15 Traditional Oktoberfest Recipes

This celebration is about more than just beer

Brezel soft pretzel recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Oktoberfest originated as a big wedding reception in October of 1810 for Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The party centered around a horse race with plenty of food and drink for the populace. The event was so enjoyed that it was put on again the following year, with the addition of an agricultural show.

Since then, the annual event has become the largest festival in the world, and although it has been moved forward to September to take advantage of the weather, the food and drink remain the same. With these traditional recipes, you can celebrate the festive Bavarian event in your home with friends, and plenty of German beer, of course.

  • 01 of 15

    Authentic German Soft Pretzels (Laugenbrezeln)

    tray of homemade german pretzels

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    An Oktoberfest celebration wouldn't be complete without Laugenbrezeln (or simply Brezen), also known as soft pretzels. Soft on the inside with a lightly crispy exterior, the salty snack is traditionally served with butter and pairs perfectly with beer. Food-grade lye is called for, so be sure to have gloves and goggles, and keep the kids away.

  • 02 of 15

    German Potato Pancakes

    German potato pancakes on a wooden board with a side of applesauce

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    Potato pancakes, or Kartoffelpuffer, are a classic German side dish and a real treat during Oktoberfest. After the potatoes are grated, they need to be squeezed in a clean dish towel to remove all of the liquid, an important step to guarantee that signature crispy texture. Feel free to add different flavorings to the batter, and serve with applesauce and sour cream.

  • 03 of 15

    Pork Shoulder Roast With Dry Spice Rub (Schweinebraten)

    Pork shoulder roast with dry spice rub and a side of rice

    The Spruce / Nita West

    Schweinebraten, or roasted pork, is traditionally cooked with beer and onions. This version is made with a richly flavored dry spice rub, making it equally delicious. The roast goes perfectly with sauerkraut, potato salad, and all of the other traditional Oktoberfest fixings.

  • 04 of 15

    Quick and Easy Beer Bratwurst

    Quick and easy beer bratwurst cooked with onion

    The Spruce 

    Cook up some German sausages like bratwursts with onions and beer for an easy but delicious main dish worthy of an Oktoberfest celebration. Consider adding apples for extra seasonal flavor and serve your sausages with plenty of sauerkraut and whole-grain mustard.

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  • 05 of 15

    Garlic-Lemon Rotisserie Chicken

    Garlic-lemon rotisserie chicken ready to be carved

    Will Heap / Getty Images

    Spit-roasted chicken is another traditional Bavarian food that's popular during gatherings like Oktoberfest. (If you don't have a rotisserie, a roast chicken is just as delicious.) This recipe calls for rubbing the chicken with fresh lemon and garlic and then sprinkling with a flavorful spice mixture. Once on the spit, the chicken cooks for about an hour and a half until it's a deep golden color.

  • 06 of 15

    Bavarian Ham Hock (Schweinshaxe)

    Bavarian ham hocks recipe

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

    Schweinshaxe is a traditional Bavarian dish of slow-roasted ham hock and root vegetables. The ham hock is seasoned and browned on all sides and then roasted along with the chopped vegetables in chicken broth until a nice crust develops and the meat is cooked through. A creamy gravy made from the pan drippings, sour cream, and white wine is the finishing touch.

  • 07 of 15

    German Sautéed Mushrooms

    A plate of pan-fried mushrooms

    Angelique Vaccaro / Getty Images

    Mushrooms with a savory garlic sauce (Champignons mit Knoblauchsoße) are a common menu item at German fairs. This food-stand staple is also a delicious side dish or topping for roasts and bratwursts. Any mushrooms will do, and a mix of foraged mushrooms is especially nice.

  • 08 of 15

    Homemade German Sauerkraut

    Homemade German sauerkraut recipe

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Plan ahead for your Oktoberfest celebration and make your own sauerkraut (which can take up to three weeks to properly sour). Cabbage, juniper berries, caraway seeds, and mustard seeds mix with salt and water and are stored in a jar until it reaches your preferred level of tartness. Serve alongside any German main dish like pork, sausages, or roast chicken.

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  • 09 of 15

    German Cheese-Noodle Casserole

    German cheese-noodle casserole with caramelized onion in a skillet

    Creative Studio Heinemann / Getty Images 

    This German version of mac and cheese, called (Käsespätzle), features a homemade traditional egg noddle called spätzle, which takes a little effort but is worth it; the taste and texture are superior to store-bought varieties. The noodles are layered with caramelized onion and Gruyère cheese and baked until hot and bubbling.

  • 10 of 15

    German Potato Salad With Sweet-Sour Dressing

    German potato salad with sweet-sour dressing in a serving bowl

    James Baigrie / Getty Images 

    German-style potato salads are generally dressed with a vinegar mixture versus mayonnaise, offering a lighter version of the favored side dish. This German potato salad is studded with bacon, onion, bell pepper, and egg, making for a flavorful and filling recipe. It pairs perfectly with the hearty meat dishes served at Oktoberfest.

  • 11 of 15

    German Cheese Spread (Obatzda für den Biergarten)

    german obatzda cheese spread with pretzel

    Electrography / Getty Images

     

    Obatzda, a German cheese spread made of stinky soft white cheeses, butter, and spices, is delicious smeared on bread, sausage, pickles, and fresh radishes. But it does have a distinct taste, so keep in mind that only fans of strong-flavored cheese will enjoy.

  • 12 of 15

    German Potato Noodles

    Browned German potato noodles in a skillet

    The Spruce

    Similar to Italian gnocchi, these German potato noodles (Badische Schupfnudeln) are a mixture of cooked riced potatoes with flour and egg yolks. Instead of forming into pillows and boiling, however, these noodles are formed into pointy-ended logs and cooked in butter. They're a lovely use for leftover mashed potatoes but also worth boiling a few spuds.

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  • 13 of 15

    Homemade German Mustard Pickles

    Ingredients on a board for homemade German mustard pickles

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    Your Oktoberfest celebration will be extra special if you make your very own German pickles (Senfgurken). This sweet and tangy snack can be made as late as the day before, but the flavors will be better if you prep them a week or two ahead of time. The cucumbers are peeled, allowing for the herbs and spices to infuse the pickles, resulting in a more intense taste.

  • 14 of 15

    Easy Traditional Viennese Apple Strudel

    Easy traditional Viennese apple strudel with ice cream

    Susanne Schanz / Getty Images

    End your Oktoberfest feast with classic apple strudel, a typical Viennese dessert called Altwiener apfelstrudel. This recipe calls for a homemade dough that is first coated with breadcrumbs and then filled with apples, cinnamon, raisins, and lemon. It does take some time and effort, but the results are worth it.

  • 15 of 15

    Elegant Black Forest Cake

    A thick slice of Black Forest cake with shaved chocolate and fresh cherries

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    A popular dessert from the Black Forest region in Germany, this elegant chocolate and cherry cake is sure to be a hit at your Oktoberfest. The richness of the cake and cherry filling is complemented by a light and airy whipped cream frosting. This recipe includes ingredients to make the cake from scratch, but there are versions using store-bought cake mix if you need to save time.