German Language Blog

The Bratwurst! Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in Culture, Food, Traditions

The Bratwurst is one of the first things you will link to Germany. It designates by itself not a specific sausage, but a more general recipe: meat, minced together with herbs and spices, which is either pressed into a Darm (intestine) of a pig or a lamb, or shaped in hot water. This sausage is then brewed and grilled in a fry pan or on a grill.

There are many, many different varieties, though the most famous ones are the Nürnberger Bratwurst and the Thüringer Bratwurst.

The Nürnberger Bratwurst

6 Nürnberger on a Zinnteller (tin plate) (Image by poolle at under license CC BY 2.0)

Also simply called Nürnberger, these Bavarian sausages are rather short. At a mere 7-9 cm (3-4 inches), it is normal to eat more than just one at a time. When put in a Brötchen (roll), it is normal to put three in – Drei in an Weggla, as it is said in the local dialect. The porc sausage typically contains salt, pepper and marjoram as main herbs and spices, and the Metzger (butcher) is free to add a sprinkle of some other spice.

The Original Nürnberger Rostbratwurst, as it is officially named, is protected as a geschütze geographische Angabe (g.g.A) (Protected Geographical Indication (GPI, or more frequently the French acronym IGP)) by the EU. This also means that there are strict requirements for this sausage: it has to follow the recipe laid down by the city of Nürnberg, and the sausage has to be produced in the municipal area of Nürnberg.  The city has many centuries-old restaurants that serve the original Nürnberger Bratwurst.

The Thüringer Bratwurst

Thüringer Rostbratwurst (Image by ChristianBier at under license CC BY SA 3.0)

This at least 15 cm (6 inches) long sausage is also protected as a g.g.A. Its origin dates back hundreds of years. The main meat is porc, but sometimes also veal or beef. It is typically spiced with salt, pepper, cumin, marjoram and garlic. Originally, 51% of the ingredients had to be from the region Thüringen. However, this requirement was revoked in 2011.

Where does the Bratwurst come from?

This question is hard to answer, since the idea to put some spices and minced meat into an intestine is thousands of years old. It started with the Franks, and from there was developed further in Germany. Especially in the middle ages, the Bratwurst got more of a German identity.

The name Bratwurst has a more certain origin, however. Brat comes from the Old High German word Brät, which refers to minced meat, which is made into a Wurst, a sausage. Nowadays, the word Bratwurst is thought to refer to the verb braten, which means to fry, since this is how you prepare a Bratwurst.

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Allan Mahnke:

    Thanks! I didn’t know about the Old High German etymology. I had always assumed that it came from the verb braten. Thanks!

  2. John Fannon:

    I heard a good German joke on this subject or perhaps it is a piece of German philosophy
    “All things have an end except the sausage which has two ends”

    (A very interesting blog, Constanze!)

  3. John Fannon:

    Sorry Sten I didn’t realise that the blog is a joint effort!

    • Sten:

      @John Fannon No problem!
      Yes, we are currently three bloggers regularly writing posts :).
      And you are right – that is very much a widespread saying!