Want to smoke sausages for your next summer barbeque but aren’t quite sure where to start? Here are the best sausages for smoking and how to smoke them.
Which Sausages Can I Smoke?
You can smoke any sausage that hasn’t already been smoked (i.e., packaged breakfast sausage). There isn’t anything we don’t recommend, so feel free to experiment with your favorite types of sausages.
If you’re looking for suggestions, then we’ve got you covered!
The Best Sausages for Smoking
Not all sausages were created equal, and some are better than others. Of course, this is all opinion, and you’ll find you may like some sausages more than others. Here are a few of our favorites:
Texas Sausages (AKA Czech Sausages or Klobase)
When you sit down at a barbecue joint in Texas, you’ll likely be greeted with a hastily torn piece of butcher paper. Atop this glorious brown serving dish will be a heaping stack of smoked brisket, ribs, and sausage alongside some slices of white bread, jalapenos, and pickled onions (or pickled sausages).
The sides may vary, but there are two consistencies you’ll always find: the brisket and the sausages. The sausages are a spicy Czech-style Klobase initially introduced to the state by German immigrants.
If you’ve never tried Texas sausage, we can assure you it’s probably one of the best sausages to smoke out there. This sausage is dripping with juice and full of flavor. It has a slight heat but isn’t spicy per se, and the smoky tang throughout is to die for.
If you can’t get to Texas to try it yourself, you can certainly make this sausage at home, which we’ll go over a little later.
Italian sausage is available everywhere, cheap, and they have great taste. The anise, peppery spices and ingredients nicely blend with the sweet and succulent meat and are ideal for sausage sandwiches.
Grilling them to a nice char is already a delicious summer supper, but smoking them will bring them to a whole new level. They’ll elevate the flavor we all know and love by encasing the sausage in a ring of smoke and making it juicier than ever before.
Chorizo is a sausage that originates from Spain and is easily identifiable by its blood-red hue and spicy taste. Traditionally, chorizo is smoked, and for a good reason.
There are two main types of chorizo you might consider cooking with: Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo. Mexican chorizo is seasoned with chilies and vinegar, while Spanish chorizo relies more on garlic and paprika. As a result, Mexican chorizos are typically spicier and have a stronger bite. On the other hand, Spanish chorizo can be either sweet or hot.
Note that Spanish chorizo is usually smoked and is more like hard salami. There is no need to smoke it further as those smoky flavors will already be there if this is the case. You usually cook Mexican chorizo like you would ground meat, but getting them in links will allow you to smoke them and further develop their taste profile.
Probably the cheapest and most abundant sausage in the US, hot dogs are amazing for smoking. Usually, they’re just grilled over an open flame, but you can actually smoke them to make them even more delectable.
And if you are wondering, aren’t hot dogs already smoked? Sometimes, but the smoky flavor pre-packaged hot dogs have isn’t quite the same as smoking them yourself.
First of all, the smokiness isn’t quite as intense and doesn’t resonate throughout the meat. Second, many brands use artificial smoke flavor to season their hot dogs and corn dogs which causes them to have slightly funkier smoke.
Our best advice would be to try smoking your hot dogs as your next cookout to truly taste the difference.
This German sausage goes hand in hand with beer and is another sausage that is amazing for the grill but even better for the smoker.
Traditional bratwurst is mild in the spice department but has a deep, meaty flavor palette. Brats will often be seasoned with beer, onions, garlic, and cloves. The simplicity of this sausage begs to be smoked, which will develop more complex bites.
There are many variations of the bratwurst to explore, some spicy and some sweet, so be bold when trying to smoke these German hard hitters.
Kielbasa is a Polish U-shaped sausage with a slightly coarse texture and a fatty flavor. It’s garlicky, peppery, salty, and overall savory, similar to their Hungarian cousins.
Kielbasa is usually already smoked, but this is one that we recommend smoking again. The sausage has a tough exterior, so the smoke doesn’t entirely pierce the casing the first time, and it isn’t quite as smoky as we’d like. The solution to this is to gently score the skin and put it in the smoker to fully penetrate the meat.
This French sausage is a savory combination of pork, garlic, pepper, onions, and wine to create something that’s sharp, spicy, and flavorful.
This is yet another sausage that typically comes smoked already, but if you buy them uncured, then you’re going to want to smoke them yourself with your own woods. The smokiness is almost a necessity for the taste of this sausage, and we can’t imagine andouille without it (though we do love the alternatives too).
Japanese Fish Sausage
This sausage isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy fish and want to try something a little different, then this is a unique variation worth exploring.
Fish sausages are popular in Japan, and they are commonly cooked by lightly smoking them. The soft layer of smoke complements the delicate taste of fish and leaves something to be desired after each bite.
Chicken, Beef, and Turkey Sausages
While sausage is usually made of pork, you’ll find many other types of sausages at your local market. Chicken, beef, and turkey sausages are just some of the meats that can be made into sausage and are definitely on the tamer side regarding what they can be made out of.
Regardless of what animal (or plant) makes a sausage, it’s always an excellent choice to smoke them. Each has its own unique taste that works differently with the smoke, and no link will be quite the same.
The best part of these sausages is that they can serve as healthy alternatives to pork sausage while not trying to imitate them.
Once more, the diversity of sausages leaves room for experimentation and finding new, exciting flavors.
Why Should I Smoke My Sausages?
Smoking sausage adds a unique layer of flavor; the cherry notes and smokiness perfectly complement the link’s sweet and savory meat.
The process of smoking sausages can be time-consuming and requires a few extra pieces of equipment, but the result is undeniably worth it. You’ll end up with something smokey, meaty, bursting with juice, and absolutely delicious.
And the best part about it is that the flavor of smokiness in the sausage translates to whatever food you’re cooking, which makes it perfect for dishes such as jambalaya, mac n’ cheese, and pasta skillets.
Making Your Own Sausages
There are countless sausages from around the world you can try, but they aren’t always accessible. Making your own is something you can always do and allows you to control precisely what you put in them.
Not only is making sausage from scratch easy, but it’s also a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Here’s a list of things and ingredients you will need:
- Sausage casings
- Ground meats and fats
- A sausage stuffer
You’ll be able to find simple sausage casings at the supermarket or your local butcher. Typically, the sausage casings are either processed, salted animal intestines, or synthetic collagen casings.
Ground Meats and fats
You can grind your own meats with a meat grinder, or you can simply buy pre-ground meat. Opt for meat with a higher fat ratio or add your own fats to leaner cuts.
Spices are essential to the flavor of the meat and are what make many sausages unique. Some basic ones that many sausages use are garlic powder, onion powder, anise, cloves, paprika, peppercorns, salt, and dried herbs.
A Sausage Stuffer
A sausage stuffer can be a bit pricey but is definitely worth the investment if you plan on consistently making sausages.
This machine is used for stuffing the meat into your casings.
Tips to Making Sausage
- Follow recipes until you get the hang of making your sausages. That way, you can determine which spices go together and which don’t.
- Make sure your meat mixture is cold before you stuff them in the casings. Making sure the meat is at a low temperature prevents the sausages from falling apart.
- Be bold. Some sausages use various meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts to create unique flavors.
How to Smoke Sausages
Whether you’ve decided to buy your sausage or make your own, you’re definitely going to want to know how to smoke them.
Here are a few useful pieces of smoking equipment you’re going to need to smoke your sausages:
- Smoker – The first and most important tool you’ll need is a smoker. A smoker may run you a few hundred bucks, but it’s worth it. If you don’t want to dedicate yourself to a full-sized smoker, there are miniature stovetop versions that go on top of your grill.
- Wood chips – The type of wood chips you use will determine the flavor of your smoke. Hickory provides a robust wood flavor, while applewood is a bit milder and has a slight fruitiness to it.
- Food Thermometer – Sausage should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when fully cooked. Using a thermometer can help you know exactly when to take your sausages out from the smoker.
Cook Time and Temperature
Smoking sausages typically takes about 3-4 hours at a temperature of 250 degrees F. The key is cooking them low and slow, which will allow the smoke to deeply penetrate the sausage and infuse the meat with its flavor.
If you want a slightly milder smoky flavor, you can try halving the time in the smoker and finish them on the grill.
Once they are fully cooked, the sausages will last about 3-4 days in the fridge in a good meat container and three months in the freezer.
Wood Chip Recommendations
Wood chips are crucial in flavoring your sausages. You can use a mixture of different woods or a single wood in your smoker. Here are a few of our favorites:
The best thing about using wood from fruit trees is that they impart the flavors of their respective fruit into the meat.
We like cherry wood specifically because it adds a tart, tangy sweetness to the sausage and works marvelously with the smoke.
This one is a given.
Maple wood adds a sweet, syrupy background flavor to the sausage and is a perfect addition to saltier sausages.
Maple wood also pairs nicely with fruit woods, specifically apple and oak woods.
We’ve mentioned using hickory wood for a strong wooden flavor, but mesquite is even stronger than that.
Mesquite has a very overpowering taste, so use it in sausages that already have a lot of seasoning. Still, if you love that smoky wooden flavor, then this is probably the one you’re going to want to use.
Alder isn’t particularly prominent, but it adds a slight, identifiable smokiness to your sausages. Many commercial smoked sausages use this wood because it doesn’t intrude on the spices and adds an organic smoky tang.
If you just want the smokiness without any additional notes, then oak is your best bet. Oak doesn’t have much of a flavor itself, but it’s widely used to give volume to other types of wood.
The mildness makes it versatile and a good starter wood to get a better taste of the sausage.
Smoking your sausages is an excellent cooking method and brings bold and exciting flavors into the fray. It doesn’t matter if you prefer kielbasa (Polish sausage) or simple hot dogs because every sausage is smokeable. Moreover, the possibilities are countless if you wish to explore and experiment with all the different ingredients and sides used in creating smoked sausages with distinct flavors.