Smoking Sausage: Best Recipe and Techniques

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Last updatedLast updated: May 01, 2021
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Sausages date back hundreds of years. They were originally made to make efficient butchery, using all the meat scraps, but they have evolved into a very tasty and popular treat that is the star of many bbqs and cook outs.

One of the best ways to get a great flavor is to smoke your sausages. Smoking can add flavor, elevating basic sausages to a whole new culinary level. However, you need not spend a fortune buying fancy smoked sausages, as you can learn techniques for smoking sausage at home. In this article we’ll explore the best sausage for smoking and the best techniques, so you can become a smoke master and impress all your family and friends.

What types of sausage are best for smoking?

Smoking Sausage: Best Recipe and Techniques

If you’re wondering about the best sausage for smoking, you’ll be happy to know that almost all types can be smoked. The most popular varieties for smoking are pork, but there are different sausages that are great candidates for smoking, including breakfast sausage, Bratwurst, Italian sausage, Chorizo or Boerewors.

Generally, aim to pick meats that are not precooked. However, there are some precooked exceptions to this, such as hot dogs or Kielbasa. You may find a touch of smoke can improve the flavor and appeal of these sausages.

Since smoking is so flexible, you can experiment with different types of sausages to see how smoke improves the flavor. You can also experiment with which smoke flavors work best with which meats. This allows you to put a unique spin on classic sausages, so you can wow the guests at your next backyard party.

Equipment You Will Need for Smoking Sausage

Before you consider smoking homemade sausage or experimenting with store bought sausages, you’ll need to think about what equipment you’ll need. While it is possible to turn your grill into a smoker, for the best results, you should try smoking sausage in an electric smoker.

Smoking sausage can take up a great deal of space and most grills only have one cooking rack. However, smokers have multiple racks that allow you to smoke a lot in one session.

For example, the Dyna Glo smoker has easy fuel management and multiple racks. You could also use a vertical smoker where you can hang the sausages to smoke.

You will also need to consider what fuel you will use in your smoker. There are several options:

  • Charcoal: The best charcoal for smoking adds a delicious, authentic smokey flavor. Most users recommend Jealous Devil hardwood lump charcoal as it is 100% natural and has a mild flavor-enhancing aroma.
  • Gas: Gas can provide a convenient way of smoking sausage, temp management and timing. But you can also add wood chips, like WESTERN BBQ smoking chips that can be used with any type of smoker, to layer your flavors.
  • Electric: Vertical electric smokers can be a great option, as they have highly accurate temperature control. Most models also have built in chambers for wood chips, so you can add smoke during the cook period.
  • Pellets: This type of smoker is becoming increasingly popular, offering convenience and delicious flavor. Pellet smokers have separate hoppers, so you can feed the pellets into the burn chamber without a loss of heat. There is a variety of pellet wood options, so you can create your desired smoke flavor.

How to Smoke Sausage

Once you have your smoker arranged, you can start cooking. Bear in mind smoking sausage temp and time is crucial, so it is important to allow your smoker to slowly reach 250ºf. If you have an electric or gas smoker, simply set the thermostat, but if you’re using charcoal, you’ll need to light it and then once the temperature reaches 250ºf, you can put the wood chips on the lit goals and get smoking.

Bear in mind that moist wood chips will smolder for longer compared to dry chips. However, dry chips do offer cleaner smoke.

Once you’re at temperature, you can load up your sausages. You’ll need to leave at least two inches of space between each sausage to allow consistent smoke penetration and air flow. It is a good idea to add a couple of test sausages. This will allow you to check the temperature without allowing the juices to run out of all your links.

Depending on your sausages, once you’re at a steady 250ºf with a decent amount of smoke, you can walk away for a couple of hours. The sausages are ready when the internal temperature hits 165ºf. The time this takes will depend on your sausages. If you’re smoking venison sausage, they are likely to take longer than smoking Italian sausage.

You can flip the sausages midway through the cooking period, but this is not essential. In fact, you may actually let heat out of your cooking chamber. While flipping may add grate marks, it is unlikely to affect the flavor.

Once the sausages have an internal temperature of 165ºf, you can serve them. While you can allow them to rest for a few minutes, don’t let them sit for too long, as the casings may shrivel. If you don’t want to serve your sausages immediately, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to four days or freeze them for up to three months.

If you’ve branched out into cold smoking sausage, they don’t necessarily need refrigeration, but you will need to eat them within three days.

Useful Tips

Smoking summer sausage can be a great way to introduce amazing flavor, but it does take a little getting used to. Fortunately, we have some useful tips to help you.

Don’t Forget to Clean and Oil Your Grates:

There is nothing worse than spending hours creating a delicious, smoked sausage only to find it sticks to your cooking grates. If the sausage casing sticks to the cooking grates, it can tear, causing your sausage to fall apart.

So, be sure to clean and oil your grates before you start smoking and grilling to prevent sticking. Use a wire brush to remove any debris and wipe down the grates with a damp paper towel. Once your grates are clean, use a little high heat oil, such as canola or vegetable oil on paper towels to rub on the surface of your cooking grates. This will create a non stick surface to protect your sausages.

Experiment with Smoking Times:

The smoke time will depend on the type of meat along with its thickness and size. Smoking Polish sausage will typically need three hours for adequate smoking, but chicken or turkey sausages will take far less time. So, it is a good idea to check on your sausages every 45 minutes until you become familiar with the correct smoke times.

Use a Smoke Thermometer:

Smoking Sausage: Best Recipe and Techniques

The ideal smoke temperature is 250ºf, so you need to have an accurate idea of the temperature inside your smoker. A smoker thermometer will allow you to monitor your sausages without needing to cut the links open.

Try Different Woods:

One of the reasons why smoked food is so popular is because it has a unique flavor that you simply cannot get in the oven. The wood fumes delicately infuse the food, so the wood you choose makes a massive difference.

There are a variety of fragrant woods that are superb for smoking, but your choice of wood will depend on the flavor intensity you’re looking for. So, try a few different varieties and try mixing them. You can obtain a pungent flavor with hickory or use apple wood as a delicate base.

Vacuum Seal Your Leftovers:

Smoking Sausage: Best Recipe and Techniques

While you can refrigerate or freeze your smoked sausages, if you want to retain that delicious smoky flavor for longer, consider vacuum sealing. Once the meat has cooled after smoking, you can vacuum seal it and store it in the refrigerator. This will ensure the package is airtight and no moisture can get in to spoil the flavor.

Smoke Cold Sausages:

Smoke is more attracted to cold surfaces, so be sure that your sausages are fully chilled before putting them into your smoker. This will help you to achieve a beautiful, smokey flavor. So, keep your sausages in the refrigerator until your smoker has reached the ideal temperature, that way they can be perfectly chilled as you start smoking.

Finish with a Sear:

If you like grill marks on your sausages, finish them after smoking with a sear. After your sausages reach 165ºf, move them to your grill and allow them to sear for up to 60 seconds per side. While this won’t impact the flavor of your sausages, it can make a difference to the texture and aesthetics of your sausages for that wow factor.

Consider a Charcoal Chimney:

If you’re new to smoking or even barbecuing, one of the biggest challenges is learning the easiest, best way to light the coals. You can make this far easier for yourself with a charcoal chimney. This is a small device that packs all your coals into a little container, restricting air exposure and therefore making them easier to light. Charcoal chimneys are fairly inexpensive, but they are one of the smartest purchases for your smoking equipment list.

Final thoughts

Smoking sausage does take some practice, but it can be a superb way to get some delicious flavor into your favorite links. You can smoke practically any type of sausage and experiment with different wood chips to create a unique flavor.

You can learn how the different types of wood chips affect the smoke flavor and create combinations that will provide a fantastic flavor that becomes your signature smoke taste.

By following these steps and with the right smoker, you can gain confidence in your smoking technique. This will allow you to create delicious smoked sausages that will become a family favorite and wow your friends at your next cook out.

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