Treat yourself to the true flavour of Berlin street food with this gutsy Berlin currywurst sauce recipe.
This post was originally published way back on November 4, 2016, and has been updated on October 2, 2019 with better writing, some new pictures, and some questions answered.
It’s the start of October, and thus Octoberfest or Oktoberfest! Germany is a great country and one which I love to visit. I also love German (and Austrian) food, with its slow braising, sausages and brilliant baking. During Oktoberfest, even if you have no German ancestors, you too can unapologetically take part in Oktoberfest at home with some amazing German recipes.
Berlin, the capital of Germany, is a great city, and frankly quite cheap as far as capital cities go. It is loaded with history, much of the last century quite violent. It is a story of continual boom and bust. It is also the first place I tried currywurst, from a market stall in Wittenbergplatz. Sure my communication with the stall owner was greatly inhibited by my weak knowledge of the German language (I’m pretty sure he was swearing at me, but still, lovely guy), but it was delicious. As it must be said, are the soft pretzels.
This week’s recipe of Berlin Currywurst is, for me, a lovely example of delicious historical irony. Let me explain. As some readers already know, I’m a teacher. History teacher to be precise, who happens to teach a lot of German history.
Anyway, I was taking a bunch of students to Berlin. I’ve always been somewhat jealous of the opportunities students in Europe have for travelling, and Berlin is a perfect example. If you have never visited, do so now. It is
An overnight trip with students is always stressful, but my students (and my staff members) were brilliant. The trip itself was very emotional and sparked a debate within my students. One student, in particular, queried their puzzlement at the 1930s. ‘Couldn’t people see what they were getting by supporting the Nazis?’
As a teacher, you love this, because it means students are questioning and thinking for themselves. The question itself was a fair question, that historians continue to debate. You can understand the student’s thought process, as Hitler espoused radical views about minorities, rival politicians and the changes taking place in society (Of course no politician would dare do that today………oops). The channelling of the hate to target groups of people, based on people’s belief that they were somehow cheated and disadvantaged. The anger of social change they didn’t like. The anger at politicians, who they blamed for their ills. Hitler came to power by latching on to this discontentment and presenting himself as a ‘superman’ type of figure who alone could solve these ‘problems’ and return Germany to glory. As my students debated; it was scary that such hate attracted such support. You can read more about the history of the time here.
So then, why do I consider Berlin Currywurst an excellent symbol of historical irony? Because it is the antithesis of 1930’s Germany and illustrates everything positive since 1989, served on a plate. You have a traditional grilled German bratwurst(always delicious) and a great ketchup-based sauce (hello American Heinz!). Yet, it’s given a curry twist with some curry powder on top. The mixing of old traditions with the new has created a dish that is, when homemade or bought in a market, delicious. Together they are delicious food, and also something that would never have been tolerated in the 1930s.
Right, History lesson over. In all seriousness, Berlin currywurst is really good. However, should you go to Germany and decide to try it, I must implore you to only buy it from markets. Do not buy from the chain shops selling it, it just isn’t as good!
However, if jumping over to Berlin isn’t an option, then I’ve got you covered! Below is my recipe for a delicious currywurst sauce, so you can make currywurst at home.
What is currywurst?
Currywurst is German street food, originally developed after the second world war. It consists of a fried sausage topped with a curry and ketchup-based sauce.
Do you use regular ketchup for Currywurst?
If you go into any fast-food joint in Berlin that serves currywurst, you will almost certainly see a sign for Heinz. You could substitute the regular ketchup for low sugar, but it will change the taste profile.
What type of sausage should you use for currywurst?
I would suggest using either a classic bratwurst or a possible a bockwurst. Now, in North America, it is fairly easy to find bratwurst. Bockwurst, perhaps a bit less so. The closest would be a jumbo hotdog.
Can you make currywurst vegan or vegetarian?
Absolutely! Find a vegan or vegetarian hot dog or sausage and give it a try. You would also want to make sure the chicken stock is vegan-friendly.
What equipment do you need to make Currywurst?
Not very much, luckily. Essentially you need a good pot to make the sauce, and a good frying pan to fry the sausages. If you like you could also barbecue the or broil the sausages to cook them.
Some other good German Food (or at least German-inspired!) worth checking out
- Cheddar Pretzel Hotdogs – Spiced Blog
- German Fries – Bratkartoffeln – Craft Beering
- Glühwein – Total Feasts
A great German Pilsner is called for, obviously. Or, my personal favourite is actually from Austria, Stiegl.
Umm, oompah music? Well, maybe not. Instead, how about 99 Luftballons!!
- Frying Pan
- Sauce Pot
- 4-6 Bratwursts
- ½ cup of Tomato Ketchup
- 5 tsp Mild Curry Powder
- 2 tsp Hot Smoked Paprika
- ½ Shallot finely diced
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Garlic granules
- 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 4 tbsp Chicken stock
- Put a bit of oil in a pan, and sauté the shallot. Add the curry and garlic powder, and stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Let it simmer on the stow for 5 - 10 minutes to meld flavours. If need be add a bit of water.
- Meanwhile, cook the bratwursts, ensuring that you pan fry them or grill them to crisp up the skin.
- Serve warm over sliced bratwurst, fries or a roll on the side would be good too. Dust with a bit of curry powder.
My Kitchen Love says
There’s a place in Vancouver that serves this type of Currywurst and I’m so happy I came across your recipe for it! Now I can make it at home. I love the simplicity of ingredients and ease of making it. I’ve pinned it so I can make it soon!
Loreto Nardelli says
Hi Matt, live the story of your trip and students. Especially live the part about thinking for themselves, a valuable tool this day and age As for the curry wurst. Love the combination of spices in the ketchup aND a really good bratwurst speaks for itself, the combination to me would be delicious as curry is one of my favorite deuces to use.
Mary Ann @ thebeachhousekitchen says
Sounds like you and your students had a great trip Matt. My husband Tom and I visited Germany, Austria and Switzerland before our boys were born and I would LOVE to go back. I loved everything about all three countries. We enjoyed some of the best food we’ve ever tasted!! Tom and I both love sausages and the curry in this recipe sounds like something we would both enjoy. I am Hungarian, so I also like to use lots of paprika in recipes. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing.
I love those countries as well! I’m actually headed back there is a few weeks! Ah, I have like three-four different kinds of paprika in my cupboard. Love the stuff!
So I think I had kinda deduced that you were a teacher, but I didn’t realize you taught history! How fun is that?? (I’m sure you know I used to teach Latin…and, man, do I really miss being in the classroom!) I love the history and irony behind this dish. It’s really quite fun when different cuisines start to mingle together. Oh, and I totally support the street food mantra! Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has come from street vendors. Laura and I were talking about planning a trip to Germany sometime…so I’ll be sure to reach out to you for tips before we start planning! Oh, and I’ll be singing 99 luftballons for the rest of the day now. Thanks for that one!
Thanks David. Definitely go to Germany, it is a great country. Austria too is brilliant (I probably like Austria more than Germany!).
Great writing and post here Matt and I especially liked that students point with Hitler. Reminds me of someone I know who hopefully we not see the dream he has tomorrow happen. Ever.
But I digress… soft pretzels aside, I’m all about these and that curry twist must be sensational. Thanks for the tip!
Yeah…. oops. Focus on the bratwurst, not the election!!
Ben Maclain says
That’s nice, Matt! Although I’ve never been a teacher/professor like you or David, history was my major at the University (with specialization in archives). Unfortunately, history of the xx century wasn’t given enough, but I do remember one little course (there were just 16 or so hours) of the Nazism in Spain and Germany (mostly it covered the 1920th). The professor was amazing, and the course was fascinating. It’s interesting how one of the most (if not the most) gruesome eras in modern history could be so captivating at the same time. Ok, back to good stuff. I’ve never been to Germany, and I’m not that familiar with its cuisine, but this currywurst looks and sounds great. I would never though of curry in the Germany cuisine – interesting too!
Thanks Ben, I fully agree with you. History was my major too (OK, thats probably not that surprising), but I also had shockingly little 20th century content.
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
I love the history behind this! I’m German (and Hungarian), and I’m totally ashamed to say I’ve never heard of this sauce! Thank you so much for posting this and sharing the history behind it!! P.s. if you ever go back to Germany feel free to take me with you! Lol
David @ Spiced says
So an update to my previous comment: Laura and I have now traveled to Germany! We were there this past June, and it was an awesome trip. I enjoyed reading this post again now that I’ve seen Berlin firsthand. First of all, what a cool city! Talk about the dichotomy between the former East Berlin area and West Berlin. It’s crazy. We drove around the old airport there in Berlin (closed for 7-8 years now if I recall), and it was totally surreal with all of the Nazi eagle symbols on the buildings. Anyways, I digress. While we were there, we tried currywurst…holy deliciousness, Batman! Now I’m going to have to try my hand at this one here at home. (And you’re right – Bockwurst isn’t common over here at all.)
I know what you mean, Berlin is such a cool city. I love going there!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
This recipe brings back some wonderful memories of a trip my husband and I took before our boys were born! I see my previous comment from the first time around Matt! We both enjoy sausages and some of the best food we ever had was from Germany, Austria and Switzerland!
You have named three of my favourite countries to visit and eat at!
I wish travelling to Berlin was an option right now! This looks amazing though – perfect for October!
Thanks Katerina! Hope you enjoy!
Yum. I first had currywurst when I went to Munich for my first Beer festival some 22 years ago! My friends and I go every 5 years now and we were last there 2 years ago. Your recipe has me craving some currywurst right now, Matt! It’s the best kind of food for getting stuck right into after you’ve spent an afternoon in a Beer tent. And yes only best bought from a stall, not from a supermarket. I 100% agree. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thanks Neil. We went to Munich before we had our kids, such an awesome city! Itching to go back!
I’ve never been to Germany, but we have a plan to visit it (As well as some other European countries) in December. Christmas markets and all that street food must be an exciting part that time of the year (At least I imagine it so!) Also, even though I’ve never been a teacher, my major was history (With a focus on archival science), and I agree on that European history of the XX century is a fascinating yet still controversial segment of history (Not enough time has passed). Lastly, I’m not very familiar with Currywurst, but this dish sounds and looks delicious. I hope they sell it in December, too 🙂
You will be in luck! Enjoy traveling around Europe this December, the markets are a lot of fun!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
I’ve never had Berlin currywurst before, but would LOVE to try! Enjoy all sorts of curry and this looks delicious, Matt! Such a fabulous way to experience food from other places in your own kitchen! Would be awesome to visit Germany one day, though 🙂
You gotta go Dawn! Amazing country!
Katherine | Love In My Oven says
We got a currywurst at the Calgary Stampede this year and it was so disappointing. It looked nothing like yours! My husband was so excited about it, so now I think I HAVE to make your recipe just to make up for that experience!!!
Yeah, I usually associate Steak and burgers with the Stampede!! Give it a go!
Bernice M Hill says
mmm, I LOVE Currywurst but I never think of making it at home. Since a trip to Germany isn’t in the cards in the near future, I’ll have to give it a try.
Go on and try it Bernice! Your taste buds will thank you!
This looks incredible. I absolutely love curry and chips so I know I’m going to love this. It’s something I would never have thought to make, but I’m definitely going to give it a try.
It is a brilliant treat!
My parents are German and this was the only way my brother wanted to eat all sausages growing up. A bit of a walk down memory lane and inspired me to want to make these for my boys:)
Very interesting and thanks for the history lesson! I’ve never been overseas, but hope to go one day. In the meantime, I’m glad you shared your recipe. This is something I’ve never heard of but it sounds delicious!
Your students are so fortunate to have a teacher who’s willing to travel with them. What a perfect learning experience! And this recipe looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it in a roll.