1. Set the Menu
German Sausage 101
Oktoberfest is meant to be a celebration where guests are walking around, so handheld foods are the way to go. Set out a spread with a slew of sausages, condiments and rolls, preferably of the pretzel variety! There's a world of wursts out there; cook up any of these classics and let guests pile on toppings as they please.
Frankfurter: The prototype for the American hot dog, this slender, traditionally all-pork wiener is usually seasoned with garlic and spices.
Knackwurst: There's beef and pork in these finely ground sausages, named for their snappy casings ("knack" means "crack" in German).
Bratwurst: There are many varieties in Germany, but here in the States, they're plump pork links — a Midwestern specialty.
Kielbasa: Grill these smoked, oversize Polish pork sausages and serve them in bite-size pieces.
Nurnberger Rostbratwurst: These thin, marjoram-spiced pork sausages are the ideal cocktail frank. Bet you can't eat just one!
Bier Brats: An Oktoberfest favorite, sear these sausages with ginger, white pepper, and lager, and pop 'em on a warm bun. You can find a pre-made version of this recipe with a side of apples and cabbage in the prepared food department at Whole Foods.
Soft pretzels, please!
The twisty treats are a major Oktoberfest staple. Grab some pizza dough and make some yourself!
Here's how: Roll store-bought dough into four 18-inch-long ropes. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape (see below) and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 25 minutes. Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with salt or rosemary. Bake at 400 degrees until golden-brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Just form the dough into a U shape with the tips pointing up.
Then, take the left tip and press it to the right side at 4 o'clock.
Finally, take the right tip and press it to the left side at 8 o'clock.
Hot Dog Paprikash
These aren't your average ballpark franks!
Recipe: Try our Hot Dog Paprikash
Chicken or Pork Schnitzel with Quick Sweet 'n' Sauerkraut & Apple, Onion & Potato Salad
Schnitzel is essentially just thin, fried chicken or pork. How could you go wrong with that?
Knocks 'n' Brats & Red Cabbage & Potatoes Rosti
Try two wursts at once! Add some pickles and spicy mustard to this carnivorous dish to bring out that famous German flavor.
Recipe: Try our Knocks 'n' Brats & Red Cabbage & Potatoes Rosti
White Asparagus Bread Salad with Hollandaise
That's not penne pasta... it's white asparagus! This vegetarian German dish is one for the Oktoberfest books.
Recipe: Try our White Asparagus Bread Salad with Hollandaise
Beef Schnitzel a la Holstein & Braised Green Beans
Cook up this schnitzel with green beans, anchovies, and eggs. Yum!
Recipe: Try our Beef Schnitzel a la Holstein & Braised Green Beans
German Chocolate Praline Cake
Dessert, anyone? Oktoberfest is the perfect excuse to put a gourmet spin on German chocolate cake!
Recipe: Try our German Chocolate Praline Cake
Apple Cider Barley
Do as the Germans do, and get some barley cooking! Molly Siegler, a Whole Foods Coordinator of Culinary Development, suggests cooking barley in apple cider for a more flavorful dish.
Recipe: Try Whole Foods' Apple Cider Barley
Roasted Vegetable Salad with Citrus-Ale Vinnaigrette
If you're going for a more savory side dish, try ale-dressed veggies! Revelers in Germany are all about their root vegetables, so throw a hearty variety into a bowl. Drizzle with a zesty vinaigrette made from India Pale Ale.
Recipe: Try Whole Foods' Roasted Vegetable Salad with Citrus-Ale Dressing
2. Serve Some Drinks
Oktoberfest lagers, also called marzen, because they're brewed in spring (Marz = March) and consumed through fall, are a medium-bodied, malty seasonal treat that you can get right now. (Hint: Ask your party guests to each bring a different six pack so you can taste them all!)
Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen: Earthy, malty, smooth, and sweet -- this Berlin-brewed beer has it all!
Samuel Adams Oktoberfest: The ruby-hued crowd-pleaser tastes of caramel and light, herbal hops.
Left Hand Brewing Oktoberfest Marzen Lager: The Colorado brewery's medium-bodied lager has a spicy, dry finish.
Widmer Brothers Brewing Okto Festival Ale: This amber ale tastes fruity and floral.
Shiner Oktoberfest: Texas's finest malty marzen is a bracing palate refresher.
Full Sail Brewing LTD Oktoberfest: Smooth and nutty, this award-winning Oregon lager goes down easy.
Deschutes Fresh Haze IPA: Taste the tang of juicy orange with a malty flair.
Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Ale: This sweet and spicy brew is for the true pumpkin lovers.
While you're on a beer kick, throw some in this Beer and Cheese Soup!
You read that right! This alternative to beer cheese dip goes sooo good with sausage and pretzels.
Recipe: Try our Beer & Cheese Soup
3. Get the Party Started!
Go all out with German-inspired decorations and activities!
Dress up your buffet in Bavarian blue and white with this plastic beer-proof Oktoberfest table cover. Add a couple of DIY or store-bought Bavarian or German flags, and you've got decor down! $7.50, partycity.com
Eat with Your Eyes
The only thing better than cool decorations are ones you can eat! Make a pretzel garland (thread twine through the top loops or use an upholstery needle) and hang it. Tell guests to tear them off if they're hungry!
Your backyard brewfest calls for shatterproof Go Anywhere Beer Glasses, reusable cups that look like the real thing. $15 for four, govino.com
Why dirty more dishes? Use six-pack holders for serving party snacks! Remove the bottle dividers, load the cartons with your favorite bites — then toss them out when you're done.