Sausages vs. Hot Dogs vs. Wieners: 11 Things You Need to Know

Three different names for the same food, or are they? The claim that hot dogs, sausages, and wieners are the same is still up for debate. Most people claim that they are one and the same. However, whether or not this is true has been hotly contested in households and around barbecues for a long time. 

A sausage is a generic term for various types of meat in a cylindrical shape, eaten in various ways. Hot dogs are a kind of sausage; they are often eaten on a bread roll with ketchup or sauce, while sausages complement dishes such as sausage and mash. Weiner (a.k.a. Vienna sausage) is often used as an alternative name for a hotdog. 

It’s a common misconception to think that these three names all relate to the same food item. Though it’s not surprising, considering their similar forms. 

Hopefully, by the end of this blog, we’ll solve this pesky debate once and for all. So without further delay, we’ll tell you the 11 differences between sausages, hot dogs, and weiners you need to know. 

1. Where do they come from?

The name “sausage” came from Europe, specifically Germany. It’s a generic term used for a combination of meat, salt, seasoning, and preservatives wrapped in a clean animal intestine. 

Wiener was originally called the wienerwurst. It got shortened down to wiener by German Americans. Technically, the term is German for Vienna sausage. That particular type of sausage comes from a city in Austria called Vienna. 

The hot dog earned its name from an American sports cartoonist “Tad” Dorgan. According to the legend, Dorgan had trouble spelling “dachshund.” Hence, he named his talking sausages in his cartoon hot dogs to make his career a lot easier. However, the names wiener and hot dog are sometimes used interchangeably. 

2. How are they made? 

Sausages are made using a combination of meat, fat, seasonings, and preservatives. Traditionally, different cuts of beef and pork are used to form the sausage, but other meats are also used. You’ll find chicken, pork, turkey, and veal sausages, something you wouldn’t expect in a hot dog, except for pork. 

A hot dog is a combination of meat trimmings, fat, seasonings, and nitrates. The main meat used is pork. They’re also considered less healthy than sausages due to the high amounts of fat, sodium, and nitrites used in the making. 

The wiener is an arguable term used interchangeably with the traditional sausage and the gimmicky hot dog. So we can’t say anything about the wiener. It’s just the name that’s different. 

3. How to eat them? 

Hot dogs serve as dishes on their own. In fact, they can make up a whole meal considering the amount of fat and calories inside hot dogs. Hotdogs are traditionally eaten on a bread roll with lashings of ketchup or sauce. 

Sausages refer to the cylindrical-shaped meat alone. They complement other dishes by serving as the main ingredient. Sausages eaten with mash and gravy are a staple in many homes. 

4. How do they taste?

A hot dog has a subtle smokey flavor. Using the two fresh bread buns, sweet relish, and complimentary condiments exemplifies the taste. The sausage, on the other hand, has some kick to it in regards to the flavor. In addition, the seasonings add exciting flavors to other dishes—for example, sausages on a plain pizza. 

5. How are they cooked?

Sausages are usually boiled, grilled, or baked before consumption. A hot dog is grilled and steamed before eating. Although, there’s a common misconception that we can eat hot dogs “raw” because they are served pre-cooked. This remains a myth since hot dogs are more susceptible to foodborne contamination.

6. How are they bought?

Sausages are usually bought fresh from local butchers. More than likely, you won’t find freshly made hot dogs in the store because they come in prepackaged form. Hot dogs are commonly bought in pre-packs of eight. 

7. Which one’s healthier?

Sausages are often bigger than hot dogs in size and may contain more healthy ingredients. As such, they can be a good nutritional addition to your diet. Sausages may contain more calories, but they have a higher protein content and nutrients such as Vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. 

In contrast, hot dogs have fewer calories, excluding the bun and toppings, and offer fewer health benefits. The bun and the toppings add at least another 100 calories to a hot dog. It’s not surprising that hot dogs are the total opposite because they have more chemicals than actual meat in them. Also, hot dogs are often made using the leftover parts of animals. 

8. Are they health hazards?

It’s easier to buy healthy sausages from your local butcher than it is to find a healthy hot dog. Frozen sausages do contain some preservatives that can increase the risk of cancer. However, in no way is this comparable with hot dogs. 

According to research findings, one hot dog can potentially decrease your life expectancy by 36 minutes. Whereas eating a serving of sausages does not have a strong correlation with the chance of getting cancer. 

9. Different consistencies?

Another distinct difference between sausages, hot dogs – or wieners – is the texture. Hot dogs are a blend of leftover animal parts, so they often have a smooth consistency. They almost resemble a pureed paste. Sausages have small bits and pieces of meat that create a meatier texture. 

10. When are they eaten? 

Although a hot dog serves as a complete dish, people still eat them as snacks rather than meals. That’s because hot dogs don’t have enough nutrients and minerals to fill an empty stomach. Sausages, on the other hand, do and can be eaten as part of the main course. 

11. Can we call hot dogs sausages and sausages hot dogs? 

Arguably this is the most asked question and as yet the most intriguing one. Technically, a hot dog is a type of sausage. However, not many will agree because of the many differences between it and the sausage. 

Simply put, the hot dog is just an American variation of the sausage. So, if you’re a fan of authenticity, go for the sausage. 

In closing

It can be pretty tricky trying to understand what people mean when they use the many terms to describe the sausage and the famous hotdog. While a sausage or a wiener can also be described as a hot dog, this only adds to the confusion, which is perhaps why this has stirred up such an endless debate. 

Nevertheless, we’re glad to clear the air for you and let you in on all the details and facts that make hot dogs, sausages, and wieners different but all very tasty! 

So next time someone asks for a sausage at your barbecue party, you may have to ask for further clarification. After all, you don’t want to find yourself handing them a German sausage instead of the iconic American hot dog they were actually wanting!