German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad

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I’m used to the mayonnaisey potato salad. The kind that sticks to a big spoon—splat it down on a picnic plate and it stays in one lump. The way my mom makes it, with celery, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, black olives. Like a summer stuffing. This is the potato salad of barbecues and potlucks, marking an occasion where a normal day might’ve been. A thrill goes through me when I see it in the fridge, wearing a foil cover like a party dress.

The way I make it myself is a variation on a theme: I keep the pickles and the eggs, I lose the celery and onions. My potatoes are yams, and I add enough peas so you know it’s not about them anyway. And always, everything finished with a glob mayonnaise, turned yellow with mustard as I fold it all in. It’s the younger, cooler version of its predecessor, the kind that might appear at “friendsgiving”, or alongside a salmon.

This German potato salad is unlike any of that. For one thing, I suspect it’s really a full meal—it’s meat and potatoes, after all. The bacon adds a richness that only bacon can, but the celery seed’s secret greenness (you can taste it, but can’t see it) ensures that the salad won’t be weighed down. It binds together with such sweetness and acidity, I don’t even miss the mayo.

The day after I make it, I dump a green salad on the leftovers and stir, everything coming together the way picnic food eventually mixes on the plate. It’s a perfect summer lunch. If only it weren’t a rainy March day.

The following is the recipe I used, as found here.


  • 3 pounds medium red potatoes

  • 5 bacon strips, diced

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1-1/4 cups sugar

  • 1 cup cider vinegar

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


  • Place potatoes in a Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.

  • In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels. Drain, reserving 4 tablespoons drippings. In the drippings, saute onion until tender. 

  • Stir in the flour, salt, celery seed and pepper until blended. Gradually add the sugar, vinegar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. 

  • Cut potatoes into 1/4-in. slices. Add potatoes and bacon to the skillet; cook and stir gently over low heat until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm. 



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