What is Liver Sausage?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Liver sausage is a type of sausage which is made with liver as an added ingredient. Despite the “liver” in the name, liver usually makes up around a fifth of the total contents of this type of sausage, as it is an incredibly rich, dense meat and the sausage would be rather unpalatable if it was made from pure liver. Several cultures have developed their own versions of liver sausage which are sold fresh, cooked, and cured at various markets and butchers. Some people also like to make this dish at home, especially in households which raise and butcher their own meat.

Liverwurst is a pork-based liver sausage.
Liverwurst is a pork-based liver sausage.

Like other sausages, liver sausage is made by partially cooking a selection of ground meats with spices and ingredients like onions and garlic, and then stuffing this mixture into a sausage casing which is traditionally made from scraped and cleaned intestines. The sausage may be made more light with the addition of bread crumbs, rice, or other filler ingredients. Liver is an extremely rich organ meat which is high in vitamin A, iron, and protein, among other things, making liver sausage a very healthy food.

In Northern Europe, liverwurst is often served with whole grain bread and a side of mustard.
In Northern Europe, liverwurst is often served with whole grain bread and a side of mustard.

Several types of liver sausage are particularly famous. Liverwurst, for example, is a pork-based version served in much of Northern Europe. It is especially popular with dark whole grain breads and mustard. Liverwurst is typically cooked before sale, and many people eat it cold; it is also available in the form of a spread, which includes all of the ingredients in the sausage without the casing. Liverwurst spread is commonly used in sandwiches in some regions of the world.

Braunschweiger is a type of German liver sausage which is also fairly well known. Braunschweiger is smoked before sale to create a distinctive flavor. Because liver is so rich, even when smoked these sausages can spoil very quickly, and they should be chilled and used as soon as possible. Once a braunschweiger is cut into, consumers have only a few days before the sausage becomes unsafe to eat; in addition to being used in sandwiches, the sausage can also be included in spreads and various cooked appetizers.

Liver has a very distinctive flavor which is not to everyone's taste. If you want to try out liver sausage and you haven't had liver before, try going to your local butcher and getting one or two fresh sausages to play around with. If you find that you enjoy the pungent and unique flavor of liver, you can experiment with liverwurst and other traditional sausages; although the Germans are probably the most famous producers of this sausage, you can also find Asian versions which are popular in nations like Korea and Japan.

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


Has anyone had liver sausage spread? Specifically Liverwurst spread?

I had it for the first time last month and can't seem to get enough. I've had it plain and I've also had it as a pate with lots of other ingredients. I really like the pate. It has cream cheese and wine which basically translates into something great. It's a wonderful for sandwiches and appetizers.

I agree with the others that liver sounds unappetizing, but it really isn't. Don't judge it until you taste it. It can be made at home too.


I don't know about all kinds of liver sausage, but the one I had was not like typical sausage. It looked that way before I cooked it. After slicing it and cooking it in a pan though, all of the meat fell apart and ended up looking like ground beef at the end of it. I was expecting it to stay firm.

The flavor was very good though. I actually couldn't detect the liver. I cooked it with lots of onions and ate it as a sandwich.


I'm glad to know that liver sausage doesn't actually have a lot of liver in it. I cook liver for my cat and it doesn't smell very appetizing. My brother called me to say that he's coming over with different kinds of European sausage, including a liver sausage. Now that I know what it is, I won't mind trying a piece.

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