The Ultimate Oktoberfest Menu

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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!

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.

Other German main dishes suited to Oktoberfest include Chicken Schnitzel, Rouladen, Beer Brats, and Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.

A plate of pork schnitzel, spatzle, and braised red cabbage.


Pork Schnitzel

Also known as Schweineschnitzel, Pork Schnitzel is an easy dinner recipe that is ready in about 15 minutes. Once you have the pork, you need just a handful of pantry ingredients to bring this crispy German classic to life.
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A plate of schnitzel, spaetzle, and braised red cabbage.
A plate with rouladen, braised red cabbage, and mashed potatoes.



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.
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Spaetzle are eggy, make-ahead noodles, like the German cousin of classic Buttered 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!

If you’re not up for making Spaetzle, try Mashed Potatoes, Baked Rice, or Sauerkraut, depending on your menu.

A platter of spaetzle.



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.
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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).

Instead of German Potato Salad, you could also consider Creamy Cucumber Salad, Three Bean Salad, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, or Braised Red Cabbage for your Oktoberfest menu.

A bowl of German potato salad.


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

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! Serve these chewy pretzels with plenty of Hot Cheese Sauce or Homemade Mustard (you can make yellow or whole grain).

A platter of soft pretzels with a bowl of cheese sauce.


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!
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These traditional Lebkuchen cookies are 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.

But don’t stop at cookies! Consider an elaborate Black Forest Cake or Apple Strudel, or prepare a tray of pretty Schaum Tortes. And even though German Chocolate Cake isn’t actually German, I’m sure nobody would mind a slice of this chocolate-caramel-coconut masterpiece.

Glazed Lebkuchen on a cutting board.



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.
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Glazed Lebkuchen on a cutting board.

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 made with Coca-Cola and Lemonade, similar to an Arnold Palmer (but without 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.

Coke being poured into a half filled glass of lemonade and ice.


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.
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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.

More German recipes for your menu

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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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  1. Last comments from the Oktoberfest meal. I made the potato salad and the chicken schnitzel on day 2/2. The recipe made way more liquid so i doubled the cooked potatoes. Also, i recommend not cooking the potatoes long – definitely not more than 10 minutes – so that when the hot liquid hits it, the potatoes don’t become mushy. It is a delicious recipe if you get the potato cooking time right. The Chicken Schnitzel was a huge hit and a crowd pleaser. Easy to make as well. The Rouladen was tough when i ate it. i don’t know if i chose the wrong beef for the dish. The sauce on the Rouladen was good though.

  2. Greetings Meggan. Day 1/2 of cooking. I tackled the Rouladen and Braised Red Cabbage today and peeled the potatoes for the potato salad and put it in the refrigerator. I used a Dutch Oven as you recommended and it is a joy! These recipes are complex with many ingredients and many steps and timing is important i found, especially on the braised cabbage. The Rouladen is very good. I tried to add the dill pickle as you suggested and there was no way the meat with jelly roll with it in it, so i discarded it. Great tip with the corn starch to thicken the broth into sauce and it tasted delicious! The braised cabbage was harder for me. I doubted myself the entire time. The outcome is a very pretty dish, except I’m still wondering if my apple slices are too large and I thought the taste was bland. I prefer my German cooked cabbage to be very tangy, Anyway, tomorrow I tackle the potato salad and the chicken schnitzel. Thanks for mentioning what could be made in advance and how to prepare parts of dishes in advance that need to be made the day the food is served.

  3. I am cooking the Chicken Schnitzel, Rouladen, Red Cabbage & pirate salad from your recipes for an Oktoberfest dinner next weekend! I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks for the recipes!!!

  4. 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

  5. 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 posts💕 Keep those yummy recipes coming😋

  6. 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