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Getting the Knack: The Complete Guide to Knackwurst Sausage

by | Apr 4, 2022

German in origin, knackwurst are short, thick sausages made of finely ground pork and veal, liberally flavored (usually with garlic). Traditionally more of an orange or reddish tint, it’s flavored with herbs and spices such as garlic and onion and has a smoother, creamier texture than some of it’s “wurst” counterparts.

Is it spelled “knockwurst” or “knackwurst?”

We won’t deduct points from your culinary spelling quiz if you spell it with an “o” or an “a.” The difference in spellings are due to Regional linguistics, and both spellings are widely recognized and accepted.

In the Unites States, Knockwurst is the more common spelling, where foreign words tend to go through mutations as Americans adopt them into their own daily use. Here at Josef’s Artisan Meats, we’re loyalists to the Old World European tradition, so we stick to calling it Knackwurst.

How did knackwurst get it’s name?

In Germany, the noun Knackwurst (with an “a”) is derived from two German words – the verb “knacken” (meaning “to crack”), and the adjective “knackig” (meaning “crisp”). As it cooks, the natural casing on this plump sausage may pop and split open, giving off a staccato, “cracking” sound. A classic onomatopoeia!


Knackwurst on roll with Mustard

What does a knackwurst sausage taste like?

Keep this one away from Count Dracula, but if you’re a garlic lover, the Knackwurst should top your “must try” sausage list. It packs a more pungent punch that the milder bratwurst, with just the right amount of salt and smoke to balance out the garlic’s zest. Our Knackwurst products are seasoned with onion as well – absolutely delectable, but you may wish to have an after-dinner mint handy!

Knackwurst Recipe and Compliment Ideas

The sky is nearly the limit here. The Germans frequently pair knackwurst with sauerkraut, or a nice soft pretzel (both receive our endorsement!) A traditional German “Bauernfrüstuck,” or  “Farmer’s Breakfast” consisting of cubed hash browns, slicked knackwurst, peppers and onions, is guaranteed to stick to your insides!

Elswhere, we’ve seen (and enjoyed) knackwurst paired with warm potato salad, couscous, and an array of soups (red cabbage being a common compliment… check out this recipe from the kitchen of Rachel Ray)

Fans of the “Reuben” sandwich might care to give a Reuben hot dog a try … swap the sandwich bun for a hotdog roll, and the sliced corn beef for a knackwurst!

Kase Krainer Corn Dog with Dipping Sauce Josef's Artisan Meats
Knackwurst Sausage Prepped with Pretzel Josef's Artisan Meats

How to cook and Prepare knackwurst

A versatile sausage, your Knackwurst prep ultimately comes down to a matter of preference. The sausage can be boiled in water, grilled, fried, or baked in the oven.

Simmering in your favorite broth or beer is the most traditional way of preparing, but plain ole water also does the trick nicely.  Take care not to have the liquid too hot, as you run the risk of the brats bursting open and loosing those delicious juices.  Our Knackwurst is fully cooked, so you only need to simmer them long enough to warm them to your desired serving temperature – usually 10-15 mins.

If you want to bake them, put them in a oven safe dish and cook at 300 degrees Farehnheit for approximately 20 mins or until nicely browned.

If grilling is your cup of tea, make sure the grill is set to medium heat and try to avoid the Knackwurst making direct contact with the flames, as the casing is delicate and can easily burst.  Also, it’s a good idea to not grill the Knackwurst cold, as the outside of the brat may burn before the center reaches your desired temperature.  Letting them warm to room temperature before grilling is a good way to avoid this!  


The best of the “wurst”

It’s “Oktoberfest anytime” with our fan-favorite Knackwurst sausage. You can find Knackwurst and many other authentic, hand crafted sausages, charcuterie and deli meats on our Products page.

Knackwurst Sausage Josef's Artisan Meats


This German classic is naturally hardwood smoked and fully cooked, and seasoned with garlic and onion.