The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry

Austrian-Style Potato Salad


PotatoSalad2TST2I love potato salads of any kind; they are usually what I go for first at a barbecue or other warm-weather get-together. And yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve botched my own attempts at making a good potato salad. The potatoes have ended up either too mushy and falling apart or too hard and unyielding. I finally figured out that the right variety of potato makes all the difference.

A potato is a potato is a potato, I used to think. Not so. And this is particularly crucial to those of us living in new places where the potato varieties are unfamiliar and labels can be confusing. Here’s what I’ve learned: Leave starchy potatoes (mehlig kochend in German) such as U.S. Russets for mashed potatoes. Waxy potatoes (festkochend) such as fingerlings and most red potatoes are best for potato salads because they hold up well after cooking and their low-starch content makes for the perfect bite. And you can’t go wrong with those in-between potatoes (vorwiegend festkochend, or “primarily waxy”) such as Yukon Golds — they are all-purpose and work well mashed or in salads. In Germany, these three types are clearly marked on the packaging or bin labels.

This Austrian-style potato salad is a great side dish to schnitzel, an Easter ham, or other heavier dish because it’s mayo-free, light, and refreshing. Cooking the potatoes in vinegar and broth not only imparts extra flavor, but it also ensures the potatoes reach the right consistency. I love the bright crunch of cornichons, minced onion (or shallot) and chives. I found this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, and finally I’ve made a good potato salad!


Austrian-Style Potato Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (or other waxy or all-purpose potatoes), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (Note: I cut mine smaller than 1/2-inch, and next time I would cut them even thinner — 1/4-inch or less — for a more authentic Austrian presentation)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water (I added almost a whole cup more to cover potatoes, and it still boiled down fine)
  • Table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (in one batch I used grain Dijon mustard, in another I used smooth — we preferred the grain mustard)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (we preferred less oil than this – just a Tbs. or so)
  • 1 small red onion , chopped fine, about 3/4 cup (we preferred a less-bitey shallot)
  • 6 cornichons , minced, about 2 tablespoons (if you can’t find cornichons, another small mild dill pickle)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • Ground black pepper
  1. Bring potatoes, broth, water, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and 1 tablespoon vinegar to boil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes offer no resistance when pierced with paring knife, 15-18 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high (so cooking liquid will reduce), and cook 2 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes in colander set over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Set drained potatoes aside. Pour off and discard all but ½ cup cooking liquid (if ½ cup liquid does not remain, add water to make ½ cup). Whisk remaining tablespoon vinegar, mustard, and oil into cooking liquid.
  3. Add ½ cup cooked potatoes to bowl with cooking liquid mixture and mash with potato masher or fork until thick sauce forms (mixture will be slightly chunky). Add remaining potatoes, onion, cornichons, and chives, folding gently with rubber spatula to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature; it tastes best after resting at room temperature for an hour or so to let the flavors mingle and the potatoes soak in more of the dressing.




Author: Laura Haugen

Writer, Traveler, Foodie

23 thoughts on “Austrian-Style Potato Salad

  1. Add some bacon and you have German style potato salad – at least how my grandmother used to make it. I love the sweet-sour of this salad. And, you are so right about unknown potato varieties – a quagmire of decision in the supermarket.

  2. This looks lovely… And like you, I’ve never been able to master potato salad, because I really never knew the difference between potatoes! I’m taking notes from you!! I need to try this.. Wonderful post!!

  3. I’ve never heard of Austrian potato salad, it seems similar to German which I love. I have no problem with the mayo laden salads, I LOVE mayo but also really enjoy the lighter variety. This recipe is so simple, love it!

    • Yes, it’s very similar to German-style. I love mayo laden salads too 🙂 but my husband prefers these lighter ones. This is simple and even works well in hot weather for picnics & bbqs – we had it this way in Austria last summer in 100+ degree weather and it tasted so refreshing! Thanks for your comments 🙂

  4. Sounds delicious! The dressing ingredients sound wonderful…light yet flavorful. Thank you for sharing this recipe, as it is a new one for me 🙂

    • Thanks, Nancy, I’m glad I can share something new, and it’s so simple. I made this again tonight and cut the potatoes much thinner – I like it even better in thin slices, so I’ll have to update this page 🙂 It’s how we had it in Austria too (the thin slices).

  5. Love potato salad and yes, usually make it with mayo…or yogurt, however, have never tried to make it like this. I’m going to try it, looks too good not to!

    • Thanks! I love potato salad with mayo & yogurt too 🙂 Let me know how you like this version if you try – I think it’s a light & flavorful version, nice for a change every so often. And go for thinner sliced potatoes – I tried it this way tonight and like it even better.

  6. Perfection! This is almost the exact recipe my mom has been using for as long as I can remember, although we call it “German Potato Salad.” She mashes a little bit of the potato with the cooking liquid too . . . and the key is dressing while it’s warm or at least before it’s totally cooled so that the flavors seep right in! Oh so delicious I love this salad. Sometimes we add bacon:) and a little celery for more crunch.

  7. This makes me long for summer! I love how this dish allows those wonderful yellow potatoes to speak for themselves.

  8. What a light and pretty potato salad, Laura! I love that you use both red onions and chives. Delish!

  9. Great! This looks like such a tasty potato salad! I’ve also had to try out different potato varieties to see which one works in potato salads, but when I use a good recipe it can be the best! 🙂

  10. I always enjoy the potato salads that we get when traveling in Austria and Germany. This does sound like a good recipe and I agree with you about slicing the potatoes thin. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thank you for posting this delicious and easy recipe. I wanted a potato salad recipe to take to a party this weekend, so made this up last night to test out on the family first. I added red capsicum which gave it a bit of crunch. The salad was a big hit! Looking forward to making it again for the weekend to wow some party guests.

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