Appetizers Dinner Holidays Party Side Dishes

Oktoberfest Party-Appetizer Style

Oktoberfest is a festival of beer and food held in late September and early October in Germany.  Well who doesn’t love a festival of beer and food?  These are not held all over with lot’s of learning from our German friends. We hosted a fun little Oktoberfest Party where I attempted to turn some of our favorite German dishes into appetizers.  I say attempted well, because I mostly succeeded 😉

This party took me a good 6-8 hours of prep work.  Make it easier?  Suggested shortcuts are also listed, enlist the help of your friends (you provide the beer of course) and just pick a couple of your favorites.  Or take the adventurous route like I did, it was totally worth it!  

A few days of research and the winning menu...
  • Pretzels & Beer Cheese (Obatzda)
  • Cucumbers & Vinegar Dill Dip (Gurken Salat)
  • Cornichons (Miniature tart pickles)
  • Pork Schnitzel Sliders Cordon Bleu with Smoked Mustard Aioli
  • German Bratwursts Platter with Dips
  • Red Apple Cabbage Bites
  • German Style Potato Skins with Tarragon Sauce (Bavarian Kartoffelsalat)
  • Lemon Cupcakes (Zitron Kuchen)
  • Beers, a few good German choices like as a Warsteiner, Weihenstephaner and Dunkel-a favorite of mine.

Pretzels-a German party without pretzels-a hard no for me 🙂

Shortcut way;  Grocery stores sell a good frozen soft pretzel, like the SuperPretzel brand.

Adventurous way; Alton Browns Soft Pretzels recipe can’t be beat! I have made these a few times, best the day of-but for time’s sake I normally make the day before.  I am not a baker by any means so when something goes wrong when I am baking I either call my sister or daughter and/or cry.  The yeast didn’t work so my dough didn’t rise…hmmm….I consulted my sister, I consulted Google, all votes led toward toss it and start over.  I didn’t have time or patience.  So I rolled it out, it was hard and made less than normal.  But to my amazement they turned out pretty good, again not great but everyone seemed to like them! I have made them in little rounds and this time I even tried making them in pretzel shapes, super cute!

Beer Cheese-often served cold at the bar but delicious warmed.

Short cut way; There are so many types of already made cheeses out there to enjoy from the store.  

Adventurous way; I came up with this recipe with it seemed like zillions of ingredients.  It was delicious!  Definitely can make the day or two ahead.  A fun way to serve it is in a soup crock.  It can be served cold or warm.

Beer Cheese

  • 8 oz Brie Cheese, softened and rind removed
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ½ cup beer
  1. Mix all together and serve in a soup crock if you have one. Add a little more shredded cheese and parsley for garnish.

Vinegar Dill Dip – A popular German side dish is called Gurken Salat which is normally cucumbers served in a creamy dressing.  

Short cut way;  Tzatki is delicious and sold premade in many stores.

Adventurous way; Mix these ingredients a day or two ahead and serve with sliced cucumbers.  Be forewarned it is very delicious but very vinegary so must love vinegar.  

Vinegar Dill Dip

  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup greekyogurt
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp dried Dill
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  1. Mix all together 1-2 days prior and refrigerate.  Serve with more sprinkled dill on top.  

Pork Schnitzel Cordon Bleu Sliders with a Mustard Aioli-yum yum yum!  My sister, Donna taught me how to make Chicken Cordon Bleu years ago-now a family favorite, this was a delicious new twist on it. Definitely go the adventurous route and make these! 

Pork Schnitzel Cordon Bleu Sliders

  • 2 packages of hawaiian slider rolls (24)
  • 12 slices Black Forest Ham
  • 12 slices swiss cheese
  • 12 thin boneless pork chops
  • Flour
  • Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • Canola Oil
  • Mustard Aioli (see recipe)
  • Trim fat off edges of pork chops and cut in half.  
  1. Whisk eggs together.  Dredge pork chops lightly in flour, then eggs, then pat into the bread crumbs.
  2. Heat oil to medium high and brown each side of the pork chops and set aside on a pan or rack.  
  3. Lay out slider rolls bottoms in 9×11 glass pan (12 per pan).  Put a piece of ham, then pork, then cheese on the roll.  Spread mustard aioli on the other side of the bun and place on the cheese.  
  4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Serve extra mustard aioli on the side. 

Smoked Mustard Aioli

Short cut way; so many mustards to try at the store.

Adventurous way; make this you will be glad you did, so good!

Smoked Mustard Aioli 

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup stone ground mustard
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp lemon jice
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  1. Mix together and enjoy!

German Bratwurst with assorted dips

Short cut way; I took the short-cut way and I was glad I did. Some of my ingredients like the Curry Ketchup I bought at our local German Store-Kalli’s German Butcher Shop and for the brats Aldi’s and Wegmans Grocery Store also have a great selection. For dips, a German Curry Ketchup and an assortment of mustards works great.

Adventurous way; Haven’t figured that out yet, but maybe make our german brats some day?

Apple Cabbage Bites

Short cut way; buy a jar of pre-made red cabbage add a chopped apple or a little applesauce. My husband, Mike suggested this and even showed it to me in the store, a cheap easy alternative. Did I take his suggestion, well no but sometimes he is right on (let’s see if he really reads these and realizes what I said in print 😉 It would have been easier to buy it premade for this type of party for the future….

Adventurous way; I made the red cabbage 2 days before the party and the key here to turn it into these little bite appetizers is to drain it really good.  I used paper towels to push out the excess liquid.  Roll out a pizza dough like the pillsbury can and cut in circles and place in a mini muffin cups sprayed with non stick spray.  Add a scoop of the apple cabbage and bake for about 15 minutes at 400.  You can find the link to the Red Cabbage recipe below at MIllies Cherished Memories & German Recipes.

Mise en place-getting it all together before you cook, this lesson changed my cooking world….

German Style Potato Skins with Tarragon Sauce-a German potato salad in a potato skin-sign me up!

Short cut way; buy frozen potato skins and serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of tarragon. 

Adventurous way; these were really good, not your traditional style potato skins like I hoped but more like a twice baked potato.

German Style Potato Skins

  • 6 Russet Potatoes
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Stone Ground mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Tarragon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 pkg bacon
  • Tarragon Sauce (See recipe)

  1. Poke holes in the potatoes and bake at 350 for 1 hour. 
  2. Cut bacon into small bite sizes pieces and fry until done. 
  3. Once cool enough to handle, slice potato in half and scoop out some of the potatoes in a bowl.  Fold in all of the ingredients except only use half of the bacon and re-scoop mixture back into potato skins.
  4. Sprinkle with remaining bacon and bake at 350 for 1/2 hour.  
  5. Serve with Tarragon Sauce.

Tarragon Sauce

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp Tarragon
  • 1 Tbsp garlic salt
  1. Mix together and serve with Potato Skins.

Lemon Rainbow Cupcakes (Zitron Kuchen Style)

Short cut way; buy a Kuchen cake at your local grocery store.

Adventurous way; Honestly the reviews on these at the party were mixed. Some liked some did not. They are a denser style cupcake. I personally loved them, but remember everyone’s taste is different and that is all good.

Lemon Rainbow Cupcakes (Zitron Kuchen)

  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 12 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • Glaze
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Rainbow sprinkles & Lemon Zest
  1. Whisk 3/4 cup lemon juice, butter, eggs and heavy cream together and mix together in a separate bowl flour, baking powder and sugar.  Slowly fold in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  
  2. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake about 30 minutes at 350 until tooth pick comes out dry.  
  3. Mix glaze. Poke a fork in the cup cake about half way down and drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with a little lemon zest and rainbow sprinkles. 

Additional party notes;

  • Don’t forget the music and assortment of German Oktoberfest playlists are available.  Even if you don’t cook any of this, listen to the music it is fun!
  • You can buy all kinds of decorations at party stores if you wish, I am not a big decorator so I stick with just the food most of the time but it would have added a nice touch.
  • Big tip; anytime you are having a gathering think about what you have done before, what you have, what you might be able to use again.  Honest fail on this party is I had two German Oktoberfest outfits in the halloween bin from years ago, those would have been fun to wear! 

Whether you take the short cuts, or go a little adventurous, have fun with it!  It is all about what you like to do and for me it’s sharing old memories and making new memories with friends and family.  Special thanks to Mike for losing me to the kitchen for a few days and being my official taste tester. Also to my Oktoberfest Party guests Dave, Adria, Todd & Brenda for trying a few news things and sharing good tips for this blog and many laughs along the way!

Prost!  (Cheers!)


P.S. speaking of sharing old memories some of my fondest moments are spending time with our friend Mike learning about some of the German dishes and beers and with our German friend Millie. Learning from them helped inspire me to spend more time in the kitchen and share new memories with new friends! You can find Millie’s story and delicious German dinner here Millie’s Cherished Memories & German Recipes

A few favorite product recommendations; a microplane is a favorite tool for zest, mixing bowls that you don’t have to chase around the counter, love these soup bowls for French Onion Soup and who knew cute to serve Beer Cheese in, Pyrex dishes-my go to for everything oven to serving-I only own two I could use more ;), Mini Tin-so versatile and my “use all the time” Bamboo Board. Thank you for checking them out!