German Potato Salad

10 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes

German Potato Salad is a traditional warm potato salad with bacon and caramelized onions mixed with a tangy vinegar and sugar dressing.

As summer is quickly approaching we love making easy picnic and bbq friendly side dishes including Easy Macaroni SaladEasy Cole Slaw and Texas Caviar.


German Potato Salad isn’t like your classic American mayonnaise based Potato Salad Recipe with eggs, celery and mustard. This potato salad comes from Germany and is made with bacon, caramelized onions, vinegar and sugar and it’s tossed together while the potatoes are still piping hot so they can soak up the dressing.

Serve it hot or cold?

People often ask if German Potato Salad is best served hot or cold. The answer is either. We serve this salad warm in our house but if we are serving it cold I like to add crispy bacon to the potato salad fresh just before serving so it is crispy (if possible).

When warm, the sweet and sour dressing that soaks into the potatoes has a comforting flavor that is great served along side a grilled steak or chicken.

When served cold this is a great side dish for hot dogs or hamburgers, perfect for your summer cookout.


We use red potatoes in making this potato salad because they’re a traditional ingredient in this german potato salad, but you can use yukon gold potatoes or russet potatoes (russet potatoes will not hold their shape as well), but I recommend red potatoes if possible.

You can also use baby red potatoes and halve them to prevent them from breaking while tossing them with the dressing.


The traditional method for making the vinegar dressing is to use a traditional white vinegar (distilled white vinegar). If you have an aversion to such a strong vinegar flavor you can swap the vinegar out for apple cider vinegar which is naturally sweeter and less vinegary. You can also use white wine vinegar which is a more muted flavor than white vinegar.

How to Make German Potato Salad

  • Cut red potatoes into large chunks add to pot with cold water and cook.
  • Cook bacon and reserve some bacon fat.
  • Cook onion in bacon fat and add in dressing ingredients.
  • Add onion mixture to steaming hot potatoes.
  • Toss potatoes, dressing, bacon and parsley together before serving.

German Potato Salad with Bacon and Onions in a bowl

Additional Mix-in Options:

This recipe is a traditional recipe so I recommend making it as written below the first time you try it, but you can add in some more fun flavors the next time you make it.

  • Eggs: Sliced hard boiled eggs added on top of the salad because mixing them in would crush the yolks and they look beautiful garnished on top for a German Potato Salad with Eggs.
  • Sour Cream: Whisk in ½ cup of sour cream to the dressing just before adding to the potatoes to make a Creamy German Potato Salad (you can cut back on the vinegar by 1 tablespoon since the sour cream is tangy).
  • No Bacon: You can make German Potato Salad without bacon and in place of the bacon fat cook sliced celery in butter on medium-high heat until caramelized to add a bit of crunch and flavor. Cook your onions in butter too. You can also use olive oil in place of butter if preferred.
  • Mayonnaise: If you’d like to use mayonnaise in place of the bacon grease in this dish you can. Cut back on the amount of fat to cook the onions, skip the water and mix ½ cup mayonnaise with the sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper and toss the potatoes, bacon and onions once the potatoes have cooled completely. Do not mix while warm.
  • Dill: Dill is a classic German herb so it makes sense to make a dill potato salad as an option, if you want you can swap the fresh parsley to make this German Potato Salad with Dill or even swap the celery seed for dill. Remember fresh dill always tastes significantly better than dried, so I recommend this option only if using fresh.
  • Dijon Mustard: A quick, easy addition. Using a tablespoon of dijon mustard added into the potatoes with the onion mixture (do not add the mustard into the pan), and toss it together while warm. Using a whole grain dijon mustard would also be a delicious option.

Food Safety Recommendations

Refrigeration: This German Potato Salad can be safely refrigerated for 3-5 days before being discarded.

Room Temperature: If left at room temperature, German Potato Salad should not be consumed after being left out for more than 2 hours because food bacteria can grow at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (this is why a 37°F helps to preserve food longer).

Freezer: Since this German Potato Salad does not contain mayonnaise and we use red potatoes which are more freezer friendly you can technically freeze this recipe for up to 3 months. Be aware the flavors will be adversely affected and the texture of the bacon will not remain crispy upon reheating.

What to Serve with German Potato Salad?

We love serving this recipe with Super Crispy Fried ChickenEasy Grilled Chicken or Easy Pulled Pork because it makes the perfect side dish for your favorite summer flavors!

More easy summer side dishes:

This German Potato Salad will be the hit of any bbq you have this summer! This delicious recipe is full of bacon, caramelized onions, and a delicious dressing. You won’t miss the mayonnaise in this potato salad recipe!

Potato Salad with Bacon and Onions from Germany in white bowl

Pin this recipe now to remember it later

Pin Recipe

German Potato Salad Recipe

German Potato Salad is a traditional warm potato salad with bacon and caramelized onions mixed with a tangy vinegar and sugar dressing.
Yield 10 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine German
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 pounds red potatoes , cut into 1" chunks
  • 8 slices bacon , diced
  • 1 yellow onion , diced
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley , chopped


  • Add the potatoes to a large pot covered with cold water and bring to a boil and cook for an additional 12-15 minutes or until you can easily pierce the potato with a small knife.
  • In a large skillet cook the bacon on medium heat until crispy, then remove.
  • Discard all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat, then add the onion to the remaining bacon fat in the pan and cook on medium heat until it just starts to brown, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper and stir together until the mixture is boiling and the sugar is dissolved.
  • Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl, pour over the onion mixture and add in the parsley.
  • Gently toss the mixture together until most of the dressing is absorbed then add in half the bacon toss together another few seconds and garnish with remaining bacon before serving.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 367mg | Potassium: 472mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 140IU | Vitamin C: 10.6mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.8mg
Keyword: German Potato Salad

German Bacon Potato Salad

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


Leave a comment & rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    1. Thank you for catching that. It must have been a glitch. The recipe uses 2 tablespoons of water. I corrected the recipe card so hopefully, it stays that way. 🙂

  1. As other have probably noticed water is listed twice, once as 1/4cup and once as 2 tablespoons. Does that mean that step 4 should have 1/4th + 2tablespoon water?

  2. What is the 2 TB of water in the recipe for? I don’t see where it goes in. Making this tomorrow and can’t wait.

  3. I’m definitely going to make this for our Memorial Day bash! The only thing that I’ll add to it will be some fresh dill, since I LUV dill with red potatoes. This is perfect for picnics, since you don’t have to worry about the mayo going bad, and also…. b/c it’s outrageously delicious! My BFF was born & raised in Germany, and makes a mean German Potato Salad, so I’m anxious for her to try this one. Thanks, this recipe is absolutely lovely, and I also like the ‘optional add-ins’. 🙂

  4. I never heard of a German potato salad until today! I love the tangy part of the vinegar and sweetness from the sugar!