Prost! 12 Traditional Recipes for Oktoberfest with Perfect Beer Pairings
Wondering what to cook for Oktoberfest? Raise a glass to German soft pretzels, braised pork chops with sweet-and-sour cabbage, tender apple cake, and more of our favorite Oktoberfest recipes.
Article and featured recipes and photographs by Ashley Strickland Freeman
Germany is a special place for my husband and me. We have great friends who live there, and it’s actually where Chris and I got engaged. I was on a work trip and decided to go early to visit the friends. My best buddy from the States was supposed to travel with me but at the last minute had to cancel. So, I was left to travel by myself — or so I thought.
Just before boarding the plane, Chris told me that he was sending me a special gift since he felt bad that I had to travel solo. To pick up the gift, I was to meet “Roland from the shipping company DHL” at a particular cafe the second day I was in Freiburg. Thankfully I’m very gullible and fell for this story. Little did I know that soon after I hopped on a plane, Chris was packing to come surprise me.
The following day I was seated outside that little cafe waiting for “Roland.” I looked to my left and saw Chris walking down the cobblestone street. After the initial shock wore off — for him, that it worked out to find me, and for me, that he was there — he proposed. We spent the next week before my work press trip exploring and eating our way through the country. We enjoyed every bite, from pork knuckle and schnitzel to strudel and pretzels, and especially loved hanging out and drinking a pint in the many beer gardens.
After that trip, one thing on my bucket list is to travel back to Germany, but this time to Bavaria during Oktoberfest. The Bavarian food, the beer tents, the outfits — it looks like such a great time. I’m not sure when we’ll actually get to go, so I thought it would be fun to create my own Oktoberfest celebration at home.
The official dates for Oktoberfest vary (this year, Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati runs September 16 to 19, though Oktoberfest in Munich, which had been scheduled September 18 to October 3, is canceled). But the great thing about Oktoberfest recipes is that these hearty foods hit the spot anytime in the fall.
Whether you come from German roots, like beer, or just want an excuse for a get-together, my new Oktoberfest menu will help you celebrate. I’ve also gathered some of my favorite German-inspired recipes from the Yummly collection. You can’t have Oktoberfest without beer, so I’m sharing a beer pairing for each recipe too. Prost!
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How to make homemade German soft pretzels
First up are my German-Style Soft Pretzels. If you attend an Oktoberfest celebration, whether stateside or in Germany, you may see people walking around wearing pretzel necklaces. The pretzels are meant to fill your stomach so you can drink more beer without getting too tipsy. You’ll likely also see the fluffy, golden brown soft pretzels served with little bowls of mustard for dipping. So of course I had to share my recipe for these twisty treats.
The key to making soft pretzels is to cook them twice: first in a bath of fizzy baking soda water and second in the oven. Boiling them first allows the dough to puff and create that chewy texture you’re going for. Baking in a hot oven forms the crisp, golden-brown crust.
Before they’re cooked, though, you’ll want to shape them into that iconic pretzel twist. Roll the dough into a rope and then shape the dough into a “U.” Grab the ends and twist twice, then lift up the ends into the U and press down.
After baking the pretzels, serve them warm with your favorite mustard. Regular prepared mustard, coarse-grain, and whole-grain are all great options. And don’t forget the beer!
Oktoberfest beer pairing: Really, any kind of beer is great with soft pretzels, but I especially love a dark dunkel beer.
How to make German braised pork chops
Now that you’ve gotten the party started with a beer and pretzel, it’s time for the main event. Germans love their pork and cabbage, so it’s only natural that I would create a recipe using both of those ingredients. Apples were a great addition.
The first thing to keep in mind for this recipe is the type of pork chop. I go for a thick-cut, bone-in chop to ensure this lean meat stays nice and juicy. Also for this recipe, I decided to use red cabbage. I love the pop of color it brings to the table — especially during what I affectionately call “brown food season.” Fall and winter dishes can often end up all brown — super delicious, but not so much a feast for the eyes.
The next tip is how to slice the cabbage so it won’t roll and create a cutting hazard. We don’t have time for that!
First cut the core end off to create a flat base. Set the cabbage on the base and cut it in half through the core. Working with one half at a time, cut out the core by make a triangular cut. Place the cabbage half on the cutting board with the cut side down, and thinly slice.
Now it’s time to give the dish the German sweet-and-sour treatment with apple cider, brown sugar, and cider vinegar. After the pork chops have cooked with the cabbage, apples, and seasonings, you can serve them straight from the skillet. How great is that? Add a side of mashed potatoes if you like, or make this a one-pan meal.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: I like to serve the pork with an IPA or bock beer. Both are stronger in flavor and can stand up to the rich pork and sweet-and-sour cabbage.
How to make German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)
Last but not least, we can’t forget about dessert! Fall means apple season, and traditional Apfelkuchen is the perfect ending to this meal. It also happens to be a German version of coffee cake, meaning you can have a piece for breakfast the next day with a cup of coffee.
Though you can use any variety of apple you like, I prefer Honeycrisp or Gala. They are sweet but remain firm and hold their shape during baking.
For this recipe, I like to use a springform pan so it’s a snap to unmold the cake without risking messing up the beautiful apple design on top.
To easily cut the apples into even slices, I peel them and then use an apple corer/slicer. Mine cuts the apple into 8 equal wedges, and then I cut the wedges in half. After spreading the batter into an even layer in the springform pan, I fan the apples slices into two concentric circles, overlapping them slightly.
I like to give the apples a little press into the batter before popping the cake in the oven. I find this helps cement them into the batter (they sink a little as the cake bakes) and cook more evenly. Before baking the cake, I also wrap the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil. This batter is buttery, and I’d rather catch any melty butter or batter in the foil instead of on the bottom of the oven.
Once the apple cake is out of the oven, I’m usually too impatient to let it cool, and I eat this cake warm. But it’s also delicious at room temp if you have the discipline to wait.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: You can serve this cake with coffee. Or, if you haven’t had your fill of beer yet, a märzen is a great pairing.
Looking for more Oktoberfest recipe ideas? I’ve got you covered with these traditional Oktoberfest foods from the Yummy vault.
Oktoberfest appetizers and snacks
In addition to pretzels, here are several other appetizers and snacks you may find at an Oktoberfest celebration. Pick one, or make them all if you’re feeding a crowd for an Oktoberfest party.
You’re likely to find these handheld treats at most German street food festivals and events. The crispy crust makes these the perfect vehicle for applesauce and sour cream — the traditional toppings. They might also be a good side dish alongside some smoked sausage or wurst.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: A pilsner or lager is a great choice for these potato pancakes.
Beer soup? It doesn’t get more German than that! It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, and the beer adds a robust flavor that’s perfect for warming you up on a cool fall day. The soup is even better with one of those soft pretzels I talked about earlier.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: Pair with the same beer you use in the soup. If you’re a beer lover, use an ale in both the soup and to serve alongside. If you like a lighter beer flavor, go with a hefeweizen.
Think of this as an onion and bacon quiche and white sauce pizza hybrid. Sounds good, right? This recipe is rich, which is why I recommend serving it as an appetizer so you have room for all the other yummy German food on the table.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: Try this with a pale German lager like a helles beer.
Oktoberfest main dishes
These hearty entrees are sure to warm you from head to toe. They are comfort food to the max and also great with beer.
This traditional roast beef is tender and juicy and made with a secret ingredient: gingersnaps. It might sound weird, but the gingery cookie is key to giving the dish its authentic flavor. You’ll most likely see this dish served with spaetzle, potato dumplings, or mashed potatoes and cabbage.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: Choose a dunkelweiss, märzen, or weissbier to go with this rich German dish.
You’ll likely always find schnitzel on German menus and it’s easy to know why. This beloved dish is essentially a giant chicken finger (but with pork). I love how this particular recipe pairs a salad and tangy beets with the schnitzel. The lightness of the vegetables cuts through the richness of the schnitzel.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: This recipe is made to pair with beer. You can’t go wrong with a Vienna lager, pils, helles, dunkel, or märzen.
Like I said before, you’ll find a lot of pork and cabbage in Germany and there’s a reason. They’re so good together! This recipe calls for serving the braised brats (a type of German sausage) in a split baguette, but I prefer using a pretzel roll. I also like to substitute some of the chicken stock called for with beer, because why not?
Oktoberfest beer pairing: I’d go with a weizenbock for this dish. Its malty wheat flavor will go great with the brats.
Rounding out the meal are some more German desserts. Whether you crave something light, something chocolaty, or something in between, one of these is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
I love this fluffy, souffle-style dessert. While the title of the recipe implies that this is a breakfast dish, a German pancake — also known as a Dutch baby — can be a great ending to a meal. The versatile base is perfect for piling on your favorite jam or fruit and whipped cream, of course.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: You may have had your fill of beer, but a fruity hefeweizen or Belgian-style fruit lambic will pair nicely with this dessert.
Chocolate and cherries are a match made in heaven, which is why a Black Forest Cake is such a crowd-pleaser. Rich layers of chocolate cake are sandwiched with silky cream and kirsch-soaked cherries.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: A rich porter or stout beer mimic the rich flavors of the chocolate.
Topped with a crunchy almond and honey glaze and filled with a luscious pastry cream, this traditional German dessert is truly special. The dough is a little different from other desserts: It’s a yeast cake.
Oktoberfest beer pairing: Opt for an altbier with its nice balance of malt and hops to pair perfectly with this yeasty cake.
Have you been to an Oktoberfest celebration? What are your favorite Oktoberfest recipes? We’d love to hear. Be sure to tag @yummly on social media.
More favorite German foods
Still dreaming about your options for Oktoberfest? We have lots more options on Yummly. For starters, how about beer cheese dip (aka obatzda), German potato salad, spätzle or käsespätzle or kartoffelpuffer? As a main dish, you might consider currywurst, weisswurst, or a simple roast chicken. For dessert you can't beat apple strudel and gingerbread.
Savor the flavors of fall
It's the cozy season, when our thoughts turn to pots of soup, big end-of-summer salads, and of course, pumpkin desserts. Check out these next articles to learn more.