Whether you want to eat sausages as a stand-alone snack or add them to an appetizing dinner, they can be amazingly versatile. You could have them along with mac & cheese, coleslaw or several other side dishes – they can perfectly serve all needs. However, to infuse the best smoky flavors, you need to learn how long to smoke sausages, which sausages are best for smoking and what temperature is required to kill bacteria.
Here, in this guide, you will find out this and other essential information needed to smoke sausages. So, spend some time reading this detailed tutorial before arranging a cookout at your place.
What Types of Sausages Should You Smoke?
The best thing about cooking sausages is that once you learn the art of smoking them, there’s a wide variety of sausages and smoke flavors available to mix and match. You can try and control the flavor notes as per your likings, and most importantly always leave your guests surprised with exclusive dishes.
As for the kind of sausages, you can cook almost all of them on your grill. The most popular sausages are:
- Italian sausages: based on pork, available in hot and sweet varieties.
- Chorizo: (from Mexico) based on raw pork, available in both fresh and dry-cured form.
- Bratwurst: (from Germany) based on a mixture of pork and beef/veal, contains ingredients like caraway, marjoram, salt etc.
- Kielbasa: (from Poland) based on ground pork (may contain beef/veal), has a distinctive garlic flavor.
- Andouille: (from France) based on chopped pork, has garlic and herb flavor notes.
Not only these but there are many other varieties of sausages with flavor notes like salty, sweet, or ginger that can be bought for smoking. Generally, it is best to pick fresh sausages; except for Kielbasa or hot dogs that render the best flavors after they are precooked.
How Long to Smoke Sausage?
The smoking time depends on multiple factors including temperature, the type of smoker, the kind of sausage being cooked and the intensity of smoky flavor you want in your final dish. Normally, it takes about 3-4 hours to cook sausages at a temperature of 200-250°F.
Stop cooking when the internal temperature of the meat is nearly 165°F. Your sausage turning reddish-brown and slightly shriveled is also an indication that it has been cooked.
How to Smoke Sausage?
No matter which type of sausage you use, or how strictly you maintain the timing and temperature, there’s a lot more that dominates the final taste. To help you learn cooking sausages, we have added this short yet informative guide. Read this and start smoking sausages like a pro!
- A smoker
- Instant read thermometer
- Wood chips
1. Soak the Wood Chips
You can use any type of wood to smoke your sausages following the flavor intensity you want in the final dish. Wood chips like hickory will leave a pungent flavor whereas, for a mild base, you can try applewood. A combination of your favorite wood chips will also deliver a unique flavor to sausages.
Whatever you choose, always soak your wood flavors in water for at least 30 minutes. This will result in locking the best and even flavors in your smoked sausages.
2. Preheat the Smoker
The charcoal, gas, electric or pellet smokers, all are best for cooking sausages. It is the temperature of the smoker that will make a difference. Heat the smoker until it reaches a temperature of 225°F. Do not cook sausages on direct heat. Make an indirect cooking zone in the smoker and move toward the next step.
3. Start Cooking Your Sausages!
Arrange the sausages on the grill such that they are at least 2-inches apart. This space will let the heat flow over the surface so that an even taste and texture are attained. Next, add the moist wood chips to the grill and leave it to smoke the sausages.
4. Keep an Eye on Temperature
After 60 minutes of smoking, start checking the temperature of your sausages. It should not be more than 165°F or the fat will melt down leaving the sausages dry and chewy.
On the other hand, a temperature below 160-165°F isn’t a good signal either. This much heat is required to kill bacteria and to make the food healthy for you.
5. Do not Forget Replacing the Wood Chips
Continuous smoking will help to maintain the temperature near optimum levels. If your wood chips have stopped smoldering, replace them with newer ones. Changing wood after 90 minutes is best to get excellent flavors without making the sausages too smoky.
6. Cool Down Your Cooked Sausages
As the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, and the sausage exterior cooks to a deep or dark brown color, take it out of the grill. You can serve the smoked sausages right away, but to preserve their plumpness and juiciness for long, plunge them in a bowl of cold water. This will stop the cooking process and hence, will prevent further shriveling or wrinkling of sausages.
To store the leftover sausages for 3-4 days, dry them in the air, wrap individual meat pieces in wax paper, and refrigerate. To extend the storage period, freeze them in an air-tight bag.
This guide covers everything you need to know about cooking a juicy, healthy and smoky sausage. Remember, smoking sausages is not a swift process. To make the meat safe to consume, it is necessary to be patient and let the smoke and heat penetrate throughout.
Once you get a gist of the smoking process, you can play around with different wood flavors and sausages to always come up with a unique BBQ flavor.