A spread of Oktoberfest foods and beer

A spread of Oktoberfest foods and beer (Photo by Alexander Raths on Shutterstock)

We know, we know, beer is the star of Oktoberfest. But the food definitely comes in a close second. Those soft pretzels, right? Whether you’re hosting an Oktoberfest get-together or choosing the foods you plan to nab in the festival tents, we’re here to help! Check out our list of the best Oktoberfest foods, according to 15 experts.

It seems fitting that the world’s most popular beer — lager — originated in Bavaria, Germany, home to the original Oktoberfest in Munich. The festival initially was a celebration honoring the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. But the beer was actually created by accident. According to a recent study, the yeast used for brewing cold beer was the result of an accidental encounter between two distinct yeast strains. Lucky for us, the two became one, and the rest is history, 400 years in the making.

So, if you’re in the party-planning mood and there just isn’t enough to celebrate between the Fourth of July and Halloween, consider raising a glass to the centuries-old wedding reception known as Oktoberfest. It’s been celebrated annually since 1810, making it one of the oldest holidays on record. And since community is a big part of happiness, according to one recent study, planning a get-together in late September/early October seems like a good idea to us!

Ready to find the number-one recipes to serve up or sample during Oktoberfest? To help you narrow down your smorgasbord to the very tastiest bites, we’ve compiled a consensus list of the best Oktoberfest foods, according to 15 experts. Have another crave-worthy dish to add? Tell us in the comments below!

The List: Best Oktoberfest Foods, According to Experts

1. Brezeln (Pretzels)

This well-known and well-loved pastry appears on most lists of the top Oktoberfest foods, and with good reason. What better way to soak up all that beer than with a giant knot of delicious dough?

Oktoberfest beer and soft pretzels
Oktoberfest beer and soft pretzels (Photo by KarepaStock on Shuttertock)

Insanely Good Recipes describes them decadently: “They have lightly crispy outsides, soft, warm insides, and enough pretzel salt and brown sugar to provide you with a perfectly balanced sweet and salty treat. Whether you eat them by themselves or dip them in mustard, beer cheese, or something else, they’re sure to delight every one of your tastebuds.”

“Bavarian soft pretzels might be the biggest must-have at your Oktoberfest party (after beer and a guy falling off a bench, naturally). Actually, I take that back. An Oktoberfest without pretzels is not Oktoberfest. It’s just a keg party with weird outfits,” jokes My Wanderlusty Life.

Germanfoods.org suggests trying your hand at making your own, writing, “Soft pretzels make a fun and easy snack that are easy to make, if you can master this double twist.”

2. Obatzda (German Beer Cheese Dip)

You simply can’t have those pretzels without something to dip them in, and the experts agree: German beer cheese dip is where it’s at!

German beer cheese dip
German beer cheese dip (Photo by Africa Studio on Shutterstock)

Plated Cravings explains, “Obatzda, a flavorful German Beer Cheese Spread, is a beer garden classic made with camembert cheese, butter, and beer! This easy cheese dip can be made ahead and makes a delicious appetizer or snack with pretzels or rustic bread. Perfect for your next Oktoberfest party!”

And Bake It With Love says it’s not just for pretzel dipping: “Beer cheese dip is great during Oktoberfest because it is flavorful and delicious. This thick cheese dip is great for warm baked pretzels or air fryer tortilla chips!”

According to Parade, it’s more of an appetizer, or perhaps, an any-tizer! “Germans call this kind of dish Vorspiese—literally ‘before food’—something rich to whet your appetite that can double as a between-meal snack or late-night supper. And it’s certainly delicious any time of day.”

3. Reibekuchen/Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes)

For another good stick-to-your-ribs option, try potato pancakes, fried golden crisp and served with a variety of toppings to choose from. Food & Wine notes, “These potato pancakes are served both savory with a salad or sweet with apple sauce.”

A bowl of potato pancakes
A bowl of potato pancakes (Photo by Max Griss on Unsplash)

All Tastes German puts these at the top of the list and pairs them with smoked salmon. “Potato pancakes are one of my favorite snacks, especially during Oktoberfest. The crispy outside and soft inside of the pancake complement the salty smokiness of the salmon perfectly.”

WanderInGermany enthuses, “Fried potato pancakes are a must try food at Oktoberfest!!! While they may be simple dishes, they sure are delicious! If you are familiar with Latkes, that is the best comparison of a Reibekuchen.”

4. Schnitzel

Main course options include schnitzel, which can be made of any meat, breaded and fried. Traditionally made with veal, it can also feature pork loin, chicken breast, or any meat you choose, including fish!

German Schnitzel
German Schnitzel (Photo by Mark König on Unsplash)

Culinary Hill says this fun Oktoberfest main course is reminiscent of a childhood favorite. “Similar to a Midwestern Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, these pork cutlets are breaded and sizzled up to a consistency that will remind kids (and kids at heart) of chicken fingers. Garnish with fresh parsley and pair with lemon wedges to squeeze on top; these fresh elements will really perk up the savory, hearty flavors.”

When it comes to good schnitzel, Food52 stresses the key ingredient: “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.”

But Delish says it’s all about the prep, writing, “Pounding the meat until you have a thin cutlet creates a super tender bite. If you have access to a butcher, you can also ask them to do this for you, getting you one step closer to golden brown perfection when you get home.”

5. Bratwurst

And of course, another great main course is bratwurst, along with plenty of other sausages! There are numerous ways to serve it, and myriad toppings to choose from when it comes to this versatile favorite.

Bratwurst and sauerkraut on a grill
Bratwurst and sauerkraut on a grill (Photo by Rich Smith on Unsplash)

Taste of Home serves up a recipe from Darlene Dixon of Hannover, Minnesota, highlighting the brat’s great versatility. “The bratwurst can be plain, smoked or cheese-flavored and served whole or cut in slices, with a bun or without.”

Craft Beering suggests combining the bratwurst with its classic pairing into a bite-sized ball: “Sauerkraut and Bratwurst Balls—the two best known German foods rolled into bite-sized balls, breaded and fried (or baked). Serve with Bavarian mustard and a lot of beer!”

Brit + Co agrees, “Our favorite ‘kraut combo is hands down when it’s sitting on top of sausage.”

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