Discover What Vienna Sausage is Made Of: Ingredients & Costs

Vienna sausages originated in Germany and evolved into a North American staple. They contain ground meat, spices, and preservatives, with European versions made of pork and beef while North American versions are a mix of pork, beef, and chicken. The sausages come in various flavors and are often enjoyed heated or as an ingredient.

what is vienna sausage made of

Vienna sausages developed in Germany in the 1800s. Originally called Wienerwurst, the sausages evolved from their original form as they crossed the ocean to North America.

Vienna sausages maintain their original form in Europe. The North American Vienna sausage is a staple of canned meats. The wieners are short and soft, with a similar texture and taste to hot dogs

What makes a Vienna sausage a Vienna sausage? The basic recipe includes ground meat, spices, and preservatives. 

This article dives into the internal components of Vienna sausages and discusses ways to enjoy them. We tell you a little about the major Vienna sausage brands and answer some questions to make sure you know what you’re eating. 

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What Are Vienna Sausages Made of?

Libby's Vienna Sausage in Chicken Broth, Canned Sausage, 4.6 OZ (Pack of 24)

What’s in a Vienna sausage? Well, it depends on whether it’s an actual, straight-out-of-Vienna sausage, or the North American re-interpretation. 

European Vienna Sausages

European Vienna sausages were originally made of pork and beef in sheep intestine casing. Modern Vienna sausages are primarily cured pork. 

However, in some Eastern and Southern parts of the continent, they make their sausages from chicken or turkey. These poultry sausages particularly appeal to places where red meat is avoided due to religious practices

European Vienna sausages are long and thin. In look, taste, and texture, they’re similar to hotdogs, just slimmer. Also, like hot dogs, Vienna sausages come in buns with condiments.

North American Vienna Sausages

European immigrants brought Vienna sausages to North America in 1903. These wieners are short, smoked, and canned. The stubby little sausages are pre-cooked. 

The North American Vienna sausage closely resembles a hotdog in taste and appearance. The sausage bites are generally smaller and softer, however.

A variety of meats make up the foundation. Most North American Vienna sausages are made up of a combination of pork, beef, and chicken ground to a fine paste. 

The sausages contain several seasonings, including: 

  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Nutmeg
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Ground dry red pepper

America developed canned Vienna sausages to have a long shelf-life. The wieners last for a long time and can traverse great distances thanks to preservatives. Salt, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrate help preserve Vienna sausages. 

Canned Vienna sausages are available unflavored or flavored. The plain sausages come canned in aspic (meat jelly) or chicken broth.  

Sugar and natural flavors round out the ingredient list.

Vienna sausage producers removed casings from the weiners in the 1950s.

Eating Vienna Sausages

Libby's Vienna Sausage in Chicken Broth, Canned Sausage, 4.6 OZ (Pack of 24)

Vienna sausages are pre-cooked so you could just pop open a can and chow down. However, most folks prefer their sausages heated, and often used as an ingredient. 

Some may choose to simply heat the sausages, dip them in some ketchup, and enjoy. Vienna sausages taste a great deal like hot dogs, so they’re certainly delicious when enjoyed simply.

However, Vienna sausages are most frequently and popularly enjoyed as the sausage in a pig in a blanket. 

Popular Vienna Sausage Brands

Canned meats aren’t as popular as they once were and many people avoid buying foods with preservatives. As a result, there aren’t an excessive number of brands producing Vienna sausages. However, two companies continue the long, Vienna sausage tradition.

Armour Star Vienna Sausage Bites, Original Flavor, Canned Sausage, 10 OZ (Pack of 12)

Libby’s and Armour Star are the two most famous Vienna sausage producers. Armour Star earned the distinction of being America’s number-one sausage brand. The Chicago company started packaging meats in 1867. Armour Star makes a wide range of Vienna sausages, including:

  • Original
  • Chicken
  • Reduced fat
  • Barbecue flavored
  • Salchichas de Pollo
  • Hot and Spicy
  • Jalapeno
  • Salchichas de Viena
  • Smoked

Also based in Chicago, Libby’s Meats opened its doors in 1869. Though Libby’s doesn’t have as extensive a Vienna sausage menu as Armour Star, the brand makes four notable flavors: 

  • Classic
  • Chicken
  • BBQ
  • Hawaiian

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we know how the sausage gets made, let’s answer some frequently asked questions to round out your Vienna sausage knowledge. 

Is Vienna sausage healthy?

Vienna sausages are not a healthy option. Because the weiners are canned and timeless, they rely heavily on salt for preservation. Excessive sodium is not a great dietary choice. The sausages are also pretty high in fat, something that should be ingested in moderation.

Vienna sausages do have a decent amount of protein. While the wieners aren’t healthy, they’re also not actively unhealthy and can be enjoyed in moderation without any deleterious health effects. 

Are Vienna sausages just hot dogs?

No, Vienna sausages are not simply hot dogs. The two products share several ingredients and taste similar. However, Vienna sausages are smaller and softer than hot dogs. Vienna sausages contain less sodium than hot dogs. Hot dogs contain more Vitamin B12 than Vienna sausages. 

How are Vienna sausages meant to be eaten?

Vienna sausages are meant to be eaten however you enjoy them. The sausages are pre-cooked and carefully preserved, so you can eat them right out of the can. However, many prefer them heated or used as an ingredient. 

Are Vienna sausages healthy to eat?

Vienna sausages are not considered healthy to eat due to their high sodium and fat content. Although they may be low in calories, they are not a recommended option for weight loss. Consumption of processed meats, including Vienna sausages, has been associated with health issues such as heart disease and cancer.

What is the healthy version of Vienna sausages?

The healthy version of Vienna sausages is Armour Star Reduced Fat Vienna Canned Sausage. It provides a ready-to-eat sausage option with delicious taste and 40% less fat compared to other leading Vienna sausages. These canned sausages are made with a combination of chicken, beef, and pork, and contain 80 calories per serving.

Is Vienna sausage high in protein?

Vienna sausage is indeed high in protein, as 100g of it contains approximately 10.5g of protein. This amount is equivalent to the protein content found in 1.8 eggs, 0.4 chicken breasts, or 0.8 cups (204g) of black beans.

Are Vienna sausages the same as hot dogs?

Vienna sausages are not the same as hot dogs, but they share similarities in terms of ingredients used. These sausages differ in their softer and smaller size, often referred to as small open end sausages packed in cans.

Are Vienna sausages just canned hot dogs?

Vienna sausages are not simply canned hot dogs; they are often found on grocery store shelves alongside other canned meat favorites such as Spam and corned beef hash, even if you haven’t personally tasted them.

Why are Vienna sausages so good?

Vienna sausages are considered delicious due to the traditional German gastronomic practice of using a combination of premium lean and fatty meat, along with a blend of salt, pepper, and assorted spices. These ingredients are then encased in either pork or lamb intestines, resulting in the flavorful and enjoyable Vienna sausages that are widely enjoyed.

Can dogs eat Vienna hot dogs?

Dogs should not be fed Vienna hot dogs, whether fresh or canned, as they can be harmful to their health and digestive system. These frankfurters contain high levels of sodium, fat, and calories, along with dangerous additives and preservatives that are not suitable for dogs.

Are Vienna hot dogs beef or pork?

Vienna hot dogs are made from fresh domestic beef and beef trimmings, ensuring a firm and juicy texture that is unmistakable when you take a bite.

Is potted meat and Vienna sausage the same?

Potted meat and Vienna sausage are not the same. Potted meat refers to a rustic style of preserving cooked and spiced meat shreds or purees in crocks or terrines, sealed with fat, similar to rillettes. On the other hand, Vienna sausages are a simplified variation of traditional German sausages, consisting of finely ground and moist meat packed into slender casings.

What is the broth in Vienna sausage?

The broth in Vienna sausage is made by delicately seasoning and canning this canned sausage in chicken broth, resulting in a delicious flavor.

Is canned Vienna sausage ready to eat?

Canned Vienna sausage is ready to eat. You can enjoy the Vienna sausages directly from the can as a convenient and tasty snack. They can also be added to various dishes like casseroles, mac and cheese, or other recipes to create a simple and delicious meal. This canned meat is fully cooked, so there is no need for any additional cooking. It can be consumed cold and requires no further preparation.

Are Vienna sausages raw or cooked?

Vienna sausages are pre-cooked before they are canned, which reduces the chance of any harmful bacteria. Additionally, cooking or grilling the sausages before consumption can enhance their taste by introducing a freshly cooked or subtly smoky flavor.

Is it OK to eat Vienna sausages out of the can?

Vienna sausages can be eaten directly out of the can, as some cans indicate they are ready-to-eat. However, to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses, it is advisable to heat them before consumption.

What animal parts are in Vienna sausage?

The animal parts found in Vienna sausage include pork and beef, which are traditionally parboiled and encased in sheep’s intestine before undergoing a low-temperature smoking process.

Why do Vienna sausages last so long?

Vienna sausages last a long time because they are canned and remain unopened. Similar to other canned foods, they can retain their flavor and nutritional value for over a year. In fact, their quality does not deteriorate for up to five years.

What are Vienna sausages good for?

Vienna sausages are good for various dishes such as Pigs in a Blanket, Jalapeno Popper Pigs in a Blanket, Filipino-Style Spaghetti, Embutido, Sausage and Macaroni Casserole, Little Smokies Wrapped in Bacon, Grape Jelly and Mustard Sausages, and Arroz con Salchichas (Sausages and Rice).

Are Vienna sausages uncooked?

Vienna sausages are not uncooked; in fact, they are already boiled or smoked, making them a great ingredient for cooking. Due to their pre-cooked nature, they require minimal cooking time and can be easily prepared by boiling in a pan or roasting at a low temperature.

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