Germans have a saying: Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei. (Everything has an ending, but the sausage has two).
This is only one of the many (many) German proverbs that have to do with wurst (sausage). Becoming fluent in German means you may be saying "sausage" as much as you're eating it. Here is your go-to guide on Germany's best sausages and where to eat them.
Sausage in Germany
Just as different parts of Germany have different accents and beers, many regions have their own sausage. There are an estimated 1,500 varieties, each with their own preparation, ingredients and unique blends of spices. However, there are a few commonalities you should know about German wurst.
- Most German sausage contains pork. Some are beef, venison,or even vegan, but pork is the classic.
- You can find sausage everywhere. It is a common street food, available at sporting events, grill parties, festivals, Christmas markets and even in fine dining.
- There are three basic types: Kochwurst (cooked), Brühwurst (scalded) and Rohwurst (raw). Brühwurst is the most common with around 800 types including Fleischwurst, Bierwurst and Zigeunerwurst.
- It can also be served in variety of ways - cold or hot, sliced or smeared.
Though the varieties are almost endless, here's a quick rundown on the most common types of sausage you can expect to come across on your trip to Germany and the best places to eat them.
When you think of German sausage, you're probably thinking of a bratwurst. Usually made from pork, the sausage has a history in Germany dating back to 1313.
Bratwurst is perfect kneipe (pub) food, pan-fried and cooked in beer with German classics of potatoes and rotkohl (red cabbage). But it is also an original German fast food, sold by grillwalkers. These industrious vendors offer their freshly cooked wurst from wearable grills in most city centers. For just 1.50, your bratwurst is served hot from the grill in a diminutive bun topped with senf (mustard) and/or ketchup. Start with a bite of pure sausage — hanging out both ends — and work your way to the delectable center.
Where to Eat Bratwurst
The short answer is everywhere. They are popular throughout Germany, as well as internationally. In fact, we recommend you buy one from a grillwalker whenever you see one. For under 2 euros, this is a genuine German experience.
There are also many varieties of Bratwurst so try each regional version when you visit these areas:
Thuringia: Thüringer Rostbratwürst is recognized as a PGI, like the German beer koelsch. There is also the Erstes Deutsches Bratwurstmuseum (First German Bratwurst Museum) in Holzhausen. Just look out for the giant wooden bratwurst on the roundabout.
Kulmbach: The Kulmbacher bratwurst is a long, thin rohwurst made from finely ground veal and a little pork. Its seasoning is a jealously guarded secret with each butcher using their own combination of salt, white pepper, nutmeg, lemon peel, marjoram, caraway and garlic. Buy one or a pair from the grillwalkers in the Marktplatz with mustard and a roll topped with anise.
Nürnberg Rostbratwurst: So popular they deserve their own post...
Nürnberg rostbratwurst come in finger-sized bites and you're encouraged to eat three, six or twelve at a time. Not that it takes much encouragement.
These little guys hail from Nuremberg (German spelling: Nürnberg) and are made from coarsely ground pork, seasoned with marjoram, salt, pepper, ginger, cardamom and lemon powder. If you are ordering this sausage to-go, say “Drei im weggla” for three sausages in a roll with senf.
Where to Eat Nürnberg Rostbratwurst
Bratwurstglöcklein im Handwerkerhof: This restaurant has been cooking Nürnberger Bratwurst since 1313 and is the oldest sausage kitchen in Nuremberg. Wurst are traditionally cooked on a charcoal grill and served on the tin plate with sauerkraut, potato salad, horseradish, fresh bread and a Franconian beer.
Bratwursthäusle bei St. Sebald: 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: 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 platter, everything comes from nearby farms with local butchers supplying the sausage. Never has a fried sausage tasted so fresh.
Bratwurst Röslein: In the heart of the Old Town, this restaurant prides itself on being the largest bratwurst restaurant in the world with room for up to 600 guests.
Germany’s wurst comes curry-flavored in international Berlin. Its origin story is hotly contested, but the most popular version is that the dish comes from Berlin housewife Herta Heuwer. Desperate to liven up a meager post-war diet, she traded German booze for curry powder from the English and added tomato/ketchup sauce with Worcestershire. Viola! Something familiar took on a whole new flavor and currywurst was born.
The dish was an immediate hit and Frau Heuwer began selling it from a street stand to the many workers putting the city back together. The price? Just 60 pfennig (roughly $0.50).
The Wurst is served mit (with) or ohne darm (without skin), sliced up in bite-sized bits and covered in curry ketchup. Each stand has its own recipe; some more tomato-y, some sweeter, some tangy. It is usually topped with curry powder and served alongside pommes (french fries) or a roll and still only costs about €3.50. It is estimated that 800 million currywurst are sold every year in Germany.
The sausage has become a symbol of the proletariat. German politicians jockey for photos of themselves at their favorite stand each election season.
Where to Eat Currywurst
Currywurst is one of the most popular quick meals in Germany and is served everywhere, but you should try as many as you can in Berlin to find your ideal flavor.
Curry & Chili: Prepare for more spice than in the rest of German cuisine combined at this imbiss on the tram tracks in Wedding. Their sauce goes up to 10, which equates to 7.7 million on the Scoville scale. There is even a curry and chili club where members eat a wurst from every level within 6 months.
Curry 36: The site on Mehringdamm is one of many in the city, but it is recommended in nearly every guide book.
Nothing helps you prepare for a day of drinking like these fat, white sausages. They are the breakfast of Oktoberfest champions. Whether you are just visiting Munich or there for a Fest, you will most likely start your day with this delicious wurst.
Weisswurst translates to "white sausage", although it is sometimes called weißwuascht in the Bavarian dialect. Traditionally it is made from minced veal and pork back bacon, seasoned with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger and cardamom. It's prepared by heating it in water for 5-10 minutes and removing the skin. Pair it with Bayerischer süßer senf (sweet Bavarian mustard) and a laugenbrezel (pretzel), or add a Hefeweizen for a full Weisswurst Frühstück.
Originally weisswurst was quite perishable, meaning it needed to be eaten before noon. Modern food preparation means they have a longer shelf life, but tradition says that "the sausages should not be allowed to hear the noon chime of the church bells". Even with a limited time frame, over a million weisswurst are sold every year. The sausage also marks a symbolic barrier in the north/south divide, referred to as the Weißwurstäquator (white sausage equator).
Where to Eat Weisswurst
Weisswurst are available at every Bavarian restaurant and Bavarian- themed restaurants and breweries found throughout the country. If you spot the blue-and-white-checks of the Bavarian flag, you should be able to find weisswurst.
Weisses Bräuhaus: This location has a reputation for some of the best weisswurst in town. Get there before noon as they stick to tradition.
Visitors stand around Freiburg's Münster with heads back, mouths gaping, while locals put their mouths to better use. Sausage trucks surround the city's most famous site with "Freiburg's shortest landmark" — the lange rote.
A long, thick pork herb sausage with a distinctive red color, this edible souvenir only costs €2.50. A proper Münsterwürste auf dem Münsterplatz is 35 centimeters (13.7 inches) and comes with or without (mit/ohne) onions (a contentious issue which method is correct) and adorned with mustard in a bun (weckle, in the local dialect).
Where to Eat Lange Rote
Market in Münsterplatz: The undisputed best place to get a Lange Rote. This market has served the people of Freiburg since 1120 and serves around 400 sausages a day. Look for Meier, Hauber, Hasslers or Uhl's. The stands closest to the entrance of the Münster are usually favored by tourists but to keep business fair, the stands rotate positions each month.
The idea of a sausage made of congealed blood may not sound appetizing, but considering the importance of sausage to German cuisine it's only a matter of time before you eat your way to this particular wurst.
Known in different cultures as black pudding, boudin noir, botifarró, the German version is made by cooking pork blood with a filler (usually bread or oatmeal) until it's thick enough to congeal when cooled.
Seasoned with salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme, allspice and ginger, it appears almost black. There is a touch of metallic to the flavor, but also a warm undertone of cinnamon. Where else can you order dish called tote oma (Dead Grandma)?
Where to Eat Blutwurst
Cologne (+ Rhineland, Westphalia and Lower Saxony): The wonderfully named Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth) combines apple, potatoes, fried onion and blutwurst.
Spreewald: Grützwurst is made within pig intestine, but is presented without its skin like a scramble. In the UNESCO biosphere of the Spreewald, it is served alongside local Sorbian sauerkraut and smoked ham.
Thuringia: Thüringer rotwurst (red sausage) is a protected geographical indication (PGI). First referenced in 1404, it's made of several parts of the pig (including — of course — its blood) and seasoned with pepper, marjoram, allspice, cloves and onion.
Palatinate: Kartoffelwurst takes advantage of plentiful post-war potatoes.
Berlin: Wilhelm Hoeck 1892 serves West Berlin class — and Blutwurst! — with the oldest bar in Berlin on one side and a casual, elegant restaurant on the other. Right next door is renowned delikatessen, Rogacki. Still frequented by local Berliners, outsiders like Anthony Bourdain have even recognized its expertise in everything from fresh fish to fine cheese to blutwurst.
If you are bemoaning the poor roll-to-sausage-ratio, ketwurst is your answer. "Invented" might be too generous a term for this 1970s concoction as it is simply a Bockwurst stuffed into a long bun with a unhealthy dollop of ketchup. Combine the words ketchup and wurst and you've got the name, ketwurst (sometimes spelled kettwurst).
Where to Eat Ketwurst
Alain Snack: Located right off Schönhauser Allee, this Imbiss has survived the rampant gentrification of Prenzlauer Berg. It has even evolved, offering Bio and tofu varieties of this sausage.
But Leberwurst is a traditional delicacy in Germany and shouldn't be ignored. It was once only for special occasions, but is now enjoyed on the regular. German children even love it — really!
Leberwurst is comparable to French paté, but the choice of meat and flavor profile is firmly German. Unlike the French's duck, hare, or goose, the Germans stick with the less exotic calf’s liver. The meat is seasoned with salt, pepper, marjoram and other herbs. Recently leberwurst manufacturers are getting crazy with their recipes, adding unusual elements like lingonberries and mushrooms. It is then ground either coarse or refined and served as a spreadable sausage.
Where to Eat Leberwurst
There are many different varieties of leberwurst and several have protected status.
Thuringia: This leberwurst is an example of an EU protected sausage. Part of the criteria is that at least 51% of the raw materials must be from the state of Thuringia and all processing must take place there.
Frankfurt: Frankfurter Zeppelinwurst is named after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (yes, the guy who created air-ships). Master butcher, Herr Stephan Weiss, put together the unique blend back on March 15th, 1909 and obtained Count Ferdinand’s consent to lend his name to an altogether tastier (and surprisingly longer lasting) enterprise.
Palatine: Pfälzer Hausmacher leberwurst is a classic of the Palatine area and finds its way onto the regional meat platter served in restaurants and biergartens. It is often paired with Kartoffelwurst.