Fans of German sausage will tell you that they are some of the finest sausages in the world, and we would certainly agree! These succulent and meaty sausages are packed full of flavor and seasoning, making every bite a taste sensation!
But when it comes to knockwurst vs bratwurst, what is the difference? And which is best? Knockwurst is a coarse sausage that is highly flavored with garlic and seasoning. Bratwurst contains finely ground meat and has a much more delicate flavor. Bratwurst is best served in a bread roll, whereas knockwurst is normally eaten alone as finger food.
The world of German sausage making is fascinating and well worth further investigation. Let’s take a look at knockwurst and bratwurst and find out all about these famous sausages!
What Is Knockwurst?
Knockwurst is a thick sausage that originates from northern Germany, in the Holstein region. They are plump and juicy sausages, packed full of flavor. Knockwurst sausages are also sometimes referred to as knackwurst.
The traditional ingredients of knockwurst include ground meat – pork, veal, and sometimes, beef – mixed with garlic.
These ingredients are blended and formed into a sausage using an outer casing. This is left to mature for a few days, before being smoked over oak wood smoke.
Spices found in knockwurst include mace, paprika, coriander, and allspice.
What Is Bratwurst?
Bratwurst is also a type of sausage which originates from Germany.
The name Bratwurst comes from an ancient German word, with ‘brät’ meaning finely chopped meat, and ‘wurst’ meaning sausage. Bratwurst sausages are often simply referred to as Brat.
Traditionally, bratwurst was made from a mix of finely minced pork and veal. Nowadays it is much more common for them to be made with a pork and beef mixture.
However, there are over 40 regional variations on the Bratwurst throughout Germany, so a wide range of different brats are available!
The traditional seasoning commonly used in all varieties of Bratwurst includes salt, pepper, marjoram, and nutmeg. The regional specialties may also include seasonings such as garlic, caraway, ginger, coriander, and cardamom.
Knockwurst Vs Bratwurst – What Is The Difference?
Yes, knockwurst and bratwurst are both sausages, but saying they are the same would be like saying all types of cheese are the same! There are many differences between knockwurst and bratwurst, so let’s find out all about them.
Both types of sausage contain minced meat, with different seasonings. The meat content of knockwurst is normally pork and veal, whereas these days bratwurst is more commonly made with pork and beef.
However, you can find knockwurst and bratwurst made with any combination of these three types of meat!
It is when it comes to the seasoning that the differences between knockwurst and bratwurst really start to shine through.
Knockwurst will almost always include garlic as the main flavoring. It is very rare to find garlic in bratwurst, although some regional variations may include it in small amounts.
Overall, the amount of flavoring in bratwurst is relatively low, with a delicate balance of carefully selected seasonings. These traditional sausages normally have some marjoram and nutmeg, but only in small amounts.
On the other hand, knockwurst is much more highly seasoned. As well as garlic, these sausages may also contain flavorsome spices such as mace and paprika.
Size, Color, And Texture
IF someone put these two sausages in front of you, would it be easy to tell the difference between them? Yes, absolutely! There are some very significant differences in the appearance of these German sausages.
When it comes to size, the knockwurst is a short, fat sausage. This German sausage was designed to be eaten by hand, rather than served in a bun as is normal for most other types of sausage.
It also has a thicker casing, which cracks as you bite into it – this is why knockwurst is also sometimes known as ‘cracking sausage’!
The bratwurst is longer and thinner than the knockwurst. it is normally eaten in a bun and is the perfect shape to fill a hot dog roll.
In terms of texture, these two types of sausage are also very different. The bratwurst is a coarse sausage, with the meat ground to a lumpy texture. Knockwurst is much smoother as it is very finely ground.
The bratwurst sausage is salmon pink in color. Knockwurst is darker in color, with a reddish tint.
The flavor of these two sausages is significantly different. Which one you prefer will come down to personal taste, and how you plan on serving it.
The knockwurst sausage is punchy and full of flavor and is famed for its smokey, garlicky taste. They taste amazing served on their own and were traditionally eaten just like this!
However, the great flavor stands up well when used in dishes and will add depth and richness to your cooking.
On the other hand, the bratwurst is very light and delicate in flavor. The seasoning levels are very low, and it acts as a great carrier for other flavors. A bratwurst is normally served in a bread roll, topped with onions and mustard.
Knockwurst Vs Bratwurst – Which Is Better?
Well, this is an almost impossible question to answer! Which type of German sausage you prefer will come down to your own personal taste, as well as the type of meal you intend on eating it with.
If you’re looking for a sausage with a bit of a kick, then knockwurst is the one for you! But if you prefer something milder, or are not a huge fan of garlic, then go for a bratwurst.
Both the bratwurst and knockwurst make a great stand-alone snack. Traditionally, the knackwurst is eaten alone, whilst a bratwurst is served in a bread roll.
If you want a sausage to go in a roll, we’d suggest that you stick to bratwurst. The casing of the knockwurst is much thicker, and it may be too tough to eat easily if contained in a hot dog roll.
For finger food, knockwurst would be our first choice, as they are robust enough to pick up without falling apart.
If you intend on serving your German sausages as part of a meal, or with sides, then think about how the flavors of each type will work within your recipe.
The strong, garlicky flavor of knockwurst will spread throughout your dish, whereas the delicate bratwurst taste is more likely to be overwhelmed by other ingredients.
Best Way To Cook Knockwurst & Bratwurst
The great thing is that no matter which sausage you prefer, they are both cooked in the same way!
There are many different ways in which traditional German sausages are cooked and eaten. Here is our guide to some of the most common methods:
In A Fry Pan
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Heat the oil then add the sausage. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the sausages are golden brown on the outside.
In Boiling Water
Bring a pot of water to a very gentle simmer. Add the sausages and place the lid on the pan. Boil for 10-15 minutes, drain the water, and serve.
In The Oven
Place the sausages on a baking tray and pop into an oven preheated to 300°F. Cook until golden brown—20-25 minutes should be sufficient.
On the Grill
Place the sausages on a hot grill. Turn them regularly with a spatula or tongs. Grill until the sausages are golden, normally around 5 minutes is sufficient.
Dishes That Contain Knockwurst & Bratwurst
Traditionally, both knockwurst and bratwurst are served as snacks. This is still the most common way they are eaten today and are hugely popular at sporting events as well as beer festivals and summer parties.
A knockwurst sausage is normally eaten alone, without any flavorings or condiments. We would advise using a napkin to hold the sausage though, otherwise, things may get messy!
The bratwurst is normally served in a bread roll. The mild taste of these delicate toppings needs a bit of livening up, so a dollop of fried onions and mustard is added for additional flavor.
But what if you want to eat your knockwurst or bratwurst as part of your main meal – are there any recipes which work well with these sausages?
One traditional method of serving bratwurst is to braise the sausages in beer and onions. This infuses them with an incredibly rich flavor while also creating the most delicious caramelized sauce.
We’d suggest serving this with buttery mashed potatoes for a flavorsome and indulgent midweek dinner.
Bratwurst can also be sliced and added to nachos or made into a delicious casserole with white wine, potatoes, and carrots. They also work well in a chili con carne, soaking up other flavors and spices beautifully.
Or if you’re looking for a bread-free barbeque suggestion, pop bratwurst onto kebab skewers with onions, peppers, and zucchini.
The garlicky knockwurst can make a great addition to many recipes. The traditional Bavarian method is hot potatoes with knackwurst.
To make this, sliced knockwurst is added to boiled potatoes and topped with a creamy bacon and onion sauce—absolutely delicious!
Knockwurst is robust enough to stand up to many other ingredients, perfect if you want a rich and satisfying dinner. Slices of knockwurst work really well in a flavorsome winter casserole, with beans and root vegetables.
The garlicky tang of this sausage also pairs well with pasta dishes, particularly with leafy green vegetables and broccoli.
Sides Served With Knockwurst & Bratwurst
One of the most popular ways to serve knockwurst and bratwurst in Germany is with sauerkraut. If you haven’t already tried it, sauerkraut is made by fermenting cabbage and is packed full of nutritional benefits.
This superfood makes the perfect partner for both types of sausage and is well worth trying out.
To take it to the next level, add spaetzle to your sausage and sauerkraut! This German side dish is made from a batter of flour, eggs, and milk.
The batter is formed into droplets which are cooked in boiling water, then gently browned in melted butter.
The delicate Bratwurst sausages also work well paired with green vegetables, particularly cabbage with bacon. Any potato dish will taste great alongside these delicate sausages, particularly herby roasters, or a buttery mash.
For a summery twist, try serving your bratwurst with a bean salad, topped with vinaigrette and crusty croutons.
The punchy, garlicky knockwurst needs more careful consideration when it comes to sides. It will overwhelm delicate flavors and is definitely not a subtle sausage!
A potato salad laced with onion and mustard would be the perfect combination for this sausage, particularly with some peppery salad leaves on the side.
It would also taste great with a contrasting sweetness, such as char-grilled corn on the cob. Add some braised red cabbage for an authentic German feel to your dinner.
Where To Buy Bratwurst & Knockwurst
Now we have completely tantalized your tastebuds with these wonderful German sausages, where do you need to go to buy some?
It is unlikely that you’ll find bratwurst and knockwurst in your local grocery store.
However, you might be lucky and have a good quality delicatessen in your neighborhood. If they don’t already stock German sausages, they may be able to order them in for you.
If you don’t have any luck locally, then many good German sausage retailers sell online. Look for a company that sells authentic bratwurst and knockwurst, made using traditional recipes and techniques.
Then, all you need to decide is how many sausages to buy. These sausages store well in the refrigerator or freezer, so make sure you stock up well.
We guarantee you won’t regret it, these flavorsome snacks have been popular for centuries for good reason!
Now that we’ve gone over the difference between knackwurst and bratwurst, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
What is the difference between frankfurters and bratwurst?
If you’re a fan of German sausages such as bratwurst and knockwurst, you might be considering giving frankfurters a try. But what are they and how are they different from bratwurst?
The frankfurter is even more refined in texter than the bratwurst and will feel almost smooth. It should be firm, with a good level of bite when eaten. The skin of the frankfurter is smoother than the bratwurst.
Frankfurters are most commonly prepared in warm water, such as in a Bain Marie. If you’re a fan of a hot dog in a bun, then the frankfurter is a more grown-up and less processed option.
Are hot dogs the same as knockwurst?
Hot dogs are hugely popular around the world, but are they the same as knockwurst? And if not, what exactly are they?
Hot dogs are much more processed and refined than knockwurst. The meat in a hot dog is often of dubious origin, and the texture is so fine it is almost mushy.
Knockwursts will normally contain higher quality ingredients than hot dogs and are far less processed.
So, although our modern-day hot dog is likely derived from German sausages such as knockwurst and bratwurst, their present form is a long way from the original!
If you’re trying to cut down on processed foods, then swap your can of hot dogs for an authentic bratwurst, frankfurter or knockwurst instead.
What is a blutwurst?
The blutwurst is a type of German sausage made with congealed cow or pig blood. The name literally translates as ‘blood sausage’. If you’ve ever eaten the British ‘black pudding’, then blutwurst is a similar texture.
The bulk of blutwurst comes from fillers such as bread, oatmeal, meat, and fat.
Blutwurst is normally highly seasoned and rich in flavor. This ingenious sausage makes good use of blood—normally discarded as a by-product—to produce something that tastes incredible.
It is normally eaten cold, served sliced on crusty bread. Many people enjoy eating blutwurst as part of a cold meat platter, alongside hams, pastrami, and other delicacies.
Pop some juicy tomatoes or herby olives on the side to add a delightful contrast to your rich and salty meats.
Where is the best place to try German sausage?
It would be quite extreme to go to Germany just to try the sausages (although we’re not ruling it out!), so where is the best place to try these delightful, authentic delicacies?
If you’re lucky enough to have a German or European delicatessen in your area, this would be a good place to start.
They will be able to advise you on the best sausages to suit your tastes, and also give you tips on the perfect cooking methods and sides. You can also order online from many German sausage retailers.
Want a German sausage cooked for you? Many events and fairs now have German sausage stands, with these delicious meaty snacks served up just as you would find them on the streets of Berlin.
However, for a truly Bavarian experience, the best way to try German sausages and beer is at an Oktoberfest festival.