Obatzda combines rich camembert cheese with cream cheese, butter, a few spices, savory onion, and a splash of German beer for a cheese dip that's completely irresistible.
The autumnal German celebration in Munich known as Oktoberfest is right around the corner! This year it runs from September 16 through October 3.
I don't know about you, but I always envisioned Oktoberfest as a rowdy event with food, drink (namely, German beer!), and music. But it isn't just a beer party!
I recently found out that Oktoberfest is a traditional folk festival, and is actually family-friendly. And chugging beer isn't even allowed! (You can read more about how to drink beer properly at Oktoberfest on Thirsty Swagman.)
Also, did you know that Oktoberfest was originally started as a wedding celebration? That's right, the first Oktoberfest on October 12, 1810 celebrated the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria, who later became King Louis I, to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. (You can learn more about the history of Oktoberfest on Britannica.)
What better way to celebrate Oktoberfest than with German beer cheese dip, right?!
What is Obatzda?
Obatzda is a German beer cheese dip or spread from the Bavarian region of Germany.
It typically contains camembert cheese, butter, beer, a few spices (including paprika), and savory onion. The end result is a rich and creamy cheese dip with a sharp savory flavor, and a signature orange hue thanks to paprika.
This delicious beer cheese spread is a classic dish included at German beer gardens (aka biergarten) as part of brotzeit.
Brotzeit, meaning "bread time", is typically served as an appetizer or snack between meals. It is essentially the German version of a charcuterie board!
It's common to find the following items served as part of brotzeit:
- Meat, which is commonly sliced ham and/or sausage
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Fresh radishes
- Fresh onions
- A variety of cheese, including Obatzda
My Trip to Bavaria to Set the Scene for Obatzda
In August 2019, I briefly visited Germany after my summer in Paris. Of course, Neuschwanstein Castle was on the agenda! This castle (or schloss in German) is located in the region of Bavaria in the foothills of the Alps in southern Germany.
You might know Schloss Neuschwanstein as "the real life Cinderella castle". This fairy tale castle was the inspiration for the Disney Cinderella castle at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, as well as the castle at Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort.
And did you know there's another castle right next to Neuschwanstein?! It's called Schloss Hohenschwangau. From 1832 to 1836, crown prince Maximillan of Bavaria had this castle built from the ruins of Schloss Schwanstein. You can read more about this castle on Neuschwanstein Tickets.
We worked up an appetite looking at those magnificent castles, so we went to an outdoor cafe in the nearby Bavarian town of Füssen.
What better snack to have in Bavaria mid-afternoon than brotzeit, right?! Here's the brotzeit that we ordered at an outdoor café in Füssen.
Authentic Obatzda Recipe
At first glance, Obatzda might sound like an odd combination of flavors. However, creamy Camembert, rich butter, just the right touch of spices, and savory piquant onion pair beautifully. German beer dip is addictive, lol!
My favorite way to eat Obatzda is as a dip with fresh radish slices or hard pretzels.
Ingredients in German Beer Cheese Dip
In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.
- Camembert cheese - or you can use brie instead; make sure it's at room temperature
- Cream cheese - I've seen other mild-flavored spreadable cheeses (such as Laughing Cow) used to make German beer cheese
- Unsalted butter - make sure it's at room temperature so it combines well with the cheeses
- Wheat beer - German wheat beer (Hefeweizen) is traditional in this recipe, but you can also use wheat ale, such as Blue Moon or Samuel Adams Summer Ale; or you can use non-alcoholic beer, or omit the beer entirely
- Sweet Hungarian paprika - paprika gives Obatzda its classic orange color
- Hot paprika - or cayenne pepper; this adds a touch of spicy heat to balance the flavors
- Salt and black pepper - to season this cheese dip
- Caraway seeds - this is a classic seasoning in German cuisine in general, and it's often included in Obatzda; you can omit the caraway seeds if you don't have them on hand, or double the amount if you really like their flavor
- Chives and red onion - these ingredients add savory onion flavor and a pleasantly sharp bite to balance out the creamy buttery cheese
How to Make Obatzda
You can store this beer cheese dip covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Note that the longer it sits, the more pronounced the onion flavor will be and it can start to turn bitter after a while.
After refrigerating for about 8 hours, the texture will change to a thicker, scoop-able consistency. This is my favorite time to eat it!
Obatzda Recipe FAQs
What Type of Beer is Best in Obatzda?
To make Obatzda, t’s traditional to use German wheat beer (Hefeweizen), such as Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. If you can’t find this, you can substitute with a wheat ale, such as Blue Moon or Samuel Adams Summer Ale.
If you prefer, you can use non-alcoholic beer or just omit it.
What Type of Cheese Can I Use Instead of Camembert?
Camembert is a creamy, soft-ripened cheese that's similar to brie.
If you can't find camembert, you can use other bloomy soft-ripened cheeses, such as brie, Brillat-Savarin, Saint-André, or Reblochon.
More Cheesy Appetizers to Make
- Easy Pimento Cheese Dip Recipe
- Cheddar Cheese Ball Recipe (aka Cheddar Pub Spread)
- Nakládaný Hermelín Recipe (Czech Pickled Cheese)
Obatzda Recipe (German Beer Cheese Dip)
- 8 ounce camembert cheese or brie cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons good-quality unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons wheat beer see Notes
- ½ tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- ¼ teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds lightly ground or crushed (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons minced chives divided into 2 ½ tablespoons + ½ tablespoon
- ¼ cup minced red onion
Optional Serving Suggestions:
- Hearty bread slices such as rye, pumpernickel, and/or sourdough
- Cornichons or pickles
- Radishes sliced
- Red onion thinly sliced
- Add the camembert or brie to a medium bowl. Use a fork to break up the rind into small pieces and mash the cheese. Mix in the cream cheese and butter with a fork. Mix in the beer, sweet paprika, hot paprika, black pepper, caraway seeds, and salt.
- Cover the bowl and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in 2 ½ tablespoons chives and the red onion.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the remaining ½ tablespoon chives. Serve along with pretzels or anything else you like.
- Food Processor: I don’t like to use the food processor here because I like the cheese to have a little bit of texture and not be completely pureed.
- Wheat Beer: It’s traditional to use German wheat beer (Hefeweizen), such as Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, to make Obatzda. If you can’t find this, you can substitute with a wheat ale, such as Blue Moon or Samuel Adams Summer Ale.
- Storage: You can store this beer cheese dip covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Note that the longer it sits, the more pronounced the onion flavor will be and it can start to turn bitter after a while. After refrigerating for about 8 hours, the texture will change to a thicker, scoop-able consistency.
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 2 cups of beer cheese dip, or 8 (¼-cup) servings.
- Nutrition Information: The nutritional information for this recipe was calculated without the optional serving suggestions.