Potato Salads From
Austria, Czech Republic France and Texas

German Kartoffelsalat.
Potato salads are found throughout the world today, but originate in Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic). Generally, two main categories are recognized: those that contain Mayonnaise and those that do not. Mayonnaise-based recipes originate in northern Germany and the Czech Republic. Mayonnaise-free recipes, dressed instead in oil and beef broth, originating in Austria and southern Germany (present-day Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg).

Inca Empire at its peak.
Potatoes are obviously the key ingredient in potato salads, and deserve a closer look. They came to Europe from the New World, namely from South America. There is archaeological evidence dating back 5000 years that potatoes were cultivated in South America. Potatoes provided the principal nourishment source for the Inca Empire which once stretched from present-day Chile, through Peru and Bolivia, to Equador.

Potatoes were brought back to Europe in the late 16th century by sailors returning from South America. This took place by two different ports of entry: Spain around 1570, and the British Isles between 1588 and 1593. Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to England. During the late 16th and early 17th centuries, potatoes quickly spread to The Netherlands and northern Italy. After 1750, potatoes began to be planted in France and Germany. The potato thus became an important staple crop in northern Europe. In the 19th century, the most important new food in Europe was the potato. In 19th century Britain, the potato was one of the cornerstones of the Industrial Revolution by providing an inexpensive and abundant source of food for urban factory workers. The potato had several major advantages for the consumer over other foods: high in calories, abundant, durable, and inexpensive.

Potatoes were first introduced to North America from Europe in 1621 when Nathaniel Butler, the Governor of Bermuda, sent a shipment of potatoes and other vegetables to Francis Wyatt, the first English royal governor of the Virginia Colony. These were probably sweet potatoes or yams, not the white Irish potatoes known today. White potatoes were first planted in 1719 in present-day New Hampshire, after a group of Scotch-Irish immigrants had arrived a year earlier. They brought with them sacks of potato seeds. Potatoes were easy to grow, tasty and very nutritious. The also produced more food per acre than other crops. As a result, by the late 18th century, the white potato was taking the Colonies by storm.

The main potato-growing regions of the United States today are Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Maine. Potatoes were planted in Idaho around 1838, and by 1900 production exceeded a million bushels. By the 1960s, the Canadian Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick, was one of the top six potato research institutes in the world. In Canada, potatoes are the most important vegetable crop. They are grown commercially in all provinces, led by Prince Edward Island.

Red potatoes are the result of genetic breeding that took place in the mid to late 20th century in Canada and the United States. Several main cultivars are known today: Red Pontiac also known as Dakota Chief (United States, 1945), Red Gold (Canada, 1970s), Red La Soda (Louisiana, 1948), Red Norland (North Dakota, 1957). Désirée potato was bred in the Netherlands in 1962.

Russet Potatoes (high-starch)

Red Potatoes (low-starch)
For cooking, potatoes are classified according to starch content: high, medium, and low. This affects how they cook and the resulting texture. High-starch potatoes (Russet and Idaho) produce a floury and fluffy texture. They are the first choice for baking and frying, but because they do not hold their shape well, they should be avoided in dishes like casseroles, gratins and potato salads. On the other end of the spectrum are low-starch potatoes that produce a firm waxy texture (i.e. red potatoes). These have a low starch content and are often characterized by a creamy, firm and moist texture that holds its shape well after cooking. They are typically the first choice for roasting, boiling, casseroles and potato salads. In-between them are all-purpose potatoes that have a medium starch content placing them between the the starchy and waxy potatoes. They are true multi-purpose potatoes, and therefore can be used for just about any cooking application. A classic example is Yukon Gold.

icon Wiener Erdäpfelsalat
(Vienna Potato Salad)
Vienna is synonymous with quaint cafes, the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palaces, Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Sisi, Niki Lauda, Mozart, and the Wiener Schnitzel. The main course is typically preceded by flaedlesuppe, a beef soup with stripes of thin pancakes, and liver dumplings. The Wiener Schnitzel is served wither with Erdäpfelsalat or parsley potatoes.

Wiener Erdäpfelsalat is Weanerisch for what the rest of German-speaking world calls Kartoffelsalat (potato salad). Unlike Czech potato salad that involves potatoes coated in mayonnaise, in Austria and also in southern Germany potato salad is made with beef broth, vinegar, spices oil and sugar. Small waxy potatoes are cooked skin-on and dipped in cold water, sliced and mixed with warm beef stock and dressing, and marinated for half an hour.

Potato salad from Bavaria
In southern Germany, such potato salad also typically contains bacon.





Wiener Erdäpfelsalat Ingredients:
  • 500-600 grams (1.1-1.3 lbs) small waxy potatoes
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) beef stock, hot
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp red onion, minced
  • 3 tbsp chives, chopped


  1. Boil the potatoes skin-on. Plunge them briefly in cold water, drain and peel them into 1/4-inch slices while they are still warm.
  2. Combine the vinegar, oil, powdered sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk to emulsify.
  3. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and pour over them the dressing while the potatoes are still warm. Carefully pour the hot beef stock over them.
  4. Mix carefully, taking care not to break up the potato slices. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Add at least half of the red onion and chives and allow to marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  5. Serve in the bowl, garnished with the rest of the chives and red onion.
  6. YIELD: 2/3 servings.

icon Czech Potato Salad

This potato salad consists mainly of boiled potatoes with the addition of pickles, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, parsley, celery, onion, and mayonnaise. Mayonnaise can be home-made or store-bought, but home-made mayo is definitely the way to go if time permits. Individual components of the salad are chopped finely and mixed together. This type of potato salad is eaten cold.

This Mayonnaise-based potato salad is an example of Northern-European cuisine. In northern Germany and Silesia potato salad is usually prepared with mayonnaise-based dressing. Often, this type of potato salad often contains pickes or apples. The latter is found in the Rhineland, while the formed made its way into Czech cuisine. Czech cuisine is generally similar to southern German style of cooking, but the Mayonnaise-based potato salad being in common with northern Germany is an exception.

In Czech cuisine, this potato salad is part of the traditional Christmas dish of fried breaded carp and cold potato salad. It is also served with Wiener Schnitzel and grilled sausage.


  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 small celery root, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4-6 carrots, diced
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • 3-4 parsley roots (or parsnips), diced
  • 1 can green peas
  • 3 large sweet-and-sour pickles, diced
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pickle juice (or vinegar)
  • 1 small jar mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tbsp mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Optional: 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • For garnish: 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped


  1. A day before, boil potatoes in the skin in unsalted water until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Chop the celery, carrots and parsley root as directed and boil for 5-10 minutes (or steam). Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, peel the potatoes and cut them into small pieces or press through a potato slicer.
  3. In a large bowl, gently mix together all of the ingredients except peas to prevent crushing. Gradually add olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Add the peas and stir lightly.
  4. Serve cold, in a large bowl, garnished with chopped parsley.

icon Vlašský Salát
(Another Czech Potato Salad)

This is a great savory party snack to go with wine. The invention of this dish is credited to the Prague deli owner Alois Linka during the 1920s or 30s. His original recipe consisted of apples, sardines, canned peas, canned carrots, Prague ham off the bone, pickles, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

The name "Vlašský Salát" translates as "Italian Salad" ("Vlašský" being an old Czech word for "Italian"). There is, however, absolutely nothing Italian about this recipe. Either Linka chose the name for marketing purposes, or the name is a corruption of the German word "Fleischsalat". The latter seems more likely, given the similarity with potato salad recipes from northern Germany. In German cuisine, a Fleischsalat is a similar recipe, consisting of matchstick-size pieces of pickles and Brühwurst in mayonnaise. (Brühwurst is a category of fine-grained, parboiled wurst, such as weenies (frankfurters, Vienna sausages), Lyoner, Weisswurst, Krainer sausage, Krakauer, etc.).

Following the Communist revolution in 1948, Linka's business was "nationalized" (=stolen from him by the Communist government). The state-run enterprise took his recipe and replaced the fish and ham with more proletarian ingredients such as potatoes and salami.

Here is a current recipe for Vlašský Salát:


  • 1/2 lb waxy potatoes
  • 1/2 lb ham
  • 1 large onion
  • 4-5 sweet-and-sour pickles
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 4-5 drops Worcestershire sauce


  1. Boil the potatoes in the skin, until soft but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Strain, peel and cut into thin matchstick-size strips. Cut up the ham and pickles the same way. Chop the onion as finely as possible. Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the vinegar, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Taste. The marinade should have a pleasantly piquant taste. Add a little sugar if needed. Pour marinade over the potatoes mixture and mix well using a wooden spoon. Let stand 20 minutes to allow the flavor to blend.
  3. When the salad is completely cool, add the mayonnaise and mix again. Cover and let rest in the bottom of the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  4. YIELD: serves 4
Serving Suggestions:
  • Serve cold as a condiment with wine.
  • Serve as a main course with crusty white bread.
  • icon
  • Use as the base ingredient on obložené chlebíčky (belegtes Baguette, small Czeech/Austrian open-face sandwiches): a baguette is sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch slices, a tbsp of the salad is spread on top, then toped with a slice of tomato, slice of hard-boiled egg, slice of ham, slice of pepper, or sliced pickle, caviar etc.
  • icon Salade de pommes de terre
    à la Française

    French-style potato salad is characterized by a delicate blend of herbs, white wine and vinegar making up the dressing.


    • 3 lbs small waxy potatoes
    • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
    • 2 tbsp white wine
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
    • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 3/4 tsp sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 1/2 fresh parsley, chopped
    • 2 tbsp chopped dill
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
    • 1/2 lb green onions, thinly sliced


    1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water, bring to a boil and cook until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Let cool for 30 min.
    2. When cold, cut into thin slices and transfer to a large bowl. Mix the vegetable broth and white wine, then pour over the potatoes and stir gently. Leave them aside to cool.
    3. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk well. Add the herbs and whisk again. Pour this sauce over the potatoes and onions and mix well.
    4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more to let the flavors permeate. Stir gently again and serve at room temperature.
    5. YIELD: serves 4-6.

    icon Salade de pommes de terre Alsacienne

    Here is a potato salad from the Alsace region of eastern France. Mayonnainse is replaced with crème fraîche, soured cream containing 10–45% butterfat and having a pH of around 4.5. Compared to American sour cream it is less sour, it is more fluid, and has a higher fat content. The name is French but similar soured creams are found across northern European cuisines.


    • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) small waxy potatoes
    • 1 onion
    • 1 tsp mustard
    • 3 tbsp oil
    • 3 tbsp vinegar
    • 10 cl (1/2 cup) of crème fraîche
    • 5 cl (1/2) broth
    • Salt and pepper


    1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water, bring to a boil and cook until tender but not mushy, about 15-25 minutes.
    2. Once cooled, peel and cut into slices about 1/3 inches thick. Sprinkle them with the warm broth and the crème fraîche.
    3. Peel the onions and slice very finely. Sauté the onions in the oil, stirring regularly until golden-brown.
    4. Add the onions and bacon to the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Make a vinaigrette dressing from the mustard, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
    6. Coat the potatoes and mix gently.
    7. YIELD: serves 6.

    icon Texas Red Potato Salad

    Finally, here is a potato salad from the New World. It is a rustic recipe from Texas, made with roughly cut red potatoes with their skins on, and a mustard dressing.

    The recipe below comes from Texas and uses red potatoes, ideal for boiling. Central Texas has a large German and Czech population dating back to the second half of the 19th century. It is therefore no accident that the recipe is basically a Mayonnaise-based Czech or Northern-German potato salad, using North-American bred red potatoes and, to be true to Tex-Mex cuisine, jalapeño peppers added.


    • 1 kg (2,2) lbs red waxy potatoes, cubed
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 2 green onions, sliced
    • 5 cl (1/4 cup) of apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup of pickled jalapeño peppers, diced
    • 5 cl (1/4 cup) of yellow mustard
    • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp jalapeño pickle juice
    • Salt and black pepper to taste


    1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water, bring to a boil and cook until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.
    2. Drain potatoes and rinse in cold water. Toss with vinegar and salt, and let cool in the refrigerator for half an hour.
    3. After the potatoes have cooled, cut them in quarters. Place in a large bowl and gently stir in the mustard and mayonnaise, followed by the rest of the ingredients.
    4. YIELD: serves 4-6.

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    Last updated: March 4, 2017
    Photographs from Wikimedia Commons used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.