What to Eat at Oktoberfest (or Any Time You're in Munich)

  • 01 of 10

    Must-Have Dishes at Oktoberfest

    Veal shank with bread dumpling

    There are many tantalizing options on offer for Oktoberfest. Rich, rustic and hearty - this is not health food. Expect Kaiser-sized hunks of meat paired with mountains of Sauerkraut and Knödel (potato dumplings). Whether you need something to accompany your massive Mass of Bier or want to literally take a bite out of Bavarian culture, here are 10 must-try German dishes for Oktoberfest (or anytime you are in Munich).  

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  • 02 of 10

    Weisswurst

    Two cooked Weisswurst with mustard & pretzel on plate
    ••• Foodcollection/Getty Images

    These ghostly white veal/pork sausages prepare your stomach for the liters of strong German beer you are about to ingest. Weisswurst (literally translates to "white sausage") is called Weißwuascht in the Bavarian dialect. Traditionally it is made from minced veal and pork back bacon, seasoned with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger, and cardamom and appears pale white with brown specks.

    Two fat sausages (Weißwürste) are usually presented in a pot of hot water to keep them warm. Pair it with a Brezeln (pretzel), senf (mustard) and Weissbier (wheat beer) in the morning to fit right in with the Bavarians eating a Weißwurstfrühstück (white sausage breakfast). In fact, this is an exclusively morning meal. There is a Bavarian saying that "the sausages should not be allowed to hear the noon chime of the church bells".

    The sausage is much beloved to this day with over millions of Weisswurst sold every year. There have even been efforts to grant it the status of specialty...MORE sausage with an EU-recognized Protected Geographical Indication seal. The sausage is a symbol of the north/south divide as indicated with jokes about the Weißwurstäquator (white sausage equator).

    Visitors should also note that Weisswurst isn't meant to be eaten with fork and knife. So how do you get sausage to face? Cut it lengthwise and peel it, dipping it in the senf. Or you can suck out the delicious innards (zuzeln). This is one of the few times Germans won't give you a side eye for eating with your hands.

    Where to find outside of Oktoberfest

    Weisswurst are on offer at most of Oktoberfest's beer tents and almost all of Munich's restaurants from about 8:30 to 11:30. In particular, Bratwurstherzl (Dreifaltigkeitsplatz 1 at Viktualienmarkt) and Weisses Bräuhaus (Tal 7) are known for serving the best of the Wurst. The sausage us also offered at Pensions for breakfast and sold at every grocery store.

    Outside of Bavaria, you may have more trouble finding Weisswurst on every menu, but you can find it anywhere in Germany. If you spot a Biergarten or quintessential blue-and-white-checkered Bavarian flag, you should be able to find the white Wurst. For example:

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  • 03 of 10

    Schweinshaxe

    Close-Up Of Food On Plate
    ••• Andrew Nguyen / EyeEm/Getty Images

    Ham hock, more commonly known as “pork knuckle" in Germany, is an impressive main dish. Served roasted with crackling skin (or boiled and called Eisbein), finishing this giant portion of pork is quite an accomplishment in addition to a liter of beer. Get your primitive Bavarian on with a big knife to cut to the bone!

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  • 04 of 10

    Sauerkraut

    Nuremberg grilled sausages, sauerkraut and mustard on plate
    ••• Westend61/Getty Images

    What is German food without Sauerkraut? Its unappetizing translation of "sour cabbage" and distinctive flavor belies how well it couples with traditional German mains.

    Also be sure to try the red, sweeter variety of Rotkohl.

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  • 05 of 10

    Spätzle

    German kaesespaetzle.JPG
    ••• Käsespätzle with fried onions. Erin Porter

    Often compared to the American version of macaroni and cheese, this is a hearty vegetarian-friendly dish.

    A total gut-bomb, it is traditionally made by scraping a ball of Dunstmehl (dough) against a wooden chopping board (Spätzlebrett) into boiling salted water. When finished, the Spätzle rise to the surface and can be topped with fried onions, spinach or minced pork liver (Leberspätzle) for the meat-lover.

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  • 06 of 10

    Hendl

    Oktoberfest Hendl.jpg
    ••• Hühner- und Entenbraterei Wildmoser. Erin Porter

    The Germans may be known for their pork dishes, but it is hard to ignore the rows of roast chicken all over Oktoberfest. Usually called halbes hähnchen up north, the southern name of Hendl more specifically refers to the delectable birds roasted with butter and parsley (or even paprika) at the festival. Close to 300,000 birds are consumed every year.

    Sold at every beer tent in either a half, quarter or whole portion, get dirty with your carcass by picking off every melt-in-your-mouth piece.

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  • 07 of 10

    Knödel

    Knodel
    ••• GettyImages / Karl Newedel

    You know to expect potatoes with your German meal, but Knödel may not fit what you're thinking. These are poached or boiled potato (or even bread) dumplings usually drenched in gravy, served with meat and provide the ultimate solution to soaking up a boozy belly.

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  • 08 of 10

    Flammkuchen

    German Flammkuchen.JPG
    ••• Erin Porter
    This Alsatian dish may not root from Bavaria but has become ubiquitous throughout Germany. The ideal pairing with those massive liters of beer, this thin crust pizza is traditionally topped with crème fraîche, sliced onions and Speck (bits of bacon).
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  • 09 of 10

    Fischbrötchen

    Fischbroetchen
    ••• GettyImages / FoodPhotography Eising

    If all of this sounds a bit heavy, it's because it is. Fischbrötchen is an alternative.

    Still fried, but possibly lighter, Backfischbrötchen is popular. You may also try Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick). 

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  • 10 of 10

    Schweinsbraten

    Schweinsbraten
    ••• GettyImages / StockFood

    ..and here comes more pork! Schweinsbraten is one of the most common Bavarian entrees. Thick, juicy slabs of pork are served with savory gravy and are usually complimented with Sauerkraut and Knödel.