Beer

20 German-ish Recipes to Celebrate Oktoberfest

Bringing home the best of Bavaria.

August 22, 2022
Photo by Julia Gartland

In just a few weeks, Oktoberfest, the spirited German folk festival, will be in full swing. The celebration of epicurean proportions runs from the middle of September to the beginning of October. Each year, an estimated six million people pack into the city of Munich for nonstop noshing and drinking.

Though beer is Oktoberfest’s obvious appeal, there’s no need to forget about the corresponding snacks. Think hearty German pub fare that keeps you cozy as the fall season commences. What better accompaniment to a cold, heady beer than a juicy bratwurst, a salty pretzel, or a flaky apple pastry? We’ve compiled our most Oktoberfest-approved recipes for those who want to carouse from home. Prost!

1. Braised Red Cabbage With Kielbasa, Apple & Mustard Cream

You don’t need to book a one-way ticket to Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest; it can be as low-maintenance as this one-pan dinner that comes together in just 30 minutes. A platter of kielbasa, silky cabbage, and roasted apples make the perfect dinner for four.

2. Jägerschnitzel (Pork Schnitzel With Red Wine-Mushroom Sauce)

Good schnitzel—whether it’s veal, pork, or chicken—really comes down to the breading: the flavor of the breadcrumbs, how crispy they get, and how well it adheres to the meat. For the crispiest breading, recipe developer Lexie Barker recommends letting the breaded pork rest for at least 5 minutes before frying to let the crumbs dry out.

3. Jacques Pépin's Criques (Crispy Potato Pancakes)

Potato pancakes with applesauce are a must for Oktoberfest, plain and simple.

4. Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (& Savory Apple Charlottes)

There’s smooth sauce, chunky sauce, and then this chunky mash made from roasted apple wedges. Serve as is, or tuck it into bread crumbs for the easiest mini apple pies.

5. Spätzle with Sage Butter, Parmesan, and Toasted Hazelnuts

Is it really fall if you’re not serving spätzle with sage?

7. Grandma Netta's Red Cabbage

No matter how many times I refused my grandmother’s red cabbage, a giant jar of it always found its way into our refrigerator. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs side that’s a must in German households, and this recipe is as easy as they get.

8. Cheater’s Chicken Schnitzel

We’ll eat razor-thin cuts of crispy breaded chicken any day, but it's especially apt for serving during Oktoberfest. There’s one problem (and only one!) with thinly pounded chicken—it tends to try out pretty easily. And by that I mean, when was the last time you ate an actually moist piece of chicken schnitzel? To combat that—without fail—always-prevalent problem, recipe developer Emma Laperruque created a mayo-based marinade for the meat.

9. The Ultimate Bratwurst

There’s one meaty way to show your German pride, and that’s by making homemade Bratwurst. “Poaching fresh sausages like bratwurst in beer (a crisp lager, pilsner, or aromatic Belgian-style ale) before grilling infuses them with added flavor, helps keeps them moist and juicy, and shortens their finish over the fire,” writes recipe developer Paula Disbrowe.

10. Caramelized Sauerkraut With Prunes, Herbs & Honey

Hate sauerkraut? For years, so did recipe developer Queensashy, so they set out to create a version of sauerkraut that was a little sweeter, a little richer, and all-around more palatable. This prune- and honey-based recipe is the result.

11. Käsespätzle (Cheesy Spaetzle With Caramelized Onions & Crispy Shallots)

Buttered spaetzle noodles are often pushed to the side of the dinner plate in favor of more sauerkraut, more bratwurst, more potato pancakes, more applesauce. This Austrian preparation will force itself to the center of your plate with its savory, assertive flavors.

12. Honey Mustard

If you’re up for a project, make honey mustard from scratch. This easy recipe from Molly Yeh promises a DIY version of the must-have condiment in mere minutes.

13. Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese

These aren’t your typical ballpark pretzels—they’re maltier and the side of beer cheese is an absolute must.

14. German Roasted Potato Salad

What makes this potato salad different from the usual mayo-heavy ones you’d find at a picnic? Bacon, a fair amount of vinegar, and whole-grain German mustard. The sharp, tangy edge will cut through the richness of just about everything else on your plate.

15 Garlic, Parmesan, & Herb Beer Bread

If you don’t intend to serve bread at your party—Oktoberfest or not—then I don’t intend to attend your party. But this savory quick bread is so delicious, you won’t have a choice (and apparently, neither will I. See you at 8).


Oktoberfest Desserts

16. German Chocolate Cake Donuts

In 2nd grade, I had a crush on a boy named Jason, who had moved to America from Germany. For his birthday, I baked him a German chocolate cake to share with the class—the cake was a hit, but our love story was not. Inspired by my heartbreak comes this recipe for fudgy, nutty chocolate donuts topped with pecans and shredded coconut—perfect for your Oktoberfest celebration or Jason’s birthday.

17. Apple Strudel With Candied Pecans & Apricots

Oktoberfest and peak apple season coincide, which means this strudel is just the dessert to serve for the German festival. The filling has a combination of both fresh apples and dried apricots, plus candied pecans, for a bite that’s more texturally interesting than the usual (let’s be honest) slightly mushy apples that you might be used to.

18. Extra Chocolatey German Chocolate Cake

No Oktoberfest celebration is complete without a slice of German chocolate cake (I’m an eighth German, so I would know). This five-layer cake features the signature ooey-gooey filling of toasted coconut and pecans, plus plenty of chocolate frosting in every bite.

19. Chocolate Stout Pudding

Sure, making homemade chocolate pudding is harder than ripping the foil lid off of a Jell-O container, but it’s so worth it. To get just the right silky texture, use a combination of heavy cream, egg yolks, melted chocolate, and a little bit of butter. Guinness stout is added to the cream and cocoa mixture and magically brings out the rich chocolatey notes for the best-ever pudding.

20. German Apple Streusel Cake with Brown Sugar Mascarpone Cream

Not only did our readers vote this as their favorite apple recipe, but it’s also fit for an Oktoberfest party. This cozy cake is made with warm spices and a crumbly streusel topping that you’ll want to eat with your fingers (go ahead—I won’t judge!).

21. Fudgy Chocolate Stout Cake

You’d never believe that this chocolate cake is totally dairy- and egg-free. The deep chocolate flavor is enhanced by a combination of stout beer and freshly brewed espresso because after all, it’s not an Oktoberfest without beer.

How are you celebrating Oktoberfest?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MARY JANE ODONNELL
    MARY JANE ODONNELL
  • Kat Suletzki
    Kat Suletzki
  • judy
    judy
  • Kelly Vaughan
    Kelly Vaughan
  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames

9 Comments

MARY J. September 5, 2022
Looks like a wonderful collection of recipes for fall! I can’t wait to try them all. Don’t really care if they are “authentic”. Thanks Food 52
 
Kat S. August 23, 2022
Argh!!! For the love of God, remove the German Chocolate Cake references! Not German at all! American, from a man who happened to be named Sam German. I’d expect so much better from Food52 and as a born and raised (100% not just “one eighth as you describe yourself) I am even insulted. If you are going to put German desserts, use Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (or more specifically, Bavarian), use Kaiserschmarrn!
 
Kelly V. August 23, 2022
We called these recipes German-ish for a reason. Not all of them are authentically German, but they are still in the spirit of an Oktoberfest celebration!
 
Kat S. August 23, 2022
As a native German who has attended Oktoberfest for 27 years, I wholeheartedly disagree. My Bäckermeister Opa (grandfather) would be rolling over in his grave. When I attend Wiesn in a few weeks, I will make sure to document authentic desserts. "German-ism" is only because you aren't German. This is unacceptable food writing. Shame on Food52.
 
AntoniaJames August 23, 2022
Kat, I was surprised by most of the items on this list. I have been to only one Oktoberfest, in Munich about 10 year ago. I recall the food being quite simple - very little in the way of prepared foods, offering instead lots of tasty cold meats and cheeses, and of course, those wonderful pretzels. I'd appreciate it if you would return to this thread, after you've attended the Wiesn festivities, with a list of what was on the menu there. Thank you.

And for anyone out there wondering whether to go to Oktoberfest, do it! You will remember it, fondly, for the rest of your life. ;o)
 
Kat S. August 23, 2022
Wiesn is definitely an experience and it isn't all about the bier, as you know! I wouldn't say *anything* on this list is particularly Oktoberfest-y, but German (with the exception of the German Chocolate Cake references). Each of the tents have different food -- Fischer Vroni has fish; Oxenbrau has ox (steer, beef). Mostly you have "Hendl" (the Bavarian, but not German word for rotisserie chicken), Pommes (French Fries), Wurst und Käse Platten (Charcuterie platters), Pork Roast Sandwiches and Brezn mit Obatzda (Pretzels with Beer Cheese, so that is the most accurate on the list). Desserts are mostly small handheld items, but the Käfer tent (which is sponsored b one of the high end delicatessen and sweets chains /shops) has Kaiserschmarrn, Prinzregetentorte, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, I could go on and on. I can't wait for this year as it has been canceled the last two. It's also a good excuse to see my friends and family "back home".
 
AntoniaJames August 24, 2022
This is such helpful information! Thank you so much. (I've copied it to my knowledge base.) When I went, I was the guest of a large German company, which was a key vendor for a client of mine. The Germans invited us to Munich for a week of negotiations, topped off with the Oktoberfest festivities. Our hosts did all the ordering while in the tent. I did not even look to see what the options were, because the food had all been delivered by the time I got there (exhausted from four full days of meetings followed by 2-3 hours each night of drafting legal documents). I did have a chance, on good advice from someone, I cannot remember who, to get a lovely costume for the occasion. I enjoyed going into the shops in the old section of Munich almost as much as I enjoyed the Oktoberfest events in the tent. The food we ate in the restaurants in Munich (all selected, brilliantly, by our hosts) was without exception delicious. I want to go back!! Thanks again, Kat. ;o)
 
judy August 23, 2022
Early run on the season. Sad to see "German Chocolate" recipes here as they have nothing to do with Germany. This actually refers to a recipe for chocolate cake using German's baking chocolate. Food 52 should know this. American German, maybe, but not historically From Germany.
 
Kat S. August 23, 2022
Thank you for also pointing this out. One would expect more from Food52.