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German-Style Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions

German-Style Potato Salad with vinegar, bacon, caramelized onions, and chives – the perfect flavor-packed side dish for your picnics and barbecues.

German-Style Potato Salad with bacon, caramelized onions, and chives | #sidedish #recipe #picnic #bbq #summer #4thofjuly

One thing I’ve been bonkers about lately is – wait for it, wait for it – POTATOES.

Potatoes in the morning, potatoes in the evening, potatoes at supper time. I just can’t help it.

And how do you like your potato salad?

Classic with mayonnaise and eggs?

Chock full of bacon and cheddar?

Me? I love potato salad with a vinegar-based dressing instead of a mayo-based dressing.

No-mayo potato salad is where my heart belongs!

What makes German-style potato salad different from American-style potato salad?

Rather than using mayo and hard boiled egg to tie everything together, we use vinegar and bacon fat.

It is distractingly good.

My potato philosophy stems from early childhood – way I see it, if we’re going to make something as sinfully delish at potato salad, let’s let bacon do the fattifying, rather than mayo.

Just a personal preference.

German-Style Potato Salad with bacon, caramelized onions, and chives | #sidedish #recipe #picnic #bbq #summer #4thofjuly

German-Style Potato Salad with bacon, caramelized onions, and chives | #sidedish #recipe #picnic #bbq #summer #4thofjuly

Going into this recipe, I hemmed and hawed over how to make this potato salad different from my first go at German-Style Sweet Potato Salad.

I phoned a friend, lost some shut-eye, chased my tail in a few circles, and then it hit me like a ton of freaking bricks: caramelized onions. And chives. Genius of the universe right here.

We all agree that bacon and caramelized onions are two peas in a pod.

Conway and Twitty, coffee and cream, cheese and macaroni…you get me.

So we slam them together in a potato salad and the most insane of craniums happens:






This potato salad can be served WARM OR COLD.

I prefer it warm if you can believe it.  You can picnic it, or hot dinner dish it…whatever floats your catamaran.

Also check out my Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Spinach and Grapes!

Here’s how we make it!

German-Style Potato Salad with bacon, caramelized onions, and chives | #sidedish #recipe #picnic #bbq #summer #4thofjuly

German-Style Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions and Chives

Amazingly flavorful potato salad is made even better with caramelized onions and bacon. Serve it at all your gatherings!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
6 Servings


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced*
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, boiled and chopped
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped


Caramelize the Onion:

  • Add the olive oil to a large non-stick skillet, along with the sliced onions and about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Heat over medium-high and saute, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to sweat and begin turning translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and continue sauteeing, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onions are deeply browned and caramelized, about 25 to 30 minutes more. Note: If onions begin to stick to the pan at any point, you can de-glaze with a few tablespoons of water (or beer or wine).

Prepare the Potato Salad:

  • Boil the potatoes until tender but still al dente, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and place potatoes on a cutting board to cool. When cool enough to handle, chop the potatoes into bite sizes (Note: You can easily remove the potato skins if you'd like, or you can leave them on) and transfer them to a mixing (or serving) bowl. Add the caramelized onions to the mixing bowl with the potatoes.
  • Cook the bacon over medium-high heat, turning until crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, and use tongs to place bacon on a cutting board, leaving the drippings in the skillet. Chop the bacon and add it to the bowl with the potatoes.
  • Leaving the skillet off the heat, add the garlic and allow it to cook for 1 to 2 minutes in the hot drippings. Add the cider vinegar and stone ground mustard and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture over the potatoes, bacon, and caramelized onions. Sprinkle in the salt and toss everything well to combine. Note: The dressing will pool up a bit at the bottom of the bowl, so continue stirring until the potatoes soak up all of the liquid. Add the chopped chives and stir well. Taste the potato salad for flavor. Add sea salt to taste.
  • Serve alongside your favorite entree.


*Yellow onion works too!


Serving: 1of 6 - Calories: 210kcal - Carbohydrates: 25g - Protein: 6g - Fat: 11g - Fiber: 3g - Sugar: 4g
Course: Side Dishes & Snacks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: german potato salad, german-style potato salad
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 210kcal
Author: Julia
Recipe Rating

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Jeffrey harmycz

Sunday 29th of May 2022

This is just how my Austrian mum used to make her potato salad .I've tried to make it without a recipe but to no avail so thank you thank you so much for the recipe


Sunday 29th of May 2022

I'm so happy to hear it, Jeffrey! It's been a classic in my family for years! Enjoy! xoxoxo :D


Thursday 13th of August 2020

I enjoy this recipe but the fact that I cannot exit the video in the corner of my screen while trying to read the recipe is pretty annoying.


Monday 4th of July 2016

Do you serve warm or cold?? I've never had german potato salad.. And if you serve warm do you have to warm it up from the refrigerator to table? It sounds great.. I can't wait to try! :-)


Monday 4th of July 2016

Hi Jeannette,

You can serve the potato salad warm or cold...totally a matter of preference - I like it warm, and my bf likes it cold :) I typically heat it in a pot on a stovetop or in the microwave before eating it. Hope you enjoy!


Thursday 30th of June 2016

Sounds like you had a fun weekend! :) I love German potato salad because I'm not down with mayo and I LOVE vinegar! With bacon fat too, there's no going wrong here. This is the potato salad of all potato salads!

Becky Winkler (A Calculated Whisk)

Wednesday 29th of June 2016

Yes to all the potatoes! I love a good mayo-free potato salad, and bet the caramelized onions take this one over the top.

BTW I drank dirty bananas in Jamaica and they were THE BEST. I'll have to make one now that you've reminded me!

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