Salty soft pretzels, sizzling sausages, ice-cold brews — get hungry for Oktoberfest! Though the official two-week festival in Munich, Germany wraps up by early October, it's a beer stein clink heard all month long, all around the world.
german chocolate praline cake
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

1. Set the Menu

German Sausage 101

Knocks 'n' Brats
Recipe: a href=""Knocks 'n' Brats & Red Cabbage & Potatoes Rosti/a

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.

Do the twist!

Then, take the left tip and press it to the right side at 4 o'clock.

Step 2

Finally, take the right tip and press it to the left side at 8 o'clock.

Step 3

Party Menu

Hot Dog Paprikash

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

chicken pork schnitzel quick sweet n sauer-kraut apple onion potato salad
Credit: Photography by Joesph De Leo

Schnitzel is essentially just thin, fried chicken or pork. How could you go wrong with that?

Knocks 'n' Brats & Red Cabbage & Potatoes Rosti

Knocks 'n' Brats
Recipe: a href=""Knocks 'n' Brats & Red Cabbage & Potatoes Rosti/a

Try two wursts at once! Add some pickles and spicy mustard to this carnivorous dish to bring out that famous German flavor.

White Asparagus Bread Salad with Hollandaise

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.

Beef Schnitzel a la Holstein & Braised Green Beans

beef schnitzel a la holstein braised green beans
Credit: Photography by Joesph De Leo

Cook up this schnitzel with green beans, anchovies, and eggs. Yum!

German Chocolate Praline Cake

german chocolate praline cake
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

Dessert, anyone? Oktoberfest is the perfect excuse to put a gourmet spin on German chocolate 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. 

2. Serve Some Drinks

Beer Swap!

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!

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!

Make Your Backyard a Beer Garden!

Go all out with German-inspired decorations and activities!

Check Mate

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,

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!

Glass Act

Your backyard brewfest calls for shatterproof Go Anywhere Beer Glasses, reusable cups that look like the real thing. $15 for four,

Six-Pack Snacks

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.