Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad) Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Storing potatoes in the refrigerator allows enzymes to convert starches to sugars, giving the potatoes a hint of sweetness and a creamier texture.
  • Peeling and slicing the potatoes before cooking helps them cook more evenly, while boiling them along with their skins adds back some of the skins' earthy flavor.
  • Adding vinegar to the potatoes immediately after cooking allows the vinegar to penetrate more deeply.
  • Chicken broth adds savory depth to the dressing.

Imagine if someone described their favorite movie to you like this: There's, like, this nerdy farm kid who enjoys shooting animals on the weekend, and he unwittingly gets involved in some major political conflicts that he barely understands, makes out with his sister, and then uses a combination of magic and a poorly designed HVAC system to commit genocide against thousands of construction workers, technicians, and support staff, most of whom probably have families. (Oh, and spoiler alert, Darth Vader is really his father.)

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And now, imagine that it's your job to go make that movie. You may well end up with a great movie of your own, but chances are, it's not gonna be too much like the original Star Wars.

That's what it's like when you're tasked with coming up with a recipe for a dish you've never tasted, from a country you've visited only once, when you were a young teenager.

We're all familiar with American and German potato salads, but less so with their Austrian counterpart, a lighter, brighter version of the dish that's simultaneously more refreshing (there's no mayonnaise in it, and relatively little fat overall) and deeper in flavor, thanks to the incorporation of chicken broth and the savoriness it brings. It's flavored with onions, vinegar, and mustard (sometimes with a bit of chopped gherkin), and bound together in a light sauce that gains its creaminess solely from the natural starch found in the potatoes.

The Austrian-style potato salad recipe I developed for Cook's Illustrated in 2008 (paywall) was certainly delicious, I can tell you that, and I'd done enough research on how Austrians make their erdäpfelsalat* to know that I'd gotten the basics right—sliced yellow potatoes, onions, and a splash of chicken broth—but it was still an interpretation based on hearsay.

*I love the literal translation of this word: "earth-apple salad."

That was then, and this is now. After returning from a long trip around Europe that included dragging my wife and infant daughter all across Austria, eating all the schnitzel, wurst, and erdäpfelsalat I could find, I had the idea that I'd use this "research" to help develop recipes for Wursthall, a restaurant in San Mateo. Really nailing the potato salad was one of the first things on my agenda.

Sweet Potatoes

The first hurdle I had to tackle was the potatoes. There are three major commercial varieties: starchy russets; waxy, creamy reds; and Yukon Golds, which bridge the gap in between. The potatoes I tasted in Austria were unvaryingly of the yellow variety, but they tasted fundamentally different from the ones I get back home. While ours tend to have an earthy starchiness to them, the potatoes in Austria were sweeter and creamier.

I tried adding just a touch of sugar to the water in which I boiled them, in the hopes of adding some sweetness, but the flavor ended up cloying and one-dimensional compared to the more complex natural sugars found in the Austrian potatoes.

Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad) Recipe (2)

Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad) Recipe (3)

Many recipes call for cooking mid-sized potatoes in boiling water until they're completely tender; this leaves their skins easy to rub off under cool running water. I compared this method side by side with potatoes that I peeled before cooking, as well as potatoes that I peeled and sliced before cooking. There was no question that cooking them with the skins on produced potatoes with more flavor than cooking them peeled. But cooking potatoes whole produced a different problem:

Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad) Recipe (4)

Even when I started them in cold water, it was hard to get them to cook evenly. By the time the very centers were tender, the exteriors were overly soft, disintegrating into the salad. A bit of soft potato thickens up the dressing and gives the salad creaminess, but too much turns it into cold, chunky mashed potatoes.

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So how to get the nice, evenly cooked texture of sliced potatoes, but the flavor of potatoes cooked with their skins on? Easy. Just add those skins to the cooking water as the potatoes simmer.

I placed my sliced potatoes in a pot, covered them with salted water (it's essential to salt the water when boiling potatoes if you want them to come out flavorful), placed a fine-mesh strainer on top, and set the potato skins in the strainer, with the idea that their flavor would infuse the water like a tea.

It worked out great. You wind up with perfectly cooked potato slices that have all the flavor of potatoes boiled whole.

Building Flavor

As I found out when working on the classic American potato salad recipe for my first book, the other key for building great flavor into the potatoes is to sprinkle them with vinegar (I used white wine vinegar) while they're still hot.

The easiest way to do this is to drain them, then spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. As hot potatoes sit, they continue to release trapped moisture in the form of steam. As that water escapes, it leaves behind gaps in the potato's structure that get filled with whatever happens to be around. In things like French fries or hash, for instance, oil will move into those spaces. In this case, the vinegar ends up getting absorbed. This only happens if you add the vinegar while the potatoes are still busy losing moisture through steam.

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Dressing the Salad

For the dressing, I went with a pretty classic mix: a dollop of mustard for sharpness, a touch of sugar, some olive oil, some minced red onion (you can also use Vidalias or other sweet onions), a sprinkling of chives (parsley would also be tasty), some more vinegar, and some chicken broth. (In this case, store-bought low-sodium broth works just fine.)

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I folded everything together, working some of the starch from the potatoes into the dressing. The salad should be far looser than a typical American potato salad. Think of it more like sliced potatoes in a vinaigrette, as opposed to a scoopable mixture. As I quickly learned, it thickens up a little as it sits and more starch gets absorbed into the dressing, so when you first construct it, it should seem almost soupy.

Back to the Sweet Potatoes

But hang on a minute. I still hadn't addressed the issue of the sweetness in those Austrian potatoes. Sometimes finding the solution to problems like this requires hard work and critical thinking. In this case, all it required was a bit of laziness and some post facto research. While testing, I'd bought a big ol' 25-pound bag of potatoes to work with, many pounds of which ended up accidentally left in the bottom drawer of my fridge for several weeks before I finally rediscovered them.

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Imagine my surprise when, after boiling them, I found that they were noticeably sweeter and creamier in texture than the exact same potatoes pre-storage!

It shouldn't have surprised me too much. Some years back, when I was doing research for my French fry recipe, I'd learned that one of the banes of the French fry industry is an effect known as cold-induced sweetening (CIS). This is the accumulation of reducing sugars in potatoes as they sit at fridge temperatures, and it's caused by enzymatic breakdown of starch molecules. It's a bad thing in French fries or roast potatoes, which can come out unpalatably dark, but in the case of this potato salad, it was exactly what I needed to give those potatoes the right level of natural sweetness.

What I'm saying is that if you want the ideal Austrian-style potato salad, you're gonna have to do a bit of advance planning and let your potatoes just sit in the fridge for a couple weeks before cooking them.

July 2017

Recipe Details

Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad)

Prep15 mins

Cook20 mins

Active25 mins

Resting Time30 mins

Total65 mins

Serves6 servings


  • 2 pounds (1kg) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, peels reserved separately (see note)

  • Kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) white wine vinegar, divided, plus more to taste

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) Dijon mustard

  • 3/4 cup (90g) minced red onion, from about 1 small onion

  • 2 tablespoons (6g) minced fresh chives

  • 1/2 cup (120ml)homemadeor store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 2 teaspoons (about 10g) sugar

  • Freshly ground white or black pepper


  1. Place sliced potatoes in a large saucier or Dutch oven and cover with water. Season generously with salt. Place potato skins in a fine-mesh strainer and place on top of pot. Add just enough water to submerge potato skins. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

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  2. Discard potato skins, drain potatoes, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with 2 tablespoons (30ml) vinegar and set aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, transfer potatoes to a large bowl.

    Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad) Recipe (10)

  3. Add remaining vinegar, olive oil, mustard, red onion, chives, chicken stock, and sugar. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, roughly stir and fold mixture so that potatoes release some starch and liquid begins to thicken a little. Season to taste with more salt and white or black pepper. Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. (If resting longer than 4 hours, cover bowl and transfer to refrigerator.) Stir again vigorously to thicken dressing; it should have a loose but not soupy consistency. If it's too thick, thin it out with a little extra water or chicken stock and re-season. Serve cold or at room temperature.

    Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad) Recipe (11)

Special Equipment

Large saucier or Dutch oven, fine-mesh strainer, half-sheet pan


For the best flavor, store your potatoes in a bag in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks before using them in this recipe, in order to allow natural sugars to build up.

  • Western European
  • Austrian
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Vegetable Sides
  • Easter Side Dishes
Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-Style Potato Salad) Recipe (2024)


Why don't you peel potatoes for potato salad? ›

There's no reason at all, so my advice is to leave the skins on. The skin on a potato adds a nice texture and flavor to the potato salad and it's also the healthiest part.

What is the history of German potato salad? ›

American style “German Potato Salad” originated from German immigrants based upon the German Kartoffelsalat. But the true origin of this recipe may be southern Poland. Cuisine doesn't recognize countries borders so who knows for sure.

What is Russian potato salad made of? ›

This is no ordinary potato salad. This salad consists of potatoes, turkey hot dogs, pickles, scallions, hard-boiled eggs, and sweet peas. All of the ingredients are finely chopped and dressed with mayonnaise.

How to keep potatoes from falling apart when making potato salad? ›

The key is to allow the potatoes to dry and become cold before you make the salad. If you cut hot, boiled potatoes, they tend to crumble. If you wait until they had time to dry (may I suggest laying them out on a plate or casserole dish during this time) and cold, they cut nicer.

Is it better to cut potatoes before boiling for potato salad? ›

Always cut up the potatoes into a dice before boiling them. If you boil the potatoes whole, the exterior of the potato will get too soft and crumbly before the interior has a chance to cook through. Best potatoes for potato salad? Russet, Yukon Gold, or red potatoes (new potatoes) are all excellent for potato salad.

Should I dice potatoes before boiling for potato salad? ›

The thin skins are usually tender after cooking and add color to the potato salad. Dice unpeeled potatoes into uniformly-sized pieces. Place in cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender.

What is the difference between German and regular potato salad? ›

There are two main differences between American and German Potato salads. American potato salad is usually tossed in a mayonnaise-based dressing and served cold. German potato salad is tossed in a vinegar-based dressing and is traditionally served warm (but you can totally serve it cold too! It's still delicious!).

Which is the most famous potato dish in Germany? ›

Kartoffelsalat is a traditional German potato salad hailing from the region of Swabia in Southern Germany. It typically consists of boiled and sliced potatoes, chopped onions, beef broth, white vinegar, oil, mild German mustard, sugar, and pepper.

Why do Germans love potatoes so much? ›

According to legend, King Frederick II of Prussia believed in the economic and nutritious value of potatoes. He tricked local farmers into planting more of the so-called apple of the earth by posting soldiers around the potato fields to protect them. It worked — highly valued goods taste even better.

What is Japanese potato salad made of? ›

A classic side dish for homemade lunch boxes or bento picnics, a Japanese potato salad is made with boiled russet potatoes, vegetables, boiled eggs and, often, ham, all seasoned with rice vinegar and tangy Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise.

What is Amish potato salad made of? ›

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, paprika, and salt. Add the potatoes, carrots, eggs, celery, and onion. Mix everything together until coated with the dressing.

Which type of potato is best for potato salad? ›

Waxy potatoes are generally considered the best for classic potato salad because they retain their shape, you don't have to peel them, and they have a smooth texture. People who prefer a creamy potato salad that soaks up dressing like a sponge, though, opt for a starchy potato.

Should potatoes be cool before adding mayonnaise? ›

They'll absorb some of the vinaigrette and become more flavorful. When making a mayo-based salad, the opposite is true. Let the potatoes cool for at least 30 minutes to ensure the mayo doesn't become oily when mixed into the salad.

How to make potato salad Martha Stewart? ›

  1. Put potatoes in a large pot of salted water; bring to a boil. Cook until just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; let cool.
  2. Stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Peel potatoes; cut into 1-inch chunks. Fold into mayonnaise mixture.
Feb 25, 2021

Is it OK to eat potatoes without peeling? ›

"From a health point of view, and I think from a taste and texture point of view, it's much better to leave the skin on," Simon says. "The skin of the potato is very high in fibre, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B — all of those good, healthy things are in high concentration in the skin."

Why you shouldn't peel your potatoes? ›

It's best to peel potatoes for dishes like mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, or potato salad since they should have a smoother texture. On the other hand, potato peels contain iron, fiber, vitamin B, and vitamin C, so leave the peels on if you want a nutrient boost in your dish.

Why is it a good idea to remove all the potato skin? ›

These are toxic and can give you an upset stomach if you eat much of the green stuff. Skins without any green discolouration are entirely edible and many of the nutrients are in the skin or right under it, So peeling actually throws away many of the good things a potato has to offer.

Can you eat potatoes without peeling them? ›

Yes. Eat the skin to capture all the russet potatoes nutrition. The potato skin has more nutrients than the interior of the potato. It has lots of fiber, about half of a medium potato's fiber is from the skin.

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