Authentic German Potato Salad
You will love this delicious and authentic German potato salad because it is very easy to make and only has a few ingredients.
Whether you had it in Germany or elsewhere, everyone loves a good authentic German potato salad. This recipe has been a family favorite for us because it is so easy to make and still so delicious. It also comes together very quickly once you boil the potatoes.
If you have been following me, you might know that I love easy and no-fuzz recipes. I believe that simple recipes can be very delicious and that you don’t need complicated preparations to make good meals.
I learned this recipe when I was taking a cooking class in elementary school growing up in Germany. Actually, I learned the dressing and it was a pasta salad. But interestingly enough, the dressing works just as well or even better in this German potato salad.
Also, I know that warm potato salad is a “thing” here in the US. But I must tell you that I never had a warm potato salad in Germany. The only time that might have happened was when someone didn’t have time to let it cool down. Other than that, every potato salad I had there was always cold.
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Why the ingredients matter
Whenever you make recipes with only a few ingredients, the individual ingredients tend to stand out more. Therefore, I find it very important to use the highest quality ingredients you can afford.
Since potatoes belong to the “dirty dozen”, I always recommend purchasing organic potatoes if you can find and afford them. Conventional potatoes are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, making organic potatoes the better choice.
Since potatoes are the main ingredient in this recipe, I find it worth talking about my preferred type of potato.
In my opinion, somewhat waxy potatoes such ad Yukon Gold or Golden potatoes work best in these salads. Contrary to russet potatoes, they tend to hold up better during cooking and in the actual salad.
Also, I personally like medium-sized potatoes. For one, they cook faster and produce nicer-sized slices than really big ones – or really small ones.
Boiling the potatoes
A separate section on how to boil potatoes? Yes. Of course, you can put potatoes in a pot, add water, and boil them until they’re done.
However, first of all, I recommend only adding so much water that the potatoes are just about covered. I like to bring them to a boil and then turn the heat so low that the potatoes are barely boiling. You could call it a soft boil. Or “silent” boil, as Germans call it (“leise köcheln”).
With this method, you gently boil the potatoes which makes them a lot less prone to cracking open. That leads to mushy potatoes.
You can insert a knife into a potato to check for doneness. For potato salads, I prefer my potatoes to be ever so slightly undercooked. That way they hold up better in the salad.
To peel or not to peel the potatoes
I always peel the potatoes for this salad. But you can perfectly skip this step and choose to not peel the potatoes which makes the potato salad a bit more rustic.
If you choose to peel the potatoes, I recommend doing that while they’re still very warm. The peel will come off easier than when they are completely cooled down.
You can use a fork to hold the hot potato or this German potato pick and a simple vegetable knife (my favorite ones are carbon knives).
Other than the approximately 2 pounds of potatoes, you will need two more ingredients:
- mayonnaise: again, I recommend you use the highest quality mayonnaise you can afford. I like using my homemade avocado mayonnaise. You will need about 3-5 tablespoons
- gherkins/cornichons/pickles: whatever you call them, you will need a jar of the little pickled cucumbers. Not the big dill pickles but the small ones. You won’t need the whole jar but depending on their size (and your taste preference) you will need about 8 of them, plus about ¼ cup of the pickle juice. The pickle juice will add nice seasoning to the dressing while making it a bit lighter than an all mayonnaise dressing
- optional: to freshen up the taste and/or to make the dressing even lighter, you could add 1-2 tablespoons of sour cream or yogurt, as well.
How to make this German potato salad
As described above, gently boil the potatoes until they are almost completely done (ever so slightly undercooked). Drain the water and let the potatoes cool off a bit.
Cut the gherkins into small pieces. If you like their taste you can cut them into bigger pieces. If you don’t want them to stand out as much, you can very finely dice them. Add them to a medium bowl (I like these stainless steel bowls since they have lids, too).
Add 3-5 tablespoons of mayonnaise to the diced gherkins. Pour about ¼ cup of pickle juice into the bowl. Stir everything until well combined.
While still warm, peel the potatoes, cut them into slices about ¼ inch thick, and add them to the bowl.
Mix everything until the potatoes are evenly coated by the dressing. Note: I like to use a wooden spoon for this rather than a metal spoon since the latter tends to cut more through the potatoes than its wooden counterpart. If the potato salad looks too dry you can add more pickle juice. You can also add more mayonnaise if you like. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can enjoy this potato salad right away (while it’s still warm). I prefer to cover the bowl and let the potato salad cool in the refrigerator. Also, I find that it tastes better the longer it sits.
How to serve German potato salad
You can serve this German potato salad alongside your favorite mains. It is the perfect pairing for Wiener or Frankfurter sausages or German schnitzels. It would also be perfect as a side for your summer barbecues.
Other recipes you might enjoy
How to make Sauerkraut
Authentic German pretzels
European-style whole-grain bread
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German carbon knives
Stainless steel bowls
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Authentic German Potato Salad
- 2 pounds potatoes Yukon Gold or Golden potatoes
- 3-5 TBSP mayonnaise
- 8 whole, small gherkins/pickled cucumber
- 1/4 cup pickle juice
- salt & pepper to taste
- Gently boil the potatoes until they are almost completely done (ever so slightly undercooked). Drain the water and let the potatoes cool off a bit.
- Cut the gherkins into small pieces. If you like their taste you can cut them into bigger pieces. If you don’t want them to stand out as much, you can very finely dice them. Add them to a medium bowl
- Add 3-5 tablespoons of mayonnaise to the diced gherkins.
- Pour about ¼ cup of pickle juice into the bowl. Stir everything until well combined.
- While still warm, peel the potatoes, cut them into slices about ¼ inch thick, and add them to the bowl.
- Mix everything until the potatoes are evenly coated by the dressing.
- Adjust the dressing by potentially adding more mayonnaise and/or pickle juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Enjoy immediately or let the potato salad cool in the refrigerator. It will taste better if you let it sit for a few hours.