Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Cooking with Beer for Oktoberfest

This Oktoberfest, I’ve decided to take the beer by the horns and head for Germany. If that’s not on your agenda, why not kick back with a cold one while you cook up some outstanding meals using that very beer you’re drinking? Believe it or not, a cold bubbly beer can do a lot more than just fill a mug. Using it in recipes can add character, depth and that certain little something extra.

When I was a kid, beer was for guzzling. I didn’t see anyone cooking with it. My German friends helped set me straight. I learned that you can cook with beer in just about any savory recipe that calls for water, broth, wine or other cooking liquid. Have fun! Experiment by replacing some or all of the liquid in your recipes with your favorite brew. Here are some creative ways to celebrate Oktoberfest in your kitchen:

  • Add beer to chili – try a dark stout. Make this recipe for Seafood Chili Blanco or this one for Touchdown Turkey Chili.
  • Make soup with beer. We did just that with this recipe for Borough Market Cheddar Soup.
  • Add it to marinades, sauces and gravies.
  • If it’s ribs you’re cooking, try a chocolate stout in the sauce.
  • Use it for braising and poaching meats. Try this recipe for Beer Poached Grilled Sausages.
  • Bake bread with beer; then break bread with a cold one! (Say that really fast!)
  • Use it in your stir-fry.
  • Slow roasting a brisket with beer really brings out the flavors, as in this recipe for Lou Lambert's Coffee-Rubbed Roasted Brisket.
  • Add it to your brine with herbs, spices and wine. Great with beef, lamb, pork and poultry!
  • Add it to BBQ sauce. If you’re cooking up a spicy dish, try a light hops or a pale ale. Here’s Cranberry BBQ Sauce you can make substituting some of the broth with beer.
  • Move over wine! Deglaze your pan with beer.
  • Beer is unbelievably great in stew! You will love this recipe for Beer Braised Beef Stew with Brussels Sprouts and this recipe for Beef and Beer Stew with Parsnips. And, I can’t forget this recipe for Bottle o' Beer Beef Stew with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes.
  • Whether you’re smoking, grilling or roasting a chicken, try the beer-can method for tender, juicy, out-of-this-world chicken: Cut the top off half a can of any favorite beer and set the cavity of the chicken over it. Secure the chicken really well and cook as usual. Get creative: Add spices, herbs (thyme and rosemary) and seasonings such as garlic, onions and peppers to the beer.
  • Don’t enjoy beer because you can’t have gluten? Not a problem anymore. Check out our gluten-free beer selection!

Be sure to put some thought into what sort of beer you want to use. For good advice, head over to the Beer and Wine Department at your local Whole Foods Market® where you’ll find a fabulous selection in every color and style. If you’re not sure what beer to pair with what you’re cooking, ask a team member. They are happy to help.

Unfortunately for some of you, the long arm of the law prohibits us from selling beer and wine in some of our stores, so be sure to check before heading out. Here’s a list of our stores that sell alcohol and here’s a list of our stores that don’t.

How will you celebrate Oktoberfest? Got a favorite beer recipe? Let me know. Auf Wiedersehen!