What is Knockwurst Sausage?

Mary McMahon

Knockwurst sausage is a typically short and fat sausage with zesty seasoning featuring a large amount of fresh garlic. It was allegedly a favorite of the Hapsburgs, and it continues to be a popular food in Germany and in many others parts of the world today. Traditionally, it is eaten by hand, and it is a common offering at street stalls and fairs, along with an assortment of condiments. Knockwurst can also be purchased at markets and butchers' shops for home preparation.

Knockwurst sausage is traditionally topped with sauerkraut in Germany.
Knockwurst sausage is traditionally topped with sauerkraut in Germany.

The “knock” in knockwurst is derived from the Middle High German knacken, “to crack,” a reference to the crackling that this sausage makes when it is bitten into. Wurst means “sausage” in German, so technically “knockwurst sausage” means “crack sausage sausage.” These sausages are designed to work as finger foods, with thick casings which do not allow ingredients to escape, and a short, fat design which makes them easy to handle.

Garlic, which is used in making Knockwurst sausage.
Garlic, which is used in making Knockwurst sausage.

Both beef and pork are used to produce knockwurst sausage, and specialty meats like veal may be used in gourmet versions. In addition to fresh garlic, the sausage may be spiced with peppers and other ingredients to make it fiery in flavor. The food can be found in both fresh and lightly smoked versions; some people prefer smoked knockwurst because it can have a more complex flavor.

Traditional German accompaniments for knockwurst sausage include sauerkraut, potatoes, or bread. Spicy mustard may also be added, and in some regions knockwurst is served in rolls. Especially in the United States, knockwurst is popular on rolls or buns, and it is eaten like a hot dog with mustard and mayonnaise, and sometimes a hint of relish or sauerkraut as well, depending on the region.

There are a number of ways to prepare knockwurst. It is often roasted on a rotisserie in street stands, as the rotisserie heats the sausage through slowly to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked without drying out. It can also be heated in a pan; puncture the sausage with a fork to prevent it from exploding, and use a thick cast iron pan with dry heat. Knockwurst sausage can also be cooked on the grill, or chopped up for use in a variety of recipes. In some regions, you may be able to find knockwurst mix for recipes which call for small chunks of knockwurst, sparing you the trouble of chopping up a sausage.

Spicy mustard serves as a delicious topping to knockwurst sausage.
Spicy mustard serves as a delicious topping to knockwurst sausage.

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Discussion Comments


The Amana Colonies in Iowa have a meat shop that sell knackwurst and many other German specialties.


There is a place in Massachusetts called Karl's Sausage Kitchen and European Market. They will ship anywhere and maybe able to help you locate what you need in your region. They are very friendly, knowledgeable and they make their own sausage, hot dogs -- even blood sausage, which is hard to get. They carry products from all over Europe, even assorted beers and chocolates. If you come to Massachusetts, you must stop there.


Usingers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin carries it.


If your local supermarket is not carrying knackwurst, the next best thing would be to look for it in a German deli. Most urban areas have a store like that, but I have also found German stores in far away places and small towns.

You can find all kind of delicious German sausages and other German specialties in a store like that.


I live in California and haven't been able to find them at Lucky's or Safeway.


We can get knackwurst in hervey, queensland,

australia, with no problem!


I haven't been able to find knackwurst since I left California. I now live in the midwest and can't find it anywhere, even in well known German communities. Where have all the wonderful specialty shops gone? I miss them.


I'm from Germany and I love to eat Knackwurst (it's not Knockwurst ). It just tastes good!


I live in Charleston South Carolina. Where can I buy Knockwurst? raw c


Knockwurst, Sauerkraut, and Spatzle. That's the stuff!


i am props lady for theatre and need to see a pic of a knackwurst (sorry) sausage for a production of Allo Allo. can you help anon 44627?


"Knackwurst" not "Knock." danke schön, gruss.


I ate knackwurst or knockwurst in Vienna, Austria. It actually tastes very good. It is good for a quick weekday dinner, but it is also very good as a snack. Add to it some good mustard and bread, possibly some dark beer, excellent. It brings back memories from years gone by.

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