All About Kolbasz Hungarian Sausages

Gyulai, Hazi, Csabai, and More

Hungarian sausages for sale in Budapest
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Kolbasz (KOOL-bahss) is the generic Hungarian word for sausage. It is largely influenced by Polish kielbasa sausage and is usually smoked. The types of sausage vary based on the taste influences of region Hungary where it is made.

The sausages can be baked, boiled, dried, or smoked and prepared in mild, medium, or spicy heat varieties. Hungarian sausages are eaten as cold cuts with bread on appetizer trays or used to flavor stews, soups, goulash, salads, and other dishes.

How It Is Made

Most Hungarian sausages are made with fine or coarsely ground pork, beef or lamb, and spices and may include paprika, black pepper, allspice, white pepper, caraway, nutmeg, marjoram, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt, garlic, white wine, or cognac.

Sausages meant to be eaten fresh (unsmoked or uncured) sometimes include liver, mushrooms, bread, rice, eggs, cream, or milk. The ground sausage mixture is stuffed into natural casings, which is the small intestines of pigs, made into long round coils or sectioned off into 12-inch lengths.

Fresh, Smoked, and Boiled Sausages

The varieties are dizzying as each region in Hungary has its own take on standard sausages. In the days before refrigeration, sausage-making was done in cold weather at pig-slaughtering time and the meat scraps went into the mix. The uncooked stuffed sausages were allowed to cure overnight in the open air before being used fresh or smoked. 

  • Hazi kolbasz: This simply means homemade fresh, unsmoked sausage and can vary by region. Usually, it is made with pork shoulder, garlic, salt, pepper, sweet paprika, and water. Some recipes call for cloves and lemon zest.
  • Gyulai kolbasz: This beech wood-smoked sausage is named after the Hungarian town of Gyula and is made from pork, szalonna (Hungarian bacon fat), garlic, pepper, caraway, and a Hungarian red paprika. It can be eaten alone, with bread, or added to other dishes like rakott burgonya.
  • Csabai kolbasz: This spicy sausage with lots of paprika is made in the town of Bekescsaba. It is similar to gyulai sausage but spicier and with more paprika.
  • Csemege kolbasz: This is a mildly spiced, cooked smoked sausage made from beef and pork. Csemege in Hungarian means "sweet," although it is not really sweet, in this context it means very lightly spiced.
  • Cserkesz kolbasz: This is a cooked smoked sausage made from beef and pork. It is thin jerky-like sausage with minimal heat but packed with paprika and other spices.
  • Lecsokolbasz: This spicy sausage is made specifically for lecso, a popular Hungarian ratatouille-like dish using three of the most common Hungarian ingredients, tomatoes, peppers, and paprika.
  • Debreceni kolbasz (or Debrecener): This pork sausage, heavily spiced with paprika, garlic, pepper, and marjoram, is reddish-orange in color and named after the Hungarian city Debrecen. It usually is unsmoked or lightly smoked and baked, broiled, or fried and used in dishes like lecso.
  • Majas hurka (liver sausage): The main ingredients are liver and rice with salt, pepper, and spices.
  • Veres hurka (blood sausage): Blood, rice or bread, spices including marjoram, pepper, and salt go into this sausage.
  • Virsli: This is very similar to an American hot dog except longer and thinner. It is boiled and eaten with bread and mustard.

Deli Meats

Parizsi is also known as parizer or Paris sausage, and it is a larger, thicker version of virsli. It is cut much like cold cuts for sandwiches. It looks and tastes a lot like American bologna.

Hungary's most famous salami is teliszalami, also known as winter salami. It is made from mangalitsa pork, a Hungarian pig breed, and spices including white pepper, allspice, and others. Winter salami is cured in cold air and slowly smoked. The mold that forms on the surface of the casing (known as a noble mold), is a sure sign that you are eating authentic Hungarian salami.