German Potato Salad
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In this German potato salad, the typical American mayo dressing is replaced with pickled onions and a tangy vinaigrette. It is ridiculously good!
My friend Kelly had this German potato salad at a bbq, and she said that no one could stop picking at it, even after they finished the meal. I made it at home and Michael and I had the same problem — it is that good.
Modestly adapted from David Hagedorn’s recipe in the Washington Post, this is a traditional German-style potato salad, meaning a tangy vinaigrette replaces the typical American-style mayonnaise dressing.
The recipe makes a ton, improves over time, and can be served cold or room temperature, so it’s the perfect do-ahead dish for a potluck or picnic.
What you’ll need to make German potato salad
The recipe calls for new potatoes, such as baby gold or red bliss. These waxy potatoes hold their shape when cooked and have soft, creamy texture — and the best part is that they don’t need to be peeled.
The recipe also calls for a whole red onion, which might seem like a lot but have faith: the sliced onions get pickled in the vinaigrette, which tempers their sharp edge and makes them tangy and sweet. They are 100% the best part of the salad (and I say that as a raw onion-phobe).
How to make German potato salad
To begin, place the potatoes in a large saucepan and fill the pan with enough cold water so that it covers the potatoes by about 1 inch. Add one tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the oil, rice vinegar, sugar, remaining tablespoon salt (I know that sounds like a lot; feel free to add less and season to taste at the end but keep in mind that potatoes require a lot of salt), pepper, smoked paprika, red onion and parsley.
Stir to combine. Set aside, stirring occasionally and allowing the onions to marinate and pickle in the dressing while the potatoes cook.
Drain the potatoes in a colander. While they are still hot, cut them bite-size into halves, thirds, or quarters, depending on the size, and place in the bowl with the dressing.
Using a large rubber spatula, toss the potatoes with the dressing, being careful not to break up the potatoes too much. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally until the potatoes soak up all the vinaigrette.
Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, stir well and taste to adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with more smoked paprika and parsley.
You may also like
- Chickpea & Red Onion Salad
- A Better Macaroni Salad
- Sweet and Tangy Citrus Slaw
- Fresh Corn Salad with Scallions and Basil
- Classic Coleslaw
German Potato Salad
In this German potato salad, the typical American mayo dressing is replaced with pickled onions and a tangy vinaigrette. It is ridiculously good!
- 3½ pounds baby gold or red bliss potatoes
- 2 tablespoons salt, divided
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
- ½ cup chopped parsley, plus more for serving
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and fill the pan with enough cold water so that it covers the potatoes by about 1 inch. Add one tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue cooking until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the oil, rice vinegar, sugar, remaining tablespoon salt (I know that sounds like a lot; feel free to add less and season to taste at the end but keep in mind that potatoes require a lot of salt), pepper, smoked paprika, red onion and parsley. Stir to combine. Set aside, stirring occasionally and allowing the onions to marinate and pickle in the dressing while the potatoes cook.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander. While they are still hot (as hot as you can handle), cut them bite-size into halves, thirds, or quarters, depending on the size, and place in the bowl with the dressing. Using a large rubber spatula, toss the potatoes with the dressing, being careful not to break up the potatoes too much. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally until the potatoes soak up all the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, bring the potato salad to a cool room temperature. Stir well, then taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, or sugar, if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with smoked paprika and parsley.
- Potato salad should be left out for no more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees). Leftovers should be promptly refrigerated.
- Make Ahead: This potato salad can be made and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead of time.
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 355
- Fat: 21 g
- Saturated fat: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 38 g
- Sugar: 4 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Sodium: 591 mg
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Gluten-Free Adaptable Note
To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.
i was disappointed:(
I cannot believe how much I love this salad. I have never been a fan of potato salad, but tried this recipe because my fiancé loves potato salad and I do not care for mayonnaise-y things. We both absolutely love this recipe!
This salad is truly the bomb!
You have a gift, Jenn, for helping enthusiastic cooks make things that are restaurant-worthy. You also have a gift of getting people to explore recipes, flavors, ingredients, etc., that they normally wouldn’t. Thank you!
You’re so welcome, KJ! 💗
Made this for a super bowl snack for my vegan husband. I substituted aquafaba (from a can of chickpeas) for the oil since he is on an oil free diet. It worked well. Before I could get this to the fridge my hubby came in, took a taste and then insisted on a bowl! Its now his new favorite.
Its difficult to be on a restrictive diet, great recipes like this keep us going, thanks so much!
I have never been a big fan of German Potato Salad but this recipe intrigued me. We love smoked paprika in our house and use it often, so I thought, what the heck and I made it for a bbq dinner party. This will be on my go to lists of side dishes from now on. If you can, make it a day in advanced, it just gets better.
How many servings does this make? We’re hosting a party for around 75 and I thought this would be a good side dish for our Oktoberfest theme!
Hi Jen, This makes 8 servings. Each serving is 1 cup, so if you’re going to have a lot of other food, people may take less than a cup so it could serve more than 8. Hope that helps and that the party is fun!
I made this German potato salad at a family gathering last weekend mainly for people who I know do not like mayonnaise. I also made my husband ‘s favorite with red onion, bacon and mayo. If he buys German potato salad at the deli he always adds mayo. I didn’t think he would even try this salad. To my surprise (and his!) he loved it and did not add any mayo!!!!
It’s a keeper 😊
Once again another 5 star recipe. You have officially ruined going out to eat for both me and my husband, because it is hard to find a meal better than I can make at home using your amazing recipes. I am going to a pig roast tomorrow and the host asked if I could bring a potato salad. I, of course, turned to you and found this recipe. I made it tonight for tomorrows BBQ and when I gave my husband a bite he told me that I better hide it because he may sneak down at 6am and devour it. I just love that I can trust you and your recipes to come out perfect every time. I don’t even worry that I am trying it for the first time. Thank you again Jenn for all that you do to make life easy and delicious for us!
This is not a true German potato salad. There’s no onions in a German potato salad. It’s made with bacon and served warm.
Delicious! I added some thinly sliced cucumber and used dill instead of parsley. Enjoyed by my guests and will definitely make it again!
Hello Jenn, can you tell me how much bacon you would add. I dont want to over or under do it. Thank you!
Hi Emmy, I’d recommend 3 – 4 slices crumbled. Please LMK how it turns out!
Great, thank you!!
Made this Potato Salad for a Fathers Day Barbeque. Haven’t had the barbeque yet, but am having a hard time not to keep munching this salad. Absolutely delicious! Followed the receipe as written, nothing needs to be changed. A few readers said it was addictive and I would agree.
This was amazing! I brought it to a housewarming party and it was the first to go. The smoked paprika is key. It gives you that smokey taste – didn’t even miss the bacon!
This potato salad looks delicious, but I’m not a fan of the flavour of smoked paprika. Would regular paprika be good enough, or can you suggest anything else I could substiture?
Sure, Davinia, regular paprika will work here. Enjoy!
We have some new potatoes in our garden and I’d like to make this but I’m really allergic to paprika. What can I use instead? Also, if I’m make this as a side, can you recommend a good entrée ? Thank you!
Hi Turtle, You can leave out the paprika. I love this potato salad with grilled Italian sausage or grilled chicken.
I want to let everyone know how awesome this recipe is! My oh so picky husband loved this! The only difference is I subbed in a scallion since his stomach can’t take red onion. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love reliable recipe blogs and now I’ve happily found Once Upon A Chef!
The first time I made this salad I was lukewarm on it. But for some reason I couldn’t stop eating it, haha. The second and third time I made it was all for me (husband doesn’t eat many carbs and didn’t particularly enjoy it – more for me!). This salad really grows on you. Now I always increase the marinade and onions a bit – they are the best part! I think you are right Jenn, bacon would be great in the salad, but it also has such body it’s great all on its own!
Hands down one of the best potato salad recipes I have made. First time I made it, it didn’t make it to the party, I saved it for me. Now when I make it I double it. One batch for me and one batch for the gathering. It is just yummy. It is best the next day after sitting in the fridge over night to marinate. I let it come to just room temp before serving. I do like using red potatoes over gold, although both are good. And using smoke paprika makes a big difference from regular paprika.
Fantastic! I made it for NY party, it was very popular. Cannot wait to make it again! (I’ve already bought potatoes and red onions for the next batch (-:
Love this recipe and website as well. My mom passed away in 2003 and this recipe reminds me of her when she made German Potato Salad. Very easy to make and delicious. Definitely will make this again. Thanks for all the great recipes I have made from this site! I try a new recipe from your site every week and have never been disappointed.
I live in Germany and had never had a potato salad like this one. After having served it to many Germans, I told them what it was called. All were surprised by the name, but loved it nonetheless!! It’s now my “go to” recipe for potato salad.
Thanks again, Jenn!
Hi Jennifer, recently, my Mom passed away and I can’t find her recipe for her potato salad which was always a hit at summer family picnics, showers and summer bbqs…I offered to bring one to my book club meeting this evening and made your recipe last night. OMGosh it is so delicious and I’m now in love with the vinaigrette. I used seasoned rice vinegar so cut the salt to 1 tsp for the potatoes and 1 for the dressing; I substituted fresh dill for the parsley, added probably a cup of sliced red onion and added bacon this morning as several other reviewers suggested. I have to stop nibbling on it before I leave, it truly is THAT GOOD. I will let you know how the book club rates it!
Can you add a few more ingredients?
Sure, Fern – bacon would be good. 🙂
Excellent and so easy to make. I am not a aw onion fan but I did add a whole onion and to was sooo good. I made the for a get together and everyone was asking who made it? Thank you for another great recipe.
Hi Jenn – just made this and it was delicious! My husband prefers the taste of apple cider vinegar over rice vinegar so I was thinking of trying it that way next time: would you recommend using the sugar or leaving it out for a cider vinegar variation? (I saw your note about the seasoned v unseasoned rice vinegar in a previous comment).
Hi Kelly, I think apple cider would work well here but I’d definitely still use the sugar. Hope that helps and I’d love to know how it turns out!
I only recently heard of German Potato Salad so started looking for recipes for this delightful sounding dish. Your site is one that I always check because I really like your narrative style of walking us through the prep combined with a traditional recipe format. Plus, I’ve liked all the recipes I have tried here and the reviews (and replies you provide) are full of good ideas.
This is another winner! The first time I made it, I went with the recommended amount of red onion and they were so good that the next time I upped the quantity. It really looked like too much, but at the July 4th get together I brought it to, the dish was a huge hit and the onions were consistently called out for being so good.
Very tasty – the onions are the best part! I just made this recipe last night just for something tasty to jazz up my usual lunches for the week, and it was a success. I look forward to making this again for the next barbecue to you know… show off your recipe to my friends a bit!
This was absolutely delicious! My 14 year old son devoured a bowl before it even got to rest in the fridge! I have to admit, I liked it best before it hit the fridge too. When it was fresh and slightly oily.
OMG… the German Potato Salad is addicting… and yes I’m still picking at it! I love your recipes and will order the cookbook. I cooked in restaurants from 16-25 and was going to make it a career, then realized professional cooking was too intense. I consider myself a good home gourmet cook. Every recipe of yours is tasty, simple and fun to make. The results wow my family and friends. Your site is my go to 🙂 Happy 4th of July!
Not the best I’ve had. Will not make it again.
I made this last night and I have tagged the recipe as a “keeper.” The smoked paprika was a great compliment and the onions were addicting! I added turkey bacon to the recipe to give it a little more of a traditional flare. Another keeper. Thanks Jenn!
Happy 4th to you!
I made this salad today and it is delicious. I used a whole onion as recommended by others and they are right. The onions are delicious. Thanks Jenn for another great recipe.
I don’t do cup of, what is equivalent to 2/3 cup?
Hi Margaret, If you look in the top right corner of the recipe, you will find a button that allows you to toggle between metric and cup measures. Hope this helps! 🙂
Served this with grilled Italian sausage…delicious!
I made this as written and it came out very good. The balance of flavor was great. I will say that like some of the other comments, I have never seen a German potato salad without bacon. Next time I will add crumbled bacon to this as well.
I also think this tastes better at room temperature. Let it sit out for an hour before serving.
Is this German potato salad gluten free? Never used smoked paprika
Yes – enjoy!
I had a pound and a half of these cute little red and gold potatoes that I wasn’t sure what to do with when your newsletter arrived. You are right; the onions are the best part. I sliced them very thinly with a mandoline and they were mild and slightly sweet after pickling. Since I only made half a recipe, I only used half an onion but next time I will use the whole thing. The rice vinegar is delicate and I thought the dressing was well balanced. It did need some additional seasoning at the end as you pointed out. The addition of bacon sounds good and I might try that next time as my smoky paprika seems to be losing it oomph.
Did a test run for the 4th…this is a wonderful, mayo-free potato salad. I may crumble some bacon on top next time as suggested by another reviewer but it is excellent as is.
I make it in my restaurant in Bhutan…I got the recipe from my sister’s mother in law in Krems, Austria….I have to invent according to taste but the recipe is same…it’s yum… and loved by my customers.
My husband has been after me to make German Potato Salad forever but it seemed like a weird concept to me. When I saw that you had I recipe I threw caution to the wind and tried it – you were right, it’s addictive. Can’t wait to make it again for the 4th of July. Love all your recipes Jen, thanks!
Hi I am at the cottage, far from the grocery store…. would white onions work instead of red? I am guessing that I feel the same way about raw onions as you… go cautiously! Looks really good. Thx.
Sure, I think white onions would work. Please LMK how it turns out!
I lived in Germany for three years and this I can tell you: If there is not pork in one form or another in the recipé, it’s not German potato salad.
I am German (from Munich, Bavaria) and both versions, with or without bacon, are a traditional German dish but I’d say potato salad without bacon is more common than with bacon!
Thank you for the recipe 🙂
Hi Jenn. Can you use canola oil instead of vegetable oil?
When your recipes call for salt are you using table , kosher or sea salt? Your my favorite go-to chef! I’ve tried many of your recipes all of which are scrumptious! Thank you!!!
Hi Donna, I typically use sea salt. If I use kosher salt in a recipe, I will always specify. Hope that helps and glad you’re enjoying the recipes!
Can’t wait to try this!! I’m cooking for a group of 15 this weekend and want to make this. I’m assuming it would double well but wondering if you agree…any tips or suggestions?
Yep – should be no problem to double. Hope you enjoy it, Kim. 🙂
I’d like to know about the high oleic oil? How healthy is this type of oil? Thanks
Hi Jesus, I wasn’t familiar with high oleic oils so I looked it up. I think you’ll find this article helpful.
Thanks for sharing this article, I enjoyed reading it! I’ve been wondering since I started following your blog why you don’t use avocado oil instead of canola or vegetable oil when you want a more neutral flavor in a recipe…I’ve always used it with great results and it seems like it’s much better for you!
Please could you make sure that the recipe has also metric measurements please. Cups are an unknown measurement in my house. Would be so grateful.
Hi Liz, All of my recipes have metric measurements. If you look in the right hand corner of the recipe, you’ll see a button that allows you to toggle between metric and cup measures. Hope that helps!
Why the need to add so much sugar where the original recipe doesn’t call for any?
Hi Norma, The original recipe calls for seasoned rice vinegar, which is sweetened. I use unseasoned, so it’s necessary to add sugar. Hope that clarifies!
Jenn, this is close to a real German Potato salad. Growing up in a German community, and in a German family my Mom always added some crumbled up bacon. Kicks it up to the next level. This is best served warm. Excellent with grilled sauasges.
I agree, George – it would be excellent with bacon! We had it the other night with grilled sausages and it was a delicious meal.
Which herbs could be substituted for parsley if my family doesn’t like parsley?
Hi Grace, I think cilantro or dill would both be good.
Dill, but never cilantro in a German recipé.
That’s true…but I think cilantro would taste good here, even though it’s not traditional. 🙂
It was excellent with cilantro. Thank you, Jen!
Chive is a very popular herb for potato salad in Germany.