German Potato-Herring Salad Recipe for Lent

Potato salad with herring
Mariha-kitchen / Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
472 Calories
25g Fat
47g Carbs
17g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 472
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 31%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 1319mg 57%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 16mg 80%
Calcium 167mg 13%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 1014mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This potato salad recipe with pickled herring is a traditional German-Austrian recipe for the season of Lent, especially on Ash Wednesday.

This Austrian recipe is related to northern German recipes and, even though it's a cold salad, it's eaten chiefly in the cold winter months.

It's unusual that this recipe would have originated in Austria because herring is an Atlantic fish and Austria is not near the sea, landlocked as it is in Central Europe. But because fishermen pickled the herring on board their ships, they were preserved and became an oft-traded item from northern Germany.


  • 1 1/2 pounds waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or fingerling potatoes, boiled in their skins and cooled

  • 3 pickles, drained and chopped

  • 10 capers, drained and minced

  • 1 (14-ounce) jar pickled herring, rinsed, patted dry and chopped into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 cup canned white beans, about 1/2 (14-ounce) can, drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 cup radish slices, for garnish

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Peel and slice the cooled potatoes into a large bowl. Add 3 chopped pickles and 10 minced capers, chopped herring, 1 cup rinsed and drained canned beans and 1 cup chopped onion. Mix well and set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients by combining 1 cup sour cream, 3 to 4 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons oil. Season to taste, mixing thoroughly.

  3. Pour the dressing over the potato-herring mixture and carefully fold it in so the potatoes stay intact. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours. Decorate with radish slices and/or chopped dill before serving.

Herring in Germany

Herring takes pride of place in German cuisine. It is most often salted and/or pickled and served as Matjes or Bismark herring. Every region of Germany has its recipes that highlight this fish. Herring is divided into several different types, depending on the time of year and the life cycle of the fish.

Along with Matjes and Bismark, there are Fettheringe, Grüner ​Heringe, Bratheringe, Vollheringe, Hohlheringe, Salzheringe, and we're sure a few more. We're also sure most Germans can tell them apart just by looking at them.

Smoked or pickled herring are common street food. People pick the one they like from a barrel (in the case of pickled herring) or a vendor's table, hold it by the tail above their mouths and devour them in what seems to be one bite.