Sausage plays a big role in Hungarian cuisine, in all forms. Be it dried and sliced as part of a sandwich, dried and fried in the classic layered potatoes casserole recipe or even cooked in water for a simple dinner, Hungarians eat a lot of sausages.
Different types of Hungarian sausage
There are basically 3 main different types of Hungarian sausages (kolbász in Hungarian), but of course you can find thousands of different varieties if you travel around the country.
There is however, one ingredient that is common in all Hungarian sausages, no matter how you cook it and where you get it: paprika. You can find sausages all over the world with different flavors. With or without black pepper, with or without other spices. But no true Hungarian sausage exists without lots of authentic, Hungarian red paprika.
The 3 main types of Hungarian sausages are:
- Dried or smoked sausage (száraz kolbász, füstölt kolbász). You can eat it right away, no need to cook it. We eat it with bread (as a sandwich) for breakfast or dinner. This sausage can also be used in a variety of different Hungarian recipes (e.g. layered potatoes). It is close to the Spanish chorizo in taste and look, though with a more subtle cured meat taste. In a traditional Hungarian sausage you can taste the paprika and the pleasant smoked flavors, but not the typical flavor of cured meat.
- Fresh sausage for baking (sütő kolbász, sütnivaló kolbász). This sausage is sold fresh and needs to be baked, either in a frying pan or in an oven. In this sense it is closest to German Bratwurst, although generally with much stronger flavors.
- Fresh sausage for boiling (főző kolbász, főznivaló kolbász). Sold fresh, this is the least common type of sausage in Hungary. You need to boil it in water before eating. It is usually served as part of a homemade dinner with mustard and bread.
Popular Hungarian sausage brands
The two most widely known sausage brands in Hungary are Gyulai and Csabai. They are not real brands as they don’t represent one company, these names – Gyulai and Csabai – are defined as Hungarikums with EU Protected Designation of Origin.
Where and how to buy Hungarian sausage?
Buy Hungarian sausage in Hungary
Sausage is so popular in Hungary that you can find dried sausage basically in all grocery stores, markets etc.
Sausage for frying and boiling is sold in bigger supermarkets or butcher shops. As these are made and sold fresh, they may not be available every day.
When buying Hungarian sausage, try to avoid “industrial” versions, and go for the more expensive and more traditional ones. Look for labels like “hagyományosan érlelt” (traditionally cured) and avoid such things as “gyorsérlelésű” (fast cured).
Buy Hungarian sausage abroad
In European countries you can find Hungarian sausage even in larger supermarkets or Hungarian specialty stores. These are generally real Hungarian sausages, i.e. they are made in Hungary.
Outside the EU, e.g. in the US it is more difficult to buy Hungarian meat products. As far as I know, Hungarian sausage available in the US is generally made in the US, Hungarian style. Check your local Hungarian community to find real Hungarian products, or visit our online store for imported Hungarian sausages.
Homemade Hungarian Sausages
The tradition of making sausage at home still exists in Hungary. There is no need to slaughter your own pig at home, but traditionally these two activities were of course done together.
Nowadays many families buy ingredients from a butcher shop (or buy half a pig for processing) and make their own sausage.
Hungarian Sausage Ingredients
Hungarian sausage is almost always made of pork meat and fat, sometimes horse meat is used in part or in whole.
Paprika is the main (and of course required) spice, hot or sweet in varying portions, hence the strong, dark red-maroonish color of the best Hungarian sausages. Salt, garlic, and caraway seed are also added in most cases, and sometimes black pepper.