No Two Are Alike: Differences Among Popular Texas Hill Country Sausage Types

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On a trip through the Hill Country, the German influence in the region becomes palatable, especially when you stop at a restaurant. Many sausage types appear on numerous menus throughout the Hill Country all year long, not just at Oktoberfest. But, how can you choose between a bratwurst and a knackwurst? Knowing the differences among Hill Country sausage types you’re likely to encounter will help you make the best decision for your palate.


Bratwurst from Old German Bakery in Fredericksburg

Photo: Facebook/Charlotte Frank Russ

Bratwurst is a highly seasoned sausage. Typically made from pork, veal may also be used in some recipes. Herb, spices, and smoking give bratwurst its distinctive flavor. Sage adds a savory herbiness, pepper gives spiciness, and nutmeg contributes a bit of sweetness. These seasonings make bratwurst a perfect pairing for a bold mustard that enhances the flavor of the meat.

Knackwurst aka Knockwurst

Knackwurst is one of the many sausage types you'll find in the Hill Country

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Knackwurst, also known as knockwurst, generally tastes more garlicky than other sausages, but that’s not where the name for this distinctive meat comes from. Knackwurst makes a loud cracking sound when you bite into it. Knack comes from a German word meaning “to crack.” The noise the sausage makes when you bite into it comes from the expansion of the juices inside the casing, which become slightly pressurized. Like bratwurst, knackwurst usually is smoked and made with veal and pork, but seasonings in this sausage variety typically are limited to fresh garlic, giving it is flavor.


Different sausage types cooking on a pit at Salt Lick

Photo: Flickr/vxla

If you see a meat listed as just sausage in the Hill Country, it’s likely a German sausage. Unlike Polish or Czech sausage, simple German sausage contains few added flavorings. Unlike Czech sausage, which have garlic added as a traditional ingredient, German sausages get their flavor mainly from the meat, salt, and pepper. Some producers may add a touch of cayenne pepper. If the menu does not indicate which meats were used, it usually is a majority of beef with a small amount of pork added for flavor and texture. Some Hill Country shops add to their German sausage types by incorporating venison, veal, wild boar, or bison into the meat. Try a variety to see which you prefer as individual sausage makers will have varying amounts of ingredients in their recipes.