Mom’s Hot “German” Potato Salad

October 6, 2010 · 28 comments

filed in: Salads,Side Dishes,Vegetables

Mom's Hot

Let me make a confession. I’m not very good at following recipes. On the rare occasion when I actually have a recipe in front of me while cooking, I feel compelled to tinker with it by adding a pinch of this or a splash of that. Or I transform it in more radical ways, by, say, changing most of the main ingredients. For better or worse, any recipe I try to follow is usually the faintest speck in my rearview mirror, never to be seen again, by the time I get done with it.

That said, there are two recipes I follow to the letter each and every time: Joy of Cooking‘s much-loved Brownies Cockaigne and my mother’s hot “German” potato salad, both of which seem to me perfect in their own ways. Mom’s potato salad recipe, which follows, is a delicious concoction of red-skinned potatoes, bacon, onions, celery, and celery greens in a tangy, sweet and sour vinegar dressing. Served hot or warm, this budget-minded, rich, and not at all heart-heathy dish makes a scrumptious addition to an otherwise light dinner.


2 pounds red potatoes, boiled in their skins until tender and drained
4 slices (3-4 ounces) of bacon
1 cup peeled and chopped onions
2/3 cup chopped mixed celery and celery greens
A pinch of celery seed, if available
1/2 teaspoon salt
A generous grinding of black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached flour
5 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup water


  1. Cut the cooked potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices and set aside. I prefer to leave their peels on.
  2. In a large sauté pan or casserole, cook the bacon until just browned and transfer it to a paper towel to drain, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan. When it is sufficiently cool to handle cut the bacon into 1/2-inch dice and set it aside.
  3. In the same pan used to cook the bacon, sauté the chopped onions in the remaining bacon drippings for two minutes and then add the chopped celery and celery greens. Sauté for approximately three more minutes or until the onions are golden. Add the celery seed (if used), salt, pepper, sugar, and unbleached flour to the pan and stir well for another minute. Gradually stir in the vinegar and water and simmer for an additional couple of minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Very gently stir in the sliced potatoes and cooked bacon. Cook for a couple of minutes more until the potatoes are heated through and have absorbed most of the dressing. Cover and set aside for five minutes before serving. Serves 6.

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John Sinclair July 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Well done. Of a dozen or so German Hot Potato recipes online this one was closest to what my momma used to make. Like you, there are a few recipes that have enslaved me. This is one. (I lost my mother’s parting gift — her recipes.) The other “must have” was Mom’s Wacky Cake. Fortunately, Wacky Cake is all over the internet these days, the masses having been turned on to it since the 1950s, I suppose. But I ask a serious question about sixteen-slices-to-the-pound bacon. I haven’t seen such since supermarkets fired their butchers and installed “meat-cutters”. You know, back when we stepped up to a glass and white enamel counter to verbally order meat.


Barbara July 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Thanks so much, John, and I share your pain about lost family recipes. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t take detailed notes 30+ years ago on my grandmother’s famous stovetop biscuits, among others.

Your interesting comment about bacon slices/pound made me check what I currently have on hand in the freezer. Although commercial bacon varies a great deal by region and country, the U.S. Publix and Smithfield brands I have on hand now are 17 and 16 slices/pound, respectively.


Madonna Dahl March 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Awesome.. I made this salad for my German friend .. He said it’s the best he ever had.I added a little spike and Tabasco, Yum


Lauren July 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm

The recipe looks great. The only thing I would change is the use of Smithfield farms bacon. This company is an atrocity to human health, animals, and the environment.


Barbara July 5, 2011 at 5:38 am

Thanks for the information, Lauren.


Judy October 25, 2010 at 8:53 pm

very nice! I love all things German and all things potato, especially things like that you can eat as a whole or as a side. yum. definitely one I’ll be thinking about tonight!


Suzanne October 19, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I have to say, I just finished making this for dinner tonight and . . . . WOW!!! I wish Dale would hurry up and get home so we can eat! This is, by far, the best German Potato Salad I have ever tasted. Quick, easy and oh so delicious! Thank you for a recipe that will be made over and over and over again. Perfect, my friend. Just perfect.


Barbara October 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm

What a sweetheart you are, Suzanne, for let me know that it worked out for you. And I’ll pass along your compliment to Mom, which will please her no end too!


marla {family fresh cooking} October 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Yes, we are both on the same page with the potatoes and bacon. This potato salad looks so fresh & yummy. Great for any time of year too! xo


Megan October 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Potatoes? Bacon? My kind of salad, and I’m not even German!


Heather Davis October 11, 2010 at 11:10 am

This looks perfect for an autumn’s day. Love potato salad and hot versions are great because you don’t have to have all that mayo. Thanks for sharing this recipe Barbara!


Barbara October 14, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Thanks Heather. I can tell that although you are originally American, you most definitely didn’t grow up in the South, where mayonnaise is one of the five food groups!


Faith October 10, 2010 at 11:40 am

I must make this to my hubby. He loves potato salads ( his favorite is the Russian version). I ‘ve never had a German one before ( and I don’t think he did either). Thanks for sharing this! Faith.


Alina October 9, 2010 at 11:11 am

While I’m not a fan of cold potatoes in a salad, your hot potato salad sounds and looks delicious!.. Those red potatoes look so perfectly tender inside, and I love the onion/celery sauce!


Amanda October 9, 2010 at 8:57 am

OMG Barbara, that looks divine. I grew up with cold potato salad only, so warm potato salad was something I never thought I would like. I tried it a couple of years ago and it’s delicious, bookmarking this to try later!


Mags October 7, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Reminds me of home. German heritage here and my mother made a similar recipe all the time. Thanks for the memories.


A Canadian Foodie October 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm

More than the delicious recipe – and it does look wonderful (why is it a German recipe?) I want to know how you take you pics with a white background with the handle of the pot not faded, etc…


Barbara October 8, 2010 at 7:16 am

Thanks Valerie. I never know what I’m doing when it comes to photography. I almost always over-expose my shots and then lighten them a bit more in photo-editing. I like the stark look, but an expert would scoff, I’m sure.


Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog October 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Here are lot of “Germans”, really enjoy these potato salads ..important it is easy to make it. Cheers, Gera


Suzanne October 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

How did you know I was JUST looking for a great warm German Potato Salad YESTERDAY!?! This one is exactly what I was looking for with the celery leaves and tangy vinaigrette! I know all too well about not using a recipe and never having exactly the same thing twice. But the “rearview mirror” analogy is THE BEST! Thanks for my new-old tried-and-true German Potato Salad recipe that I will follow to the letter as well! Excellent!


Angie October 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm

This looks so good, I’ve never had a hot potato salad before, we’ll have to give it a try.


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme October 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

Close enough for me!


Arnold October 6, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I do think that I must have had German or Irish ancestors because when it comes to potatoes I am always first in the queue. This dish looks marvelous and it does not appear to be difficult to make at all. This is one for my bookmarks. Thanks.


Barbara October 7, 2010 at 7:03 am

Thanks Arnold. For this recipe, you’ll want to use what you call “streaky” bacon in RSA.


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme October 6, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Although we usually have a mayo-based potato salad, I do occasionally enjoy a change with German Potato Salad. I’ve never had a really good recipe for it, but now I do! And this will be a great side dish to take to our neighborhood Oktoberfest this Saturday evening. Thanks, Barbara!


Barbara October 7, 2010 at 7:07 am

Many thanks, Lana. As far as I can make out, this salad is actually German-American rather than German; thus my quote marks. Close enough?


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