All About Sausages

Sliced salami on cutting board
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Everyone who isn't a vegetarian loves sausages! They can be made of any type of meat, and are delicious, whether pork, beef, chicken, seafood, or a combination. 

Categories of Sausages

There are four main categories of sausages: fresh; cooked and smoked; cooked; and semi-dry and dry. The sausages listed here are basically ground meat, seasoned and flavored, with added fat, stuffed into casings.

Bulk sausage is flavored ground meat, usually pork, that is cooked like ground beef, or formed into patties. No matter which sausage you use, be sure to read the label for handling and cooking instructions. A sausage that is smoked or dried, for instance, isn't necessarily fully cooked and ready to eat without further cooking.

Nitrate and Nitrite-Free Sausages

Many people are concerned about nitrates and nitrites, preservatives used in the making of smoked meat and sausages. These curing agents stop bacterial contamination, particularly Clostridium botulinum, and give the product a pink color and distinctive flavor. If you shop carefully, you can find products labeled nitrate and nitrite-free, although celery juice, which is usually used as a nitrate substitute, still forms nitrites, because celery juice contains sodium nitrate.

Ingredients in Sausages

In the chart below, the ingredients listed for each sausage are generic. Specific brands of sausages may have slightly different ingredients; however, these ingredients are considered typical. Remember, if you are serving anyone in a high-risk group (elderly, very young, pregnant women, those with illness and immune problems), do not serve them deli meats and cured meats without heating them to 160 F. Even hot dogs are not safe to eat for those in this group until they are thoroughly cooked.

Oh, and Polish Sausage and Kielbasa are basically the same and are interchangeable; kielbasa is a polish word that means 'sausage'. One of the differences is that Kielbasa is sold in rings rather than separate links. Just use the brand you like!

Polish Sausage Fresh Pork, beef, garlic, thyme or marjoram, pork fat, pepper Steam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160 F.
Kielbasa Fresh, Smoked Beef, pork, garlic, pork or beef fat, mustard Steam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160 F.
Bratwurst Fresh, sometimes smoked and cooked Pork or beef, veal, dry milk, onion, garlic, coriander, caraway, nutmeg Steam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160 F.
Salami Dry, Cured Highly seasoned: garlic, salt, pepper, sugar

Ready to eat

Sweet or Hot Italian Fresh

Sweet: garlic, sugar, anise, and fennel

Hot: paprika, chili peppers, onion, garlic, fennel, parsley

Steam, Fry, Grill, or Bake to 160 F.
Cervelat or Summer Sausage Cured, Smoked, Semi-Dry Pork, beef, garlic, mustard, mild spices Ready to eat
Andouille Smoked Pork, salt, very spicy, sugar, paprika, red pepper, garlic, sage Ready to eat
Andouille Fresh Pork, salt, very spicy, sugar, paprika, red pepper, garlic, sage Gently sauté to 160 F.
Boudin Blanc Fresh, delicate Pork, fat, eggs, cream, bread crumbs, seasonings Gently sauté to 160 F.
Boudin Noir Precooked Pig's blood, suet, breadcrumbs Ready to eat; better sautéed; check the label for cooking instructions
Knackwurst Precooked, smoked Beef, pork, lots of garlic, cumin Ready to eat
Linguica Cured, smoked Pork butt, lots of garlic, cumin, cinnamon, vinegar Usually ready to eat; check the label
Pepperoni Air-dried Pork, beef, lots of black and red pepper Usually ready to eat; check the label
Chorizo Dry, smoked Pork, cilantro, paprika, garlic, chili powder, very spicy Usually ready to eat; some must be cooked to 160 F before eating.
Mortadella Semi-dry, smoked Cubes of pork fat, pork, beef, peppercorns, garlic, anise Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 160 F.
Hot Dogs Cooked, Smoked, Cured Cured beef, and pork, garlic, salt, sugar, mustard, pepper May be ready to eat, but for high-risk, groups, heat to 160 F before serving
Bockwurst Fresh Veal, pork, milk, chives, eggs Steam, Sauté, Bake to 160 F.
Bologna Cooked, smoked Cured beef​, and pork, garlic, salt Ready to eat
Sausage Types and Cooking Methods