All about the Wurst: Nuremberg Rostbratwurst

Nuernberger Rostbratwurst
••• Erin Porter

They look just like breakfast sausages!

was the first thing I thought when I discovered Nürnberg Rostbratwurst. This diminutive sausage hails from the charming Bavarian city of Nuremberg (German spelling: Nürnberg). Each sausage is about the size of a fat little finger, weighing about an ounce and measuring in at 3-4 inches (7 to 9 cm) in length. Made from coarsely ground pork, it is seasoned with marjoram, salt, pepper, ginger, cardamom and lemon powder.

More than 3 million Nürnberg Rostbratwurst are produced every day and then they find their way around the world. 

History of Nürnberger Bratwurst

The history of Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second largest city, dates back 950 years and the sausage of the same name is almost as old. First mention of Nürnberger Bratwurst was around 1313 with the advent of the legendary restaurant, Bratwurstglöcklein (visitor info below). Though many German sausages utilize marjoram, it's noble flavor was added prominently in this version. 

By 1462, the sausage had become popular enough that many Metzger (butchers) were offering Nürnberger Bratwurst. It quickly became serious business with government oversight into the quality and consistency of the sausage. Only specialized pork butchers were allowed to produce the sausage and had to present their wares daily to a council of butchers. Sub-standard sausages were tossed straight in the River Pegnitz.

Market prices for the snack dropped in the 16th century to such a level that butchers could no longer afford to produce the Nürnberger Bratwurst. As a solution, they made the bratwurst smaller and thinner so they could sell more of these little sausages. This creative solution saved many businesses and preserved the legacy of this distinctive Wurst.

There are also a few more far-fetched legends linked to the sausages small size. One reports that Nürnberger Bratwurst were able to be passed through the keyhole by enterprising innkeepers to feed guests after curfew. Another says they were pushed through special holes in the wall for inmates. Check out this story's validity if you take a tour of Nuremberg's medieval dungeon.

Standards are still high as the sausage is protected under the Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) like the German beer from Cologne, Kölsch, or the Spreewald's famous pickle. They are only produced in the area around Nuremberg and must stick to the basic original recipe.

How Nürnberger Bratwurst are Served

Served everywhere from imbiss stands to biergartens, these tasty Wursts are best cooked over a charcoal-grill - perfect for the summer grilling season. Eaten three, six to 12 at a time, they can also be fried in a pan and are typically served with sauerkraut and a hunk of dense German bread, or with potato salad and horseradish.

A version called in onion and vinegar is called blaue Zipfel. Or if you prefer your meal on the go, order “Drei im Weggla” for three chubby sausages in a roll with Senf (traditional German mustard).

To enjoy the sausages in the very best environment, order it at Nuremberg's world-famous Christmas Market to warm your hands and stomach and take the icy edge out of winter.

Where to eat Nürnberger Bratwurst in Nürnberg

Bratwurstglöcklein im Handwerkerhof

Address: Waffenhof 5, 90402 Nürnberg
Telephone: 0911 227625

This restaurant has been cooking Nürnberger Bratwurst since 1313 and is the oldest sausage kitchen in Nuremberg. Wurst are cooked traditionally, grilled on a charcoal grill and served on the classic tin plate with sauerkraut, potato salad, horseradish, fresh bread, and - of course - a Franconian beer.

Bratwursthäusle bei St. Sebald

Address: Rathauspl. 1, 90403 Nürnberg
Telephone: 0911 227695

With its own butcher on premise, the quality is high at this historic Nuremberg restaurant. Enjoy a plate of Nürnberger Rostbratwurst just as Albrecht Dürer did in this exact location.

Goldenes Posthorn

Address: Glöckleinsgasse 2, 90403 Nürnberg
Telephone: 0911 225153

Another haunt of Dürer and Hans Sachs, this is one of Germany's oldest wine bars and a restaurant loved by kings, artists, locals and tourists since 1498. Famous for it Nürnberger plate, everything comes from nearby farms with local butchers supplying the sausage. Never has a fried sausage tasted so fresh.

Bratwurst Röslein

Address: Rathauspl. 6, 90403 Nürnberg
Telephone: 0911 214860

In the heart of the Old Town, this Franconian restaurant has also been serving delicious Nürnberger Rostbratwurst for hundreds of years since 1431. It prides itself on being the largest Bratwurst restaurant in the world with room for up to 600 guests.