Much of my family originated in Germany, settling in the highly German-populated area of Cincinnati, Ohio. So many of our family favorite foods handed down from generation to generation are based on German recipes. This German potato salad is one that I’ve been eating for as long as I can remember.
German potato salad is distinctive from the typical picnic fare in that there is no mayonnaise in it and it is made warm. It can be served either warm or cold though and the vinaigrette is delightful. The addition of bacon takes it over the top for my family!
I learned to make this at my mother’s side and as such, had no recipe for it. A few years ago, however, my daughter was taking a high school course in food and nutrition and wanted to make this dish for her cooking project. We worked together and came up with a recipe with actual measurements! Enjoy!
Gagen Family German Potato Salad
Gagen Family German Potato Salad
- 7 lb potatoes We prefer red or golden. We leave them unpeeled but you can peel them if you prefer.
- 8 eggs large
- 1 lb Bacon we use thick-sliced but any kind works
- 1 medium onion chopped (about 3 cups)
- 1 Tbsp flour optional - you can add this if you'd like a bit of a thicker "sauce" over the potatoes. My mom never added flour to hers
- 1 cup vinegar
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cut potatoes (peel first if desired); put in large pot, cover with water, and bring to boil. Allow to cook until fork-tender. While potatoes are cooking, hard-boil eggs.
Slice bacon into sections about 1/2 inch wide; cook in frying pan until crispy. When eggs are done, drain hot water and cover with cold water. When bacon is done, remove from pan and place on plate covered with paper towels to drain. Reserve bacon grease.
In frying pan used for bacon, sauté onions until tender and translucent. (Optional step: Add flour and stir in to make a smooth paste (roux). If not using the flour, just skip right over this).
Stir in vinegar and sugar; cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently until sauce thickens.
Drain potatoes. Peel and slice cooled eggs into potatoes; add vinaigrette, bacon, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Want to make it a bit healthier?
If you are looking to cut down on some of the “bad” fats present in this recipe due to the bacon grease, you certainly can make some changes to this recipe. I have tried it before with bacon bits or that precooked bacon you buy (so much leaner and so much less grease). Then, since I had no bacon fat to use, I used olive or grapeseed oil. It turned out really well.
Is it as rich as with the full bacon/bacon grease experience? Well, honestly, no of course not but it’s very close. I would call it one step down from that and certainly if I was making this very often or as more than a special occasion kind of treat, then I would use this lower fat version for the majority of the time.
Serve warm or cold but I really do find it most flavorful when served freshly made and warm. I have been known to warm up leftovers for a few seconds in the microwave the next day with good results too.
You can garnish it with parsley or even arugula but I’ll be honest. It’s hard enough to get this on the table without everyone helping themselves to some of it first much less garnish it.
This German potato salad makes an appearance at all family get-togethers. Family members request it for birthdays and other special celebrations too. And my poor mom – every time she comes for a visit, she’s always asked to please make us some German potato salad! (The second thing is to please make us some of her yummy cornmeal mush).