14 Sausage Cooking Tips Everyone Should Know

Here at Mashed, we love juicy, plump, snappy sausages just as much as the next person. But, if we're being honest, there's definitely a right and wrong way to go about cooking up a meaty sausage masterpiece, and not all cooking methods may be as intuitive as you think. Old-fashioned ways your relatives may have taught you about cooking or grilling up a good sausage can miss the mark, while the addition of certain flavors and ingredients may just spice things up in a way you've never thought of.

True sausage fans are always looking for bigger and better ways to amp up sausage dishes — if that's you, you've come to the right place. Keep yourself right here; we're about to dig into all the mouthwatering specifics on how to get your sausage to taste better, retain its savory juices, and improve its overall look and texture. Let's get into the meaty details!

1. Don't poke holes in your sausage

This might be a controversial tip, but honestly, you should try to avoid pricking your sausages before cooking them. We know, we know. Poking holes in sausages is an age-old technique used to ensure that the inside of the sausage is cooked and no surprise "squirts" of sausage juice gets doused in your face. This method also keeps sausages from exploding while cooking in most cases. But seriously — poking holes in your sausage can do more harm than good when it comes to keeping it nice and juicy, and we all know that juicy sausages are the best kind to eat!

So, what should you do instead? Just leave them be! If you need to ensure that your sausages are cooked all the way through, use a meat thermometer to do it toward the end. Yes, even this will pierce the skin of the meat slightly, but it isn't the same as poking holes all over the meat and losing all that fat during the entirety of the cooking process. If it's moist, juicy bangers you crave, this is definitely a suggestion to keep lodged in your back pocket.

2. Use a bit of oil for the perfect sear

Yes, sausages are very fatty, oily, and juicy. Isn't that why we adore them? At the same time, it isn't necessarily true that oil isn't needed to cook them properly. Rather, a touch of oil can help you render the most perfectly seared piece of sausage meat.

Now, don't hear what we aren't saying. Sausages absolutely don't need to be doused in a bucket of oil before being fried up over the stove. Still, just the slightest touch of oil in your pan — about one teaspoon to one tablespoon — is enough to get your sausages "started" so that they can brown nicely on the outside and maintain flavorful juiciness on the inside.

Adding just a hint of oil in the pan will help your meat develop that perfect sear you want to achieve without your sausages looking oddly (and unappetizingly) gray. Jumpstarting the cooking of sausages this way can also speed up the cooking time since oil tends to heat quickly. Still, be careful about what temperature you choose when using oil to heat your sausages, and be sure to check for doneness.

3. Allow sausages to rest before digging in

‌‌Remember earlier when we mentioned that some people choose to prick holes in their sausages to avoid a face full of steaming hot sausage juice? Well, here's another solution to that common problem: Allow your sausages to rest.

Allowing your sausages to "rest" doesn't mean you're letting them sit out all day until they get rock hard and no one wants to eat them. Letting them rest could take as little as 10 minutes but can do wonders for your sausage meat.

The reason? Letting sausages sit before slicing allows the fats in the sausage to redistribute so that the sausage is evenly juicy without pockets of liquid just waiting to splatter. Giving it a few minutes before finally slicing — or biting — into your favorite sausage (especially sausages that have a casing) will render a flavorsome and juicy dining experience that you likely won't be able to get enough of. You're welcome!

4. Add your own spices to raw roll sausage

Looking for a way to put a little extra spin on your sausage? While you may not be able to flavor every sausage type (like pre-cooked smoked sausage, for example), you'll be pleased to know that sausages that aren't sold in casings can be relatively easy to season, as long as you know what flavor you're looking for.

Now, let's be honest here. Not all sausages need sprucing up. Many sausages are seasoned to perfection and need no help at all. Others, on the other hand, may need a bit of extra love and care. In that case, you can feel free to add additional seasoning to help your sausages shine.

Adding additional seasonings to your sausage is easiest with breakfast sausages or sausages that come raw and without casings. As for recommendations, we'd advise you to use familiar flavors like sage, garlic, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and even a bit of smoked paprika to get started. From there, you can branch out and see what other flavors might suit your palate. When adding these seasonings to the sausage, you can simply sprinkle it over your raw sausages as they cook or mix the spices in with your hands. Do whatever works for you!

5. Cook sausages in beer to impart more flavor

‌If you love the flavor of beer, you'll love this next sausage cooking tip. Cooking your sausages in beer isn't a completely newfound idea, but boy does it make sausages taste so much better! Though you could, technically, cook any sausage in beer, it really is best to attempt this method with brats. Doing so will impart beautiful flavors of malt, hops, and savory sweetness to the meat that will truly give your taste buds something to sing about.

To cook your brats in beer, we find that the easiest thing to do is boil them in the stuff beforehand. This gives your brats a chance to fully absorb the flavor. Once you've boiled them until they've fully cooked through, go ahead and throw them on the grill for a few minutes just to give them some color. This will keep your sausages from looking too dull and gray while also giving them that outstanding grilled flavor and snappy texture you crave.

6. Don't forget the peppers and onions

‌If you've never tried frying your favorite sausages with onions and peppers, you don't know what you're missing. Onions and peppers already have unique flavors on their own and adding these to a bit of oil along with your sausages acts as a seasoning of sorts that really pairs well with many sausage types.

So, which sausages go well with peppers and onions? While you could try this method with roll sausage or other sausage types with no casing, it's usually best to go the onions and peppers route when cooking up brats or smoked sausages. To get started, slice your onions and peppers into thin strips. We love the taste of green peppers, red pepper, and sweet onions combined. Once sliced, add a little oil to your pan and fry up veggies until they reach your desired level of softness. For more flavor, throw in a dash of salt, sugar, and black pepper.

Remove the veggies from the pan, then fry up your sausages. You can even reverse this cooking process and fry the sausages up first. Either way, once finished, add your onions and peppers back into the pan to warm everything back up (if needed). Add to buns or enjoy on their own. Delish!

7. Add soda to your kielbasa for an unexpected sweet twist

Did you know you can actually cook sausages in soda products? It's true. The sweet and syrupy nature of soda lends itself perfectly to the spicy flavors of sausages. Though it sounds weird, we've found at least a few who have tried this hack, and apparently, it renders delicious results.

When it comes to picking which type of soda will work for your sausages, the sky's really the limit. Just make sure that what you pick is sweet, as this is what imparts flavor to the meat. We wouldn't necessarily recommend anything like grape or orange soda (unless you're into grape-flavored sausages) but Sprite, 7 Up, or Coca-Cola usually do the trick.

To pull off this tip, grab some smoked sausage and a bottle of your favorite soda drink. Chop your smoked sausage into 1-inch-thick rounds and toss them in your skillet. Place on your stove over high heat. Add your smoked sausage to the skillet, along with your bottle of soda. Once the contents of your skillet start to get hot, bump your heat down to medium-high and allow your sausages to cook and marinate in the soda. After about 30 minutes (or less), you'll notice your sausages begin to caramelize in the soda. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and serve hot!

8. Cook your sausages gently

Have you ever seared your sausages until they achieved a wonderfully crispy and sizzling crunch (with maybe even a little too much crunch)? While some people might love a good burnt — ahem, we mean seared — flavor on their sausages, it can be quite disparaging to slice into the sausage only to find that the inside isn't fully cooked. So, how can you achieve an incredibly crispy texture while also making sure the inside gets done? The trick is to nix high heat when cooking up your sausages.

That's right. Though it seems to make sense that making sausages with that perfectly charred flavor would require high heat, the truth is that a moderate heat will keep sausages juicy yet snappy and perfectly cooked on the outside. This means that cooking in the oven at 400, on the stove at medium to medium-high heat, and grilling the sausage at 350 degrees Fahrenheit are going to be your best bets for optimal sausage flavor, texture, and juiciness.

9. Use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature

Are you accustomed to slicing your meat to check for doneness? We'll admit that if you don't have a food thermometer on hand, this is likely the next best option. Unfortunately, slicing through your sausages — or any meat, for that matter — can have a dire effect on the juiciness of your meat and may lead to a dryer, less tasty final result.

Instead of slicing through your sausages to check if they're cooked, we strongly recommend investing in a food thermometer. Using one of these bad boys enables you to get a reading on the internal temperature of your sausage, which will let you know whether your sausage is safe for eating.

The recommended internal temperature for pork sausage is 160 degrees Fahrenheit (per the U.S. Department of Agriculture). To use your meat thermometer to check for this temperature, simply insert the probe into the middle of the sausage and wait for your reading. This prevents you from having to slice through your sausages and thus unnecessarily losing all that juice and flavor. Not to mention, meat probes are more accurate in determining the doneness of meat than the naked eye, and they're inexpensive.

10. Simmer your brats in broth after searing

‌In a previous tip, we taught you how to boil your brats in beer while cooking them. And, while that is a tasty way to impart yummy flavor to your sausage, you can also reverse this boiling method — and even do so in a way that doesn't involve the booze!

Instead of grabbing a bottle of beer to cook up your sausage, this time, try grabbing a carton of beef or chicken broth. The broth will seep inside your meat, rendering more flavor than frying alone. Although you may not get that citrusy, malted sweetness from it that you might from beer, it's still a great way to get juicy and tender sausages without having to use alcohol to do it.

To use chicken or beef broth for cooking up brat sausages, try searing your meat over medium-high heat in a bit of oil for a few minutes or until they've developed some color on both sides. Remember, this isn't a time to cook your meat all the way through; we're simply getting the brats browned in this step. Next, you'll pour broth over your already seared brats, cover them, and let them cook for about 10-12 minutes or until they've reached at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

11. Braise your sausages in wine

Cook your sausages in wine? Yep, you totally can. But, we aren't talking any ol' sausages here. The best type of sausage for this interesting technique is actually the Italian sort.

So, what makes wine-braised Italian sausages so delicious? We think it's the pairing of the wine with the natural Italian flavors of the sausage that really make it meld together well. The results are deeply flavored Italian links that pair perfectly with sliced onions and a bit of greenery.

Got your attention now? Good! To make this dish, all you need are Italian sausage links along with a bit of oil, the wine of your choice (red, white, blush, you name it), chicken (or beef) broth, herbs, and optional onions for grilling. Start by heating your oil in a large, shallow skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place your links in to get them nicely seared. Add the onions and continue to cook until they wilt and become fragrant. To this, add your wine of choice, along with a bit of broth and the herbs you desire (we love thyme and rosemary). Cook until the wine reduces to about one-third of its original volume and serve with leafy greens. Yum!

12. Grill or smoke them for optimal flavor

‌Did you know that grilling your sausages is one of the best ways to get that full-on juicy and meaty sausage flavor? Though it's totally true, there's a method to the madness when choosing to grill your favorite sausages. For starters, you always want to make sure that you grill them over indirect heat. This makes it so that you lock in flavor and succulence without the fire lapping up all those delectable juices and leaving behind flavorless meat.

Another great tip for grilling sausages over the barbie is to switch out the types of wood you use. According to avid grillers, hickory, pecan, and applewood are excellent choices for grilling nearly any kind of pork, brats and smoked sausage included. Oh, and, as previously mentioned, you should never poke holes in the sausages while grilling. You'll lose all the juiciness associated with the meat and they'll end up dry and tasteless. No, thanks.

13. Make your sausage in an air fryer

In case you don't know by now, the air fryer is a wondrous machine that can make virtually anything taste just as good as it did when cooked on the stove — and sometimes, even better. Brats, sausage links, smoked sausage, and sausage patties are no different, given that all of these types of sausages and more can be cooked to plump, juicy deliciousness in just a matter of minutes.

To make your brats in an air fryer, you'll first want to consult guidelines concerning how long to cook your sausages in accordance with the type you have. Pre-cooked sausages will barely take any time at all, while raw and thick sausages like brats may take up to 14-15 minutes. In addition, different air fryer sausage recipes may recommend different heat settings for each, so be sure to do this research ahead of time so you will know exactly what temperature for what time frame to use in advance.

Ultimately, making sausages in an air fryer is an easy and convenient way to get tasty sausages without smoking up your kitchen or kicking up the grill. Give it a try, and you may just be surprised at how yummy air fryer sausages can actually be.

14. Move sausages with tongs instead of a fork or knife to prevent seeping juices

The last tip we have for you is quite practical but important nonetheless. When transferring your sausages to a plate or another location, always be sure to use tongs instead of a knife or fork. Why? Piercing your sausage in any way can lead to draining out those yummy juices, especially when those piercings are multiple or very large.

Remember, the goal here is to retain as much flavor and moisture as possible in sausages. So, whether you pierce them to transfer them or pierce them purposefully to keep them from exploding, all of it could render a negative effect on this otherwise flavorful piece of meat.

And yes, we know what you're thinking; using a food thermometer would require piercing, too. However, remember that this piercing is done only in one spot and hopefully, on a single sausage rather than all of them. It's also necessary to keep yourself and your guests from getting sick. Otherwise, you'll want to keep your piercing of sausages to a bare minimum, even while moving them, if you do it at all.