A Vienna sausage (German: Wiener Würstchen, Wiener; Viennese/Austrian German: Frankfurter Würstel or Würstl; Swiss German Wienerli; Swabian: Wienerle or Saitenwurst) is a thin parboiled sausage traditionally made of pork and beef in a casing of sheep's intestine, then given a low temperature smoking. The word Wiener means Viennese in German. In Austria the term "Wiener" is uncommon for this food item, which instead is usually called Frankfurter Würstl.
The ingredients, preparation, size and taste can vary widely by both manufacturer and region of sale.
In some European countries, cooked and often smoked wiener sausages bought fresh from supermarkets, delicatessens and butcher shops may be called by a name (such as in German or French) which translates in English as "Vienna sausage." Traditionally, they are made from spiced ham. Wieners sold as Vienna sausage in Europe have a taste and texture very much like North American "hot dogs" or "frankfurters", but are usually longer and somewhat thinner, with a very light, edible casing. European Vienna sausage served hot in a long bun with condiments is often called a "hot dog", referring not to the wiener itself, but to the long sandwich as a whole.
After having been brought to North America by European immigrants, "Vienna sausage" came to mean only smaller and much shorter smoked and canned wieners, rather than link sausage, beginning about 1903. However, they have no federal standard of identity. North American vienna sausages are made similarly to pork wieners, finely ground to a paste consistency and mixed with salt and spices, such as cloves, coriander, nutmeg, onion powder and finely ground, dry red pepper. The sausages are stuffed into a long casing, sometimes smoked, always thoroughly cooked and beginning in the 1950s, the casings were removed. The sausages are then cut into short segments for canning and further cooking. They are available plain (in a gelatin, similar to aspic) or with a variety of flavorings, such as smoke, chili or barbecue sauces. Vienna sausage consumption peaked in the 1940s to 1970s, since declining.