Potassium (K) is an important element related to ash and fine-particle formation in biomass combustion processes. In situ measurements of gaseous atomic potassium, K(g), using robust optical absorption techniques can provide valuable insight into the K chemistry. However, for typical parts per billion K(g) concentrations in biomass flames and reactor gases, the product of atomic line strength and absorption path length can give rise to such high absorbance that the sample becomes opaque around the transition line center. We present a tunable diode laser atomic absorption spectroscopy (TDLAAS) methodology that enables accurate, calibration-free species quantification even under optically thick conditions, given that Beer−Lambert’s law is valid. Analyte concentration and collisional line shape broadening are simultaneously determined by a least-squares fit of simulated to measured absorption profiles. Method validation measurements of K(g) concentrations in saturated potassium hydroxide vapor in the temperature range 950−1200 K showed excellent agreement with equilibrium calculations, and a dynamic range from 40 pptv cm to 40 ppmv cm. The applicability of the compact TDLAAS sensor is demonstrated by real-time detection of K(g) concentrations close to biomass pellets during atmospheric combustion in a laboratory reactor.