liverwurst vs braunschweiger
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Liverwurst vs. Braunschweiger – The Differences

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As with a ton of German sausages, or most sausages for that matter, many of them are often confused for the other, or the two terms are used interchangeably. Liverwurst and Braunschweiger is a perfect example of this.

Though these two sausages may be very similar in taste, structure, and texture, they are different in more ways than one.

So, what is the difference between Liverwurst and Braunschweiger (Liverwurst vs. Braunschweiger)?

The most important and noticeable difference between Liverwurst and Braunschweiger is the way they are cooked. Liverwurst is boiled, whereas Braunschweiger is almost always smoked (especially in the USA and Canada). 

Today we have put together a guide that will help you more easily identify the exact differences between these two very similar liver sausages.

We will look at each individually, discussing their origin, ingredients used, production methods, and more. Then we will compare them side by side for a convenient comparison.

A Comparison Guide to Liverwurst and Braunschweiger

These are two German sausages that are, at first glance, exactly the same. However, as we go into more detail on each of these, you will notice that they are actually very different.

The best way to do so is to look at each individually before comparing them side by side. After that, we can more easily identify all the similarities and all the differences.

Liverwurst

Liverwurst is arguably the most commonplace term between these two, although very few people in North America consume it often.

This European sausage originated in Germany, but can also be found in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and many other European regions.

Liverwurst is also very popular also be found in certain regions of South America like Chile and Argentina, but the flavor profiles of these differ vastly. Each of these countries have their own version of Liverwurst, but the main structure remains the same.

Liverwurst consists of four main components: meat, animal fat, liver, and spices. Beef and pork are the main two types of meat used to make liverwurst. These ingredients are usually beef or pork.

liverwurst

Although the liver is the main type of organ meat used, other organs, mainly the heart and kidney, are also incorporated into the mixture. This is because they are very similar in taste and texture to liver and blend in well.

The fat added to the mixture is very important and functions to add flavor, moisture, and texture.

Lastly, the spices are added to the meat mixture. As you might have guessed, different regions have different spice mixes or ratios of spices that they add. This yields a ton of different flavors.

Common spices that are used include salt, ground black pepper, white pepper, allspice, nutmeg, onion powder, mustard seeds, thyme, coriander, and marjoram.

Recently, an old cultural tradition has become popular again that adds pieces of bacon, onions, mushrooms, or berries into the sausage.

How Liverwurst Is Made

Making liverwurst is fairly simple and straightforward, unlike many other processed meats. All you have to do is grind together the meat, organ meat (liver, heart, and kidney), and animal fat. 

After a smooth paste has formed (or the desired consistency) the spices are incorporated evenly and ground together with the meat.

Once a smooth paste has formed, the mixture is stuffed very tightly into a casing. Both ends are secured and the whole sausage is added and weighed down in boiling water.

It cooks for about 3 hours before being removed, cooled, and refrigerated.

Characteristics

Like all processed meats, you can get different varieties, especially when it comes to their texture. Most commonly, the ingredients are made into almost a smooth paste before being shaped.

However, in some cultures and countries, this paste is much thicker and has a lot more texture – it’s almost like there are chunks between the paste.

It is also common for the mixture to be enclosed in a casing, rather than just being shaped in plastic. Commercial versions of liverwurst will almost always be the smooth, paste-like sausage without any casings.

Liverwurst also has a pale pink color like most processed meats. The chunkier versions are usually a lot darker and lean towards brown.

When it comes to taste, you will find that people have very different opinions about it, not necessarily about whether they love or hate it, but literally about what it tastes like.

Some people don’t taste liver, others only taste liver, some taste more pepper, others more onion. This might cause a lot of confusion, but just remember, there are different recipes and different ratios.

So even if you try one version that you don’t like, there might be another available that you love! And hey, if you just can’t find any version that tantalizes your tastebuds, you can always feed it to your cat.

Cooking With Liverwurst

Liverwurst can either be eaten right out of the package or cooked again, both equally popular.

When consumed straight out of the package, it is excellent for crackers or bread as a paste or spread. If you have the softer paste-like version, it can also be mushed and made into a pâté.

Many people also love to cook their liverwurst before using it. The most popular method, and the one we would recommend, is pan-frying.

You can either cut the sausage into slices or blocks before adding it to the pan. The hot oil (preferably olive oil) helps crisp the edges of the blocks or slices and helps them hold their shape.

You can also deep fry liverwurst pieces depending on what you want to do with them. These work best in salads.

Baking liverwurst is a much less common method, but, when incorporating it into the correct type of recipe, works amazing! For example, making a grilled cheese sandwich in the oven using liverwurst, or using it inside a baked casserole.

Here are a few uses for Liverwurst:

  • As a spread or paste on crackers or bread
  • Cubed, fried, and added to a traditional potato salad
  • Added to rice, couscous, or quinoa
  • Liverwurst patty burgers with sauerkraut
  • Pan-fried cubes added to a delicious winter soup
  • Incorporated into a baked vegetable casserole

There is very little you cannot do with liverwurst! Here are only a few ideas, and remember, just because you do not like one type or recipe, doesn’t mean you won’t love another.

Braunschweiger

Braunschweiger is another sausage that originated in Brunswick, Germany.

With this sausage specifically, different regions not only have different versions but also refer to it by different names.

liverwurst vs. braunschweiger

This makes Braunschweiger much more difficult to recognize. In German regions, this sausage is made from raw minced pork meat with additional garlic, salt, and pepper. It is traditionally par-boiled.

Austria is also very well-known for its braunschweiger, but there it is made from a mixture of pork, beef, and bacon, and cured in nitrite curing salt.

In North America and Canada, Braunschweiger is actually referred to as “pork liver sausage” – this is where most people’s confusion comes in!

These regions’ versions are usually smoked if they are placed in natural casings. They also contain at least 30% liver. 

Therefore, traditional Braunschweiger differs a lot from Liverwurst. However, in North American and Canadian regions, these are very similar.

Although Braunschweiger isn’t traditionally made with fat, sometimes pork fat or fatty pieces of meat are added to improve texture and taste.

Besides salt, ground pepper, and garlic which are often added, other spices can be added as well. These include ground nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and onion powder. (This onion powder from Amazon is a great affordable option!)

How Braunschweiger Is Made

As we have mentioned before, there are major differences between European (German and Austrian) Braunschweiger and North American and Canadian Braunschweiger.

European Braunschweiger is par-boiled, meaning it is stuffed into a casing before being boiled in hot water for a number of hours. North American Braunschweiger, however, is almost always smoked inside natural casings.

The method of making Braunschweiger (no matter which country or region) remains almost the same.

All of the ingredients are ground together into a smooth paste (or sometimes a chunkier consistency). Ingredients that should remain whole (like bacon or onion pieces) are added after the paste has been formed.

The spices are also added last to help incorporate them more evenly. Once the mixture has been made, it is stuffed tightly into a natural casing, after which it is either boiled or smoked.

Smoking is a very common technique used when it comes to cured meats, and there are a few different ways it can be done.

The first is by placing it in a smoking chamber, which is usually only available to butchers or large manufacturers. Many people have homemade smoking chambers made out of bricks or stone.

You can also buy a smaller smoker that will allow you to make smaller batches. The type of smoking chips you use will directly impact the flavor of the sausage as well.

For example, if you are smoking oak chips, your sausage will have hints of oak. If you are smoking tea leaves (unlikely in this case), you will have a tea-like flavor infused into the sausage.

Characteristics

Like liverwurst, Braunschweiger also comes in various textures and consistencies. It can either be extremely paste-like (usually those that have been boiled) or have more texture and chunks (those that have been smoked).

Smoked versions come enclosed in a natural casing (which is edible), while boiled versions come enclosed in plastic or a soft synthetic casing.

The color also varies depending on the method used. Boiled braunschweiger tends to be much lighter, very closely resembling liverwurst, while smoked braunschweiger is usually much darker.

Braunschweiger also has a very livery taste (those that contain liver) but most people also note a very peppery taste.

Cooking With Braunschweiger

This sausage is just as diverse as liverwurst and can be prepared in similar ways. Eating it right out of the package is most popular, as the smokey flavor is what draws Braunschweiger lovers in.

Here are a few uses for Braunschweiger:

  • Use it as a smoky dip for a cheese and cracker platter.
  • Make hash potatoes and incorporate Braunschweiger into the mixture.
  • Make a toasted sandwich with Braunschweiger, cheese, onions, and pickles.
  • Make meatballs with a classic Italian sauce.
  • Incorporate fried cubes into a fresh summer salad.

You can also slice and dice the sausage and pan fry, deep fry, or incorporate it into a baked dish. You can even try dipping cubes of this sausage into fondue, as it cubes nicely, but the best meats for fondue can be found in another article.

Liverwurst vs. Braunschweiger – Final Comparison

Now that we have looked at Liverwurst and Braunschweiger individually, let’s compare all the differences between these two delicious sausages.

This way, you can directly see how they are similar and how they differ. The comparison chart is also extremely helpful for quick answers.

Liverwurst vs. Braunschweiger – Comparison Chart


LiverwurstBraunschweiger
OriginGermanyGermany
MeatsPork or beef meat Pork or beef fat
Mostly pork meat, rarely beef and fat
Organs Liver, additional heart and kidney usually addedAt least 30% liver, no other organs
SpicesSalt, ground black pepper, white pepper, allspice, nutmeg, onion powder, mustard seeds, thyme, coriander, and marjoramSalt, pepper, garlic powder, ground nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and onion powder
Additional IngredientsPieces of bacon, onion, mushrooms, or berries Pieces of bacon or onion
TextureCan vary from paste-like to chunky (usually more paste-like)Can vary from paste-like to chunky (usually chunkier)
ColorPale-pinkDarker pale-brown/pink
TasteStrong liver tasteLiver taste, stronger peppery and smoky taste
Cooking methodAlways boiledTraditionally boiled but almost always smoked
Used as Spread, sliced, or dicedSpread, sliced, or diced

Both of these sausages originated in Germany, but many regions have made them their own by using different spices and cooking methods.

The main and most important difference between these two sausages is that liverwurst is boiled, while braunschweiger is almost always smoked. 

These cooking methods directly affect their color. Liverwurst is a lighter pale-pink, and braunschweiger is a darker pink-brown color.

Related Questions

Are Liverwurst and Braunschweiger Made from the Same Meat?

As you can see from the chart we provided, both these meats are most commonly made from pork. However, both can also be made using beef, sometimes even a mixture of pork and beef.

It depends entirely on the region you are in.

Are Liverwurst and Braunschweiger Nutritious?

Both these sausages are high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. This makes sense because most sausages are, especially if they are being cooked and made to last a while.

Meat is naturally high in protein and very low in carbs. These are also good sources of vitamin A, B vitamins, and iron.

Whether this sausage is healthy or not is entirely up to your dietary needs, but keep in mind the old saying, “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.”

Is It Safe to Eat Them Out of the Package?

It is completely safe to eat these two types of meat straight out of the package because they have already been cooked. Liverwurst is boiled for hours, while braunschweiger is smoked for hours (which is also a cooking method).

But, always make sure to get your cured and processed meats from a reputable supplier in order to prevent any risks and unsafe meats.

Up Next: The Best Andouille Sausage Substitute

3 Comments

  1. When I was a kid I used to love a nice thick liverwurst sandwich for lunch. Recently I wanted to have a liverwurst sandwich but all I could find was Braunschweiger. I figured it was the same as liverwurst… boy, was I wrong. I couldn’t stomach the taste of the Braunschweiger and threw the just-opened package in the trash. I was surprised that I could not find the liverwurst anywhere. It used to be a staple at my parent’s house.

  2. Same here. There was nothing better on Saturday afternoons than liverwurst on fresh from the bakery (in the 1960’s) rye bread, smothered in Guldens mustard with almost half a bottle of chilled midget gherkin pickles. I just recently tried to find liverwurst, but could not find it anywhere. I asked they guy behind the deli counter if they had it and he told me that BRAUNSCHWEIGER is the same thing. I purchased 1/2 lb. and picked up the stores excuse for fresh baked rye bread, a bottle of Guldens and some midget gherkin pickles. It was awful! I kept adding more and more mustard in the hope that I could mask the taste. I ate about 2 bites and 10 gherkins to get the taste out of my mouth.
    I don’t usually comment on anything and I don’t mean to be critical about the store’s rye bread, but this sandwhich was the wurst (pun intended).
    At least the Guldens and the pickles tasted the same.

  3. Boiling liver or any other type of sausage to cook or finish it is the incorrect method to use. Epecially
    for 2 hours as mentioned. the casings will split open or burst! The correct method would be to poach. The difference is the temp. and activity of the water. Poaching is 185-195 and boiling is at 212.

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