German potato salad or “Kartoffelsalat” is a popular side dish made from boiled potatoes and other ingredients such as onion, garlic, celery, herbs,… etc. It is widely believed to have originated in Germany, spreading largely throughout Europe and later to European colonies and the U.S. There is no one correct way to make potato salad and you can try our recipe for a traditional basic German potato salad, or you can be more inventive and add other ingredients to create your own recipe.
Origin and History
The German word for potato is Kartoffel and Potato salad is known as “Kartofelsalat”.
During the 16th century, Spanish explorers discovered the potato in South America and brought the vegetable back to their homeland; from there the potato was introduced to Europe by farmers and merchants. This led for the first potatoes to only be fed to pigs. Germany would first plant potatoes in the 1500s by peasants as they were cheap to grow and eat. So the potato was only for the poor, prisoners, and livestock.
During the 1700s Germany experienced many cool wet summers and the wheat crops were failing. The potato became a hero of sorts as King Frederick the Great gave an order in 1754 for all farmers to grow potatoes.
German potato salad or “Kartoffelsalat” varies from region to region. It is generally served warm and incorporates vinaigrette in Southern Germany while potato salad made from northern Germany would commonly include mayonnaise and be quite similar to the potato salad in the U.S. Generally, German Potato Salad refers to this Southern-style dish.
Tips and notes
Here are some tips to prepare the perfect German potato salad :
- Use waxy rather than floury potatoes, such as Yukon gold, red bliss, and fingerlings. They keep their shape when cooked. You can also use russet potatoes, although they don’t hold their shape well when boiled and tend to get mushy.
- You can use potatoes with or without skins, depending on your preference. But, be sure scrub them before you boil them.
- Be sure to cut the potatoes into equally sized pieces to ensure even cooking. And usually, the potatoes in German Potato Salad are sliced, rather than cubed.
- Start cooking the potatoes in cold water before bringing them to a boil. Otherwise, the outsides will cook immediately and the insides may take longer, resulting in some hard and soft pieces.
- Salt the water after adding the potatoes to ensure that they are flavored from the inside out.
- Don’t overcook the potatoes. Take them off the heat while they’re still slightly firm. Drain and let cool before assembling the salad.
- In a Southern German Potato Salad, the dressing is made from bacon drippings and vinegar. In an American Potato Salad, the dressing is largely mayonnaise-based.
- The original recipe uses bacon but since we don’t eat pork, we’ve replaced it with Gueddid (a kind of mutton jerky) but feel free to use instead.
- Be very gentle when stirring the potatoes into the dressing or you’ll end up with mashed potatoes.
- You can definitely add various other ingredients: sliced radish, diced apples, diced raw onion, diced raw garlic, olives, pickles, jalapeno, herbs (parsley, coriander, basil, …), corn, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, diced red pepper, diced cucumber, cherries tomatoes, cheese as feta, …
Depending on your preference, German Potato Salad can be served either warm or cold. It’s generally served as a dish, snacks or side dish.
It goes well with all kinds of sausages, fish, and Schnitzel (a thin pounded slice of meat fried in fat).
- Russian salat Olivye;
- Polish Szałot;
- Arabian Sweet potato salad;
- Italian Octopus and Potato Salad;
- Russian Herring Potato Salad;
- Greek Potato and Spinach Salad;
- Spanish Ensaladilla Rusa;
German Potato Salad
- 1 kg potatoes
- 1 red onion, small
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 4 Gueddid slices, or bacon, jerky, …
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp celery seeds
- 3 tbsp parsley
- In a large pot of water, add in diced potatoes and ½ tsp of salt, then bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Drain potatoes, place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Place the Gueddid in a large deep pan over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside, leaving grease in pan
- Dice the red onion and garlic cloves.
- Add oilve oil to the greased pan.
- Add diced red onion and garlic cloves and cook 5 minutes until they are soft.
- Add salt black pepper, celery seeds, sugar and mustard.
- Whisk in vinegar and chicken broth and cook until heated through 1 to 2 minutes.
- Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and Gueddid. Heat through, then turn off the heat and add parsley.
- Transfer to a serving dish and crumble some Gueddid and parsley on top.
Sources : 1. Wikipedia - Potato Salad : www.wikipedia.org. 2. Germany Insider Facts - Traditional German Potato Salad : www.germany-insider-facts.com. 3. Guampedia - Potato Salad : www.guampedia.com.