German Sausage Guide #3: Leberkäse

A slice of Leberkäse on a plate

What is Leberkäse?

This southern German speciality is a rich, compact meatloaf made from finely ground corned beef, pork, bacon and onions and baked till it forms a dark brown crust.  Traditionally served warm or cold in finger-thick slices (with the crusty brown ends being the most prized chunks), Leberkäse translates literally as “liver cheese”.

In Bavaria, however, where Leberkäse arguably originated and has been produced for over 200 years, it contains neither liver nor cheese.  This becomes less confusing when you learn that the word comes not from “Leber” but “Laib”, or loaf, referring to its shape and form, and “Käse” because of its dense, cheese-like consistency (source).  This liver-free Bavarian meatloaf is known either as Bayrisches Leberkäse (Bavarian Leberkäse) or Fleischkäse (“meat cheese”), and throughout the rest of Germany, where it does contain very strictly controlled amounts of liver, it’s known as Leberkäse.

Variations on the Leberkäse theme include Pferdleberkäse, made from horsemeat, Käseleberkäse, which contains small cubes of cheese, and Pizzaleberkäse, which involves cheese, chopped red peppers and pickles and small chunks of salami.

A slice of Leberkäse with a fried egg on top

How to eat Leberkäse

There are plenty of ways to serve a slice of Leberkäse, but it’s most popular:

✭ in a crusty white bread roll with a dollop of sweet mustard
✭ warmed through in a pan, topped with a fried egg and served with potato salad or a soft pretzel
✭ as a falsches Cordon Bleu (“fake Cordon Bleu”), for which you sandwich slices of ham and cheese between two slabs of Leberkäse, dip it in egg and breadcrumbs and fry it in oil.  Probably best to have an ambulance on standby for that one.

Have you tried Leberkäse?  Pizzaleberkäse?  Fancy a falsches Cordon Bleu?

18 Comments

  • This is what I miss most about Germany – a slice of Leberkäse in a roll, with mustard. We call them ‘LKW’, which really means ‘truck’ but in this context stands for LeberKäsWeckle, or Leberkäse roll. Mhhhhm.

  • I love the last photograph, it nearly made me want to eat it, although I am not a big fan generally… Give me a big bowl of steaming (decent) weisswurst and a weissbier over leberkase though and I am happy. 😀

  • Just returned from my first visit to Austria. My husband is from the area and reminisces about the leberkase. We had leberkase everyday for lunch. Delicious!

  • I lived in Austria and Germany for 7 years before returning to Northern Ireland. Several years later, I still miss so many German foods that I can hardly believe it. To my delight, this week in the UK, Lidl has introduced a number of German foods for a short period. These include some of my favourites: Kaesekrainer sausages and Leberkaese. I’ve always bought Leberkaese hot from the butchers’ in Austria and Germany, but this Lidl product is six slices of Leberkaese in typical plastic vacuum-packaging, stored in the fridge. Could anyone advise me on how best to reheat Leberkaese, before I pop it into a bread bap? Thanks in advance.

    As an aside: I’ve just discovered this site – a wonderful resource for German food, and even for feasting the eyes and imagination!

    • Hi Nigel, thank you so much for such lovely feedback on my site! I’m always very happy to hear from people who are as excited about German food as I am 🙂 You can warm up your Leberkäse slices very easily: brown them gently on each side in a little oil (olive is fine, but any oil without a strong flavour will do) in a medium hot frying pan; just make sure they’re heated all the way through before you eat them. Depending on the thickness of the slice, I’d say it should only take two to three minutes on each side. Guten Appetit!

  • I was started on German Wurst since I was a child. Now 60 some odd years later , Liebercasse is still my favorite. My kids were brought up on it and now we are passing it down to our Grandchildren. We have found one of the Best is made at Veteran Pork Store in Veteran NY , between Woodstock NY and Saugerties NY .. they also make their own Weisswurst, Knockwurst and Bratwurst.

  • In 2000/2001 I was based in Munich on secondment to a German company. At least once a week the lunchtime meal in the staff restaurant was “Leberkase mit Spiegeleier und Kartoffelsalat”. It was always my favourite.

  • Leberkäse used to be on offer at the German market in Edinburgh at Christmas time. Sadly no longer. I hope they bring it back

  • While living in Germany my boss always brought us lunch from home. One of my faves was Leberkase. We only had a microwave at work, she brought thick slices of Leberkase that we topped with mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of oregano then heated in microwave until cheese melted. Yum, with crusty roll.

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