Last Updated on 3 years by Tim
I’ve seen tons of different recipes for German potato salad across the web. However, most of the stuff that is being published has very little to do with the real deal.
German potato salad is an extremely simple and minimalistic dish whereas a lot of recipes on the web tend to include stuff like bacon or celery. For all my life, I’ve never eaten any potato salad that had bacon in it.
I got to admit that even in Germany there’s not the one and only way to make authentic potato salad. Instead, there are two basic variations: The North German potato salad which is dressed with a mayonnaise-based vinaigrette and the South German potato salad which is marinated with a beef broth vinaigrette.
Today’s recipe will teach you how to make my preferred version: The South German (Swabian) potato salad.
Chose the right potatoes for German potato salad
Stick with waxy potatoes for this dish. You want them to remain firm in their cooked state because nobody likes mushy potato salad. Cook them skin-on. This will ensure that your potatoes stay dry in the center so that they can soak up more of the vinaigrette when dressed.
It’s important to peel your potatoes while still hot. That way the skin will be much easier to peel off. And most important: Warm potatoes soak up more vinaigrette. Always dress this salad warm and let it cool before serving.
For the vinaigrette, sweat the shallot in neutral vegetable oil before adding the beef broth, sugar, vinegar, mustard, pepper, and salt. It’s best to use homemade beef broth for this dish. Stick with a neutral vegetable oil such as canola or safflower oil as you don’t want to overpower the flavor of the broth with olive oil.
Give your salad time to marinate
Once you’ve poured the hot broth over the warm potato slices your salad is almost ready to eat. It can be eaten warm, however, I prefer to let the salad marinate for a few hours in the fridge before serving.
Before serving, you should always add in a little more oil to give the salad some gloss. The final sprinkling of chives is totally optional. It makes for a prettier presentation and their oniony flavor goes exceptionally well with the marinated potatoes.
German potato salad Swabian style (‘Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat’)
- 2 pounds (900 g) waxy potatoes
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
- 1 large shallot, finely minced
- 1 cup homemade beef broth
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar + more to taste
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- a handfull of finely minced parsley or chives
- Put the unpeeled potatoes inside a large pot and cover with water. Season liberally with salt and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the potatoes until they are tender which should take about 15-25 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. Pierce them with a paring knife to check for doneness. If the potatoes fall easily off the knife, they’re ready. Drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly.
- Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and sweat the shallot for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add the beef broth, sugar, vinegar, mustard, pepper, and salt. Bring the vinaigrette to a boil, then take it off the heat.
- Peel the potatoes using a sharp paring knife. Cut them into thin slices and pour the hot vinaigrette over the potatoes. Even though it might seem like a lot of vinaigrette at first, the potatoes will absorb a lot of it and it will thicken once chilled. Mix everything well. Don’t worry about the potato slices breaking up. The salad can be eaten right away, however it is best to let it cool down and sit for a few hours to let the flavors mingle.
- Shortly before serving, add another 2 tbsp of canola oil to your salad and mix everything well. Adjust the seasoning by adding more vinegar and salt to taste. Sprinkle the finished salad with some freshly minced chives.
A Swabian friend told me that you always eat the potato salad warm – unlike other German regions where you usually eat cold potato salat.
Otherwise a good recipe.
Thanks a lot for your comment! Yes, Swabian potato salad can be eaten warm. However, it is commonly eaten cold too. I think the main difference to the Northern-style potato salad is the acidic vinaigrette. There should never be mayonnaise in a Swabian potato salad. Tim
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My Swabian grandmother was famous for her warm potato salad. It always had bacon. Applause from grateful family occurred when she’d bring out the bowl. The church I grew up in was full of Swäbische Einwanderer. Church suppers always included large bowls of warm potato salad. With bacon.