What’s the Difference Between Sausage, Bratwursts and Kielbasa?
Do you love sausage, bratwurst and kielbasa equally? After all, they come from the same family, so how can you prefer one over another? We adore them all for their unique nuances. The reality is, sausages come in all shapes, sizes and types to appeal to different palates based on the kind of meat, herbs and spices you make them from.
While you can choose from a variety of sausages, are you clear on finer points and distinctions that make one variety different from the other? If not, we can clear that up for you here.
What Is Sausage?
The word “sausage” has become somewhat of a catch-all term for delicious meat products. Yet sausage is just that — a category of meat products made from combining minced or ground meats with other ingredients to create specific flavors. Many different types of sausages, including bratwurst and kielbasa, fall into this broad category.
Some sausages are encased in artificial casings made out of cellulose or other synthetic materials, while others have natural casings. Others get encased in collagen, which can be used for dry sausages, for example. Not all sausages are encased into links, however, as some sausages are formed into patties.
Sausages often comprise ground beef, pork, veal, turkey and chicken. While those ingredients are most common, you can also find those made of lamb, venison, elk and others.
You can make sausage in three main ways, with each one having a profound effect on the flavor of the sausage:
- Dried: Dried sausage encompasses a variety of favorite foods, such as pepperoni, salami and Spanish chorizo. These sausages rarely have casings and can typically be sliced and eaten without preparation. People invented this sausage in a world before refrigeration, and many dried sausage products do not require refrigeration making them easily portable.
- Smoked: Smoked sausage also refers to the way the sausage is made and includes kielbasa sausages, which will be discussed more in depth later in this piece. Andouille sausage is another popular form of smoked sausage often flavored in Cajun or Creole dishes for its spicy flavor, though kielbasa makes an excellent substitution for those who prefer their foods well-seasoned but milder.
- Fresh: While a variety of meats can be used to make sausage, pork remains the most commonly used type of meat for making sausage. The broad title offers little indication of what you’re getting, though, which is why it’s important to learn about the subtle differences among sausage products.
You can also find cooked sausages, and an example of this is hot dogs, which are fully prepared and ready to eat.
Fun Facts about Sausage
You might be surprised to discover the U.S. cities where sausage is most popular. According to Health Research Funding, the top nine cities for dinner sausage consumption are:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Antonio/Corpus Christi
- Baltimore/Washington D.C.
- Dallas/Fort Worth
- San Francisco/Oakland
Apparently, they really love their sausage in California and Texas. Cities in those states comprise two and three of the top nine, respectively. A couple of other fun facts about sausages:
- In Germany, there are more than 1,000 types of sausages.
- In 2018, more than 164 million people in the U.S. consumed regular or mild sausages, while more than 76 million Americans ate beef sausage in this year.
- The month of October is designated as National Sausage Month.
What Is Bratwurst?
A bratwurst is a fresh link sausage characterized by its many different spices and seasonings. Nutmeg, ginger, caraway and sage, to name a few, to lend their flavors to these iterations of bratwurst. Often referred to as “brats,” bratwurst has a long and enduring history as a favorite sausage for backyard gatherings and football tailgates, grilled to perfection.
While brats comprise mainly of pork, you can also make them with beef or veal as well as various combinations of the meats. In addition to being grilled, brats are also prepared by steaming, broiling or cooking in some other capacity.
Family and friends widely use brats as the main attraction in meals, like bratwurst sandwiches, which are more like hot dogs. Others enjoy them as an ingredient in the recipe, like with this Premio Foods beer bratwurst skillet dinner made with such tasty ingredients as green peppers, onions, red pepper flakes, beer, Dijon mustard and more. This recipe is just one of many that take advantage of the richness of bratwurst to create a delicious focal point for almost any meal.
Bratwurst stands out with fans because it is so versatile. You can fill it with different things, like cheese or peppers, you can enjoy it plain, or you can even cook it in beer.
Fun Facts About Bratwursts
Bratwurst sausages originated in the 14th century in Nuremberg, Germany. Bratwurst is practically synonymous with sausage throughout Germany. However, the origins are even more specific. “Brat,” the first half of the word, literally refers to finely chopped meat in German. “Wurst” is the German word for sausage.
We now have a National Bratwurst Day, too. It’s on August 16 annually, and you can celebrate it by, you guessed it, eating brats!
What Is Kielbasa?
Kielbasa is the Polish word for sausage. Sausage has always played an important role in Polish culture, and kielbasa remains one of, if not the, most famous foods to come out of Poland. Kielbasi can have a distinctive garlic taste along with other flavorings like smoke, cloves, pimentos and marjoram.
Kielbasa is a type of smoked sausage, usually only lightly smoked. It is highly flavorful in its own right, and especially so when mixed with a variety of dishes. For instance, people who prefer milder flavors often use kielbasa to flavor red beans and rice. It is also commonly served in combination with sauerkraut and is a mainstay ingredient in Polish sausage soup.
Here are a few more basic qualities of kielbasa:
- This delicious sausage is typically made using pork or a combination that includes pork and beef.
- Kielbasa is a highly versatile sausage you can consume in a variety of ways but is often grilled, boiled, smoked or seared.
- It can be enjoyed in soups, casseroles and stews, as well as sliced into sandwiches.
Many people enjoy kielbasa outside the bun. Some use dried kielbasa as an appetizer on a cheese tray. Because you typically make kielbasa with garlic, pimento, cloves, and other additives for flavoring, the drying process intensifies the flavor, making it an enjoyable addition to any plate.
In addition to going beautifully with sauerkraut, kielbasa sausage also pairs well with cabbage. You can enjoy it as part of sweeter dishes, too, like candied kielbasa and kielbasa in a brown sugar reduction.
Fun Facts About Kielbasa
Most people associate kielbasa with the shape in which is it packaged, usually in a rope or horseshoe. It is often 18 inches long and an inch and a half thick. This shape makes it easy to identify in supermarkets around the world and is synonymous with the incredible flavor kielbasa is known to generate.
A tradition Poles love is enjoying kielbasa by the campfire. They place it on skewers, roasting it over the fire until it’s done ― similar to cooking marshmallows over a campfire. They consider this way of preparing and eating kielbasa great fun. And the smell of smoke and open air make kielbasa taste wonderful.
How to Differentiate Kielbasa vs. Bratwurst vs. Sausage
Ultimately, they’re all sausage. The different distinctions you can find between kielbasa and bratwurst and sausage lie in the ingredients and seasonings used to make them, how they are prepared, and their country of origins.
Ingredients and Seasonings
As explained above, what sets sausages apart are the kinds of meat or combination of meats, seasonings of herbs and spices used to create them, and, to some degree, their preparation method. So, while brats and kielbasa are both kinds of sausage, they are distinctly different from one another in the seasonings used to make them. For instance, brats are often seasoned with nutmeg, ginger, caraway and sage, while people quite often infuse kielbasa with garlic.
This also leads to a different taste for each sausage. If you compare bratwurst vs. Italian sausage, for instance, you will find the latter much sweeter due to the anise and fennel.
Country of Origin
Countries, regions and cultures use a variety of seasonings to make their sausages their own. Many go beyond what Poland and Germany have to offer. Even here in the U.S., we have quite the variety and number of distinctions among our sausages. Whether grilled, fresh or cured, sausages are a dietary staple around the globe.
Some of the sausages from around the world include:
- Spanish Chorizo: An export from Spain that is often a dried sausage well-seasoned with paprika, garlic, herbs and, on occasion, white wine, Spanish chorizo is a cured or dried product that does not require cooking.
- Mexican Chorizo: This is a raw pork product widely loved for the flavorful combination of spices. You should cook this sausage before consuming.
- French Andouille: This pungent sausage originates in France, and you rarely see it outside of the country, with the exception of certain areas of Canada and southern Louisiana, which both have a heavy French influence.
- Hawaiian Lau Lau: This sausage dish has deep Polynesian roots and is made from pork, beef or chicken along with salted butterfish and taro leaves. Hawaiians traditionally serve it with macaroni salad and rice as sides.
- Filipino Longganisa: Imagine fresh sausage made from pork, beef, chicken or tuna. The flavor of Filipino longganisa varies according to its region of origin.
- Thai Sai Ua: Seasoned with red curry paste and a variety of herbs, this sausage dish works well with rice as an appetizer.
- Argentinian Longaniza: Similar to Spanish chorizo, this Longaniza uses anise seeds instead of paprika for its unique flavor and smell. It is also dried and/or cured and has a slightly sweet taste.
Embracing the Differences
Because there are so many varieties available to consumers, there is sure to be a sausage everyone can love. You will find a nearly infinite variety of flavors and blends for sausage, including vegan and vegetarian options available as well. The sky is the limit when it comes to recipe options and flavor combinations you can make with sausage. Each one brings something unique to your table. Of course, finding a high quality of sausage also makes a difference in your enjoyment of this food, and that’s why you should pick Premio.
Why Choose Premio Foods Sausages?
Our family has been in the business of creating delicious, quality sausage products for more than 40 years. We take great pride in selling many of the same products today that we offered in the beginning, though we have also expanded our products. We prepare our sausages with butcher-quality cuts of meat and spices sourced from around the world, and they are absent of fillers you’ll find in other brands.
Sausage offers a nearly infinite variety of possibilities for exciting meals at any time of the day or night. From preparing food for football tailgating to holiday meals, you will find Premio Foods sausage an essential ingredient to keep stocked in your kitchen. Try our sausages today and experience a flavor difference you’ll want to write home about.
The products we offer include:
- Italian Sausage
- Fresh bratwurst
- Fresh kielbasa
- Chicken sausages
- World flavor sausages
- Breakfast sausages
You can buy our sausages with confidence that we offer the finest-quality products made with outstanding ingredients. We also believe firmly in meeting our obligations to safeguard the planet by conserving its resources.
Our commitment to promoting the sustainability of natural resources and preventing pollution is as deep as our commitment to making delicious sausage. One way we do this is through using environmentally friendly contents and minimal packaging. We believe that’s a difference you can taste in our sausages today — and that our children and grandchildren will see in our planet tomorrow.
Buy Premio Foods Products at a Store Near You
We encourage you to explore stores within your community to find fresh Premio Foods sausage products by using our convenient store locator. If you prefer to shop online for Premio Foods sausage, you may order from our website. Our products are so fresh, they require special ordering and shipping considerations. Be sure to freeze our products if you can’t use them by the recommended times for refrigerator storage.
Raise your expectations when it comes to flavorful, quality sausage by trying Premio Foods for yourself. We’re confident you’ll be wowed by the taste of our sausage. Whether you become a fan of the intense and delicious flavors of our quality sausages, our environmental initiatives, or both, we can’t wait to hear how you feel about our sausages, kielbasa, bratwursts and more.