I know you’ve seen me post pictures of this on my Facebook Page so I figured it was time to spill the secret. German Potato Salad is made two ways from what I’ve learned while living in Germany. There is the way the northerners make it and the way the southerners make it. The one ingredient that makes the difference, mayo. Thankfully, for my waistline I lived in the South where they opted out of using mayonnaise for this very common dish!
Many moons ago I asked Toblerone’s mom for her recipe for Kartoffelsalat and she wrote it out for me. I use it like there is nothing else in the world that matters. That stays with me in a special place. If I ever lost it, I would be lost. There is something about having a recipe handwritten that makes it feel more like a sacred piece of family history. Same goes for recipes my mom has written.
On with it already, Kaitlin.
First things first…the ingredients here in the US are not exact but I will try to help you through it best I can!
You will need:
Note: Some people cheat and use this little package by Knorr to “fix” Potato salad (See little packet on the right hand side of the picture.) We are doing things the original way today!
Potatoes – peeled, and cut in half if they are large. I normally use about 7-8 potatoes just for the two of us (Toblerone loves his leftovers!), or an entire 1lb bag or more for larger groups. (I use the yellow/golden potatoes. They are closest to the potatoes in Germany. Yes…even those are different.)
1 Onion – chopped in small pieces. (This time around I used a red onion for color. )
Distilled white vinegar
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Bouillon (powdered if you can find it. Mixed in warm water – about a 1/2 cup.) I use Knorr Delikatess Brühe (shown below) which you can find on many German import food websites. If you want to get the taste correct, trust me…you need this stuff. I’ve tried others I found in the import aisles at grocery stores and its all sorts of wrong. Threw out many batches because of this small ingredient!
How it’s done:
Peel your potatoes and cut in half. They will cook faster when they are smaller. Place in pot and boil until soft or a knife goes through easily.
Chop the onion in small pieces and throw into a large bowl. I always use my tupperware bowls because that would be very un-German of me if I didn’t use my tupperware.
Once potatoes are done, drain water. Let sit until they aren’t scorching. If they are still warm I rinse them off with cold water before handling. DO NOT BURN YOURSELVES. IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!!! Once cooled, you will grab a potato and with a knife almost shave the potato over the bowl until it is in small pieces.
Should look like this at the end:
Now, here is where the recipe gets a little confusing. There are no real measurements. This is a “feel-it-out” situation as is any good recipe. First add the vinegar. I usually make a circle as I pour and that is usually enough to start. You don’t want a big pour. Little at a time is better so you can taste test it. Too much is hard to correct. Start small.
Next up, add the Bouillon that is premixed in warm water . Also in a circular motion. Add your salt and pepper…also a taste as you go thing.
At the end I do the same with the oil. Circular motion. The idea is not to make the potatoes swim. It’s a salad after all…not a soup, people!! A lot of the watery bits will soak into the Potatoes but you don’t want a puddle at the bottom of your bowl.
Mix gently to get the flavors going.
Most important part of the process….LET IT SIT. Do not touch it. Let it sit on the counter for a while. Not in the fridge. Not in the garage. Just let it sit. Let the flavors work into it. Potato salad is served room temperature in Germany. So be German and do just that. Afterwards of course, whatever is left….if there is any left you can place in the fridge.
And…TA DA! There you have it….You just learned how to make a very Swabian styled Potato Salad. I bet your Omi would be oh so proud!
Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo
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28 thoughts on “The True (Southern) German Potato Salad”
Yes! Though my husband was born and raised in Bielefeld (northern Germany), his family comes from Schwabenland. I’ve been told that real southern potato salad is supposed to make a nice “squishy” sound when you stir it!
I much prefer this type over the one with mayo, too!
Yes! It makes that squishy sounds for sure! Not a soup but close to it! 🙂 I definitely prefer this over any mayo type any day! 🙂
This sounds good!! Only difference is my mom added bacon to hers, yum!!
I have seen that but not very often where we lived. Everything is better with bacon though! 🙂
In the eastern part of Germany we boil our potatoes in the skin , and after peeling slice them instead of making as musch out of it ! We also add a little sugar , ingredients are : onion salt , pepper, oil, and as said a little sugar , Oh before I forget, our potatoes are white not yellow !!!
That is really interesting!! I might have to try that some time!
My great grandmother’s (from Berlin) recipe also called for boiling the potatoes in the skin. The potatoes are less wet to absorb more of the flavors. This recipe is one with mayo, but it is still a light thin vinegary sauce to be absorbed. We add chopped dill pickles to the list of ingredients and leave out the chicken stock flavoring. Best potato salad ever.
I would definitely be interested in trying a mayo/vinegar combo. I know a lot of other side salads made do have a little bit of mayo in them with vinegar of course and the result is always delicious!
My Tantes aus München add sugar and senf (mustard) to the bullion mixture. I find a good chicken bullion works quite well. I just boiled some potatoes for dinner and now see this…oh dear!!! Thanks for great memories and ideas…:-)
I think there must be something to adding the sugar to it! I will surprise the husband next time and see what he thinks of that! 🙂
Be careful the sugar is just a pinch! My mom’s generation believes it takes something out of the vinegar! It’s for health reason. 🙂 My mom adds sugar to her salad dressing. Basically anything she uses vinegar in. Not sure if that is where Karin’s Tante’s sugar in the recipe comes from? Where I am from we also boil the potatoes in the skin and thinly slice them for the salad. The picture looks soupy. Take it easy on the bullion, like she said. Start with less you can always add more if it’s too try, but it’s hard to fix if it’s like soup!
Oh! Interesting! So you leave the peels on in the salad or remove them once they are soft?
Yeah this was soupy looking when I took the picture but after about 30 mins it was a lot less, thankfully! Hard to take pictures while cooking!!
The sugar thing seems to be quite popular from the comments! Might need to try this! I love all the different variations there are!!
Here’s a great variation (used to have this a lot when I grew up in München): use cucumber instead of onion and now you have a nice juicy potato and cucumber salad. The rest of the ingredients stay the same. Also, it’s important to remember to add the oil last, otherwise the other ingredients will have a harder time soaking into the potatoes.
Yes, one more thing. Since you are using the bullion you can almost omit the oil. Just a tablespoon or less depending on how many potatoes you use.
Ok, now THIS I have got to try! I’m a big cucumber salad person!!
Wrong, I grew up in Southern Germany and all I ever had was potato salad with mayo…
I have yet to find a restaurant or home in the south that serves it with mayo!
There’s definitely no mayo in a schwäbischen Kartoffelsalat!
That’s what I thought!!
I peel potatoes after boiling and cooling them in cold water. For vinegar I only use Hengstenberg Altmeister. If you’re having Spätzle with your meal you can use some of the starchy water to make the salad moist. That and mustard can replace the broth. My grandma makes the best!
I do make quite a bit of spätzle too! I’ve been writing down all these ideas! I’m going to make a mixture of all and see what happens! 🙂
In my family, we also boil potatoes with skin on, let cool then peel and slice over the diced onions while still hot. We make a boullion on the stove, add the vinegar, onion, salt, and pepper and pour it over the still hot/warm potatoes. Toss and let sit so the juices can be absorbed by the potatoes. Taste to ensure enough salt and pepper and add extra liquid Maggi or Knorr seasoning if necessary. No sugar in ours, but we either add chopped chives or green onions for color. Sometimes my mother added frozen green peas und Speck (sliced bacon cooked to a crisp) also. Depending on what you serve it with (like Bratwurst), she would also add German mustard (a little goes a long way).
Thank you Helga for the ideas! I love the idea of making bouillon in the stove! I’ve got to try that!
The sugar is used to minimize the acid. I use sugar in my tomato sauce and everything fruit or vegetable like I cook with. Noticed that I have less heart burn when using sugar.
Well my 98 year old Oma would disagree with some of the paticulars. She is from Pforzheim and this is how her grandmother taught her how to make it,Schwarzwaldian style;
– CUT POTATOS (5LBS) TO DESIRED CHUNK SIZED PIECES (YOU CAN SKIN OR NOT) AND PLACE IN LARGE POT. POUR IN LAGER (Yuengling works well) AND LET SIT 45 MINUTES, THEN COVER WITH WATER AND BOIL UNTIL TENDER. DRAIN AND SET ASIDE.
-CHOP BACON (OR PREFERABLY A SMOKED BUTT) INTO SMALL PIECES AND COOK IN FRYING PAN TIL COOKED. ONCE BACON IS DONE DO NOT DISPOSE OF BACON GREASE. ADD 2 CUPS OF MALTED VINEGAR AND 1 TBSP HORSERADISH (PREPARED) TO BACON/BACON GREASE AND MIX WELL on MEDIUM HEAT.
-PUT POTATOS IN POT, POUR THE BACON/VINEGAR “DRESSING” OVER AND MIX TOHETHER. COVER POT/SERVING BOWL AND LET SIT AT ROOM TEMP FOR AT LEAST 6 TO 8 HOURS BEFORE SERVING.
Oh my….anything that involves beer…I’m all over it! This is awesome!! Thank you for sharing!!
This is exactly how my Oma makes her potato salad! She also boils the potatoes with the skin on and is sure to slice them while still hot! Thank you for sharing this recipe.