Did you know there are over 1200 different types of sausage in Germany alone, with the number extending into the tens of thousands once we talk about the world entire? Whether it’s Hungarian liverwurst, Tunisian Merguez or Thai Sai Ua, there’s a huge diversity of both regional and national sausages. We’d have to write a novel to list them all, but we can at least focus on some of the absolute best sausage.
Before we begin, let’s define what a sausage is, exactly. Traditionally, a sausage refers to ground meat encased in intestines. In more recent years, sausages are frequently packed into synthetic cases, but traditional sausagemakers usually prefer to prepare them the old-fashioned way. Salt, spices and other seasonings are often added for extra flavor, and sausages may be cured, dried, smoked, frozen or raw.
A smoked pork sausage. Traditional French Andouille is made from offal, but Americans are more familiar with the Cajun variety, which uses shoulder meat, garlic, pepper, onions and wine. This sausage tastes great by itself, but is often enjoyed in sandwiches, buns and jambalayas.
As its name implies, Andouillette is a smaller version of the Andouille sausage, and it also comes in French (made from pig intestines) and Cajun (made from spiced pork meat) varieties.
Blood sausage means exactly what you'd expect: a sausage filled with cooked, congealed blood. Sound appealing? Perhaps not, but blood sausages can be extremely delicious, and they're enjoyed worldwide, in varieties like French Boudin Noir, Spanish Morcilla and British Black Pudding.
Bologna, sometimes known as Baloney, has its origins in Italy, but America has inherited the sausage and made it one of the nation's favorite lunch meats. Whereas the original Italian bologna (known as Mortadella) is flecked with large visible chunks of fat, the meat of American bologna (which is usually pork, but sometimes veal, chicken, turkey, beef or other meat) is ground so finely you can't see any pieces of fat, lard or spices. Instead it appears almost like a fine, uniform pink ham, creating a tasty filler for sandwiches.
A white sausage made from pork, usually including liver and heart meat. In Cajun cuisine, it may also include rice to give it its white color, whereas the French Boudin Blanc uses milk.
A dark-hued sausage made with pork, pig blood and seasonings. The French like to serve it fried or grilled alongside hearty potatoes or caramelized apples, or incorporated into a winter soup.
A popular German sausage traditionally made from ground veal and pork, seasoned with salt, white pepper, paprika and herbs. Germans enjoy serving it with mustard and a cold beer. Best cooked on the grill.
This German sausage is made from veal, pork or beef, and was brought by immigrants to the USA some time ago. Today, it is often enjoyed at American barbecues, loved for its unique flavor thanks to seasonings like sage and nutmeg. Wisconsin is famous for its "beer brats," in which the sausage is simmered in beer before being grilled. Brats are always sold fresh, not cured or smoked.
A general term for a sausage served during breakfast time. Sometimes known as a "country sausage," these sausages are most often pork-based, and are sometimes served as patties and fried in a pan.
A thin fresh sausage originating in France, often served for breakfast. It is typically made from coarse-ground pork seasoned with herbs, spices and salt.
A Spanish sausage made with natural intestine casing and pork filling. It acquires a deep-red color and spicy flavor from the use of peppers and other spices. Usually, it’s cured, smoked, and sliced into coin-shaped pieces to enjoy in sandwiches or on antipasto platters.
A traditional pork sausage from northern England, usually long and with a peppery flavor.
A German sausage now popular throughout the world, often synonymous with the hot dog, and served with mustard, ketchup or relish.
A cooked sausage, usually a frankfurter, served in a long bun with mustard, ketchup, onions, cheese, chili, mayonnaise or coleslaw. A staple street food in New York, Chicago and other big American cities, hot dogs are often eaten at sports games and outdoor barbecue events.
Also known as “Polish Sausage,” Kielbasa is available in several varieties from across Eastern and Central Europe. It is usually made from ground pork with added beef, and seasoned with garlic. In Poland, Kielbasa is often served in soups and casseroles, or alongside fried vegetables. In the US it is more frequently eaten in sandwiches or on cold cut platters.
Knackwurst / Knockwurst
Originating in medieval Germany, knackwurst (known as “knockwurst” in the US), is a garlic-flavored sausage made from ground beef and/or pork stuffed into hog casings. The “knack” in its name comes from the German for “crack,” because of the sausage’s crispy bite. In Richmond, Virginia, folks enjoy knockwurst in a Sailor’s Sandwich, while in Germany it’s traditionally eaten alongside sauerkraut and roast vegetables.
A soft liver sausage made of pig or calf liver, seasoned with pepper, thyme, mustard seed or nutmeg. It is often so soft, in fact, that it can be spread like pate onto breads or crackers.
A Greek pork sausage flavored with orange peel, leeks and dried herbs and spices. The term can also refer to any type of Greek sausage.
Merguez is a North African sausage that has made its way to the USA by way of France. Usually made from mutton, it has a spicy flavor thanks to the addition of harissa sauce, paprika, cumin and other spices. Often served as a street food in places like Tunisia, it has a fiery-red color and long, slender shape, and tastes delicious grilled and served with French fries, in sandwiches, or in North African dishes like tagine.
The Spanish term for a blood sausage
A big Italian sausage incorporating large chunks of visible pork fat, flavored with pepper, berries and pistachios. It is similar to the American sausage, Bologna, which omits the chunks of fat.
An American salami often made with cured pork and beef. It has a characteristic bright-red color, with a smoky, somewhat spicy flavor. It can be eaten in salads and meat platters, but is most famously used as a pizza topping.
Bright-red boiled pork sausage from Denmark, where it is often eaten like a hot dog, in buns and with mustard or ketchup.
Rosette de Lyon
A dry-cured pork sausage traditionally eaten as a snack in France.
A type of cured sausage made with fermented and air-dried meat that's seasoned in salts and spices. Can often be stored at room temperature.
Also known as “saucisson sec,” this is a very thick, dry-cured sausage from France, usually made with pork and eaten at room temperature as an appetizer or with cheese or soup.
A boiled red sausage popular in the UK and British Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand. Similar to frankfurters, though usually larger, frankfurters are served in Fish and Chips shops, and are sometimes fried in batter.
A sausage that doesn't require refrigeration and can be eaten at room temperature. Usually smoked or dried, it includes many salami sausages such as chorizo.