What is Blood Sausage?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Blood sausages are links of pork or other meats mixed with blood, which gives them their distinctive dark color. This type of sausage is made in countries all over the world and goes by names such as blutwurst in Germany, boudin noir in France and morcilla in Spain. In the southern United States, these spicy sausages are popular and can be found at many restaurants and roadside stands. Blood sausage has been made for thousands of years and was even written about by the ancient Greek poet Homer.

Blood sausage served with mustard.
Blood sausage served with mustard.

Rich Flavor

This type of sausage is distasteful to some consumers because of the blood content, which is perceived as unpleasant or offensive. When made properly, however, blood sausage should not have the metallic taste that many people link with blood. Instead, it has a rich and complex flavor that many people consider to be delicious alone or as a complement to soups, stews and other dishes.

Blood sausage is a popular dish in Germany.
Blood sausage is a popular dish in Germany.


In its most basic form, blood sausage contains onions and a few herbs and spices cooked together with pork, to which the blood is added. Additional ingredients might include cream, seasonal vegetables or heavier spices. After being thoroughly stirred together so that the blood distributes evenly, the mixture is forced into sausage casings. The proper amount of blood and thorough mixing are important so that clots of blood do not form in the sausage, which can make for an unpleasant experience for the diner. After being made, blood sausage can be cooked and canned, dried or eaten fresh.

The blood from a slaughtered animal is used to create blood sausage.
The blood from a slaughtered animal is used to create blood sausage.


Blood sausage is considered to taste best when it is made with fresh blood that has not coagulated, so it is one of the first products that is made from a slaughtered animal. After being slaughtered, the animal is suspended and bled. The blood is collected in a basin and usually is kept somewhere cool while the animal is being butchered and dressed.

Some believe blood sausage is a good complement to soup or stew.
Some believe blood sausage is a good complement to soup or stew.


Fresh blood sausages generally will keep for only a few days, although they can be frozen. This type of sausage has a short shelf life when fresh, so it frequently accompanies a traditional post-slaughter meal, which includes other delicate meats, such as the liver. It usually is available for sale in a precooked or cured form, which tastes very different from fresh sausage. For this reason, many chefs who have access to a good butcher prefer to make it fresh, although obtaining fresh blood can be difficult in some areas.

Blood sausage has been made for thousands of years and was even written about by the ancient Greek poet Homer.
Blood sausage has been made for thousands of years and was even written about by the ancient Greek poet Homer.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I'm dying to try it. It sounds interesting. I'll give it a go when I'm in the UK later this year.


Yes, Great Britain does have this on a traditional English breakfast fry up. It's best done until crispy on the outside, for my taste.

If you think black pudding is bad, you should investigate the Scottish Haggis.


My parents came to Ohio from central Europe and would often purchase a freshly slaughtered pig from a nearby farm to prepare smoked ham and various types of sausages including blood sausage or kishka, as it's sometimes called. Everything was homemade using the freshest ingredients. It was absolutely delicious.

What's ironic is that I would gross out my classmates when I told them the casings were literally the pig's intestines. Now I can understand the revulsion of vegetarians, but anyone who regularly eats commercially mass produced hot dogs which are rendered from far more "interesting" substances from the animal should really keep their comments to themselves.


This seems like the kind of thing that sounds bad, but just tastes exactly like meat when you eat it.

If I had a good blood sausage recipe and access to some blood I'd give it a try, but I doubt I'd be able to find any that have already been made in this area.

Although, in saying that, sometimes when you feel a bit off about eating something it starts to taste off, so I'd have to be feeling open minded.

@KoiwiGal - Not all people have traditionally eaten blood though, in any shape or form. I know there's a traditional Jewish prohibition on eating blood (which is one reason why they use kosher salt, to draw it out of meat so they can wash it away).

Yes, a lot of people did eat it, because it was a shame to waste any part of an animal if you've just slaughtered it and your family lives meal to meal. But, on the other hand, carcasses that have not been properly drained of blood don't keep very well, and blood in general isn't going to keep very well in hot weather, so I doubt many tribes that lived in the desert would have blood based meals just because it wouldn't stay good in storage.

I could be wrong though, I don't know if spicing it or smoking it would work the way it can for other kinds of meat.


@anon288802 - Actually it's very healthy and contains a lot of the nutrients people need (iron in particular, obviously). I know there are tribes in Africa who live solely on blood and milk from their cows, which they bleed (without hurting them) to collect the blood. They are the only group in the world who can basically live without killing another living thing (plants included).

It's actually pretty strange that there's such a stigma against it in some modern societies. I mean, there is blood in steak and every other kind of meat. It doesn't all drain away, it just gets cooked until it's no longer bright red. So, what's the difference?


It can't be healthy for people to ingest blood. Is the blood simply to provide a flavor or what? I have to admit I will never even try this. It sounds absolutely disgusting.


This was originally an autumn slaughter feast item. When hams and sausages were hung in the smokehouse, the parts which could not be stored for winter consumption were used immediately. Nothing was wasted. One never knew when the extra vitamins and calories would be needed. Blood sausage, blood pudding, liver and kidney, etc, were all part of the feast, and people passing through joined in the feast if they happened to be there at the time. Lots of history in this dish!


As a child, teenager and young adult I loved this heated in butter til it burst open and then mixed with ketchup. I always thought it carried the name "blood sausage" because of its color.

One of my grown daughters asked me about the name since she also loved it growing up. After reading her the ingredients, I was shocked. She replied, "Yeah I will never eat that again". Glad I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years now. Yuck!


@zanna1tx: try a Mexican butcher shop and ask for morcilla ("morsija" in Dutch). When I still lived in Holland my mother baked thick slices and we ate it on white bread with slices of baked apple on top. Yummy!


@zanna1tx: Herberts grocery store sells it in San Marcos, Texas. It is on River road. Good stuff.


Zanna1tx for sure in Colombian Restaurants (Houston) you can order it, it is called Morsilla.


I had black pudding last night and I admit, it was delicious. I worried it would taste coppery or weird, but it didn't. I would eat it again.


Try Bernhard Meat Processing, Inc., in Kerrville, Texas


It is unlikely I'll ever eat blood sausage after reading this article. It sounds pretty disgusting.


Wouldn't you drink blood if that's all the vitamins you could live from?


It looks and tastes nasty.


We have never had blood pudding so we can't really say we don't like it.


Used to love this when I was a kid growing up in the Netherlands. Is there any place in Texas I can order or buy blood sausage? Thank you, Suzanna.


Blood pudding is completely different. It is blood also, but it is cooked and congealed outside of a casing, not like the blood sausage. Same type of food, just not the same thing. The English have black pudding and blood sausage.


I believe the British have yet another name for this type of food -- black pudding or blood pudding.

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