German Potato Salad – Kartoffelsalat

August 29, 2012 § 6 Comments

I grew up eating the the most wonderful food. Everything was homemade. We had Sauerbraten on Sunday nights and there was always a special cake that would take my mother hours to make. (At least it seemed like hours at the time).

We were spoiled when it came to food. My family was served meals better than in the finest restaurants at the time. But being kids, we just wanted to eat what everybody else did. We were always complaining that we wanted a “regular” cake, like our friends ate. You know, the kind that comes out of a box!

My mother is 94 years old now but unfortunately unable to cook and bake anymore. She learned to cook from her mother and grandmother of course, and would make delicious meals with just a few simple ingredients. We would go to a restaurant and she would taste a dish and know exactly what was in it, then recreate it at home.

She never measured anything. She just knew the basics. She would try to teach us, my sister and I, but it didn’t really sink in at the time. It’s not something you can teach really. I think it comes from just doing. Cooking. Baking. A lot.

This potato salad was something she would make just because she had a few cooked potatoes left over from dinner the previous night. And you know the Germans, nothing must ever go to waste.

I too believe that with a few ingredients always on hand in your kitchen, you can make a delicious meal out of any leftovers. I find myself doing this all the time. It’s in my genes.


Since I learned this from my mother, no measurements were ever given. I will try to approximate them for you.

4 to 5 small to medium potatoes ( I like Yukon Gold) about 1 lb

red onion about 1 to 2 TBL minced

about 3 TBL olive oil

about 3TBL vinegar, red or white wine is best

1 hard boiled egg

1 TBL minced gherkins or other sour pickle (not sweet)

a little bit of the pickle juice, optional


parsley. optional

salt and pepper

So the first step is to boil the potatoes in salted water. Don’t peel them. When tender, drain and let cool slightly. Now you peel. You want to peel them while they’re still quite warm so they will absorb the dressing.

Slice them into thin pieces, put in a bowl.  Slice the hard boiled egg into little pieces. (I just hold it in one hand and with a knife in the other hand, nick little pieces off and into the bowl). Add the oil, vinegar, onion, and minced gherkin. Keep tasting this as you go along. Gently toss.

Add salt and pepper to your taste. If you want, add a little pickle juice. Toss again. Sprinkle with paprika or minced parsley. The warm potatoes will really absorb the oil so you may need to add extra oil and vinegar.

This is best if you let it sit awhile before you eat it.



Here’s a picture of my mother and me in Austria.


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