Potato Salad: Bridging German, American Traditions

There’s nothing like gathering with friends for a barbecue to celebrate another wonderful summer. One of Americans’ favorite side dishes, potato salad is usually served around this time of year, when dill is in season in the States—but it's most popular at Christmastime in Germany. No matter when it’s made, or eaten, it’s always good when served up alongside grilled hot dogs, sausages, or bratwurst.

Kartoffelsalat Bavarian potato salad

Though creamy potato salad is traditionally more American (and favored in Northern Germany), the savory variety with vinegar, oil, herbs and bacon bits is more authentic to Bavaria. Kartoffelsalat—prepared with vinegar, oil, and bacon bits—is a South German specialty. Top-rated Program Director Michaela Mark, whose family is from Munich, submitted this recipe, and you may try a similar variation on our Great Rivers of Europe River Cruise, which sails through Southern Germany.


Small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
½ pound bacon, frozen
5 lbs. potatoes (Yukon gold work best)
1 Tbsp. dill
¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped
¼ c. chicken stock
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
¾ c. red wine vinegar
¼ c. Japanese rice vinegar
1 c. vegetable oil

  1. Slice bacon while still frozen, and cook according to package instructions until crispy. Drain and reserve two tablespoons of bacon fat. Set it aside.
  2. Finely dice the onion, parsley, and fresh dill.
  3. Boil the potatoes (about 20-30 minutes), drain, and allow to cool. Then, to remove the skins, hold in a tea towel in one hand, and rub the peel away. In a big bowl, cut potatoes in half, then into 1/4-inch slices. While potato slices are still warm, add red-wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, so the flavors absorb.
  4. Add the bacon, onion, dill, and measured salt and pepper, then add reserved bacon fat and chicken stock. Add rice vinegar, if you prefer, then gently stir with a large spatula, so the potatoes don’t break up too much.
  5. Add about 3/4 cup of the vegetable oil, and gently combine. Add more oil, only if necessary. Sprinkle with the white sugar, the taste the salad. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. The salad should have a gentle sheen to it, but not be overly oily. Add the fresh parsley last, and serve at room temperature (about an hour after making).

Serves: 6-10