Whether you’re eating liverwurst as a sausage or a soft spread over bread a la pâté, the rich bologna-esque flavor is stellar every time, anytime.
But is that fatty, rich goodness good for you?
Here’s all you need to know about liverwurst and its nutritional properties.
Liverwurst, commonly known as “liver sausage”, is a type of sausage usually made from ground pork or beef liver, onions, other pork and beef scraps, and a lot of seasoning.
Other offal, or organ meats, are also often thrown in during the preparation process. Typically kidney and heart.
Liverwurst is prepared and presented in two main ways: encased like a summer sausage, or jarred as a spread. Either way, it is a crowd favorite to pair liverwurst with rye bread, a bit of mustard, and red onions. This is delightful and we highly recommend it.
Since many combinations of meats are fair game, liverwurst can vary widely depending on who produced it.
For example, the US Wellness Liverwurst recipe blends grass-fed and grass-finished beef trim (50%) with beef liver (20%), beef heart (15%), and beef kidney (15%), making a richly flavored sliceable Liverwurst.
Another producer could up the beef liver to 30%, or increase the trims to 60%. It really depends.
Then when you consider spice combinations, things get even more unpredictable. Pretty much all liverwurst has salt, pepper, and onions, but people also add coriander, thyme, nutmeg, and other spices and herbs depending on their recipe.
What does liverwurst taste like?
Liverwurst, despite its name, doesn’t have a strong liver or offal flavor. It is like a rich, spreadable bologna. It is smooth and coats the tongue with a deep flavor, and it is often served thinly sliced since it is so dense.
Liverwurst is also often prepared with fresh herbs and herbal oils such as rosemary, which can dull the livery taste and bring forth a more balanced flavor profile.
Liverwurst’s nutritional value
Since there is no one recipe or combination of meats in liverwurst, getting an exact nutritional profile is difficult and depends upon the particular blend, but we can make generalized claims.
What we do know is that offal, or organ meats, are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and liver is no exception. Not to mention the kidney and heart bits that are commonly mixed in.
Liverwurst can be a good source of healthy fats, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, including Vitamin A and B12. The offal-nature also brings good amounts of iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Here is a breakdown of the nutritional value of common liverwurst:
Liverwurst nutrition facts
A 0.25 cup (55 gram) serving of liverwurst spread provides [*]:
- Calories: 168
- Total Fat: 14g
- Saturated Fat: 5.46g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.34g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 6.76g
- Cholesterol: 64.9mg
- Sodium: 385mg
- Potassium: 93.5mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 3.24g
- Dietary Fiber: 1.38g
- Sugars: 0.9g
- Protein: 6.82g
- Vitamin A: 2250µg
- Vitamin B6: 0.105mg
- Vitamin B12: 7.42µg
- Vitamin C: 1.92 mg
- Selenium: 31.9µg
- Magnesium: 6.6mg
- Zinc: 1.26 mg
- Phosphorus: 126mg
- Calcium: 12.1mg
- Iron: 4.87mg
- Copper: 0.132mg
And here’s a closer look at the specific nutrients present in beef tongue:
Rich in B and A vitamins
A modest ¼ cup of liverwurst sports 123.67% of your daily B-12 intake, which supports nerve function and your brain by insulating your nerves and keeping blood cells healthy.
You also get a smattering of other vitamins including B6 and Vitamin A, or retinol. Vitamin A is needed for the proper growth and functioning of many parts of the body, including the eyes, skin, and immune system [*].
Low in carbs
Like most meat-based foods, liverwurst is low in carbs, with just 3.24g per ¼ cup. This may increase or decrease depending on sugars and other additions in the particular liverwurst you get.
Liverwurst can’t compete with plain meats, which do not have carbs naturally, but it’s not something you need to watch too carefully if you’re attempting to keep your carb count down. Plus, low-carb diets tend to emphasize foods with high amounts of proteins and fats, both of which liverwurst has plenty of.
Has a good amount of iron
¼ cup (55g) of liverwurst has 27.06% of your iron’s daily value [*]. Iron helps make hemoglobin, which is a protein that acts as an oxygen transporter. Not having enough can cause your body to use its iron reserves in the liver (see the connection?), spleen, and bone marrow and can cause iron deficiency and anemia.
Contains a lot of selenium
The same serving size gets you 45.57% of selenium’s daily value. Selenium is an essential trace mineral and increases antioxidant effects in your body, and when consumed as a defense against selenium deficiency, can reduce the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy [*].
Offers a complete source of protein
Proteins are built from a collection of molecules known as amino acids. When we digest protein, they break down into amino acids again. We need 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly, but only 9 are known to be essential: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine [*].
Not all foods offer all essential amino acids, and having proper amounts of amino acids is important for different processes such as muscle growth. In other words, not all protein sources are created equal. This is why you always see the amino acid breakdown on the sides of whey protein and other protein supplements.
Liverwurst, however, is a complete protein. And while not as protein-concentrated as regular beef, pork, or chicken, it still offers almost 7 grams of protein per ¼ cup serving, or close to 15 for 100 grams.
The nutritional downsides of liverwurst
Liverwurst has a lot of amazing nutrients, but there are some disadvantages, just like with any other heavy meat dish.
Is high in sodium
A modest 55g portion of liverwurst has 385mg or around 16% of your sodium DV [*]. This is a salty, rich food and there’s no denying that. Fortunately, liverwurst is so rich and tasty you don’t need to eat much to feel satisfied. Just keep this in mind when eating it.
Is easy to hide bad ingredients
Because liverwurst is a blend of meats, seasonings, and herbs stuffed in a casing, it’s easy for producers to get away with covering up low-quality ingredients with more salt, more sugar, or more seasoning. Generally speaking, the more sugary and salty the liverwurst, the less tasty the original ingredients, but it really depends.
To get the benefits of liverwurst without as many of the downsides, you should always aim to eat liverwurst from grass-fed, grass-finished sources that take pride in raising their animals in the most healthy and sustainable fashion.
How to add liverwurst to your diet
Now that we’ve learned all about liverwurst and its beneficial nutritional properties, how can you add it to your diet? The good news is that there is no shortage of recipes and ideas on how to serve liverwurst, ranging from easy to extravagant.
If you are a novice liverwurst consumer, here are some ideas:
- Simply spread it over bread.
- Add to your favorite stews for an extra nutritional kick.
- Prepare it like classic liver by pan frying it.
It’s really that easy. Liverwurst is designed to be snackable and shareable!
The bottom line on liverwurst nutrition
Organ meats, or offal, are legendary for their caloric and nutritional density. Liverwurst is a great introduction to offal because it has a mild and pleasant taste, avoiding the characteristic “funk” that a lot of organ meats have.
You’ll get a lot of B vitamins, iron, selenium, protein, and other nutrients from liverwurst, but like any red meat, you should eat it in moderation alongside a healthy mix of other foods.
It’s also worth noting that liverwurst, just like hot dogs and sausages, are easy candidates for bad ingredients like processed sugars and low-quality meat. Skip low-quality liverwurst to avoid the negative health effects that come from eating processed meats made with meat from animals who were pumped full of antibiotics and hormones and living in their own filth.
The most nutritious liverwurst comes from grass-fed and grass-finished sources
The healthiest and tastiest meat can only come from 100% grass-fed, grass-finished sources. That means no antibiotics, no-GMOs, no dark warehouses — it’s just meat, made the way it should be made.
And that starts from the moment the animal is born and lasts until the moment it dies. There are no grains or industrialized additives added at any point. Because we know that if you’re doing the right things, you don’t need to pump your animals full of medicine.
And those decisions make a huge impact on both taste and nutrition. So if you want to give liverwurst a shot, don’t settle for something that’s bad for your body and taste buds, get the real thing instead.
See what 100% grass-fed and grass-finished liverwurst tastes like.
Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.