German Herring Salat Recipe – Pickled Herring Salad


I wanted to share my family’s recipe for making German Herring Salad, known to our family as Herring Salat.  This recipe is from my children’s Grandmother, Gertrude Zemp.  Their Grandmother recalls that her mother used to make this salat appetizer every Christmas in Germany.

The main ingredient of this appetizer is marinated pickled herring fish.  The pickled herring is mixed together with tart apples, dill pickes and vinegar.  If you allow the salat to sit covered in the refrigerator overnight the flavors will meld together.  This is why I recommend waiting to serve the next day.  This recipe is easy to prepare, and as the herring is already “pickled,” it holds up well in the refrigerator.  I know there are many variations of Herring Salad around the world, but this is our family’s version – so good!

Now with my children, we keep the tradition going and make this dish for Christmas Eve every year.   If you didn’t grow up eating pickled herring, you make not take to it on your first try.  Do not be afraid as the taste will grow on you with the tart vinegar flavor and slight sweetness from the apples.  It is easy to become addicted to this traditional German recipe.

Herring is also a good luck tradition in Germany, Poland and Scandinavia for New Year’s Eve.  Eating herring at midnight will ensure a bountiful year.  The slivery coloring of the herring represents silver coins and we all want a bounty of those.

 German Herring Salat in serving bowl with rye bread


German Herring Salat - Pickled Herring Salad Recipe:
Prep Time
20 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: German
Keyword: German Herring Salat Recipe, Pickled Herring Salad Recipe
  • 1 (26 to 32-ounce) large jar marinated wine-flavored herring  pieces, pickled*
  • 2 large dill pickles, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsley ground
  • Rye bread, sliced
  2. Herring Salad Ingredients

  3. Drain the marinated juice from the jar of marinated herring pieces and place in a small bowl; set aside. The juice will be used to make the dressing.

  4. Remove herring from jar and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Lightly process for a few seconds until the herring is just coarsely chopped.  Remove herring from food processor and place in a large bowl.

  5. Coarsely chopped herring

  6. Add chopped apples and pickles to the now empty food processor bowl; process until just coarsely chopped.  Add apple/pickle mixture into the chopped herring; stirring to combine.

    herring salat mixture

  7. To make the dressing, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper to the set aside juice; whisk to combine.

  8. Add the prepared dressing to the herring mixture and stir to combine.

  9. Herring Salat

  10. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Serve with rye bread.

  11. Makes a large amount.


Recipe Notes

*  Feel free to add or delete the amount of marinated herring used, according to your family's taste.  Pickled herring can be found in most large grocery stores during the Christmas season.


Anchovy & Herring Appetizers    Apples    Christmas    German    Herring   

Comments and Reviews

4 Responses to “German Herring Salat Recipe – Pickled Herring Salad”


    Pickled herring, apples, gewuerzgurke (pickle cucumbers), pickled beets. cut small pieces. Use mayonnaise or not depending on your taste. Eaten on rye bread or white bread – good all year or winter preferred. In North German it is called “red herring salad”

    • adolf zerr

      Yes and in the harz mountains there is red or white herring salat for folks who do not like red beets its the same rec, whitout beets

  2. FoodFlavorz

    This recipe seems pretty easy to make, I will give it a go and see how it comes out.

  3. Carolyn Smith

    I am making our family`s Herring Salad, always around Christmas, my grandmother Fredericka Grentzmann Niemann made this . Pickeled Herring, cooked potato, tart apples,dill pickles,smoked summer bologna and add more chopped onions, everything should be chopped add pepper and veg. oil, plus we include the wine sauce from the herring. I laugh when I remember Mom making this a this time of the year the older kids would eat all the two younger and some of the grandchildren would eat the apples or potato, my son won `t eat any he is more Irish.


Leave a Reply