Braunschweiger Mettwurst

Mettwurst© Foto: Birgit Reitz-Hofmann –

Sausage from Braunschweig is internationally renowned. However, what exactly is meant by the term “Braunschweiger” varies from country to country. In most cases, it is a spreadable sausage in a natural casing. In Germany, the speciality from Braunschweig is a spreadable Mettwurst. But does it even matter which one is the “real” Braunschweiger? According to legend, they all contain the most important ingredient: Love from Braunschweig!

It is famous the world over, but there is no single recipe. Nobody ever applied for a patent for Braunschweiger, and there are countless types of sausage named after the city. Braunschweiger Mettwurst is usually a spreadable smoked Mettwurst made of soft, coarsely minced pork, with or without garlic. Knackwurst, a finer, lighter-coloured spread is also considered a Braunschweig speciality. However, it usually does not go by the name “Braunschweiger”.

In the German Food Code, only the addition “Mettwurst” is used to describe Braunschweiger. In Austria, Braunschweiger is a cooked sausage. In the US, it is a smoked, spreadable liver sausage.

The origins of Braunschweiger

The early origins of sausage manufacturing in Braunschweig date back to the 1830s. Back then, the first specialised pig slaughterhouses, or “hoken”, emerged.

The best known types of sausage remain Braunschweiger Mettwurst, Schlackwurst, tea sausage and liver sausage.

The rise of the canning industry also brought about an upsurge in sausage and meat production in the 1860s and 1870s. By preserving liver sausage in cans, Braunschweiger could now be exported to the entire world. This may be the reason why the name Braunschweiger overseas usually describes spreadable liver sausage in cans.

Although the term “Braunschweiger” is used for many types of sausage, they all have one thing in common: they are all highly popular. Perhaps because Braunschweiger is made with the most important ingredient of all – with lots of love – if the following legend about the sausage is to be believed:

The Legend: "History of Bronswiker Worst"

“Master,” journeyman Kunrad Bethman began straightforwardly, “I will stand by my word. Mechthild is more precious to me than ten fat pigs and I desire her as my wife.” “Is that so?” the master is said to have snapped at his audacious journeyman. “As if I would take any old good-for-nothing, poor devil as my son-in-law!” he said and turned to the stranger who had just entered the hallway. “Buongiorno, signore, nice goods!” the stranger said. His black eyes were laughing and he shook his leather pouch to make the silver coins inside jingle. The master left the journeyman standing and pulled the stranger into the parlour. “Nice goods, fine goods,” he said again and offered the master a sample of Italian salami and mortadella. The master tried the Bolognese sausages made from the meat of mules, donkeys and horses and clicked his tongue. The Italian flashed fiery looks at Mechthild as she served him his welcome drink. The master also reached for his tankard and took great gulps to dissipate the anger from before. After a while, he became quite talkative and could not do enough to praise the sausages. With a sad eye, Mechthild stood by. Seeing that, the master started to shout. “By St. George! I lose my temper when women make such a fuss! Go, call the journeyman!” He came promptly. “It is Mechthild you want? Take a look at this sausage. Create something better than this, to make the heavenly host crane their necks after it, and then you shall have her. Otherwise, I will take this one as my son-in-law. Another drink!” While the master slept it off, the journeyman could not sleep a wink. Dreams and visions assailed him from all sides, first with peppercorns and salt shakers, then with cattle and pigs. Never before had a journeyman curved and made sausages as he did during that torturous night. The next morning, he could not find any peace. He tried and tasted while the stranger looked on and laughed. Mechthild crept about the house with tear-stained eyes. When the master awoke and tried the sausages, he rejected everything and scowled. The journeyman ran from the room in despair. But Mechthild secretly went into the room, and while the master was busy drinking many a cup with the stranger, she neatly minced all the sausages once more and stuffed them into the casings with lots of love and great care. The sausages then hung up in the chimney flue for some time. When the evening came, the master wanted to offer his guest a good bite and went up to the chimney flue himself. As they cut and tasted the sausages, the Italian fell quiet, and the master was almost speechless, too. He called Mechthild and asked her where these wonderful sausages came from. The Italian is said to have left without a word and the journeyman could not believe his luck until Mechthild whispered something into his ear. And then he understood!


Braunschweiger Zeitung, Eckhard Schimpf, 2 November 2002.
Braunschweiger Stadtlexikon, Meyer Verlag Braunschweig, 1992. Geschichte der Braunschweiger Wurst. (27 June 2012)

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • Foto: Birgit Reitz-Hofmann –