The Travel Kitchen: German Currywurst

Want a spicy, indulgent comfort food that’s the perfect accompaniment to a stein of bier? Try currywurst, which serves as a core component of any good night out in Germany.

A close-up view of currywurst (cut up sausage with curry sauce) served with chips on a paper plate.
Currywurst is one of Germany's go-to late-night snacks © gkrphoto / Shutterstock

What is it?

Currywurst transforms sausage, chopped and doused in a spicy tomato sauce, into night-time nirvana. As you would expect with a German snack, it’s the ultimate beer food. 

Ingredients (serves 5) 

2 tbs vegetable oil 
1 onion, finely diced 
2 tbs curry powder 
1 tbs hot paprika 
2 cups canned tomatoes 
½ cup white sugar 
¼ cup red wine vinegar 
salt and pepper, to taste 
5 mild sausages of your choice

A hand holds out a portion of currywurst, purchased on a night out in Berlin. The food, cut up sausage and chips, is slathered in curry sauce.
Currywurst was invented by a German housewife in the aftermath of the Second World War © Jonathan Stokes / Lonely Planet

How to cook

Step 1: Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion, cooking until soft.
Step 2: Add the curry powder and paprika and cook for one minute, then, using your hands, break up the canned tomatoes and add to the mix.
Step 3: Stir in the sugar, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. This should take about 25 minutes.
Step 4: Remove from the heat and whizz the sauce in a blender until silky smooth, then strain it through a sieve to remove any pulpiness.
Step 5: Grill the sausages until thoroughly cooked through and nicely browned on the outside. Remove from the heat and slice into 2cm (1in) rounds.
Step 6: Divide the sausage chunks into five bowls and top with a hearty dollop of sauce (re-warmed if necessary). Serve with toothpicks.

People dancing at summer Strandbar beach party near Spree river at historic Museum Island with famous TV tower in the background in twilight during blue hour at dusk, Berlin Mitte district, Germany.
Cook up some currywurst, pump the tunes and pretend you're on a night out in the German capital © canadastock / Shutterstock

Tasting notes

It’s been a long night. And that last stein of beer, which seemed such a good idea, has tipped the scales from very merry to downright drunk. As you stumble along, you make out a welcoming beacon of red neon light. The queues are long and rowdy, though there’s no hint of aggression. You shuffle forwards, and with each step your whole being is overcome with the scent of sausage, spice and delight. Within minutes, you’ve mumbled your order and there in the cardboard carton before you are two sausages, chopped up and smothered in a mildly spicy tomato sauce. You stagger home happy, then return the next day to see what it tastes like when sober. It’s every bit as good.

Other recipes in this series:
Turkish lahmacun
Polish pierogi
Vietnamese pho

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Street Food.

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