Ultimate Boerewors Sausage Guide: Prep, Cook, Store

Boerewors sausage, a South African culinary staple, blends European and African flavors. It’s legally protected, must contain 90% meat, and boasts a unique spice blend. Today, it symbolizes unity and celebration, often grilled at social gatherings.

Raw beef boerewors with garnish

Diving into the world of traditional South African cuisine, you’ll quickly find that boerewors sausage stands out as a culinary staple. This guide will walk you through everything from selecting the right ingredients to the secrets of stuffing and cooking these flavorful sausages to perfection.

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The History and Origin of Boerewors

A photograph of a relaxing traditional South African evening braai with boerewors and ribs. A dramatic photograph with smoke and fire.

Boerewors, a South African culinary staple, reflects the country’s rich heritage, blending European farming techniques with native African spices. The name “boerewors” originates from Afrikaans, meaning “farmers’ sausage,” emphasizing its grassroots in farming communities. Legally protected to maintain authenticity, boerewors must contain at least 90% meat, ensuring quality and tradition.

What Sets Boerewors Apart From Other Sausages?

Boerewors boasts a unique spice blend, including coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, creating a rich and aromatic flavor profile. Its specific meat-to-fat ratio, approximately 90% meat and 30% fat, ensures juiciness without excessive greasiness. Boerewors is traditionally coiled for even cooking and easier handling, making it a centerpiece of South African gatherings.

Essential Ingredients for Authentic Boerewors

South African boerewors (traditional sausage) being grilled on a braai (Barbecue).

Diving into the world of boerewors, you might wonder, what makes this South African sausage stand out? The secret lies in its unique blend of essential ingredients. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to create that authentic taste.

Spices and Herbs

The spice mix is the heart of boerewors, giving it its distinctive flavor. You’ll want to include:

  • Coriander: Often roasted and ground fresh, coriander is the cornerstone spice that offers a warm, earthy base.
  • Black Pepper and Nutmeg: These spices add a complex depth, with the pepper bringing a slight heat and the nutmeg offering a sweet undertone.
  • Allspice: Another key player, allspice, contributes a subtle, spicy kick, rounding out the flavor profile.
  • Vinegar, typically Malt or Apple Cider: Not just any vinegar, but specifically malt or apple cider vinegar is used for its tanginess as well as its preservative qualities.

Types of Meat

Boerewors is not just about beef. While beef is a primary ingredient, the sausage is a blend of meats:

  • Beef: Blend lean and fatty cuts for texture and juiciness.
  • Pork: Adds flavor and moisture due to its fat content.
  • Lamb: Optional, but enhances flavor with its rich taste that complements the spice blend.

Maintain a ratio of approximately 90% meat and no more than 30% fat to ensure the sausage is neither too dry nor excessively greasy. Optimal cuts include beef chuck, pork shoulder, and lamb shoulder if desired.

Casing Options

  • Natural Casings: Sheep or cow intestines offer traditional encasement. Lamb casings are ideal for small sausages, while hog and beef casings suit thicker variations.
  • Collagen Casings: An alternative option providing consistent quality and easier handling during the sausage-making process.

Choose your casing wisely as it impacts the sausage’s appearance, texture, cooking method, and final flavor. The casing helps retain spices and juices, ensuring each bite is flavorful.

With this insight into essential ingredients, you’re ready to craft authentic boerewors. Whether it’s the spice blend, meat selection, or casing type, each element contributes to the perfect sausage. Remember, balance and quality are key to impressing with your homemade creation.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Boerewors at Home

Delicious boerewors sausage sizzling on an old-fashioned charcoal barbecue grill. Boerewors is a type of sausage from South Africa. It's made from minced beef, but it can also sometimes have minced pork, lamb or both.

Transform your barbecue into a South African feast with homemade boerewors using this simple guide:

Preparing the Meat Mixture

  1. Select Your Meats: Combine 2 kg silverside beef, 1 kg pork shoulder, and optionally a small portion of lamb. Aim for a meat-to-fat ratio of 90:10.
  2. Cut and Chill: Dice the meats and freeze for an hour for easier grinding.
  3. Spice It Up: Toast and grind 20 g coriander seeds, then mix with cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, and diced back bacon.
  4. Mix and Marinate: Combine meats with spice mix and vinegar, then refrigerate for 30 minutes to meld flavors.
  5. Final Grind: After marinating, regrind the mixture for a smooth texture.

Stuffing the Casing

  1. Prepare the Casing: Soak 2 meters of hog casings in warm water to soften.
  2. Stuffing: Use a sausage stuffer to fill the casing steadily, avoiding air pockets.
  3. Tying Off: Securely tie the ends of the sausage and release any air pockets with a pin.
  4. Create the Boerewors Coil: Shape-filled casing into a traditional spiral.
  5. Secure the Shape: Skewer or tie off coils to prevent unraveling.
  6. Refrigerate Before Cooking: Let coiled boerewors rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours to deepen flavors.

Crafting your boerewors at home is a culinary adventure worth undertaking. With practice, you’ll master this cherished South African dish, delighting family and friends with each batch.

Cooking Techniques for Perfect Boerewors

South African braai with boerewors sausage and various meat in the background

Now that you’ve mastered making boerewors, let’s explore the best cooking methods to elevate its flavor:

Braai Boerewors Like a Pro

For the authentic South African experience, fire up your braai. Start with a medium-hot charcoal or wood fire, avoiding piercing the casing to retain moisture. Grill the boerewors coil for 7-10 minutes on each side until golden brown, adjusting the position for even cooking. Serve with pap and chakalaka for a true taste of South Africa.

Oven-Baking for Convenience

Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake the boerewors on a parchment-lined tray for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway. This fuss-free method yields tasty results, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. Pair with roasted vegetables or salad for a balanced meal.

Pan-Frying for Quick and Tasty Results

Heat oil in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Cook the boerewors for 3-4 minutes per side until browned and cooked through, ensuring juicy results by managing heat carefully. Serve with mustard and crusty bread or incorporate it into pasta for a flavorful dish.

Experimenting with these cooking techniques allows you to discover the perfect way to enjoy your boerewors. Impress your guests and enhance your culinary skills by trying a new method tonight!

Serving Suggestions: Pairing Boerewors With Side Dishes

The grilling process of boerewors sausage coils

Elevate your boerewors meal with these perfect accompaniments:

Traditional South African Sides

  • Pap: Creamy maize meal, ideal for absorbing the sausage’s spices. Serve with a zesty tomato and onion sauce.
  • Chakalaka: Spicy vegetable relish with carrots, peppers, onions, and tomatoes, offering a colorful and flavorful addition.
  • Potato Salad: Creamy and cool, providing a delightful contrast to the rich flavor of the meat.
  • Braaibroodjies: South African-style grilled cheese sandwiches filled with tomato, onion, cheddar, and chutney, offering a cheesy and slightly sweet complement to the boerewors.

Contemporary Pairings

  • Couscous Salad: Light and refreshing, mixed with diced vegetables and a lemon vinaigrette to cut through the richness of the sausage.
  • Sweet Potato Fries: Crispy and sweet, a delicious alternative to regular fries that pairs perfectly with the spicy flavors of boerewors.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus drizzled with olive oil and grilled to perfection, adding a smoky flavor and healthy element to your meal.

Storing and Preserving Boerewors

Have you perfected the craft of making boerewors? Now, learn how to keep it fresh for longer:


  • Cool Down First: Let boerewors cool to room temperature before refrigerating to prevent temperature fluctuations.
  • Air-tight Packaging: Store in air-tight containers or zip-lock bags to maintain moisture and prevent odors from affecting the flavor.
  • Ideal Temperature: Keep your fridge at or below 40°F (4°C) to slow bacterial growth effectively.
  • Label and Date: Always label with the storage date and consume within 3 to 4 days for peak freshness.


  • Portion Wisely: Freeze in portions suitable for one cooking session to avoid excess defrosting.
  • Vacuum Sealing Preferred: A vacuum sealer removes air and prevents freezer burn, extending storage life.
  • Freeze Individually: Lay sausages on a tray to freeze individually before packaging to prevent sticking.
  • Label Clearly: Include the freezing date on each package. Properly stored, boerewors can last up to 4 months in the freezer without compromising quality.

By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy your homemade boerewors whenever you crave its savory flavors, ensuring they stay fresh and delicious for longer periods.

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