Wednesday, June 29, 2011

German Potato Salad with Bacon

German Potato Salad with Bacon

Tastes Great Served Hot (or Just Warm)

This German Potato Salad, with its rich bacon and vinegar flavor, is delicious winter or summer.  It pairs as nicely with burgers or barbeque as it does with knockwurst or schnitzel.

If you like bacon (who doesn’t?) and potato salad (don’t we all?), you owe it to yourself to give this recipe a try.

German Potato Salad with Bacon

Recipe: German Potato Salad with Bacon

This recipe is really a cross between French Potato Salad and Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing. Essentially you make bacon vinaigrette, then add it to warm cooked potatoes.

Although you can serve this dish cold, it tastes much better hot or at room temperature. If you prepare it ahead, remove it from the refrigerator 20 minutes or so before serving so it can warm up. This salad will keep fine in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for a day or two. (It’s still safe to eat for a few days after that, but the quality will have diminished.)

This recipe is adapted from my mother’s, and serves 6 – 8. It can easily be doubled.

  • ~ ½ pound bacon, chopped into 1-inch slices
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
  • 2½ pounds cooked warm potatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices or ½-inch cubes (from the Potato Salad Basics Recipe; see note for type of potatoes to use).
  • ~ ¼ cup cider vinegar (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or brown sugar (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced parsley (Italian preferably, although curly works too)


The timing of this is a little tricky since you need to prepare your potatoes and have them ready at the same time your bacon vinaigrette is ready to be used. Below, I describe exactly how I do this. If you are at all unsure about timing, I suggest that you partially prepare the bacon vinaigrette (steps 1 and 3), and then prepare the potatoes (step 2). While your potatoes are firming up in their pot after being cooked, you can reheat the bacon grease in the frying pan and proceed with step 4. Don’t overstress yourself about this, though. Even if your potatoes finish early and have to sit 10 or 20 minutes while you’re finishing the bacon vinaigrette, that will work, too. Your potatoes may not absorb quite as much of the vinaigrette, but they’ll still taste wonderful.
  1. Cut bacon into 1-inch slices and slice onion (thin slices). Set aside.
  2. Next prepare and cook potatoes using the Potato Salad Basics Recipe. I usually find that in the time it takes my potato cooking water to come to a boil, I can complete step 3 below. Then while the potatoes are cooking and firming up in their pot, I can complete step 4.
  3. Place bacon in a large, cold frying pan. Place on stove and turn heat up to medium. Slowly fry bacon until crisp (10 minutes or so). When bacon pieces are done, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel. Sauté red onion in bacon fat until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the cooked bacon back to the pan.
  4. Eyeball the rendered bacon fat in the pan. For this recipe, you want approximately equal parts of bacon fat and vinegar, so add about enough vinegar to equal the amount of bacon fat. The addition of cool vinegar to hot oil will cause some steam and splatter, so be prepared. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about a minute. Then carefully taste the bacon vinaigrette (it will be hot) and adjust seasonings. It it’s too tart, add sugar to taste.
  5. Put your cooked, hot potatoes into a wide heatproof bowl. Add the hot bacon vinaigrette from step 4, add the parsley, and gently mix everything together. You want the warm potatoes to absorb the bacon vinaigrette. Let the potatoes sit for a few minutes, stir again to make sure the vinaigrette is fully absorbed by the potatoes, adjust seasoning, and serve.
German Potato Salad with Bacon

  • The bacon-infused dish Americans call German potato salad is known in Germany as Kartoffelsalat.  It is most common in southern Germany and Austria. In northern Germany, they typically serve a mayonnaise-based potato salad that’s quite similar to our American Potato Salad.
  • This recipe specifies potato slices or cubes. Both work well, though I much prefer slices for this recipe.
  • Which type of potato to use in this dish? Any of the waxy potatoes we discussed in the Potato Salad Basics Recipe will work well, but for this recipe I favor red potatoes.
  • I like to keep the skins on for this dish, so I make a point to choose potatoes with tender, rather than tough or bitter, skins (more information about this in the Potato Salad Basics post).
  • Yellow onion is too sharp for this recipe, in my opinion. But if that’s what you have, give it a try. You may discover you prefer yellow to red.
  • You could substitute red wine vinegar for the cider vinegar, but cider has a marvelous flavor in this recipe.
  • You could swirl a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard into the vinaigrette for additional ping.
  • If you find the salad a little dry, you can add some additional cider vinegar, chicken stock, or reserved potato cooking water. If you find the vinegar ping lacking, add more vinegar to taste.

Recapping Potato Salad Fortnight

This is the fifth and last entry in our Potato Salad Fortnight series.

The first post in the series was Potato Salad Basics Recipe; the second was French Potato Salad; the third was a primer on how to hard-boil eggs (a necessity for American Potato Salad); and the fourth was American Potato Salad.

These recipes provide a solid foundation in the “how to” of making potato salad. That’s because virtually any potato salad recipe you’re likely to encounter will require techniques that are similar to one or more of the recipes we’ve covered. Know these recipes, and you essentially know how to make any potato salad.

German Potato Salad with Bacon

Too Much Potato Salad?

The Kitchen Riffs have been eating lots of potato salad for the last few weeks as I’ve perfected these recipes.  You’d think we’d be tired of it by now.

And I thought I was until Mrs. K R reminded me that we’re hosting the family July 4th festivities at our house this year, and picnic fare is in order.  Which of course means more potato salad.

Weird.  I’m suddenly hungry for it again.  Which kind of potato salad should I make?

I’ll let you know what I decide.  Eventually.

You may also enjoy reading about:

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Potato Salad Basics
French Potato Salad
American Potato Salad
Hard-Boiled Eggs


Anonymous said...

Can you make it ahead?

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Anonymous, absolutely. But I suggest removing it from the refrigerator for a good 20 minutes before serving -- it tastes better at room temperature IMO.

Unknown said...

Should/could this be left out over night??

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Wanda, I'd refrigerate it if you're making it a day ahead of time, or want to leave it out for a long time. It'd probably be OK if you did leave it out, but I wouldn't want to risk it.

Unknown said...

How many day will it be good if refrigerated after party. Was out for 4 hrs.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi Chris, I'd guess -- and this is a guess -- a couple of days for sure. Probably up to 5, although the flavor won't be as good. The acid from the vinegar helps keep bacteria from forming, even though the potato salad was at room temperature. But as I said, this is a GUESS -- if in doubt, I'd toss it. Thanks for the comment.