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?
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!Print