This is a warm potato salad, German-style! Slices of boiled potato are tossed in a warm, tangy-sweet bacon vinaigrette while hot so they absorb the flavour. They’re then showered with crispy, golden bacon bits and hit with freshness from dill and green onion. This excellent combination of flavours and textures makes this quite possibly my all-time favourite potato salad!
German Potato Salad
This is a German Potato Salad of the style that has evolved in English-speaking countries, based on traditional warm potato salads brought by German immigrants. So it’s not strictly authentic, but still bears German influences like the dressing style, bacon and dill. More importantly though, this kind of salad is just delicious regardless and boasts a very firm foothold in the potato salad world! (Outside of Germany, that is. 😂)
What’s so good about this German Potato Salad? For one, it’s the hot slices of boiled potato that are tossed in a slightly sweet, warm bacon-studded vinaigrette so they soak up the flavour. The whole lot then gets a hit of green and fresh flavour with a good helping of green onions and dill. The combination of salty-sweet-savoury with herby freshness turns an otherwise ordinary potato salad into something magic!
They say parents shouldn’t have a favourite child. If potato salads were my children though, I’d openly say it’s my favourite child! 😂 Regular readers know my other Potato Salad Children, whom I also dearly dote on. The classic creamy mayo based one. A bright, fresh, lemony one. This delicious bacon-y, charred corn one. Then of course there’s all the sweet potato ones, like this one and this one. Yes, I have an entire Potato Salad Family!
Ingredients in German Potato Salad
Here’s what you need to make this German Potato Salad:
Red potatoes – Includes the desiree and pontiac varieties in Australia. Try to get potatoes that are of even size so they cook through at the same time. Sliced potatoes cook quickly, and it’s annoying when some are overcooked so they break! If you can’t get red potatoes, other waxy potatoes will do;
Bacon – Streaky stuff please! We need the fat as the bacon renders for the warm, bacon and cider vinegar vinaigrette. If you use turkey bacon or the eye of bacon (aka short-cut bacon – it’s an Australian thing), you’ll likely find the dressing is a bit too tangy and likely have to add extra oil to balance it;
Cider vinegar – The vinegar of choice in this dressing for a German-esque touch;
Sugar – This dressing is supposed to be sweet and savoury. Everybody knows that sweet goes extremely well with bacon (candied bacon anyone?)!
Oil – Any neutral oil will do fine here. I use canola or grapeseed oil;
Red onion – Sautéed with the bacon to form part of the aromatic flavour base; and
Green onion and dill – The fresh elements in this dish. The dill in particular works so well in this potato salad!
How to make German Potato Salad
Boil whole potatoes – Start the potatoes in cold water so they cook through evenly. If you put the potatoes into boiling water, then the outside will cook faster and become too soft before the inside is cooked (a good all-round tip for boiling potatoes!)
They will take between 10 – 15 minutes to cook, depending on the size. Start checking early because you want the potatoes very slightly firm in the centre. This is because they will continue cooking as they cool and you don’t want them to overcook and become too soft.
Also don’t forget to add salt into the water so it seasons the potatoes as they cook!
Slice – Drain the potatoes then set aside to cool a bit. Slice into rounds about 0.7cm / ¼” thick. It’s best if you can time it so the potato slices are still warm when you toss in the dressing because they will absorb flavour better;
Cook bacon and onion – I don’t want to come across like I’m teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but here is how I cook bacon!
Place bacon in a large, unheated, non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet* with no oil in the skillet. Turn the heat to medium. As it heats up, the bacon fat will start to melt, so the bacon cooks in its own fat without needing to add additional oil.
Now turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the bacon until it starts to turn golden – about 3 minutes;
For the onion, turn pan now down to medium. Add the red onion slices to the bacon and cook 3 minutes or until the onion is soft. By this time the bacon will be beautifully golden!
Add vinegar and sugar – Add the cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to simmer, scraping the base of the pan to dissolve all the golden bits stuck on the pan into the liquid. This “brown stuff” is called fond and it’s going to add a ton of flavour into our dressing!
Add oil – Add the oil and simmer for 2 minutes more. Congratulations, you’ve just made a warm vinaigrette dressing!
Toss potato – Add potatoes to the pan and gently toss using two spatulas for 1 minute or so, until all the potatoes are well coated in the dressing and absorb it a bit.
Check for seasoning – Taste and add more salt if you want (though the bacon should add enough).
* A seasoned pan is cast iron or carbon steel pan that has developed a natural non-stick patina through repeated use. It should also be kept lightly oiled to stop it from rusting.
To plate up, I like to layer the potato salad with dill and green onion, rather than just tossing it through. It presents more neatly I find, but also importantly it means we are handling the potatoes less so they retain a tidier shape rather than breaking up.
You’ll find that this recipe has a good dose of green onion and fresh dill. It needs it, for a boost of fresh flavour to counter the richness of the sweet bacon vinaigrette!
Today’s recipe is being shared in the spirit of a German-themed week which kicked off with a bang with an epic, Crispy Slow-Roasted German Pork Knuckle. If you have never tried Pork Knuckle before (spoiler: it’s not pig’s trotter! It’s part of the pig’s upper leg and is incredibly delicious), prepare to be knocked off your chair. And if you have had it before, know that unlike other recipes out there, we’ve properly cracked the secret to awesome Pork Knuckle crackling!
I’m also sharing today a simple, refreshing Cucumber Salad which would be a terrific vegetable side to make a meal of the Pork Knuckle.
As for a sweet finish, what else could it be other than a Black Forest Cake?? Coming your way on Friday, this one is dedicated to all those who have tried and been disappointed by recipes or even cake shops in the past … I’m confident this one will not disappoint!! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
German Potato Salad
- 1 kg / 2 lb baby red potatoes or other small waxy potatoes (Note 1)
- 2 tsp salt
- 100g / 3oz streaky bacon , chopped into 2cm x 4mm (0.8 x 0.15") lardons
- 1/4 red onion , sliced
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or grapeseed)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 green onions , finely sliced
- 3 tbsp fresh dill , finely chopped (sub parsley)
- Boil potatoes: Place the baby potatoes in a large pot of cold water with the salt. Bring to the boil then reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes or until just cooked through but still slightly firm in the centre (they will continue cooking as they cool, you don't want to overcook them so they hold their shape).
- Slice: Drain and set aside to cool slightly, then slice into rounds about 0.7cm / ¼" thick.
- Cook bacon: Place bacon in a large, unheated non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium. As the bacon heats up, the fat will start to melt. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the bacon until it starts to turn golden – about 3 minutes.
- Cook onion: Turn heat down to medium. Add the red onion slices and cook 3 minutes or until the onion is soft.
- Add vinegar and sugar: Add the cider vinegar and sugar, bring to a simmer, scraping the base of the pan to dissolve all the golden bits stuck to the pan into the liquid.
- Add oil: Add the oil, and simmer for 2 minutes longer. The dressing is now ready.
- Toss potato through: Add potatoes and gently toss using two spatulas for 1 minute or so, until all the potatoes are well coated in the dressing and absorb some of the dressing.
- Check for salt: Taste and add more salt if you want (the bacon already should add enough).
- Layer potatoes: Pile about 1/4 of the potato on to a platter or in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the green onion and dill. Top with another 1/4 of potato, sprinkle with more green onion and dill. Repeat until all used up.
- Serve! I love it served warm, but it's also terrific at room temperature!
The potato salad family
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