You can take the most boring sausage, add a dose of smoke and it will taste amazing. Hot smoking sausages is quick, easy and safe. Cold smoking sausages is more difficult and can be dangerous to your heath if you don’t know what you are doing. I found out all I could about hot and cold smoked sausages.
So what’s the best sausage for smoking?
- Polish Sausages
- Boudin Blanc
- Italian Sausages
- Breakfast Sausages
Hot Smoked and Cold Smoked Sausages
First, let’s be clear about what type of smoked sausage we’re talking about because there’s hot smoking and cold smoking. Hot smoking is a method where the sausages are cooked with high heat and smoke. Cold smoking is where the sausages are smoked (but not cooked) at a low temperature over a long period, usually 85°F/29.4°C and below.
Cold smoking raw, uncured meat at home isn’t recommended because of the health risks to you and your family. Hot smoking is safer, easy to do and you’ll still get the smoke flavor.
Can You Cold Smoke Sausages?
I know many people are into cold smoking, but most food scientists discourage home cold smoking because of the health risks. If you don’t know what you are doing, cold smoking is like taking raw meat out of the refrigerator and leaving it on the counter all day. Cold smoking sausages should only be attempted if the meat has already been preserved by curing, fermentation, etc.
Cold smoking raw sausages involves slowly smoking the sausages at low temperatures (40 °F-140 °F) for as long as 24-hours. This low temperature range is what the USDA calls the ‘danger-zone’, where bacteria can rapidly multiply. Therefore, you really need to know what you are doing. Otherwise you’re going to put you and your family’s health at risk.
Unless the sausages have been cured, salted or fermented, you shouldn’t attempt cold smoking raw sausages. The US National Center for Home Food Preservation recommend cold smoking only be done by certified persons. This is because cold smoking involves cooking meat in what the USDA call the ‘danger-zone’ which is 40 °F-140 °F (4.4°C-60°C).
So cold smoking raw sausage isn’t worth the risk, and there are safer ways to smoke sausages. You really need to know what you are doing and have the correct tools.
How to Hot Smoke Sausage
Sausages are quick and easy to smoke, and you can use just about any sausage. The best way to smoke sausage is by using an indirect cooking method, and it only takes just over an hour.
The method will depend on the type of smoker you are using. If you have an electric smoker or pellet grill, then smoking sausages should be fairly straightforward. For an extra shot of flavor, I like to apply some rub to sausages, but this step is optional. This is the standard way of smoking sausages.
- Set up your charcoal smoker for two-zone cooking with the charcoal to one side and the sausages to the other side with a drip pan underneath.
2. Pre-light 3/4 of a chimney of charcoal and place them in the basket fully lit.
3. Adjust your vents and bring the temperature of your smoker up to 220-230 °F (104-110 °C).
4. Choose a mild wood and throw two chunks onto the fire.
5. Chill the sausages prior to smoking. Cold surfaces attract smoke.
6. Lay the sausages on the grill in the cool zone to the opposite side of the fire.
7. Cook for about 1.5 hours and probe with an instant-read thermometer until the temperature reaches 160°F (71°C).
Use a Rub for an Extra Kick
Prior to smoking sausages, roll them in a barbecue rub. This step is totally optional, but it will add to the flavor. If the rub won’t stick, apply an oil binder beforehand. Use your favorite rub, but be careful with rubs high in sugar content as they burn. I prefer to use spicy rubs with sausages to give them a little extra kick. I love Malcolm Reed’s Killer Hogs Hot Rub, this is my go-to rub for sausages. Check the latest price here.
Best Wood For Smoking Sausage
Fruit woods work well on brats because they add a hint of sweetness without overpowering all the other flavors of the sausage. Apple, pear and cherry are widely available in stores, but any fruit wood is suitable. Cherry works well on almost anything but keep in mind that it will turn the sausages dark. Maple is a safe wood for smoking sausage and also has a sweet flavor similar to a fruitwood. Hickory is a versatile wood for any meat and will add a strong, smokey flavor to the sausage. Hickory can overpower meat with sensitive skin, so use hickory with caution. A good idea is to use a 50/50 ratio with hickory, that way the hickory smoke flavor shouldn’t dominate. Hickory blends well with fruit woods like apple, which will give the sausages a hint of sweetness.
Internal Temperature of Smoked Sausage
When dealing with any kind of ground meat, the safest internal temperature is 160°F (71°C), according to the USDA. Other cuts of meat such as beef and lamb are safe at 145°F (62.7°C). If you find that 160°F (71°C) is making the sausages too dry, and they are loosing all the juices, then pull the sausages out at 150°F (65.5°C), but never go below the recommended 145°F (62.7°C).
How to Smoke Brats
Brats are delicious as they are, but if you want to add some smoke flavor, bratwurst taste amazing. For the best results, buy fresh brats and keep them chilled so when they go into the smoker, they’ll attract more smoke.
There are a couple of different ways you can smoke brats, some people like to take 3 hours while others smoke them in over an hour.
If you set your smoker to 200°F (93.3°C), the sausage will only get smoked for about 1-hour. To prolong the exposure to smoke, another method is to cook at a low temperature. If you smoke above 200°F (93.3°C), you’re also likely to get a few case splittings.
One method is to set your smoker to a lower temperature (about 100°F/37.7°C) for an hour and then slowly raise the temperature in small increments until they are cooked. This method exposes the brats to smoke for longer, which will enhance the flavor. The problem with this method is that you are allowing the sausages to remain in the danger-zone of low temps.
How to Smoke Hotdogs
You can take a plain, boring hotdog to the next level with a dose of smoke. Hotdogs with natural casings work better, and a popular method is to soak them in beer prior to adding to the smoker. The added moisture will also attract more smoke. Another thing people like to do is to wrap the hotdogs in bacon before going in the smoker.
The most common method of smoking dogs is to smoke low for a couple of hours at about 140°F and finish them off by briefly poaching them in water and then an ice bath. The finished internal temperature should be about 150°F.
Smoking Italian Sausages
Italian sausages taste even better with a dose of smoke. Hickory, apple or cherry wood blend well with Italian. Great for slicing and serving as snacks, or on pizza, or in pasta sauce.
How to Smoke Boudin Sausage
Bourdin Blanc is one sausage that tastes amazing when smoked. There are different variations of Bourdin Blanc. The French sausage contains liver, heart and usually rice. Pecan, oak or any other mild wood blends well with Bourdin. When smoking Bourdin, make sure you keep it moist and smoke it at a lower temperature. Bourdin is always a risk of drying out because it contains rice.
How to Smoke Polish Sausage
Traditional Polish sausages are made with pork mixed with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. Hot smoke Polish sausages at a lower temperature for the first hour, then slowly increase the temperature of the smoker. As with other sausages, use a mild, sweet wood.