What Is Goetta? (2024)

When Germans immigrated to America they brought along the recipe for goetta, a spiced meat and oat patty packed with spices. Originally the food of farm workers, goetta utilized the least expensive parts of the animal, namely organ meats, mixed them with steel-cut oats, and used strong spices like garlic, clove, ginger and mace to balance it out. Today goetta is still a popular breakfast food in Ohio, especially Cincinnati, though ground pork and beef have replaced the meat scraps once used.

Fast Facts

  • Place of Origin: Germany
  • Other Names: Cincinnati sausage grain patties, gruetzwurst, grain sausage
  • Main Components: Steel-cut oats, pork, beef, onions, garlic and spices

What Is Goetta?

In southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky the top breakfast meat is goetta (pronounced "get-UH"), a loose sausage made with ground pork and beef, steel-cut oats, onions, garlic and a lot of spices including mace, marjoram, ginger, coriander, white pepper and cloves. The breakfast sausage is formed into thick patties and then pan fried. Some restaurants serve rectangles of handmade goetta; commercial purveyors sell the sausage in tubes that can be sliced into rounds at home. No matter the shape, the slightly mushy texture with crisp, crumbly edges and the pungent spice of the sausage remain constants.

Goetta was first introduced to the U.S. through an influx of German immigrants to Cincinnati in the 1830s. In Germany it had been known as gruetzwurst, a dish farm workers ate for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made up with organ meats, oats and a lot of pungent spices, the gruetzwurst was a way to use up scraps of meat and cheaper cuts or pork and beef. As the sausage evolved in the U.S. to become known as goetta, it became a favored breakfast food with higher-quality ingredients. Commercial brands such as Glier’s Goetta and Queen City Sausage standardized the sausage, though butcher shops all around Cincinnati make their own versions.

After all these years, goetta remains a popular regional staple. It's celebrated each August at the Glier’s Goettafest near Newport, Kentucky. Not only does goetta have its own festival, but chefs and home cooks throughout the region use goetta for more than breakfast. Goetta gets crumbled onto pizza and nachos, pressed into sandwiches, baked into frittata, and stirred into chili.

Goetta Vs. Scrapple

Technically goetta is a type of scrapple, though scrapple has become associated with Germans who settled in Pennsylvania, while goetta is associated with Germans who settled in Cincinnati. Both dishes were created as a way to use up scraps of meat, especially the offal, and are traditionally pan fried. Scrapple is made with pig parts, cornmeal (and/or flour), and spices. Goetta is created with both pork and beef and uses oats as the binder. While both historical foods are breakfast meats and still eaten today, goetta is much more popular as a sought-after dish frequently served in restaurants.

Varieties

The different varieties of goetta depend on who is making it. Each butcher, chef and home cook has their own recipe, though the base of steel-cut oats, beef, pork, onion and garlic usually remain the same. Another way goetta can be different is how it's served. Some people slice rounds from a tube of goetta, others make it in loaf pans that create rectangles of the meat, but traditionally both are pan fried in bacon fat or vegetable oil.

Goetta Uses

Like other breakfast meats, goetta can be eaten at any meal and used in array of dishes. The simplest way to use goetta is to pan fry the sausage in bacon fat or vegetable oil and serve as is. Goetta can also be crumbled into the pan and cooked in loose chunks, which then can be put on pizza, on top of nachos, and in another Ohio specialty, Cincinnati chili. Slices of goetta can also be fried and put on sandwiches, or even served as a main course.

How To Cook With Goetta

Cooking pre-made goetta is easy. The first step is to heat a skillet with a teaspoon of lard or vegetable oil, and once the fat starts sizzling add thick slices of the sausage, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook for a few minutes. The meat will turn from pale to golden as it crisps. Do not move it around in the pan; instead, let the goetta rest so the soft sausage can firm, otherwise it might crumble or break. After a visible crust develops, gently flip the slice of goetta and cook the other side the same way.

Of course, you can make your own sausage for goetta at home. There are many different recipes for goetta, but most call for one pound each of ground pork and ground beef; 2 1/2 cups steel-cut oats; eight cups water; one large onion, diced; four garlic cloves, minced; and spices such as mace, marjoram, ginger, coriander, white pepper and cloves. The first step is to cook the oats in boiling water with salt and pepper for about two hours. Then, add the ground meat and spices and cook together for about an hour. Pour the mixture into a bread pan and refrigerate overnight. Once settled, the goetta is ready for slicing and pan frying.

What Is Goetta? (2)

What Is Goetta? (3)

What Is Goetta? (4)

What Does Goetta Taste Like?

Goetta's texture is slightly mushier than loose breakfast sausage, and the flavor tends to be sweeter and more complex depending one what spices are used. The richness of pork and beef combine with the nuttiness of the steel-cut oats. Some goetta has traces of warming spices like cinnamon, clove and mace. Other versions feature spicy notes of ginger, garlic and even cayenne pepper.

Where To Buy Goetta

In southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky many butcher shops will sell a version of their own goetta. It can also be found in the regional grocery stores under brands like Glier’s Goetta and Queen City Sausage. Outside of Ohio and Kentucky it's harder to source goetta, but the breakfast sausage can be ordered online and shipped.

Storage

Factory-sealed goettahas a four-month shelf life in the refrigerator. Once opened, the sausage should be eaten within a week. Freshly-made goetta has a week-long shelf life too, as long as it's kept cold. Goetta should be wrapped up or sealed in an air-tight container in order to prolong the freshness.

READ NEXT: Introduction to German Food

What Is Goetta? (2024)

FAQs

What is the meaning of goetta? ›

noun. Goet·​ta ˈge-tə variants or goetta. : meat (such as pork) mixed with oats, onions, and spices and fried in the form of a patty.

What is goetta made of? ›

In southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky the top breakfast meat is goetta (pronounced "get-UH"), a loose sausage made with ground pork and beef, steel-cut oats, onions, garlic and a lot of spices including mace, marjoram, ginger, coriander, white pepper and cloves.

Why is goetta only in Cincinnati? ›

Goetta gets its origin from the German immigrants who settled in what is now the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. In order to stretch their food dollar, they used the scraps from local butchers and hog slaughterhouses to make a satisfying, inexpensive dish.

What is all in goetta? ›

Goetta is made with meat, oats, broth, spices, often onions, and occasionally other vegetables, simmered until thick, poured into loaf pans, and chilled or allowed to cool completely so that the loaves become firm enough to slice. It is then cut into slices and fried, often in butter.

Is goetta good for you? ›

What Is the Nutritional Value of Goetta? It's hard to believe that Glier's Goetta could possibly be good for anything other than your taste buds. But, the fact is that what makes Gliers Goetta savory and unique - whole grain pinhead oats - is what makes it heart-healthy, cholesterol-friendly, and fiber-rich.

What does getta have in it? ›

WHAT IS GOETTA? Pronounced “GET-uh,” Goetta is a German breakfast sausage that blends the textures and flavors of pork, beef, whole grain steel-cut oats, fresh onions, and spices. It is slow-cooked daily in our factory and perfectly prepared when browned and served.

Is goetta eaten in Germany? ›

“Goetta is a peasant food from Germany. It was not known as goetta in Germany. It's known as grutzwurst over there, or grits, grain, wurst, sausage, grain sausage,” Glier said. “It was brought over by the early immigrants, probably in the late 1800s.

Is goetta like scrapple? ›

The main difference between scrapple and goetta lies in their primary ingredients. Scrapple is made with pork scraps and cornmeal, while goetta is made with ground meat and steel-cut oats. Additionally, the spices used in each dish may vary, giving them distinct flavor profiles.

Is goetta precooked? ›

It's a fully cooked product. When cooking it at home, you just want to get it golden brown and crispy on each side. Try putting goetta in an omelet. It's a great alternative to sausage.

Is haggis like goetta? ›

It is traditionally served at Burn's Night Suppers on January 25th because Robert Burns, the bard of Scotland and a fan of the dish, wrote the poem 'Address to a Haggis' calling it 'great chieftan o' the pudding-race! ' It is fairly similar to the Cincinnati speciality goetta but with more liver flavor.

Can you buy goetta in Columbus? ›

In Columbus you can find goetta at Thurn's Specialty Meats or Weiland's Gourmet Market, as well as most Kroger stores. It comes wrapped in tubes much like ground sausage, and most often it's found alongside other ground or prepared meats like sausage, hot dogs and brats.

What animal is goetta? ›

Our first dish from Ohio is the quintessential goetta (pronounced gett-aa). It's an amalgamation of pork, beef, spices, and steel-cut (pinhead) oats formed into a loaf, sliced and pan-fried.

When was goetta invented? ›

1946 in COVINGTON, KENTUCKY. This is a story of generations of meat cutters and sausage makers; a story rooted in the 19th century and still going strong into the 21st.

Why does goetta fall apart? ›

Pro Tips for Cooking Goetta

The first key to helping them keep shape is slicing them thickly (at least 1/2 inch thick). The second key is to avoid using any oil whatsoever. Oil will only make it soggier and fall apart more. Just use a dry non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

Do Germans eat goetta? ›

“Goetta is a peasant food from Germany. It was not known as goetta in Germany. It's known as grutzwurst over there, or grits, grain, wurst, sausage, grain sausage,” Glier said. “It was brought over by the early immigrants, probably in the late 1800s.

What is scrapple called in Kentucky? ›

"Yeah, goetta. It's kind of like scrapple."

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