Best Type of Sausage to Smoke

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than smoking savory sausages in your backyard? If this hobby speaks to you, you might be wondering about the best type of sausage to smoke.

Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious sausage types to choose from, including Italian sausage, summer sausage, kielbasa, bratwurst, Andouille, and chorizo. An all-time favorite for most Americans would probably be summer sausage, but it really all comes down to personal preference.

Keep reading to find out more about sausage types that will only get better after smoking.

two different types of sausages on grill

Italian Sausage

Did you know that in Italy alone, there are more than 150 different types of sausage? Italians take their sausage seriously, so you’ll know you’re eating the best of the best no matter which Italian sausage you buy. Although there’s hardly a type of sausage that wouldn’t benefit from smoking, Italian sausages taste best after undergoing this process.

Typical Italian sausage will have a mild, fennel flavor. In some varieties, garlic or red pepper flakes are added to open up the taste.

Smoking Italian sausages in a smoker will take between three to four hours. The time they spend on the rack mostly depends on the smoker’s temperature and the sausage size.

Ideally, you should set your smoker at 250°F (120°C) for smoking Italian sausages. Make sure to turn the sausages every 45 minutes and check their internal temperature regularly. Once they reach 165°F (73°C), they’re good to go.

Summer Sausage

Summer sausage is one of America’s favorite sausages. This is a cured, well-seasoned sausage known for its long shelf-life. In fact, it’s believed they were called “summer” sausages because adding cure preserved the meat for longer in a time before refrigeration. This meant people could enjoy this delicacy even in the hot summer months.

Today, summer sausage is usually a mix of pork and beef. It can either be dried or smoked, and some of the most common spices include mustard seeds, pepper, garlic, or sugar. This sausage is famous for its tangy taste from the fermenting process that gives it a longer shelf-life.

Some numbers you should know for smoking the summer sausage: Its cooking time is around two hours, and the internal temperature at which it should be removed from the rack is 160°F (71°C).

Polish Sausage

Polish sausage, or kielbasa, is a traditional sausage from Poland. Traditionally, Poles roast this sausage over the campfire just like Americans do with marshmallows. Making kielbasa is considered a fun family activity.

sausage on stick being smoked over fire

Polish sausage is usually made of pork, but it can be a combination of pork and beef. It has a strong garlic flavor. Some of the most common spices include garlic, pimentos, marjoram, or cloves.

If you choose to smoke Polish sausage, the process will take between three to four hours. You should wait for the sausage’s internal temperature to reach 140°F (60°C) before taking it off the smoker rack. Polish sausages are lightly smoked, and you’ll notice their internal cooking temperature is the lowest of all sausage types.

When searching for ingredients to pair with kielbasa, know that cabbage is a perfect accompaniment. If you prefer mild flavors, you can combine it with rice or red beans, or soup.

Bratwurst

Bratwurst, also known as “brats,” is easily one of the most delicious German sausages. There are more than 40 varieties of this sausage in this country alone. There’s even a National Bratwurst Day on August 16th!

Bratwurst is a highly seasoned fresh link sausage. Some of the most popular seasonings include nutmeg, ginger, sage, or caraway. Usually, it will contain pork, but you can find other varieties such as beef or veal, or a combination of both.

You can smoke bratwurst at a smoker temperature of 225°F (107°C) for 45 minutes. The internal temperature you want for your brat is 152°F (67°C).

Andouille Sausage

Andouille is one of France’s most popular meat delicacies. It’s a smoked sausage mainly consisting of pork. What is unique about it is that it’s made of chopped rather than ground pork. Andouille’s taste is very similar to craft sausages – relatively coarse and sharp.

You want to smoke your Andouille sausage until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (73°C). That should take around four hours, depending on your smoker’s heat level. You’re better off starting with a lower smoker temperature (130°F [54°C]) and then gradually increasing it every hour. By the fourth hour, you should have your smoker set to 190°F (88°C).

Chorizo Sausage

Chorizo is a flavor-packed sausage with its most popular varieties originating from Mexico and Spain.

The Mexican version is made of fresh pork, while the Spanish variety usually includes smoked pork. Both are highly seasoned: the Mexican chorizo with vinegar and chile peppers and the Spanish with garlic and pimento. There are dozens of regional varieties in both Mexico and Spain.

chorizo on cutting board with slices next to it and cheese

Chorizo has a smoky flavor and comes in a brick-red color. Traditionally, chorizo is a bit spicy compared to bratwurst or Italian sausage.

If you want to add a deep smoke layer, you’ll have to start with lower temperatures for your smoker. I recommend starting at 170°F (75°C) and gradually moving to 220°F (110°C).

Overview: Best Sausage for Smoking

Below is a table summary of the most popular sausage types to smoke, their flavor profile, the internal temperature at which they’re smoked enough, and the cooking time.

Sausage TypeFlavor ProfileInternal TemperatureCooking Time
ItalianMild, fennel165°F (73°C)3-4 hours
SummerTangy160°F (71°C)2 hours
PolishStrong, garlic140°F (60°C)3-4 hours
BratwurstDifferent tastes, from mild to strong225°F (107°C)45 minutes
AndouilleCoarse, smoky165°F (73°C)4 hours
ChorizoSmoky, spicy150°F (65°C)2 hours

In Summary: Smoking the Perfect Sausage

Hopefully, this article has given you some good ideas on the best types of sausage you can smoke.

A general piece of advice is to smoke your sausage for at least two hours and regularly check the internal temperature. It’s okay if the temperature goes up a few degrees, but it definitely shouldn’t be undercooked (especially if you’re smoking uncured sausage).

My personal recommendations are to go for Italian sausage if you prefer mild sausages, Polish or Brat for a stronger taste, and chorizo for some spicy pleasure.

Another important factor that plays into the flavor of smoked sausage is the type of wood that you use – click here to learn more.