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Craving a reason to celebrate between Labor Day and Halloween? Set up a spread of my best Oktoberfest recipes for German food and drink to commemorate the largest “volksfest” or people’s festival in the world.

A table of Oktoberfest food including schnitzel, spaetzle, soft pretzels, German potato salad, Lebkuchen, and beer.

Oktoberfest is a 16- to 18-day “people’s festival” hosted annually (since 1810!) in Munich in honor of the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria.

Oktoberfest celebrations begin in late September to take advantage of the longer days and nicer weather. Regardless of when or where you enjoy this Oktoberfest menu, it’s sure to deliver a big punch of German flair.

My best Oktoberfest recipes are inspired more by my Midwestern family’s German roots rather than classic German cuisine, so feel free to take liberties to make these German recipes your own, too!

Just add a big “boot” of beer (German Hofbräu beer is a staple among Midwesterners with German roots), and you’ll feel practically transported to Munich. No passport required!

Table of Contents
  1. Pork Schnitzel
  2. Spaetzle
  3. German Potato Salad
  4. Homemade Soft Pretzels
  5. Lebkuchen
  6. Lemon Spezi

Pork Schnitzel

Pan-fried to crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside perfection, my Pork Schnitzel is a crowd-pleasing Oktoberfest menu idea.

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.

Pork Schnitzel
Ready in just 15 minutes, this easy Pork Schnitzel recipe is about to become your new favorite weeknight dinner idea. Calling for just 7 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) you might already have everything you need to whip up this classic German entree.
A plate of pork schnitzel, spatzle, and braised red cabbage.
A plate of schnitzel, spaetzle, and braised red cabbage.

More German mains

Chicken Schnitzel

Bread and fry thin chicken cutlets to bring a platter of traditional Chicken Schnitzel to the table in just 25 minutes. Like supersized chicken nuggets, this classic German dinner recipe is a supremely family-friendly meal!…

25 minutes

Wisconsin Beer Brats

It’s not summer or tailgate season without beer brats. If you like the flavor of caramelized onions, then you’ll love this easy 4-ingredient grilled brat recipe. Beer brats are a time-honored Midwestern tradition, and no…

30 minutes

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Homemade Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are an ultra-cozy Dutch oven dinner idea. Learn how to make beef- and rice-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls on the stovetop, plus how to make baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and slow cooker Stuffed…

2 hours 15 minutes
Bacon, beef broth, and tomato paste make this hearty beef recipe a major umami delight. Try this gravy-topped classic German entree as part of your Oktoberfest menu or anytime you're craving comfort food.
A plate with rouladen, braised red cabbage, and mashed potatoes.


Think of these eggy, easy make-ahead noodles like the German cousin of classic butter noodles.

While the texture is best with a spaetzle press, I have a trick for scoring similar results with a colander or steamer. The best news about this German side dish recipe? You can form and boil the noodles up to 3 days ahead!

My make-ahead Spaetzle noodles can be formed and boiled up to 3 days ahead. Try my Spaetzle-making trick using a colander if you don't have (or want to invest in) special equipment to make this classic German side dish recipe.
A platter of spaetzle.

More simple sides

German Potato Salad

Take a break from mayo-strong salads and try my punchy German Potato Salad. Spiked with tangy mustard and crowned with crumbled crispy bacon, after just one bite, chances are you’ll want to serve this German side dish all year long (not just as part off your Oktoberfest menu).

German Potato Salad
Crispy bacon and tangy mustard take classic potato salad on a trip to Germany. Ideal for potluck menus and Oktoberfest celebrations, this German Potato Salad might just become your new favorite starchy side dish.
A bowl of German potato salad.
A table of Oktoberfest food including schnitzel, spaetzle, soft pretzels, German potato salad, Lebkuchen, and beer.

More sides and salads

Braised Red Cabbage
Tender-crisp red cabbage transforms into a tangy and savory side dish recipe in this classic German Braised Red Cabbage. This is my twist on traditional Rotkohl, a sweet-sour cabbage dish often served alongside Rouladen and other German entrees.
A bowl of braised red cabbage.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Sure, you can buy these in the supermarket freezer section. But it’s actually a cinch, and a totally fun family cooking project, to make chewy and pillowy Homemade Soft Pretzels right in your own kitchen.

Simply round up some flour, yeast, sugar, baking soda, butter, egg, and salt, then gather the family. It’s time to do the twist!

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Homemade Soft Pretzels that are soft and chewy on the inside and crackly brown on the outside. Knot or twist your way to the BEST soft pretzels you’ve ever had!
A platter of soft pretzels with a bowl of cheese sauce.

Favorite sauces for soft pretzels


This traditional German cookie is like a mash-up of Gingerbread and frosted Sugar Cookies. Warmly-spiced with notes of molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and allspice, these glazed cookies pair beautifully with everything on this Oktoberfest menu. Especially another boot of beer.

Try a traditional German Christmas cookie this holiday season (or any time of year!). Lebkuchen spice cookies are cozy and comforting, and pair perfectly with a cup of cold milk or hot coffee.
Glazed Lebkuchen on a cutting board.

More German dessert ideas

Lemon Spezi

The beverage of choice for Oktoberfest is, and always will be, beer. But, if you’re more excited about the food than the beer, you might love a Lemon Spezi.

This classic German drink is like an Arnold Palmer with Coca-Cola instead of iced tea. It’s totally delicious and refreshing, and it’s a great mocktail choice for Oktoberfest! German’s are also known for their love of sparkling mineral water, so feel free to stay on theme with a glass of sprudelwasser.

Lemon Spezi
This easy drink recipe is like an Arnold Palmer but better! My refreshing, fizzy Lemon Spezi recipe is about to become your go-to summer mocktail.
Coke being poured into a half filled glass of lemonade and ice.

Now that you have a complete line-up of Oktoberfest recipes, just stock up on Hofbräu beer, cue up a polka playlist, and invite your family and friends. Happy Oktoberfest, friends!

A table of Oktoberfest food including schnitzel, spaetzle, soft pretzels, German potato salad, Lebkuchen, and beer.
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I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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  1. Hello, I enjoyed your article and take on German recipes. However, I would like to clarify that German Chocolate Cake is not German. It is actually named for Samuel German, an American who developed a process to make dark chocolate.

    1. Hi Shirley, wow! Thanks. I will have to remove it from this roundup. It’s funny because when I look up “German desserts” online it always shows up. I was totally fooled. Thank you!!! -Meggan

  2. I’d have to say that your German recipes are pretty true to the real thing! I’ve been married to a Black Forest native for forty years and have been making a lot of these recipes and with only a few variants. Really enjoy your postsπŸ’• Keep those yummy recipes comingπŸ˜‹

  3. Hello Meggan!
    All the Oktoberfest recipes sound great!
    Don’t know which to pick. Although a little time consuming I’d like to see a Sauerbraten recipe in the mix as well.

    1. Hi William, it was on the original list but didn’t make the cut because we didn’t have time to do it all. I also wanted to make Schweinebraten and Bienenstitch (bee sting cake). I have a whole list of additional German recipes actually. Hopefully we can get to them next time! Thanks for letting me know though, it’s good to know people care. :) Thank you so much! -Meggan

    1. Hi Juliet, thank you for the comment! Many of these recipes are plant based or modified by subbing veggie broth and veggie cutlets! Thanks for the suggestion and I’ll add it to our list for possible future recipe testing. – Meggan