By Amanda Little
Do you know your knackwurst from your leberwurst? With so many varieties of German sausage, it can be hard to pick out the best wurst for you. Take a look at this list for a quick course in the best-tasting wurst!
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Bratwurst is likely the most popular German wurst and is made from pork, beef, marjoram, caraway, garlic, and many other spices. These large sausages are usually grilled and served with a roll and sweet German mustard, but they’re also known as the perfect biergarten food, where they’re cooked in beer and served with potatoes and red cabbage. With bratwurst being so popular, it can be found anywhere in Germany.
The main ingredient of bregenwurst used to be pig or cattle brain, but is now mostly made from pork and pork belly, along with a list of spices. This looped sausage comes from Lower Saxony, its color looks similar to knackwurst, and is often stewed and served with kale.
These petite bratwurst sausages are about as tall as a pinky finger and come from the city of Nuremberg. Consisting of pork, marjoram, cardamom, lemon powder, salt, pepper, and ginger, these little piggies are often served up to 6 in one serving and are best eaten with sauerkraut, potatoes, and horseradish cream.
These fat, stubby sausages are all beef, and pack a flavorful punch with the flavor of garlic. Knackwurst are plump and known for the cracking sound they make when you bite into them. Sometimes they are smoked, but knackwurst go best with sauerkraut and potato salad, or paired with other sausages on a wurst board.
Also known as blutwurst, this sausage is congealed pig or cow's blood, pork, beef, animal fat, bread or oatmeal, and spices. German blood sausage is a traditional wurst that is eaten cold and usually served on bread, Known as black pudding, botifarro, and boudin noir elsewhere in Europe, the German version of this dish is called tote oma, which translates to Dead Grandma. Not to worry though; while some ingredients might seem unsavory, there is no grandma in the wurst.
Stop by a sausage truck in Munster to grab a bit of the juicy Lange Rote wurst. The sausage very nearly looks like a carrot, but the meaty meal measures over a foot long, and is served on a bread bun doused in mustard. The locals like to argue over whether it is best eaten with or without the onions that often come with it.
Hailing from Frankfurt, this veal wurst contains a little pork and various other meats, as well as salt, pepper, and paprika. This sausage is often smoked, but is usually boiled and served up with mustard and Bock beer. This hot dog-like wurst is a popular sausage served during Oktoberfest.
This wurst is dried and often brought on hiking trips as a snack. Breaking away from the norm of the other wursts, this sausage includes sugar along with other ingredients of beef, pork, spices, and lard. Since it is air dried, it doesn’t require refrigeration and is slightly similar to jerky.
This Bavarian sausage literally means “liver cheese,” and contains neither liver nor cheese. The wurst is actually similar to meatloaf, made of corned beef, pork, onions, marjoram, and a various spices. It differs from many wursts because it is baked in a pan and develops its own crust. It’s served either hot or cold.
Not unlike the French pate, leberwurst (liverwurst) is made from pork and pork liver, and has two variations on it. Kalbsleberwurst is similar, but made with veal and pork liver, while braunschweiger is the same recipe but smoked and spreadable. While the spices remain similar to other wursts, a recent trend in the sausage has been to add unusual ingredients, like lingonberries or mushrooms.
This sausage is left to ferment after being air-dried or smoked. The raw sausage is made up of pork, bacon, and beef, however the other ingredients are a well-kept secret. Meant to be eaten at tea-time on open-faced sandwiches, the sausage is slightly sour, but otherwise mild. Bon appa-tea!
The distinctive yellow casing of gelbwurst is how it got its name, meaning “yellow sausage.” Spiced with ginger, cardamom, and lemon, gelbwuest can be made from pork, bacon, beef, or chicken. It’s served on bread and eaten immediately because it goes rancid very quickly. Like bregenwurst, this sausage once had animal brain as one of its ingredients, but now keeps grey matter out of its yellow skin.
Easily distinguished from other wursts, this pure white wurst hails from Southern Germany and is made up of veal, bacon, onion, lemon, and spices. Weisswurst is boiled and eaten without the skin, usually at breakfast to help prepare for a day of drinking. Paired with beer, soft pretzels, and sweet mustard, this wurst is a major part of Oktoberfest. Tradition even says that this delicate wurst should never be allowed to hear the noon chime of church bells, because it will go bad if it isn’t eaten in the morning!
Another staple of street food, ketwurst isn’t so much a specific sausage as a way to eat it. Thrown together in the 1970s, ketwurst is simply a bockwurst in a bun topped with a splash of ketchup. This style of consuming a wurst quickly caught on as street food and gets its name from the combination of ketchup and wurst. A simple name befitting a simple meal.
An incredibly popular Berlin street food, currywurst is said to have been created when a Berlin housewife, Herta Heuwer, was trying to liven up her family’s meager post-war diet. She traded German alcohol for English curry powder, mixed it with ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, and ladled the concoction over sausage. Today, the savory snack is served with fries or on a roll.