“The land of sausages.” Have you heard Germany referred to this way before?
Well, it’s actually a very true description!
After all, Germany is indeed one of the leading countries of sausage imports and exports in the world.
According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the country exported $848 million and imported $834 million in sausages in 2021, making it the world’s top importer and exporter of that year.
Numbers aside, I know I can’t resist a grilled Frankfurter with some cold and creamy potato salad, or a spicy Mettwurst sliced and slowly cooked in a hearty stew!
These, among a multitude of other succulent styles, are popular savory companions for many German dishes and occasions.
Not only are they enjoyed nationwide within Germany – and worldwide throughout other countries – but Germany also produces hundreds of regional and local varieties that are unique to anywhere or anything else.
For the purpose of this overview, I will introduce you to six popular types of sausage, and will offer my serving suggestions for each option.
6 Types of Popular German Sausage
Where there’s beer… there might be a sausage not too far away!
Contrary to its name, this type of sausage is not actually a product made with beer as an ingredient.
Rather, the name refers to its recommended dining companion of a bock beer, a dark and full-bodied German lager.
A popular origin story for its name is that the links were served in 1889 at a gathering for university students along with strong bock beer – the students adored the pairing so much that they playfully named the meat “bockwurst.”
Try it pan-seared or grilled with mustard or sauerkraut. This is also a phenomenal option for braising with hearty vegetables, or used in soups and stews. For a recipe that matches the fall season, try it in our Oktoberfest stew.
Just don’t forget the bock!
2. Frankfurter Würstchen
Frankfurter Würstchen is a famous sausage style produced in the city of Frankfurt.
It’s considered to be the OG hot dog, the inspiration for what many Americans adore and love!
The term was granted a name-protected status by Germany in 1860 – under German law, only sausages made in Frankfurt are permitted to carry this particular identification.
Frankfurter Würstchen is made entirely of pork, and is boiled before being lightly smoked.
This variety is a popular choice with mustard, horseradish, bread, or potato salad.
Long and thin, Mettwurst is popular all over the country, although many regions have their own methods of seasoning it.
Different varieties may be hot and spicy with chili, pungent and bold with garlic, or aromatic and savory with cheese. It can also include alcohol in the mix, like rum or cognac.
Because this kind is most often cured and cold smoked or air dried, it has a firmer, chewier texture compared to other kinds.
With a longer duration of smoking or drying, some varieties may be as hard as charcuterie like salami.
It’s also perfect when sliced and packed in lunches for day trips, picnics, and bike rides as well. No extra preparation necessary!
Or, jazz up your stews or soups by simmering some sliced links in the pot with your liquid base to introduce deep, meaty flavors.
4. Nürnberger Rostbratwurst
Nürnberger Rostbratwurst is a scalded – also referred to as parboiled – style of bratwurst that is usually made of coarsely ground pork and an assortment of seasonings.
A typical spice used to flavor this variety is marjoram.
You can easily distinguish this style of sausage from other varieties by its shorter and skinnier size.
Nürnberger Rostbratwurst was granted a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Union in 2003.
Among other enforcements, a sausage given this specific designation can only be produced in the city of Nuremberg and must be between 7 to 9 centimeters long, which is roughly 2.75 to 3.5 inches long.
These little ones are the best all-rounders for their versatility – replace your typical breakfast links or patties with this style the next time you are planning a brunch spread, and see what you think!
5. Thüringer Rostbratwurst
Thüringer Rostbratwurst is one of Germany’s oldest known sausages, with its first documented reference dating back to 1404, and its first documented recipe dating back to 1613.
Like Nürnberger Rostbratwurst, it is another product that has been granted a PGI status by the European Union.
According to these regulations, at least 51% of the ingredients must come from the state of Thüringia, and the base can be made of finely ground pork, beef, or veal.
Though there can be variations on seasonings, it is known to be heavily spiced and aromatic, typically flavored with salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic, and caraway seeds.
Thüringer Rostbratwurst is a perfect choice for preparing a currywurst!
This popular dish is usually made with a bratwurst-style sausage that has first been steamed or boiled, then pan-fried or grilled. It is then served in slices, coated with a spiced tomato-based sauce, and lightly dusted with curry powder and other spices like paprika.
Beautifully pale in color when cooked, Weisswurst literally translates to “white sausage.”
This more delicate, finely-ground style is a classic specialty in Southern Germany, made with veal and pork.
A range of spices like salt, pepper, lemon, parsley, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg can be added for additional flavor and aroma.
Instead of roasting, pan-frying, or grilling, Weisswurst is often cooked in hot or gently simmering water.
The water should never come to a rolling boil, because the skins can split and burst open, releasing all the delicate flavors and aromas into the water.
Instead of taking big bites, a popular method for eating this particular variety is to suck out the meat from the skin, using your teeth to help push the meat out, without eating the chewier casing.
You can easily find Weisswurst – where else? – at Oktoberfest! This fall festival has made this variety popular around the globe.
You can find even more fun Oktoberfest recipes in our complete roundup.
What Will You Choose?
If you’re firing up the charcoal grill on a beautiful fall evening for an outdoor barbecue party, or if you’re celebrating Oktoberfest with an abundant feast of beer and food, there’s one important decision to make…
What sausage will you be serving for your guests to try?
Make it a fun foodie event by cooking more than one sausage option in different ways, and taking a poll to see what everyone enjoyed the most.
Maybe the tender, gently simmered style accompanied by a simple dish of mustard will be the star of the show. Or maybe everyone will go crazy over pairing their beer with a beautifully grilled link served in a bun topped with sauerkraut.
Whatever you decide, don’t stop at just these six suggestions – there are so many more to discover, cook, eat, and savor!
Are German sausages available in your neighborhood? Butcher shops or delis that can order special products for you? Share how you source your favorite meaty selections in the comments below.
In our collection of carefully curated protein-related articles, gather recipe roundups, techniques, reviews, guides, and more for preparing a wide range of meat products. Ready to continue the pursuit of learning? Read these three next:
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.