Restaurant-style Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat (Swabian Potato Salad)

German swabian potato salad recipe authentic Germany Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat Rezept

I love potato salad.  All kinds.  But my all-time favorite is Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat from the Southern Germany region of Swabia where I grew up (Stuttgart).  I’m also the ultimate critic when it comes to potato salads.  I’ve probably eaten this potato salad a couple of hundred different times throughout my life in Germany, made by various people and at various restaurants.  And I never once had a homemade version that came anywhere near to the ones I enjoyed the most at my favorite German restaurants.  With one exception:  My mom’s version.  She also makes the best mayonnaise-based potato salad of anyone, but her Swabian potato salad comes closer to the restaurant versions than any I’ve had before. And so I’ve taken my mom’s recipe and have tweaked it a bit in my attempt to achieve that German restaurant quality flavor and texture.  And by Günther, I’ve got it!

For any of you who live in Germany or have visited Germany, you know what I’m talking about.  The Swabian potato salad you find in good Southern German restaurants is so, so good.  And it’s rarely replicated properly by the home cook.  No matter what I ordered when I went to a restaurant, I would almost always order a salad for starters (Germans make the best Gemischter Salat – “mixed salads” with separate portions of various vegetables on the same plate) which included a portion of Swabian potato salad (at least the restaurants in Swabia anyway ;)  I remember as a kid that was the thing I looked most forward to when we went out as a family.  I remember times when I would only order a plate of Swabian potato salad and a separate serving of Spätzle (see recipe for homemade Spätzle here) with Rahmsoße (Swabian noodles with creamy gravy).  And I left one happy girl.

Well, it’s been about 10 years since I moved to the U.S. and rather than pine away for that potato salad I knew and loved in Southern German restaurants, I decided to crack the code so I could replicate myself for those times when the Swabian potato salad craving comes a-callin’.

This recipe also comes by way of request from Teri (Make a Request!), who wrote in:  “I was recently in Germany and spent all of my time in the Swabia Region. You are correct is saying the that food is wonderful there. Everywhere we visited we were served that fabulous German Potato Salad. No it wasn’t hot and no it did not have bacon in it. Each time we had it it tasted the same – just plain good. I have searched the internet for this salad and nothing I found matches the taste. If you have a recipe for that salad, I would love if you could share it.”

Does this problem sound familiar?

I’ve been wanting to publish this recipe to my blog for a while and she reminded me to do it, so thank you!

The ingredients in traditional Swabian potato salad and few and simple, but there are a few tricks that are absolute musts for getting it right – like the restaurants do.  Here they are:

1)  The right potatoes.  This is the biggest challenge here in the U.S.  In Germany you can find potatoes that you simply cannot find here.  Unlike Russet potatoes, for example, which are flaky, mealy, and generally flavorless, the kind used in potato salads in Germany are firm, deep yellow in color, buttery and flavorful.  And they keep their shape well.  The closest you can get to those here are Yukon Gold potatoes and those are the ones I recommend for this recipe.  Also, be sure to boil the potatoes in their skins – don’t peel them first.

2)  Beef broth.  There is no substitute, it must be beef broth.  And it must be very strong beef broth.  And it must be hot when you pour it over the potatoes so they soak it up.  Make sure you let the potatoes sit for at least a full hour after you pour the broth over.

3)  German mustard.  I know the recipe doesn’t call for much, but it must be German mustard (mild) if you want it to taste the way it’s supposed to.  The kind I use in most of my German recipes is the Alstertor Düsseldorf Style Mustard (click link for convenient access on Amazon).

4)  Vinegar.  No apple cider or balsamic vinegar.  It needs to be the strong white vinegar.  A vinegar very commonly used in Germany for this salad and salad dressings is called Essig Essenz (Amazon link, or can be found in some Asian grocery stores – Koreans like to use it for kimchi).  It’s super concentrated vinegar and you only need a very little of it.  If you have access to this vinegar, you would add just a teaspoon or two in addition to the white vinegar, and reduce the amount of white vinegar accordingly.  Of course you’ll always want to do a “taste test” before pouring the final mixture over the potato salad.

5)  Onions.  You want them crunchy but not overly so, and you want them saturated with flavor.  So add them to the beef broth/vinegar mixture when you heat it up.

6)  Oil.  Lots of it.  In olden days homemade beef broth would be used which contained plenty of fat.  Nowadays we mostly use store-bought broth in cans or beef bouillon cubes/granules which are all void of fat.  So adding oil is absolutely essential to achieving the right texture.  As my German mom says, Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat needs to be “schmalzig”.

7)  The longer the potato salad sits, the better it will taste.  I recommend making it the day before and letting it sit in the fridge until the next day.  Let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Follow these seven tips and you’ll be in Swabian Potato Salad heaven!

Let’s get started!

Select small Yukon Gold potatoes that are uniform in size.  Scrub the peels and boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender when pierced with a fork.  Do not overcook – you don’t want them mushy.   Let them cool down until you’re able to handle them and peel them while they’re still warm.

Swabian Potato Salad prep 1

Slice the potatoes in 1/4 inch slices.

Swabian Potato Salad prep 2

Put the potatoes in a large glass mixing bowl and set aside.  Don’t use metal or it will react with the vinegar.

Swabian Potato Salad prep 3

Add the beef broth, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and white pepper to a medium saucepan and stir to combine.

Swabian Potato Salad prep 4

Add the chopped onions to the broth mixture and quickly bring it to a boil.  As soon as it starts boiling remove it from the heat.

Swabian Potato Salad prep 5

Pour the onion/broth mixture over the potatoes, cover with plastic wrap or a large plate and let sit at room temperature for at least one hour.  Then pour the oil over the potatoes and carefully stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Swabian Potato Salad prep 6

Best served at room temperature the next day.  Enjoy!

Swabian Potato Salad 1 watermark Swabian Potato Salad

Restaurant-style Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat (Swabian Potato Salad)
 
Prep time
Total time
 
:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes of similar size, skins scrubbed and peels left on
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups water mixed with 4 teaspoons beef bouillon granules (Vegans: use vegetable bouillon)
  • ½ cup white vinegar (add a few dashes of Essig Essenz if you have it)
  • ¾ tablespoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mild German mustard (I recommend Düsseldorf Style German Mustard. If you can't get it, use regular yellow mustard)
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • Fresh chopped chives for garnish
Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes in their skins in lightly salted water until tender. Allow the potatoes to cool until you can handle them. Peel the potatoes and slice them into ¼ inch slices. Put the sliced potatoes in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Add onions, beef broth, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and mustard in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from heat and pour the mixture over the potatoes. Cover the bowl of potatoes and let sit for at least one hour.
  3. After at least one hour, gently stir in the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. If too much liquid remains, use a slotted spoon to serve. Serve garnished with fresh chopped chives. Serve at room temperature. Note: This potato salad is best the next day (remove from fridge at least 30 minutes before serving).
Notes
Read the "7 Tips" in this blog post to ensure success!

23 Responses

  1. Grossvater

    wrote on

    Made this Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat yesterday to have with dinner. I strongly disagree that it should be served at room temperature; it was better when my wife and I tasted still warm before it had cooled yesterday and even better today when I very much enjoyed it, heated with the nuke, for my lunch. I very much recommend you at least try it warm (not hot)

    Served at room temperature, I would never make it a second time, but will make it again to be enjoyed warm

    I’m of German descent and I do not care how it is served and done there. BYOC, cook what tastes best to you.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Grossvater, I couldn’t agree more with your last statement, “Cook what tastes best to you.” If you prefer it nuked, by all means nuke it! I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe. And definitely, this potato salad gets better the longer it sits. I always enjoy it best the next day.

  2. Maggie

    wrote on

    Thank you for this great recipe. I especially appreciate all your recommendations as to what type of potatoes etc to use and will try to buy Essig Essenz. I have a German husband and make a potato salad using mayonnaise which is good but I have enjoyed this type of salad in Germany and find it refreshing in hot weather. I have made my own version of it but it never seemed quite right. Many thanks :)

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      You’re very welcome, Maggie, and I’m excited that you’ll be giving this a try! Remember for the Essig Essenz to only use a little bit – it’s potent! Start with a teaspoon and taste the mixture before adding more. I love the flavor that Essig Essenz adds to dressings and the dishes it’s added to. It’s quite different from any other vinegar. But it’s easy to “over-do” it since it’s so strong :) If you can’t get hold of it, no worries – I actually ran out of it for this last batch and made it without, it was still marvelous! Best, Kimberly

  3. Win

    wrote on

    I made mine mit speck! Hear that’s not very authentic over in Germany but I had some left over in the fridge that I needed to get rid of. Do you just use regular white distilled vinegar along with the Essig Essenz? I only had white balsamic vinegar in my pantry but I may make it again with regular white vinegar to see if there’s a difference. Don’t remember seeing Essig Essenz at my local supermarket though :(

    Do you have a recipe for cucumber salad? Thanks!!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Bacon?? How dare you, Win! ;) You’re correct, bacon isn’t used in Swabian potato salad but it IS used in Bavarian potato salad, which is served warm – and I’ll be posting my recipe for that soon as well. I have a small obsession with bacon, so anything that gives me an excuse to use it is always welcome in my kitchen :)

      For traditional Swabian potato salad use regular white vinegar, not balsamic or wine. But in the end what matters most is that you like it. Cucumber salad – I don’t have a recipe posted yet but will be posting a few different cucumber salad recipes soon. Stay tuned!

  4. Glenda

    wrote on

    I was reading your comment about oil. I make my own beef broth, so I probably would not need full amount of oil, any idea how much I should use?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Glenda, you’ll still need the additional oil because your beef broth likely has far less lard in it than the “old-fashioned” stuff. Plus, I believe the cooks of old added extra lard to the salad. I would probably still use pretty much the full amount, but you can experiment by cutting back by a little and then adjust accordingly.

      • Glenda

        wrote on

        Thank you and for gettting back to me so soon.

  5. Daniel

    wrote on

    Thank you, for posting this recipe. My dad was stationed all around Germany, and I was able to enjoy so much good food, including this potato salad, usually with schnitzel and purple cabbage. I have been searching for an authentic recipe, and now I have found it.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Wonderful, Daniel! And thank you for reminding me about the Rotkohl (purple cabbage). I have a recipe that I’ve been meaning to post forever and keep forgetting.

  6. Brenna

    wrote on

    So excited to find this recipe!! I spent a few weeks in Stuggart and ate this type of potato salad with Schnitzel almost every day. I have looked everywhere to find a recipe. I can’t wait to make it!!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Yay, Brenna, I’m happy you found it, too! Hopefully this brings back some great memories for you!

      Also, I don’t know if you already saw it, but here’s my recipe for Traditional German Schweineschnitzel. Happy cooking!

  7. Kate

    wrote on

    I have been looking for an original way to make potato salad like my Mom used to make, and this is it. Thank you, Thank you.. Now I am waiting for the Gurken Salat and I think it had cream plus dill if I am not mistaken. Can’t wait.
    Thank you so much for your blog

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Wonderful, I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Kate! Yes, that’s the way to make the cucumber salad – cream, dill, salt and a small pinch of sugar. Then there’s the vinegar-based Gurkensalat, too with vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, dill, onion, sugar. I have SO many recipes I still need to post. I’ll get there, I’ll get there :)

  8. Anonymous

    wrote on

    my potatoes are cooking and we will have it for the 4th of July celebration tomorrow.
    Happy Independence day to everyone who is celebrating

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Enjoy the potato salad! Thank you and Happy Independence Day to you as well!

  9. BB

    wrote on

    I was looking for a recipe like this and after finding this one, it only then occurred to me that I should browse Google.de for recipes. This recipe is very similar to the instructions for the ones I found. Although some don’t use onions. I can’t remember if the kind I had all the time had onions. I’m going to be making this for a potluck. Hopefully they’ll like it, whether or not it tastes “exactly” like the kind I had in Germany.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi BB! Traditional Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat is always made with onions. Happy potato salad making! You’ll love it!

  10. wrote on

    […] those lovely little things that can make a meal a feast. Especially all sorts of salad. From the potatoe salad how it is made where I come from with a vinegrette of bouillon, vinegar, mustard, onions and pepper […]

  11. Tammi

    wrote on

    This was great Kimberly! I finally got my Essig Essenz so I added a tablespoon of that to the white vinegar (you’re right, I don’t think Harry will be drinking that!), but next time I might add more. How much do you use?

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Fantastic, Tammi! You know, I don’t usually measure it. I just keep adding it until it “tastes right.” Same thing when I make German cucumber salad or Wurstsalat. Just add some, taste it, and add more as you like.

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