Chorizo’s distinctive spice can awaken any meal, from breakfast potato hash to salad.
There are several varieties and ways to cook chorizo, so knowing when it’s ready can be challenging.
When cooking a particular chorizo dish, you may wonder how to tell if chorizo is cooked.
The best ways to know that your chorizo is cooked are by its color, texture, and internal temperature.
Depending on the type of chorizo you have, the method of preparation and the indicators of doneness can differ.
- Distinguish between Spanish and Mexican Chorizo:
- Spanish Chorizo is cured or smoked and can be eaten without cooking, similar to salami. It is often found sliced thin or in a hard sausage form and is typically made with chopped pork and is seasoned with smoked paprika.
- Mexican Chorizo, on the other hand, is a raw ground pork sausage, seasoned with chili peppers and other spices. It requires cooking before eating.
- Cooking Mexican Chorizo:
- Color change: When cooking Mexican chorizo, one of the most obvious signs that it’s done is the change in color. Raw chorizo is a bright reddish-pink. As it cooks, it will turn a dull brown.
- Texture: The texture will also change. Raw chorizo has a soft, moist texture, and once cooked, it becomes crumbly.
- No pinkness: Like most pork products, you want to ensure there’s no pink left in the middle. However, due to the spices in chorizo, this can sometimes be tricky to discern.
- Temperature: If you’re uncertain, use a food thermometer. Ground pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
- Cooking Spanish Chorizo:
- Since Spanish chorizo is already cured or smoked, it’s technically ready to eat. However, if you choose to cook it (e.g., in stews, or fried), you’re mainly warming it or browning it for added flavor. The indicators for doneness will be less about safety and more about your preferred level of crispiness or how well-integrated it is in a dish.
- Grease: Chorizo is high in fat, so you’ll notice a lot of grease in the pan. This is normal. Some recipes might ask you to drain the excess grease to avoid an overly oily end product.
- Smell: As chorizo cooks, it will release its fragrant aroma. This is another sign that it’s cooking and releasing its flavors.
- Safety First: When in doubt, it’s better to overcook chorizo than undercook it, especially if dealing with the raw Mexican version. Overcooked chorizo might be a bit drier but is safer to eat than undercooked chorizo.
Read on for more more details.
How Do I Know If My Chorizo Is Undercooked?
Chorizo isn’t the most challenging thing to cook when you know what to check for to confirm it’s ready.
Here are three checks you can make to ensure your chorizo is safe to eat:
- Its internal temperature
- Its texture
- The color
The temperature is the safest indicator of whether your chorizo is undercooked. It’s undercooked if its internal temperature is less than 160°F.
The next best indicator of whether your chorizo is undercooked is the texture. It needs more cooking if the consistency is still sticky and mushy and molds together.
Finally, if the chorizo still has a bright-red or pink color, it’s undercooked. Once fully cooked, it’s a duller red or light brown.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Chorizo?
The time necessary to cook chorizo depends on the cooking method used.
Broiling is a great way to cook chorizo without needing to monitor it constantly.
Instead, allow the chorizo links to broil for around 13 to 15 minutes.
Grilling your chorizo outdoors is an excellent excuse for fresh air while achieving smoky-flavored chorizo.
Perfectly grilled chorizo usually takes approximately 15-20 minutes.
When frying chorizo, you’ll need to cook it until it begins to release its oil.
The average time for a small piece of chorizo should be approximately 4-6 minutes.
A whole sausage will take around 15-20 minutes.
How long chorizo takes to bake in the oven depends on whether they are whole sausages, chunks, or smaller pieces, so refer to the recipe.
In general, cooking should take around 20-30 minutes at 350°F.
Braised chorizo is generally cut into chunks, slices, or small sausages left whole.
If you’re braising chorizo in red wine, you can expect it to take around 15-20 minutes on medium heat.
It can be braised in the oven or on the stovetop.
How to Tell if Chorizo Is Cooked
The most important and safest way to tell if your chorizo is cooked is by the internal temperature. The sausage should reach 160-165°F on the inside to be considered fully cooked.
If you don’t have one already, this is my favorite meat thermometer that’s also super affordable:
As you cook chorizo, it releases a wonderful-smelling red oil.
Next, chorizo starts soft, and as it browns, it becomes hard and firm to the touch or crumblier.
At this stage, it’s ready to eat. Its color will also change from a brighter red to a dull brownish-red.
What Happens If You Eat Undercooked Chorizo?
The side effects of eating undercooked chorizo are the same as if you were to eat undercooked pork or other meat.
Side effects depend on a few things, such as how strong your stomach and immune system are, what bacteria, parasites, or foodborne illnesses the undercooked chorizo contains, and whether these can cause you to be sick.
Mild side effects include a stomach ache, constipation, or diarrhea. You may vomit or feel sick.
Other side effects are fevers, chills, and headaches.
In addition, you could experience achy joints, swelling, general flu-like feelings, and feeling unwell.
In severe cases, you could have the above symptoms, difficulty breathing, difficulty with your coordination, or experience heart palpitations.
The symptoms you can get from raw chorizo will differ depending on which bacteria and diseases you have ingested.
If you’re lucky and you get ill, in most cases, it will be a short-term food poisoning type of illness, although you can contract other illnesses that last for weeks or months and require medical assistance.
Tips for Cooking Chorizo
Depending on how you’re cooking the chorizo, recipe cooking times are not always precise, so generally, a great tip for cooking chorizo well is to use a meat thermometer.
It doesn’t matter which cooking method you choose; ensure to always cook chorizo to an internal temperature of 160° Fahrenheit.
Whether making a quick rustle-up or preparing for a large cookout, here are some cooking tips to ensure you get the most delicious chorizo.
Omit the Boiling Step
Chefs commonly boil chorizo before grilling it; however, this can reduce its flavor.
In addition, the fat melts out of chorizo while it boils, and boiled chorizo can be dry and tasteless meat.
Instead of boiling the chorizo, frequently turn the links to ensure they cook well.
Consider Sautéed Slices
For thin and crispy pieces of meat, try cutting your chorizo into rounds and sautéing them in a frying pan.
Cut a large chorizo link into approximately half-inch-thick pieces, then heat them using a skillet until the pieces are firm.
Use a serrated knife to cut the chorizo to prevent the meat from squirting out of the casing.
To get a texture similar to ground beef, consider removing the chorizo from the casing to crumble, then fry it.
First, slice a thin, lengthwise slit through the chorizo, then squeeze the meat into a pan.
As the chorizo cooks, it will break apart like ground meat and produce grease.
Keep stirring the chorizo until it has cooked, and drain the excess fat.
Cook Using Quality Chorizo
You’ll need to buy a high-quality brand to get the most from the chorizo.
Reputable brands like Premio offer peace of mind, as no fillers are included.
You’ll notice the difference when cooking fresh quality chorizo without artificial flavors.
Due to chorizo’s malleable flavors, it can go well with other meats like chicken, pork, and beef and is used to enhance so many dishes.
Chorizo can be boiled, broiled, braised, grilled, baked, or pan-fried.
With all the varieties of chorizo and ways to cook it, knowing when it’s ready can be confusing.
You can tell when your chorizo is cooked by a golden-brown color, if the meat is crumbly, or whether its internal temperature has reached 160° Fahrenheit.