Of all the different meats available, sausage is by far one of the most popular. Regardless of what your taste buds are craving, there’s a type of sausage out there with your name on it. Sausage is hearty and flavorful, and can be spicy, sweet, or just plain meaty.
While eating sausage is very easy, the cooking process can be a little challenging, and it’s made even more challenging because there are different cooking rules for each type of sausage.
How To Tell if Sausage Is Cooked
Learning how to tell if sausage is cooked properly involves knowing the correct internal temperature of the meat. If you insert the tip of a meat thermometer half an inch into the end of the sausage and then wait two to three seconds, you can get an accurate reading of the meat temperature. For beef, pork and lamb, the temperature should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71 degrees Celsius. For poultry, wild fowl and game, the temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius.
Signs of a Properly Cooked Sausage
There are numerous ways to tell if a sausage is properly cooked. The meat should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s pork, beef or lamb. The meat should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s poultry or game.
How Can You Tell if a Sausage Is Cooked Without a Thermometer?
- Color: the meat will be a taupe color if the sausage is cooked.
- Other indicators: the meat will have clear juices and a firm texture.
Food or meat thermometers are not always available, so it’s good to know what to look for whenever you cook sausage of any type. If the sausage is very red or pink or has blood running through it, then it needs to cook a little longer. It should also not be too soft because this means that it isn’t cooked all the way.
Checking Your Sausage on the Grill
If you decide to grill your sausages instead of cooking them over the stove, here are a few tips to remember to get them cooked just right:
- On a charcoal grill, ignite the charcoal, then let it burn for 20 to 30 minutes until it looks like ashes. Then lift the grates and rake the charcoal to the left. Replace the grates and cook the sausages on the right (coal-free) side of the grill. Do this with the lid lifted above the grill.
- On a gas grill, set the burners to high and light the grill. Then close the lid and let it preheat for 15-20 minutes. Next, turn half of the burners off and keep the other half on high. Put oil on the grates to grease them up a bit, and cook the sausages for five to six minutes on each side, making sure that you’re cooking them on indirect heat.
For both of these methods, you have to let them cook until they look the right color or until they test at 160 or 165 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the type of sausage you’re cooking.
Checking Your Sausage in the Oven
When checking your sausages in the oven, the same principles apply regarding the internal temperature of the meat. Try to use a medium heat instead of heat that is too high or too low, as this will ensure the meat is cooked more evenly. High heat can cause sausages to char or burn on the outside but remain pink on the inside, and this is not what you want. Low heat simply means that the meat will take forever to cook (though this can keep sausages from shrinking too much). Cooking sausage on medium is the perfect solution.
Should You Pierce Sausages While Cooking?
Some people recommend piercing sausages while cooking because they believe that the meat will cook faster, but most experts recommend against this practice. Why? Because piercing the sausage will cause the juices to run out of the meat, which can cause it to get very dry.
Dry sausages taste terrible and aren’t healthy for you to eat. Also, many people think piercing the sausage prevents the casing from being destroyed, but if you cook your sausage at a medium temperature that is neither too high nor too low, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Do Sausages Keep Cooking While Resting?
Yes, sausages normally keep cooking for just a few minutes while they’re resting, which means the meat will reabsorb its moisture and become even more tender and juicy. In fact, many experts believe that everyone should allow their meats to rest for several minutes after taking them out of the frying pan, oven, or grill. It provides more moisture for the meat and ensures that the meat will be done to perfection once you start to eat it.
Eating Undercooked Sausage
Eating undercooked sausage definitely involves some health risks, not the least of which is foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and even food poisoning. In the United States alone, 50 million people suffer from foodborne illnesses every year, and 3,000 of them die.
Knowing this should be enough to make you much more careful when checking the level of doneness of all of your meats, but especially the doneness of sausages. Poultry and pork sausages can be the most dangerous types when undercooked, but no type of sausage or meat should ever be undercooked. They all need to be cooked to the proper temperature in order to be healthy for you.
Eating Overcooked Sausage
Is it possible to overcook sausage? Yes, this is entirely possible. And while overcooked sausage isn’t as dangerous as undercooked sausage, it will still cause the meat to be dry and tasteless. If dry sausage isn’t bad enough, it can also have a charcoal-like taste if it’s burnt on the outside or on the inside. It is unlikely that you’ll get sick from eating overcooked sausage, but it might cause some discomfort and pain, including stomach and nausea problems.
Overall, it isn’t difficult to tell if your sausage is properly and safely cooked. While a thermometer makes the task very simple, you can still determine if the sausage is done by the look and texture of the meat.
If you plan to make your own delicious sausages at home, make sure you know how long to soak sausage casings and whether or not you are supposed to remove sausage casing before cooking or eating your sausage.