Make Ahead German Potato Salad

German Kartoffelsalat

Potato salad. Which one will come to your mind first? The classic one with mayonnaise? Or vinegary German potato salad?

My first choice has always been my mom’s potato salad with mayo. And maybe it still is. I definitely love both, but it’s best to switch them up sometimes.


To be honest I haven’t eaten it very often in the past. But I’ve been living in Germany for a few years now and I have to say that Germans LOVE their Kartoffelsalat.

Make ahead German Potato salad is more or less the same as the Viennese potato salad recipe. It is also called Swabian or Bavarian potato salad.

How do you call it?

German Kartoffelsalat


How to make warm German potato salad

Regardless of what you call this salad and what German region it’s from, it usually contains the following ingredients:

  • vinegar: apart from potatoes, perhaps the most important ingredient. Vinegar gives the salad the necessary acidity and character. I use apple cider vinegar, which I think is best. Overall, it is suitable for many salads. Apple cider vinegar is slightly less acidic than, for example, distilled white vinegar, but it tastes better and is less sharp.
  • Onions: They shouldn’t be missing either. Onions enrich the creamy German potato salad and make it more interesting. It’s good to gently sauté the onion so it doesn’t taste too sharp or pungent. I recommend using the yellow onion.

  • Mustard: an equally important element. You can add yellow mustard or Dijon mustard.

  • Oil: Sunflower or other unflavored oil works well.

  • Broth: You can choose between vegetable and chicken broth. Beef broth is a good choice too. Of course, you can also use a bouillon cube.

  • Seasonings: Salt and black pepper are a must. It’s best to use freshly ground black pepper, which I recommend for almost every recipe. For example, when preparing classic spaghetti carbonara, freshly ground black pepper can make a huge difference. Sugar imparts a pleasant sweetness. And finally, my “secret” ingredient, nutmeg! Also freshly ground.


What potatoes for potato salad?

For creamy German potato salad with onions, you must use waxy potatoes. They do not have a lot of starch and therefore retain their shape when boiled.

If you cut them into thinner slices after cooking, they keep their shape and don’t fall apart. Nevertheless, they will be nice and soft. You can look for Kennebec, Red Bliss, new or fingerling potatoes.

For soups, I would suggest using a starchy potato such as russet or Yukon gold. For example, this creamy potato soup needs to be made with these varieties.

Put the potatoes in a pot with their skins on. First, fill up with cold water so that they are just covered. Then add salt and bring to a boil.

After about 20 minutes, use a fork or toothpick to test whether the potatoes are soft in the middle. Better to cook them a few minutes longer than too short. Waxy potatoes cannot be overcooked as easily as other varieties.

It’s important that you prepare the salad dressing at the same time, as the dressing and potatoes need to be relatively hot when you mix them.


Dressing for German potato salad without mayo

Most people make the dressing by simply mixing the liquid ingredients together and adding them to the potatoes.

However, this recipe differs in that we gently cook the vinegar, oil, mustard, and broth along with onions. As a result, the sharp taste of the raw onion disappears somewhat, and, most importantly, an emulsion forms between all the liquids.

This way you won’t feel like the salad is too oily. The oil does not settle on the surface but is well absorbed by the potatoes.


If you just added vinegar and oil to cold potatoes, the potatoes wouldn’t soak the dressing as much and the salad wouldn’t be as juicy.

Start with onions. Chop finely and sautée in a saucepan. Then add the mustard.

Not only does the mustard add excellent flavor to your salad, but it is also needed to combine broth, vinegar, and oil to form the desired emulsion. The consistency of the dressing will be uniform and the oil will not settle on the surface.

Then add the vinegar and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar. Stir and add the hot broth.

Let it cook for a few minutes and then gradually pour in the oil. You need to add it while whisking continuously so the liquids combine nicely.


By the time your dressing for potato salad is ready, the potatoes should be cooked too.

But the important thing is that they must also be hot. Therefore peel immediately and cut into thin slices. You can cut them with a knife or a mandolin. Place them in a large bowl.

Once you have sliced all the potatoes, immediately pour in the prepared (still hot) potato salad dressing. Mix gently and cover entirely with plastic wrap. Thanks to this, the salad will steam nicely and allow the sliced potatoes to soak up all the goodness.

After about an hour of steaming, add the finely sliced cucumber and mix gently. Then cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least another hour (at room temperature).

When the potatoes have absorbed most of the liquid, mix well again. Mix the salad with your hands rather than a spoon so you don’t break and squash all the potatoes.


What to serve with German potato salad

This make ahead German potato salad goes well with many delicious dishes. It is typically served with schnitzels, for example, but is also suitable for bratwurst (which is a type of German sausage) or Vienna sausages.

It is also an excellent combination with various fish, arctic char to name one.

But I like to enjoy creamy German potato salad as a main course too. Without anything else. Just on its own.


If you really want the best potato salad without mayo, you need to try this recipe!

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German Kartoffelsalat

German Potato Salad

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Cook Homey
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 7 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This make ahead German potato salad without mayo, also known as Bavarian or Viennese potato salad, is a fantastic side dish for many tasty dishes. You can enjoy it with schnitzel, sausage, or even on its own.


Units Scale
  • 1.6 kg waxy potatoes (Red, new, or fingerling potatoes)
  • 1/2 cucumber (ca. 200 g)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons mustard (yellow or Dijon)
  • 80 ml of apple cider vinegar
  • 320 ml of vegetable broth
  • 130 ml of sunflower oil
  • 1/4 fresh nutmeg
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • A handful of fresh parsley


  1. First, cook the potatoes. Put them in a pot with the skin on, pour cold water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, then cut it in half and slice thinly. Transfer to a bowl and salt well to draw out the extra moisture.
  3. Now the dressing for potato salad. Heat some oil in a pan or pot and sauté a finely chopped onion. After two minutes, add the mustard, vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Season with salt and pepper and mix.
  4. Then pour in the broth and stir again. Add the oil while whisking constantly. Whisking is important to keep the oil from separating from the liquid on the surface.
  5. Use a fork to check whether the potatoes are cooked. Then peel and cut into small pieces or slices and place in a large bowl (you can use a mandoline). The potatoes must still be relatively hot.
  6. Pour the prepared dressing into a bowl with sliced potatoes, add freshly grated nutmeg and mix gently. Cover with plastic wrap and let the salad rest at room temperature.
  7. During the resting, the potato salad steams and the potatoes absorb all the liquid. Therefore, the potatoes and dressing must be mixed warm.
  8. After about an hour, squeeze out the water from the sliced cucumber, add it to the potato salad and mix gently. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rest for at least another hour.
  9. Finally, taste for seasoning. Potatoes often ask for more salt and pepper. Then just add fresh parsley and serve.


It is best to let the potato salad rest for at least 2 to 3 hours (or overnight).

As for the broth, you can also use a store-bought one or bouillon cube. But of course, homemade broth is better. Maybe you are going to make a German potato salad without mayonnaise on Saturday when you’re making fresh chicken stock anyway. If you want a vegan version, use vegetable broth. Otherwise, a nice chicken broth is a good choice, which brings a slightly more intense taste.

  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Lunch
  • Cuisine: German


  • Serving Size: 7 servings , Amount per serving:
  • Calories: 411
  • Sugar: 4.4g
  • Sodium: 178mg
  • Fat: 18.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.5g
  • Fiber: 7.4g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

4 Responses

  1. I made it on Saturday and it was absolutely delicious! The best potato salat I‘ve ever had.

  2. This is the first i have seen kartofel salat like i loved while living in Munich. I never learned to put mustard in it and was told beef broth made for a heartier salad. For all those people who think there must be bacon in a German potato salad and served hot…they need to try this!

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