It might sound like a heavyweight battle and for some sausage lovers it is, as far as weighing the pros and cons of knockwurst vs bratwurst.
It isn’t just a case of semantics and wordplay, especially in Germany.
Many German towns and regions take their sausages (and the differences and elements that make them unique) very, very seriously.
While knockwurst (technically knackwurst), bratwurst, bockwurst, and other sausages are often cooked the same way, the ingredients and serving style for each varies a good bit.
Knockwurst vs Bratwurst: the Basics
Before we break down each sausage, let’s agree that it doesn’t have to be a battle and that there’s more than enough love to go around when it comes to knockwurst vs bratwurst.
If you love a great brat, you’re almost guaranteed to be a knockwurst fan as well. And vice versa.
The ingredients and taste are different but that same basic joy of great grilled meat — plus some beer — applies equally to both knockwurst and bratwurst.
Bratwurst are probably more easily found as far as buying them locally but knockwurst are also popular.
Your best bet for great bratwurst and other sausages will be in the Brat Belt of the U.S. in states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois.
In This Corner: Bratwurst
Hopefully you’re familiar with brats but we’ll start at the beginning, just in case.
Bratwurst is traditionally made from pork and veal, with a fairly light load of spices added. Some bratwursts are now made with a pork and beef mixture but traditionalists will argue that the only real brat is one that includes pork and veal.
Brats are light in color and in taste, without much initial seasoning when they’re made. They’re served on hard rolls and often topped with onions and stone ground mustard.
Different brat recipes call for different seasonings — including nutmeg, mace, marjoram, and ground caraway seeds — but the spice load is generally pretty low with bratwurst.
And in This Corner: Knockwurst
Traditional knockwurst are smaller in size and usually made with much more beef — sometimes made entirely from beef.
It takes its name from the German terms “knacken” — to crack — and “knackig” or crisp; when cooked and eaten the sausage itself which tends to crackle and break.
The small size makes it a perfect finger food as it’s easier to handle than larger sausages.
Knockwurst is more heavily seasoned and includes garlic, salt, and other spices.
Knockwurst in the U.S. is often more similar to bratwurst in size and shape and can be made with pork added as well.
Other names for knockwurst include knackwurst, knackwurste, crack sausage, garlic sausage, and knoblouch.