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How to Smoke Sausage
There’s just something about smoked sausages that sets it apart from the usual ones. Right from the crispy outside to the tender meat inside, I’m always ready to eat smoked sausage at any time of the day!
Another benefit of smoking sausages is how straightforward and easy it is.
You can choose between cold smoke or hot smoke sausages. In cold-smoking sausages, you need to keep the heat low (less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and let the sausages smoke for a long time. For hot-smoking sausages, keep the heat high (around 225°f – 250°f) and smoke them.
If you want to know more about how to smoke sausages and extra tips to cook them to perfection, read on!
What Do You Need to Smoke Sausage
Instead of simply starting with the smoking process, it’s best to gather all the ingredients required. This way, you can focus more on smoking your sausages and less on finding the ingredients.
Here’s a list of everything that you need to smoke sausages.
- Smoker or Grill
You can either use a smoker or grill for smoking sausage.
The basic difference between the two is that smoker usually reaches up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit whereas grills can reach even above 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Smokers also offer indirect heating, whereas, in grills, you’ll have to achieve it yourself as the food is right above the heat source.
When it comes to sausages, it’s better to opt for smokers as it achieves indirect heat by itself. You don’t need to make any additional arrangements as required in grills.
You also don’t require extremely high heat for smoking sausages.
There are many types of sausages available. Some of the famous ones include Italian sausages, Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Chorizo, or even chicken/beef sausages.
I suggest using a sausage with high-fat content like brisket as it will remain tender and moist even after smoking for long.
Italian sausages are the best and the most-preferred sausage. They can be sweet, spicy, or even mild.
You can also go for Bratwurst for a tangy flavor, or Chorizo for the usual Mexican-style spicy flavor. It’s up to you!
- Wood Pellets or Chips (optional)
If you just want to use charcoal or gas for smoking your sausages, you can skip this.
However, in my experience, sausages taste the best when they’re smoked with some wood pellets or chips.
For instance, you can use fruitwood like apple or cherry for a tinge of sweet taste. On the contrary, oak or hickory can impart an earthy and extra-smoky flavor to your sausages.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cold Smoking Sausage
When it comes to smoking sausages, you can either go for cold smoking or hot smoking.
In cold smoking, you smoke the sausages at low heat for an extended time. This slow process makes the sausage meat more moist and tender to eat.
However, keep in mind that this method takes more time than hot smoking as you also need to cure the sausage.
Step 1: Cure the Sausages
You need to cure the sausages in the cold smoking (or slow cooking) method to prevent the growth of bacteria when the meat is cooking.
All you need to do is mix sugar, salt, and any other spices that you want. Then, rub it on the sausages generously. This increases the solute concentration in the meat and reduces the water content. Thus, it slows down the growth of bacteria.
After applying salt and other ingredients, cover them in a plastic film, and store them in the fridge for 24 hours. Try keeping them away from light and ensure that the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Preheat Your Smoker
Next, start preparing your smoker.
Preheat your smoker to 110 degrees Fahrenheit first.
If you’re using a charcoal grill, create an indirect heat zone by placing all the charcoals on one side. For a gas grill, turn off the burner of the section where you want to place your breakfast sausage.
Step 3: Transfer the Sausages to the Smoker
Before adding the sausages to the smoker, add the wood chips or pellets.
Then, place the sausages at a uniform distance. If you’re using a smoker, keep the sausages on the topmost rack to prevent sausages from heating up too quickly.
You can also hang the sausages on the smoker with smoker hooks.
Since we’re cold smoking the sausages, don’t let the temperature of the grill or smoker exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The best is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can use a cooking thermometer probe to check the temperature and keep it under control. Don’t worry about penetrating the sausage casing with the cooking probe.
Step 4: Smoke the Sausages
You need to let the sausages smoke for at least three to four hours. Once they’re done, you can take them off the smoker and eat them!
Step-by-Step Guide to Hot Smoking Sausage
Hot smoking sausages is way easier than cold smoking. Yet, the sausages won’t be as tender and flavorful as cold-smoked ones.
Step 1: Preheat the Smoker to 250 Degrees Fahrenheit
First, just preheat your grill or smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You also need to ensure that you’re using indirect heat while using grillers.
So, for charcoal grillers, place the charcoal on one end and leave the other end for sausages. As for gas grillers, turn off a burner and place the sausages on top of that area.
Once your smoker or grill has reached the desired temperature, add the wood chips for added flavor.
Step 2: Place the Sausages on the Grill or Smoker
In this step, transfer the sausages to the grill or smoker. Then, place them at a uniform distance for equal distribution of heat.
Step 3: Let the Sausages Smoke
Allow the sausages to cook at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two to 2 ½ hours. There’s no need to flip them but you can do it once, if needed.
Step 4: Take Them Out
After a few hours, check the sausage’s internal temperature. It should be around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can also check for other signs of doneness like dark and crispy skin, no pinkness in the middle, transparent juices, and white cooked meat in the center.
If you see a lot of pinkness, let the sausage cook for some more time.
Additional Tips to Smoke Sausage
If you want your smoked sausages to taste like heaven, you should follow these tips for smoking sausage. They’ve helped me smoke some of the most mouthwatering sausages!
- Don’t change the smoker or grill’s temperature. You need to keep it consistent for hours. Hence, you should also avoid checking the sausages repeatedly. Just leave the sausages to smoke until they’re done.
- Always pick the best wood for smoking that suits your palate. If you don’t like fruity smoke flavor or smell, avoid fruitwoods!
- If you’re planning to add extensive ingredients to smoked sausage, avoid using overpowering woods like hickory or mesquite.
- Don’t go by the time, instead use a thermometer to gauge whether the sausage is done smoking or not.
- Opt for cold smoking over hot smoking for an intense smoky flavor and increased tenderness.
- Always clean the grill grates before smoking sausages to prevent them from sticking.
- Keep two inches distance between the sausages on the grill or smoker.
- It’s up to you whether to cut the sausage links before smoking or not. Cutting your sausage is helpful if you want to smoke the exposed interior and make it crispy.
How to Store Smoked Sausages?
Sausages are always made in bulk sometimes! Instead of throwing them away, you can store them properly instead.
Let’s see how you can store any kind of sausages.
- In Fridge
Uncured smoked sausages can last for three to four days. On the other hand, cured smoked sausages can even stay fresh for up to two to three weeks in the refrigerator!
If you want to store the sausages in the fridge, keep them in an airtight container or wrap them in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Then, store them under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In Refrigerator
If you want to extend the shelf life of smoked sausages, you can freeze them instead.
For freezing, you can wrap the sausages with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Then, place them inside freezer bags to reduce the risk of freezer burn.
You can keep smoked sausages in the freezer for around six months.
Note: While thawing, keep the smoked sausages in the fridge first for a few hours, instead of room temperature.
What to Do With Overcooked Sausage
Overcooked sausages become extremely dry, chewy, and hard to eat.
So, if you accidentally overcooked the sausages while smoking them, here are a few ways to fix them.
- Slice the sausages and transfer them to a cooking pot. Then, add some barbecue sauce, and let them cook for a few minutes. This will help in rehydrating the dry meat.
- Poke a few holes in the sausages. Then, put the sausages and let them simmer in chicken or beef broth.
- Repurpose sausages by using them in stews, pizzas, or even pasta.
Smoked sausages are my go-to dish when I don’t want to put a lot of effort into smoking. Although the process is a little long, it’s easier than smoking other types of meat.
So, what are you waiting for? Smoke some sausages and call up some friends!
How long does smoked sausage last?
You can keep smoked sausage in the fridge for about three to four days. If you vacuum-seal and keep it, it can even last for a week. They can last for up to one to two months in the freezer.
Are smoked sausages safe?
If you’ve cold-smoked sausages, they’re safe to eat as long as you’ve cured them before smoking. Hot-smoked sausages are safe to eat as long as they’ve reached the right internal temperature.
How to kill any living bacteria in sausages?
If you want to kill any living bacteria in the sausages you want to smoke, then ensure that you cook them properly at a temperature of 160°f.