Warm German Potato Salad -- A Fall Must!

Hannah Kohut Hannah Kohut
4 minute read

Labor Day weekend, to some, is the start of fall. That's definitely true in my book! So this recipe for a warm German potato salad spoke to me, especially since we had a nice preview of fall weather over the weekend.

I attended a party with more than 25 people there, so making a batch of these in the Crockpot was a no-brainer. Sadly, there were no leftovers for me to enjoy the next day. Lesson learned -- make a little extra and squirrel it away for myself before sharing with others! It's seriously that good.

The party was an early Oktoberfest theme, so of course, this Crockpot-easy side dish was a necessity. It went so well with all of the grilled sausages perfectly prepared by the party host, but I admittedly had about three servings of this in addition to the main dishes!

German Potato Salad -- What is It?

German potato salad is different from a traditional American potato salad in that it's vinegar-based instead of mayonnaise-based. It's also typically served warm, since it doesn't have the mayonnaise. It's tangy thanks to the vinegar with a great note of sweetness (this recipe uses white and brown sugar), which is balanced out with smoky, salty bacon and savory sauteed onions. 

Like its American counterpart, though, it is perfect for parties and making in big batches, especially in cooler weather.

Although this recipe is credited to German heritage, historians are on the fence as to where potato salad came from in the first place. NPR says potato salad came from the Spaniards in the 16th century and was originally mixed using vinegar and spices. 

The Germans ended up getting credit for one of the earliest written recipes for potato salad in America because of the use of vinegar and sugar -- a mix a sour and sweet that Germans were very well known for. Hence, the style became known as German potato salad. 

No matter who gets credit for it, it's delicious, comforting, filling, sweet, tangy, and salty (thanks to the bacon). We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Warm German Potato Salad

german potato salad


  • 3 lbs. red/yellow potato medley, sliced about 1/2 in. thick
  • 1/2 lb. bacon strips, chopped OR 1/2 cup packaged bacon pieces plus 2-3 Tbsp. canola oil (see note)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, sliced thin and halved
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste (add only at end)


  • Place sliced potatoes in a large stock pot with a generous pour of salt (about 2 Tbsp.) and bring to a boil until potatoes are just fork-tender. Drain and cool slightly.
  • In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon when done, but leave grease in pan.
  • Cook onions in bacon grease over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in flour until well blended, whisking constantly to prevent clumping.
  • Stir in sugars, continuing to whisk.
  • Slowly stir in vinegar and water, bringing to boil, then reduce heat to medium until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Pour sliced potatoes and dressing from skillet into a Crockpot, mixing in the chopped bacon.
  • Cook on low for 3-4 hours.


  • For ease, you can use 1/2 cup (or more to your liking) of packaged bacon pieces instead of frying fresh bacon. If you do this, add 2-3 Tbsp. of canola oil and sautee the bacon pieces over medium high heat for just a few minutes -- enough to add extra crisp and to infuse bacon flavor into the oil, which you will use to cook your onions and for your dressing base.
  • Don't over-boil your potatoes, since they will be simmering in the dressing liquid for 3-4 hours.
  • Remember to constantly whisk the flour after adding it. If you want to prevent clumping, you can add just enough water to the flour to make a thick slurry, then add to the skillet mixture. Add more if you want a thicker consistency. 
  • For more tang, you can add an extra splash of apple cider vinegar.
  • For extra flavor, sprinkle freshly minced dill as a garnish.

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