Hot Dog. Kielbasa. Bratwurst. Italian Sausage. What’s the difference?

Not all sausages are created equal. There are different kinds of sausages out there, and they’re based on all sorts of areas in the world. So what’s the difference between all of them? Below are four popular sausages and what makes them different from their counterparts.

American hot dog. This sausage is all beef and in a natural casing. The natural casing provides a “snap” or slight resistance when you bite into it, which brings out the taste and juicy flavors of the meat. Depending on the US city you’re in, the hot dog can be paired with many condiments and toppings including mustard, ketchup, mayo, cheese, pickles and other veggies. The hot dog is usually steamed, boiled or grilled.

Kielbasa. Also known as Polish sausage, this meat is made of pork or a combination or pork and beef. It has a strong garlic flavor along with pimentos, cloves, marjoram and smoke. It’s often paired with sauerkraut and is usually grilled, seared or smoked.

Bratwurst. Also referred to as “brat”, the German sausage is generally made with pork and veal, but beef can also be used. It’s seasoned with a variety of subtle flavors like caraway seeds, coriander, ginger or nutmeg. It is often paired with sauerkraut or potato salad and is usually sautéed, broiled or grilled.

Italian sausage. This meat is made with coarsely ground fresh pork and it’s flavored with garlic and fennel seed. There’s a hot version of this sausage that includes red pepper flakes. It is often served with grilled onions and fried peppers on sub sandwich rolls, and it’s usually grilled or sautéed.

The primary differences between the four types of sausage are the type of meat (or combination of meats) and the flavoring based on the spices or herbs used to season each meat.