperature before serving. You won't be disappointed!
Substitutions and Variations
Substitute Red Onion. Instead of using green onions, you can substitute red onion for a sharper more aromatic onion taste and aroma.
Add Coarse Grain Mustard. Coarse grain mustard adds bright flavor to this salad and is found in many authentic German potato salad recipes.
Add Dill Weed. Dill weed is a flavor that can overpower a dish. But if you love the flavor of dill weed start with adding ½ teaspoon of dried dill or 2 teaspoons of fresh and increase the amount of dill according to your taste.
Add Fresh Parsley. Fresh and bright green, parsley will give a clean and slightly bitter flavor.
Add Celery Leaves. Fresh celery leaves are really delicious and if you want another celery flavor and green color added to this salad, try chopped celery leaves.
Garnish with Hard Boiled Eggs. Slices of hard-cooked eggs will add more protein to this salad.
Make it Vegan. Omit the bacon and substitute safflower oil for the bacon drippings.
More Picnic and Tailgating Recipes
German Potato Salad
- 1 ½ Pounds Small Golden Potatoes
- 4 Slices Bacon
- 2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings
- ¼ Cup Green Onions, White Portion, Finely Sliced
- 2 Tablespoons Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ Teaspoon Celery Seeds
- ¾ Cup Water
- ⅓ Cup White Vinegar
- ⅓ Cup Green Onions, Green Tops, Finely Sliced
- Put potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook potatoes until just tender about 10 to 15 minutes.1 ½ Pounds Small Golden Potatoes
- Drain potatoes and cover with cold water to cool them. When potatoes have cooled, cut them into ¼ inch slices and put them into a large bowl.
- While potatoes are simmering, cook bacon in a medium skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and cool. Pour bacon drippings into a small heat resistant container. Chop or crumble bacon and set aside.4 Slices Bacon
- Finely slice the green onions and separate the white portion of the onions from the green onion tops.
- Measure two tablespoons of bacon drippings and add to a clean medium-sized skillet. Heat drippings over medium-low heat. Add the white portion of chopped green onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until onions are slightly transparent.Add flour and cook for two more minutes until flour is absorbed by drippings. Add sugar, salt, and celery seeds and stir well.2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings, ¼ Cup Green Onions, 2 Tablespoons Flour, 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar, ½ Teaspoon Salt, ⅓ Teaspoon Celery Seeds
- Whisk in water and vinegar and bring mixture to a boil, while stirring constantly. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until dressing is well combined and thickened.¾ Cup Water, ⅓ Cup White Vinegar
- Pour dressing over potatoes. Gently fold together dressing and potatoes. Add crumbled bacon and chopped green onion tops.⅓ Cup Green Onions
- Transfer potato salad to a serving bowl. Serve and Enjoy!
Encharted Cook Notes
Per 1 serving. All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.