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The Best Ways to Cook Sausages

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 26, 2021

In many cultures, sausages are an important part of the daily diet. People all over the world have enjoyed eating sausages as a standalone snack or part of a meal for centuries.  Sausages are made from red meat, poultry, or a combination.

Most sausages also contain some fat, carbohydrates, salt, spices, and fillers like breadcrumbs. These ingredients are packed into a casing made from the intestines, collagen, or cellulose to give the sausages their signature shape.

Buying, Storing, and Prepping Sausage

When you are out grocery shopping, always add sausages to your shopping cart just before you go to the checkout so that they spend as little time outside a refrigerator as possible. Also, make sure the packaging is not damaged in any way and pack them separately from other goods to avoid contamination.

Once you are home, make sure that the sausages are stored in the coldest parts of your refrigerator. 

Before you begin prepping your sausages, wash your hands and completely dry them. If they are frozen, defrost the sausages completely in the refrigerator or by using the defrost settings of your microwave oven before you cook them.

While prepping them, don't defrost the sausages on your kitchen counter directly. Also, to prep the sausages, use cutlery and utensils — like cutting boards — specifically reserved for meat and meat products. 

How to Cook Sausages

Some sausages like pepperoni are pre-cooked, so they needn't be cooked before you eat them. Pre-cooked sausages may be dried, smoked, or cured. 

On the other hand, raw sausages need to be cooked carefully. Some cooking methods are safe, while others can lead to the creation of toxic chemicals. For example, overly grilled sausages can contain harmful compounds. Also, if your sausages are undercooked, they can cause food poisoning.

To prevent food poisoning, sausages should be cooked to an inner temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius) if they contain only red meats — like beef, pork, lamb, or veal — and at least165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) if they contain only any poultry — like turkey or chicken.

Here are some of the most popular ways to cook sausages.

Boiling. Boiling is an easy way to cook sausages. Place the sausages in boiling water and allow the water to simmer for about 10 minutes if the sausages are pre-cooked and for around 30 minutes if they are raw.

Baking. Baking is a great way to make your sausages nicely crispy and brown. First, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 356 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, bake the sausages in a pan for at least 16 to 20 minutes if they are small and for at least 30 to 40 minutes if they are large. At the halfway mark, flip them over so that they cook evenly. To prevent the sausages from being too dry and keep them juicy, you can boil them before baking. 

Grilling and broiling. Grilling and broiling are high-temperature cooking methods that use direct heat. In grilling, the heat source is below the food, while it is above the food in broiling.

You can grill sausages by placing them on a heated grill and cooking them for about 10 minutes. Make sure to flip them regularly to make sure they cook evenly. To broil sausages, place them in the oven broiler pan and set the oven function to broil. Cook each side for five minutes. 

Unfortunately, the high temperatures used for grilling and broiling can lead to the formation of harmful compounds in sausages. These harmful compounds — including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,heterocyclic amines, and advanced glycation end products — are linked to a higher risk of several diseases including cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and skin disorders. 

Stir-frying and pan-frying. Stir-frying and pan-frying involve cooking sausages in a pan, skillet or, wok over high temperatures. In stir-frying, you have to stir the sausages as they cook, whereas with pan-frying, that isn't necessary. To pan-fry or stir-fry sausages, preheat oil in a pan, skillet, or wok, and then, cook the sausages until their color changes to a shade of golden brown all over. Well done sausages are firm, but if they are pink or runny in the middle, fry them for a longer time. 

Pan-frying or stir-frying must be as brisk as possible because frying sausages for a long time can also lead to the formation of harmful compounds mentioned above.

About the oil to use for frying, you should use oils that are stable at high temperatures and contain micronutrients; examples of such oils include butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.

Deep frying. Deep-fried sausages have more calories than sausages cooked in other ways. Before you deep-fry a sausage, make sure to dip it in an egg batter and coat it with breadcrumbs. 

Deep frying also increases the risk of the aforementioned harmful compounds forming because of the high temperatures involved.

In summary, it is important to cook raw — or even pre-cooked — sausages completely before you eat them. This can be done in many ways. The healthiest way to cook them is by boiling or baking. Also, make sure you don't eat overly charred or burnt sausages, which can have high amounts of harmful compounds. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Home and Garden Information Centre: "Safe Handling of Sausages & Hot Dogs."

National Cancer Institute: "Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk."

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Hot Dogs & Food Safety." “Sausages and Food Safety.”

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