Flavorsome, versatile, and inexpensive; sausages are truly an unmatchable category amongst meat products.
Today, you can find at least 100+ varieties of sausages from different regions of the world, each having its distinct flavor and specialty.
If you’re an avid griller, a bar owner, or just want to explore the world of sausages, you’ve come to the right place.
So without further wait, let’s dive into the article!
Table of Contents
- Types of Sausages
- Types of sausages
- How to buy a great-quality sausage?
Types of Sausages
Flavor: Spicy, Garlicy, Smoky
Known best for its smokey flavor and spiciness, the Andouille sausage is a popular delicacy amongst the French and Cajun. Its typically made from coarsely ground pork meat, along with pepper, garlic, onion, and wine to give the sausage a tangy and well-seasoned flavor.
Andouille shares its roots with Andouillette, which is a French sausage made with pig chitterlings and offal. The sausage is known for its pungent smell and strong taste, which is popular amongst the locals that have grown accustomed to its flavor.
Andouille is commonly used in two famous Cajun dishes; gumbo and jambalaya. It also serves as an excellent sideline with eggs for breakfast. You can also add it to Mexican food or pies to spice up your dishes.
Flavor: Garlicy, Herby
Bratwurst has quickly become the staple sausage for many people. It was created several centuries ago in Germany, where the locals used the sausage as a way to utilize the waste organs and meat from pork. The meat was very finely chopped (hence the word brat) and then made into sausages, called ‘wurst’ in Old High German language.
In today’s world, there are over 40 variations of the Bratwurst. The most famous one is made from pork and spices like nutmeg, pepper, and ginger. However, you can also switch this with beef or veal meat as per your preferences.
The sausage is very versatile in preparation and can be cooked by grilling, steaming, and broiling. Bratwurst tastes great on its own and is commonly eaten along with beer. It also makes a great addition to many dishes due to its mild taste.
Flavor: Garlicy, Smoky, Herby
The Kielbasa sausage is a treasured delicacy across Poland and much of Europe. It’s recognized by its unique horseshoe-like shape and loved by people who prefer a hint of garlic in their sausages.
One of the best things about Kielbasa is it can be made with all types of meats, including pork, beef, veal, lamb, chicken, and turkey. But traditionally, the sausage is prepared with pork meat and a seasoning of garlic, marjoram, and pepper.
Kielbasa tastes best when grilled and is a favorite snack wherever there’s a campfire. This is partially because the sausage can be cooked effortlessly in just a couple of minutes. You can sandwich Kielbasa with bread and veggies or relish the sausage on its own.
Flavor: Salty, Smoky, Spicy, Tangy
Two types of Chorizos exist today; the Mexican Chorizo and the Spanish Chorizo. Despite having the same name, they barely share any resemblance except for their spicy taste.
The Spanish were the first to invent Chorizo. They prepared it using pig chitterlings, pork meat, and several spices. Because their sausage was smoked and cured, it was directly served with cold cut and antipasto platters.
On the other hand, Mexican Chorizo was created after the Spanish reached the Americas. The Mexican version is made with raw pork and traditional casing and is amply spiced with ground chilies, paprika, pepper, and vinegar. It has to be cooked before serving and makes an excellent addition to any dish that needs a boost in spice.
Many people prefer grilling or frying Chorizos after removing the casing. It can be served alongside eggs and beans, or put inside tacos or pizza as a pepperoni alternative.
5. Italian Sausage
Flavor: Earthy, Tangy, Spicy
What most people know as the Italian sausage in the US today, is actually quite different from the real one. The original Italian sausage was made with varying types of meat and heavily seasoned with chili pepper. It was also sometimes soaked overnight in spices to make it even hotter.
But in the US, there are two varieties of this sausage. There’s a sweet and a hot type, both of which are made from pork meat and spiced with salt, fennel, anise, and sometimes pepper flakes. The sweet sausage usually includes sweet basil that gives it some tanginess.
Italian sausages are very versatile and can be cooked or served in numerous ways. You can grill, fry, or boil them as per your needs. They taste great in all situations and can also be used in soups, stews, or even pasta.
6. Breakfast Sausage
Origins: United States
Flavor: Salty, Sweet, Peppery
No breakfast platter is complete without a side of sausages. It’s usually associated with the classic English breakfast but has been an essential part of American cuisine for a long time as well.
The breakfast sausage is a simple pork sausage with a touch of pepper and sage seasoning. Americans make theirs a bit sweeter by using maple syrup, while the English like it as savory and usually add cayenne pepper.
Frying is the most common way of cooking breakfast sausages, and they’re usually served with a side of scrambled/sunny-side-up, toast, and sometimes bacon.
Flavor: Sweet, Salty, Spicy
Like the Chorizo, there are also two kinds of Longaniza sausages; one that originates from Spain, and the other which is found in Argentina. And surprisingly, both sausages share quite a few similarities despite the huge geographical distance.
They’re made from minced pork meat and various spices, after which they are cured and dried. The dominant spice in both types is grounded anise seed, which gives the sausage a slightly sweet flavor. Since this sausage is also cured and dried, it needs no cooking and can be eaten with sandwiches or a charcuterieboard.
Flavor: Salty, Umami
If you’ve ever eaten a hot dog, chances are you’ve had this sausage before. Frankfurter Würstchen (or Frank as it’s usually called) is one of the most popular sausage types in the US that’s largely associated with the classic American hot dog.
According to claims, the frank was invented during the 1400s in Germany by a local butcher. The sausage’s origins are based in the city of Frankfurt, which is where frank gets its name. It’s made purely from pork meat but cased inside sheep intestines as per tradition.
The most common method of cooking Frankfurters is by boiling them in water for a few minutes. After that, they’re served inside a hot dog roll with condiments like ketchup and mustard. The sausage also makes a great campfire snack as it’s easy to grill and a children’s favorite.
9. Blood sausage
Origins: Spain, France, United Kingdom
Flavor: Savory, Salty, Sweet
Many would consider blood sausages as bizarre, but this delicacy is treasured in cuisines across the globe. Each country has its version of the blood sausage, with the most popular ones being Morcilla, Black Pudding, Boudin Noir, and Sai Krok Lueat.
All of these sausages almost share the same recipe; meat, grain, fat, and blood. However, the type of meat or blood used can vary from one country to another. Pork and pig blood are commonly used to make Morcilla, with rice as a filler and onions for taste. Black pudding sometimes uses beef blood with oatmeal as the choice of grain. Other countries use blood from animals like sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, ducks, and chickens.
Many people define the texture of blood sausages as being similar to pudding. They have a dark maroon or purplish hue because of their coagulated blood content. The flavor is usually savory with a hint of spiciness or sweetness, depending on the seasonings used. Most of the time, blood sausages are pre-cooked and are served directly or slightly fried and added to stews and soups.
10. Sai Ua
Flavor: Spicy, Salty
The Sai Ua is a sausage local to Thailand that’s gained a lot of popularity in recent times. Its name literally translates to stuff (ua) intestines (sai), and the sausage is now commonly served as an appetizer with rice across the country.
Originally, the Sai Ua was made using coarsely minced pork and red curry paste for flavor. But with time, the locals have also started using kaffir lime leaf, turmeric, garlic, lemongrass, and other herbs and spices to give it a unique taste. Many have also swapped pork with beef, fish, and chicken meat in regions where pork isn’t consumed.
Sai ua is mostly grilled and cut into narrow slices before serving. It’s enjoyed by the locals as an appetizer with a side of vegetables, sticky rice, and sweet chili sauce to balance out the flavor of the meal.
Flavor: Herby, Earthy
Meat: Pork and Veal
Most people falsely judge the pale-ish Weisswurst for lacking any real flavor. Though in reality, it’s one of the tastiest sausages to come out of Germany. The veal and pork hybrid sausage is loved by the people of Bavaria for its mild taste and smooth texture.
As per tales, the Weisswurst was born out of an experiment when a local restauranter used pork casings for his sausages instead of sheep intestines. After boiling, the sausages turned soft, but were surprisingly met with appreciation by the locals. Ever since, the unique texture of the Weisswurst has become a part of the Bavarians cuisine.
Even though the sausages taste great when grilled, the conventional way of serving Weisswurst is straight out of the water after a 10-minute reheat. They’re also eaten in a very distinct manner; the end of the casing is cut off and the sausage’s meat is sucked out, just like eating a banana.
Origins: North Africa
Flavor: Spicy, Earthy
Merguez is a popular name in the sausage world due to its peculiar taste and spiciness. The French were the first to discover the sausage after they invaded North Africa. Today, it’s available in most countries and has a special rank in the Maghrebi cuisine.
What makes Merguez sausage stand out is that it’s made from mutton and fat. The remaining taste comes from harissa paste and spices like paprika, cumin, coriander, or sometimes dried chilies for an even spicier flavor profile.
Flavor: Fresh, Salty, Sweet
Meat: Pork and Fish
Don’t let the Laulau sausage’s appearance throw you off; it is an absolute treat if you love seafood or tropical food. The sausage is considered a delicacy and has been refined by the Hawaiian population over many decades. The three main components of the Laulau are pork, butterfish, and luau leaves that act as casing for the sausage.
Laulau were typically baked in an oven made from hot stones by the locals, but these days, it is cooked inside a steamer. The content of the sausage is served with different types of rice or salads, with the leaves being discarded. It has a very mild yet refreshing taste with a hint of sweetness.
Flavor: Sweet, Creamy
The name of Liverwurst sausage is pretty self-explanatory. However, the same cannot be said for its taste. It originates from Germany and has at least several dozen varieties and recipe created by each region.
To make the sausage, pig or calf livers are the go-to meat source. These are combined with pepper, mustard seeds, and thyme for seasoning. Some of the varieties also use a portion of bacon or onion to elevate the taste further. Spices and herbs like nutmeg, marjoram, and certain mushrooms have also made their way into the sausage in some areas.
Because of its smooth and sweetish flavor, Liverwurst is often eaten with bread and crackers. It also comes pre-sliced and is served alongside mustard and pickles in many parts of the world.
Flavor: Smoky, Garlicy, Spicy
Portugal’s iconic Linguica sausage has become a hit in many countries across the world, particularly in the South American continent. The sausage shares a lot of resemblance with the Chorizo but is more popular for having a milder taste and strong tinge of garlic.
It’s traditionally made from a pig’s shoulder meat, which is coarsely ground and mixed with paprika, garlic, and pepper. Linguica is usually frozen so it can be cooked before serving, but some people prefer to smoke it to bring out more flavor.
The sausage is consumed as a complete meal with a side of beans, rice, or ham in both Portugal and Brazil. In the US, it’s also used as a spicy topping on pizza instead of pepperoni. When smoked, Linguica can also be served in slices or grilled to be made into a sandwich.
Flavor: Herby, Zesty, Earthy
Belonging to Greece, the Loukaniko is one of the most famous culinary delicacies on the island. Over there, most sausages are called Loukaniko, which is a term derived from Ancient Rome. This sausage does differ in taste from region to region, but its zesty Mediterranean flavor is consistent and never goes unnoticed.
Part of this is due to orange or citrus peels being one of the main seasonings in the sausage. Fennel, garlic, and coriander have also become an essential component of the Loukaniko. To refine the fresh and earthy flavor even further, the sausage is sometimes smoked with aromatic woods before serving.
In most countries, Loukaniko is served as a light appetizer with mezze. It can also be grilled or fried, and the sausage makes a great addition to stews and other sausage-related dishes.
Flavor: Meaty, Sweet
Just before the clock hits zero on New Year’s Eve, thousands of Italians feast on cotechino and lentils. Such is the importance of this sausage that it’s protected by the PGI, so the recipe and preparation methods remain preserved with time.
What’s unique about Cotechino is that it’s primarily made from pork skin, along with smaller portions of fat and meat. The sausage is known for its creamy texture that melts when you put it into your mouth.
A lot of that buttery softness comes from the cooking process, which involves soaking the sausage overnight. After that, it’s boiled on low heat for several hours before it can be consumed. Because of its high-fat content, Cotechino can keep you warm and makes an excellent food during the winter season.
18. White Pudding
Flavor: Creamy, Peppery
White Pudding sounds like the exact opposite of Black Pudding. However, the sausage contains the exact same ingredients with the absence of blood. It’s largely made out of pork meat and suet/fat, along with oatmeal to add bulk and onions for seasoning. The taste of the sausage is rather creamy due to the high fat and grain content with hints of pepper.
Flavor: Crispy, Spicy,
The Sujuk or Sucuk is an aged Turkish sausage made from red meat and spicy herbs. It is typically consumed in breakfast with a side of eggs in Middle Eastern cuisines or pan-fried and served in slices to eat alone. Most Sujuk sausages are made from either beef or lamb, but some regions also produce them with horse meat and fat.
Flavor: Crispy, Meaty
Meat: Beef, Pork, and Chicken
Unlike most sausages, the Frikandel is one exception that is made without any casing. When fried, it becomes crispy on the outside and is then served with a side of condiments like ketchup or mayonnaise. The sausage belongs to the Netherlands and Belgium, and was originally made from horse meat. However, in modern times, it is made from a mixture of beef, pork, and chicken mince with mild spices like nutmeg and pepper.
Flavor: Highly Spiced, Soft
Meat: Pork Brains/Beef
Typically served with a side of chips, the Saveloy has been a popular sausage in England for centuries. It has a distinct bright red color, which comes from the pork brain used as filling in the sausage. Though in recent times, this has been replaced with pork meat and fat, along with spices like sage and white pepper. You can easily find Saveloys in fish and chips stores across the country, though the sausage is more commonly eaten as a sandwich.
Flavor: Slightly Spicy, Soft, Balanced
Currywurst is just as popular of a snack in Germany as hot dogs are in the USA. For decades, the locals have eaten these sausages as a roadside snack, most commonly with a side of chips. You can find them whole, sliced, chunks, and in a ton of other forms and shapes. It is estimated that 800 million currywurst are consumed in Germany alone.
Types of sausages
Knowing your sausages is crucial to making the best use out of them. Most of the sausages that exist today can be categorized into four different types. Here’s a detailed description of each one:
1. Fresh sausages
Probably the most popular type of all — fresh sausages can be found in almost every refrigerator because of their versatile nature and great taste. A notable example of fresh sausages is the breakfast sausage, as well as Italian sausages, Bratwursts, and sometimes Kielbasas.
Such sausages are filled, packaged, and frozen directly without any smoking or further processing. They’re completely raw and thus have to be thoroughly cooked before serving. The smaller ones usually take about 10-20 minutes to cook, while the larger ones take 30-40 minutes each.
Fresh sausages are highly versatile in terms of cooking and can be prepared by pan-frying, boiling, grilling, or baking. You do have to take precautions while storing these sausages, though, as they only last 1-2 days in the refrigerator before going bad. To store them for long durations, the freezer section is more suitable.
2. Smoked sausages
Smoking is a widespread practice in the world of sausages that makes the meat more flavorful, juicy, and well-preserved. During the process, sausage links are hanged inside a smokehouse and treated with cold or hot smoke from aromatic woods.
This practice is especially common in Europe, where you can find a range of smoked sausages, such as Andouille, Kielbasa, Loukaniko, Chorizo, and most German sausages. These smoked varieties are typically served on cold-cut platters like charcuterie boards and mezze platters.
For cold smoking, the smokehouse is kept at a temperature of around 68-86°F. This is enough for the sausages to absorb the aroma and flavor without being cooked from the inside. Afterward, these sausages have to be grilled or seared as they are still raw from the procedure.
However, hot smoking is more favored as it also cooks the sausages while they’re being smoked. Once these sausages are out of the smokehouse, they can be sold directly as deli meat and eaten with sandwiches or appetizers.
3. Cured sausages
Curing has been a treasured technique in the culinary world for centuries. It was originally invented as a method to preserve meat, but the reduced moisture also resulted in a stronger umami flavor. Since then, chefs and cooks have brought the practice of curing to sausages to enhance their flavor and shelf-life.
There are two methods of curing sausages; one which involves smoking and one which doesn’t. Both of them begin by mixing a type of salt called ‘cure’ with the sausage’s filling. Once cased, the sausages are placed in an environment with controlled humidity and temperatures.
Over the next 2 to 8 weeks, the sausages lose nearly 30-40% of their water weight, after which they’re ready to be cooked. Some people prefer to smoke cured sausages to enhance their flavor even further. If you choose that route, you can serve and consume the sausages directly without cooking them.
4. Pre-cooked sausages
As the name suggests, pre-cooked sausages are half-done and only need to be partially cooked before they’re ready to eat. Franks are a very popular example as they only need to be boiled for a couple of minutes before they can be made into a delicious hot dog.
Many German sausages, including Bratwursts, Liverwursts, Weisswursts, as well as Bolognas and Mortadella, come pre-cooked and only take about 10 minutes to prepare. Like other types, you can also grill or fry these sausages on a skillet, depending on the dish or flavor you want to achieve with them.
How to buy a great-quality sausage?
Selecting the right sausages can make the difference between good and great food. Unfortunately, this process isn’t as simple as it sounds. Whether you’re a newbie or can’t decide which type to buy, follow these simple steps and make your way towards the best sausages in the market:
1. Examine the appearance and smell
If you know what to look for, you can easily identify a good sausage from a bad one just by its smell and appearance. Certain things like the color, casing texture, and size will be a giveaway of how fresh and flavorful the sausage will turn out to be. Here’s how to look for them:
- Color: Fresh pork or beef sausages are always dark reddish-pink in color. Similarly, sausages made from veal or poultry have a light pink or slightly pale shade. If there’s blood in the sausage, it will have a dark maroon color with a purplish hue. However, if the color seems grayish or dull, chances are the sausage is old and has gone bad.
- Casing texture: Fresh or pre-cooked sausages typically have a tight casing that makes them look full and plump. On the other hand, smoked sausages have a dry but firm surface with a little bit of mold, which is completely harmless and edible. But if your sausage is decaying, the casing will be slimy, dull, and smell funky.
- Size: Sausages made from natural casing tend to have irregular lengths and finishing, compared to artificial ones that are uniform and perfect in all dimensions. On the contrary, natural casing does improve a sausage’s flavor and richness as it allows smoke to seep into it and preserves the juices.
Besides all that, giving your sausage a quick sniff can also help you instantly recognize whether it’s fresh or not. A healthy and fresh sausage will usually smell of herbs and spices, but a rotten one will have a funky and stale aroma.
2. Look for the meat quality and content
After you’re able to identify fresh sausages, it’s time to focus on the texture and flavor you desire. And a lot of this depends on the meat used to make the sausage.
Firstly, you have to consider which meat cut is used for the filling. Sausages were initially created as a way to reuse scrap meat, so it’s common to find multiple cuts mixed together. That being said, you can still buy or make them from a single cut of meat. And the best one for sausages is typically the shoulder (also called the butt). It is quite tender, has decent marbling, and cooks easily over the grill or pan.
But that’s not all. You also have to pick a sausage with the right proportion of meat in the filling. This is usually mentioned on the packaging in terms of percentages or can be communicated by the butcher. The perfect meat content for a sausage is around 75%. At this point, it will maintain its juicy taste and buttery texture without being too chewy.
3. Consider your personal taste
Before buying a whole bunch of sausages, you should first list down what kind of flavor or dishes you expect out of them. You can pick between hundreds of options, with each having a distinct flavor profile.
Generally, sausages are categorized as umami with a salty and somewhat spicy taste. Each country has its own variation of the sausage, with most of having a strong hint of one or two spices or herbs.
Such sausages perfectly complement the local dishes of that country, but can also be utilized in other types of food. A great example is Chorizo, a sausage of Spanish origin that makes an excellent topping for pizza, which is a dish that belongs to Italian cuisine.
4. Choose a trusted butcher of premium brand
To get great sausages, a rule of thumb is to always buy from a reputable brand or a butcher that you trust. Premio is an excellent example that sells the finest-quality sausages and has a ton of variety. You can easily find them in most supermarkets in the USA and Europe at reasonable prices.
Buying from a butcher is a bit technical, though. You do get more control over the meat selection and get fresher sausages than the pre-packaged ones you find at your local mart. However, these sausages also tend to spoil faster and are only good for 2-4 days as they contain zero preservatives. Also, be aware of butchers selling their sausages at highly discounted prices as they could be made from stale meat.
Which sausages are healthiest?
Fresh chicken and turkey sausages are the healthiest of the bunch as they’re free from nitrates/nitrites that can lead to cancer. They’re also much leaner and have less cholesterol and fat than both beef and pork, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Are sausages bad for your health?
No, sausages aren’t necessarily harmful to your health. Fresh sausages are full of protein and can act as a source of iron and vitamin B-12 in your diet. However, eating too many processed sausages can lead to heart diseases and diabetes in the long term, especially if you’re frying them.
What would happen if you eat stale sausages?
If you consume stale sausages that are slightly overdue, you will get mild stomach upset as best. However, eating spoiled sausages that have been out for days can lead to food poisoning and cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps, and more.
How long can you store sausages?
In a refrigerator at 40°F, fresh uncooked sausages can be kept for 2-4 days, cooked sausages can be kept for 3-5 days, and hard/summer sausages can be kept for up to 3 weeks before spoiling. On the other hand, a freezer at 0°F can store hard/summer/fresh uncooked sausages for 1-2 months and cooked sausages for 2-3 months before they go bad.
Are sausages wrapped in intestines?
Not always. Some regions with a history of sausage-making still use natural casings because of their ability to retain flavor and absorb smoke, leading to an overall richer taste. However, artificial casings have also become common as they’re not as prone to breaking and are easy to fill at a large production scale.