Thuringer vs Summer Sausage: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve recently bought a pack of Thüringer cervelat sausages, you might be wondering how they differ from good old summer sausage. I completely understand, as Thuringer sausage is basically summer sausage’s cousin and looks quite similar.

The biggest difference between the two is that Thuringer should be cooked on a grill and enjoyed immediately, while summer sausage can be served either warm or cold.

Whatever questions you might have, I’m going to answer them in this Thuringer vs summer sausage breakdown. I’ll cover everything related to what meat types go in each, how they’re made, and some common serving suggestions.

sliced summer sausage thuringer cervelat

What Is Thuringer?

Thüringer sausage, originally called Thuringer bratwurst, is a German sausage from the state of Thuringia. One of the oldest sausages, it dates back to the fifteenth century. In its region of origin, this sausage is a way of life.

Some Germans like to spice it up with mustard, while others think of mustard (or any other relish) as taboo.

In the US, they also call this sausage “Thüringer cervelat,” since cervelat is a type of semi-dry sausage that is usually seasoned or smoked, very similar to summer sausage.

What Meat Is Thuringer Sausage Made Of?

In Germany, they make this sausage out of pork and beef (or veal), season it with pepper, salt, marjoram, and caraway seeds. Some variations include nutmeg, coriander, and lemon zest to boost the flavor even more. This sausage is usually spicy, and it’s around seven inches long. Usually, they sell this sausage raw.

Thuringer sausage is traditionally made in the US of beef, salt, some curing ingredients, spices, and the lactic acid starter culture. The most common spice has to be dry mustard. The beef sausage is stuffed inside a knotty casing and is later smoked, dried, and cooked.

beef summer sausage

However, more and more recipes and butcher shops make Thuringer with a mix of pork and beef. This usually consists of lean meat parts with pork fat, usually from the back.

How to Cook Thuringer Sausage

Much of Thuringer’s taste comes from how it’s cooked. Traditionally, Germans would do so on a bacon-fat-greased grill over a wood fire. If you don’t have a wood fire grill, any other will do just fine.

The fire shouldn’t be too hot, just enough to give the sausage a dark crust. And here, dark doesn’t mean burnt! It’s common to brush the sausage with beer while on the grill to add flavor. This way, the skin will cool down slightly, but the inside will still be cooking.

What Does Thuringer Pair Well With?

Typically, both in Germany and the US, this sausage is served with potato salad. Probably the most essential garnish would be mustard. This is not the type of sausage you want to cut cold, but rather the one you eat right away when it’s still warm. There’s no doubt about it – go with beer when it comes to the drink of choice.

What Is Summer Sausage?

Summer sausage is an old European sausage that dates from the time before refrigeration technology. It got its name because people finally managed to produce a sausage that wouldn’t spoil over the hot summer months. They did so by combining a few preservation methods at once.

There are many types of summer sausages out there. Some compare it very closely to other types of sausage like salami and trail bologna.

What Meat Is Summer Sausage Made Of?

This sausage is usually made of beef and veal or pork. However, you can also find a beef-only summer sausage. Some common spices include mustard seeds, garlic, and black pepper. Coriander or ginger variations are also popular.

summer sausage with cheese and jalapeno

Summer sausage is commonly made at home, being one of Americans’ favorite meat delicacies. The beef-to-pork ratio depends on your taste. If you were to make these sausages by yourself, you’d make no mistake with 70% beef, 30% pork, or vice versa.

When it comes to beef, chuck is one of the best cuts. You can go with pork butt or shoulder cuts.

How to Cook Summer Sausage

You can toss summer sausage into your casserole, smoke it, or bake it in the oven. However, to make the most of the taste, it’s best to smoke it. You should use a smoker (or grill) to maintain low temperatures, and it’s best to go with electric sausage smokers.

What’s important here is the cooking temperature. You want to set your smoker at around 120°F and then gradually increase to 160°F, finally to 190°F. If you cook the summer sausage in the oven, you want to start at around 170°F and then increase to 190°F. The ideal internal temperature for summer sausages is 160°F.

What Does Summer Sausage Pair Well With?

Most American families prefer this sausage as a snack on a Sunday picnic or as part of their charcuterie board. Summer sausage will go well on sandwiches, in casseroles, or paired with a glass of wine and cheese or crackers.

You can eat this meat delicacy hot, cold, or at room temperature.

Thuringer vs. Summer Sausage: Differences and Similarities

As previously mentioned, Thuringer sausage is also known as Thuringer cervelat, which is very similar to summer sausage. This might raise some questions about the differences between the two and how they are alike.

To illustrate the point, I’ve prepared a table to summarize everything we’ve covered and highlight the differences and similarities in these two popular sausage types.

MeatTastePreparationPairs Well WithBest Served
Summer SausagePork, venison, beefTangySmokedCheese, wineWarm, cold
Thüringer SausageBeef, pork fatTangy, somewhat spicyGrilledMustard, potato salad, beerWarm

As you can see, the main difference between these two sausage types is the preparation process. Thuringer cervelat is best made on the grill, while the summer sausage needs a few hours on the smoker.

Also, Thüringer pairs better with beer, while summer sausage is best with wine. And you should only eat Thüringer right off the grill, while you can enjoy your summer sausage both warm and cold.

In Summary

If you’re thinking of switching from summer sausage to Thuringer on your next Sunday get-together, you’ll make no mistake. Thuringer is an equally delicious, tangy-flavored sausage that will work great as a summer sausage replacement. Just remember to toss it on the grill and give it a nice beer bath every once in a while.

Hopefully, I’ve painted a clear picture when it comes to Thüringer cervelat vs. summer sausage. As both are similar in taste, if you’re a fan of one, you’re bound to be a fan of the other.