Traditional foods and the ‘Maß‘ beer (one liter beer glass) are still the core of the German Oktoberfest in Munich. Once Munich’s major shouts “O’zapft is!”, the typical Oktoberfest aroma of all types of foods & alcohol is spreading across the Wiesn, and once again draws in the crowds under its magic spell for the next 14 days. Visitors from all across Germany and the world indulge in tremendous amounts of foods and beverages:
- 6.7 million liters of beer (= 202.884 oz.)
- About 510,000 roasted chickens, the Oktoberfest Hendl
- Almost 113,000 pork sausages
- More than 78,000 pieces of pork knuckles
- 85 calves for veal schnitzel etc.
Even though in recent years, we have seen vegetarian and less fatty food offerings, people visit to enjoy the real deal – the traditional Oktoberfest foods. If you are planning on going, these are the must-try dishes.
Top 10 Traditional Oktoberfest Foods to Try:
- No Hendl (fried chicken), no Oktoberfest!
A must, if you visit Munich for the first time! “A hoibads Hendl” (half a chicken) is extremely popular among Bavarians. You may say: “Gosh! What’s the big deal?” – Well, the secret to its popularity lies in the skin of the fried chicken. It’s extremely well-seasoned and its skin is just exceptionally crispy.
- If salad, then add sausage!
Hearty sausage salad for dinner is very popular in southern Germany, Austria and even Switzerland. It’s traditionally prepared from meat sausage, with onions, radishes, pickles, cheese and a mix of fresh herbs. During Oktoberfest season, just about any time a day, people have sausage salad as a hearty snack or side.
- The beloved Weisswurst (white sausage)
Made from pork and veal, this type of sausage is the incarnation of Bavarian cuisine! You typically have Weisswurst late morning with sweet mustard, sauerkraut and a glass of yeast beer. Ever wondered why the white sausage is actually ‘white’? It’s not made with nitrite curing salt but ordinary table salt.
- Brezn (Bavarian pretzel)
Very common in Bavaria and Astria. This salty specialty is made from yeast dough and gets its unique, hearty flavor from being dipped into caustic soda before baking. The Oktoberfest pretzel, also called Wiesnbrezn, is slightly larger than the ordinary pretzel. Of course, this also shows in calories!
- Fish in all variations
No Oktoberfest without fish! The most popular type is the ‘Steckerlfisch’. This type of barbequed fish is prepared on sticks. While barbequing, it’s frequently brushed with a mix of butter and herbal marinade. Traditionally ‘Steckerlfisch’ is made of breams, white fish or vendace. BTW: ‘Steckerlfisch’ has nothing in common with dried stockfish.
- Classic Haxn (Bavarian pork knuckle)
Bavarian pork knuckles are known for their crispy pork fat layer. They are always fresh from the oven and extremely filling. According to Bavarians, a wallpaper knife is the best ‘tool’ to cut through the outer, crispy skin layer! The Haxn is commonly served with sauerkraut and one baby-head sized fluffy dumpling.
- Bread dumplings for everything and anything!
Bread dumplings are extremely popular for Oktoberfest. To find the stand of the “Münchner Knödelei”, just look for an oversized traditional oven. Their dumplings come in all kinds of variations – from the typical liver dumpling soup, bread, potato and spinach dumplings to even cheese dumplings. Some variations are hearty, some sweeter.
- The famous Bavarian Brotzeit (bread time)
A tradition in Bavarian culture is the Brotzeit (bread time). This is a hearty meal served late morning. The ‘Radi’ (Bavarian for radish) is a must here. Other common dishes for Brotzeit are: Weisswurst (white sausage), Brezn (Bavarian pretzel), sausage salad, Leberkas (meat loaf), Obazde and of course beer.
- Very cheesy with cheese spaetzle
Another favorite at the Oktoberfest! Commonly served with pork knuckle, roasted duck or ox. Make sure that they are served with roasted onions! Even though Bavarians won’t talk about that: The origins of cheese spaetzle are actually in the Black Forest. Bavarians just took their recipe and fine-tuned it with cheese.
- Feed the sweet tooth
Even though Bavarians love hearty foods, they do have a sweet tooth like the rest of us! Besides chocolate grapes, paradise apples and roasted almonds, there are plenty of sweet desserts available at the Oktoberfest. So, indulge in poppy-seed strudel, Kaiserschmarrn (sugared pancakes) and plum cake with streusels! Definitely try the famous sweet yeast dumplings with vanilla sauce or apple strudel with raisins and vanilla ice cream. Make sure you have any of the later of these yummy desserts with whipped cream.
If you plan on visiting an Oktoberfest this year, add the right attire (see here). It’ll help you get into the right mood, and you fit right in.