How to Tell If Sausage is Cooked? (Answered!)
When it comes to sausages made with raw meat, it’s crucial to make sure they’re fully cooked before you eat them so you don’t get sick.
This can be a bit tricky, since sausage is one of those foods that can look done on the outside but isn’t done on the inside.
So, to know how to tell if sausage is cooked, using a meat thermometer is the best method.
You want your sausage to reach 160-165°F on the inside to know it’s fully cooked.
Here’s my favorite meat thermometer that’s very affordable and reliable (keep reading for my other favorites across all price ranges):
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can use the slice or pressure test to see if the sausage is underdone. But again, this method is secondary to using a meat thermometer.
Let’s get into the details.
How to Know When Sausage is Done
The most common mistake people make when cooking sausage is cooking it at too high a temperature.
This causes the sausage to overcook on the outside and undercook on the inside.
It also causes the casings to burst, releasing the juice from the inside of the sausage and allowing it to dry out.
Cook sausage low and slow to preserve the juices and allow the inside to cook thoroughly.
Sausage should also be rested after cooking, like other meats, to preserve the juices.
Resting sausage also allows some “carryover cooking,” where the internal temperature increases gradually and completes the cooking process off of the heat.
Sausage should be taken off the heat when it reaches a specific internal temperature and then rested after cooking.
Check out my table below for which temperature sausage should be cooked to and then how long to let it rest for.
|Goal Internal Temperature||Time to Rest|
|Pork Sausage||160°F/71.1°C||3 minutes|
|Beef Sausage||160°F/71.1°C||3 minutes|
|Combined Pork + Beef Sausage||160°F/71.1°C||3 minutes|
|Lamb Sausage||165°F/73.8°C||3 minutes|
|Game Sausage||165°F/73.8°C||3 minutes|
|Chicken Sausage||165°F/73.8°C||3 minutes|
|Turkey Sausage||165°F/73.8°C||3 minutes|
My Favorite Meat Thermometers
ThermoPro TP19H Digital Meat Thermometer
Low price, digital probe, perfect for grilling, very accurate, trusted brand
ThermoPro TP-16 Large LCD Digital Meat Thermometer
Low price, digital probe on long cable, perfect for grilling or oven, quality product
ThermoPro Smart Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Meat Thermometer
Mid-range price, Bluetooth (remote range up to 500 ft), smartphone compatible, high accuracy, has 2 probes, perfect for any situation (grills, barbecues, smokers, ovens, etc.), trusted brand
ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Meat Thermometer
Mid-range price, Bluetooth (remote range up to 300 ft), no syncing required, dual probes, high accuracy, my favorite brand
MEATER Plus Long Range Wireless Meat Thermometer
Best of the best, 100% wireless, 165 ft range, smartphone/tablet compatible, perfect for outdoor or indoor cooking, probe has two sensors (internal and external), Guide Cook System for consistently perfect results
How Can You Tell If Sausage Is Cooked Without a Thermometer?
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, there are two ways to tell if your sausage is done:
Cut sausage in half and look at the inside. It should be brown on the inside, and the juices should not be watery and runny.
If it’s still very slightly pink, but the juices are thick, you can remove the sausage from heat, and it will finish cooking while resting.
A cooked sausage is firm to the touch.
However, it’s still underdone if you pick up a sausage and it flops around like a noodle or if it feels soft and squishy when pressed with a finger.
The best way to know if sausage is cooked is by using a meat thermometer.
If you don’t have a thermometer, cut a link open and look at the inside.
With practice, you can learn how to tell if sausage is done by touching the outside and feeling how firm it is.
What Color Should Sausage Be When Cooked?
The ideal color of a cooked sausage depends on the type of meat in the sausage and how the sausage was made.
Of course, checking the temperature is the best way to tell if sausage is thoroughly cooked, but the color is also a good indicator.
Here’s what to look for in the color of cooked sausage:
Red, Raw Sausage
If the raw sausage is red on the inside, the sausage most likely contains beef, lamb, or game meats.
These types of meat are naturally red when raw.
This sausage should be cooked until pale pink or brown on the inside.
It could also mean that the sausage is chorizo, if it’s red. In this case, I would prioritize the internal temperature and texture to tell if it’s cooked.
Pink, Raw Sausage
If your sausage is made of pork or poultry (like chicken or turkey), it will naturally be pink on the inside when raw.
This sausage should be cooked until brown on the inside.
Pink, Cured Sausage
Some sausages are cured or treated with nitrites, which causes the meat to be pink in color, and the sausage will always remain lightly pink, even when completely cooked.
Cured sausage doesn’t have to be cooked but always confirm with the directions on the packaging.
If cooking cured sausage, cook it until greyish or pale pink on the inside.
How Do You Tell If Your Sausage is Undercooked?
There are several ways to tell if sausage is undercooked. Here are the best ways:
Use a Meat Thermometer
Check the sausage’s internal temperature according to the table above or according to the instructions on the package.
It’s easiest to insert the thermometer probe into the end of the sausage to read the internal temperature.
Regardless of where you insert it, be sure to use the same hole when re-checking the temperature so as not to pierce too many holes in the casing and risk losing too much fat and juices.
If the temperature is too low, the sausage is undercooked.
Touch the Sausage
If the sausage feels squishy or mushy to the touch, maybe even leaving a slight indent where you’ve touched it, it’s undercooked.
Look at the Inside of the Sausage
If the interior of the sausage still looks loose and raw, it’s undercooked and not safe to eat.
Cooked sausage is firm in texture and brownish or grayish in color.
Check the Sausage Juices
Juices should be thick and clear, not loose and watery.
If the juices have a pink or reddish color, the sausage is undercooked
Is it Okay to Eat Sausage a Little Pink?
Some sausages will always be a little pink, even when thoroughly cooked.
However, in most cases, if the sausage does not look raw and the juices are clear, it’s safe to eat sausages that are a little bit pink.
But if you’re unsure, check the internal temperature to make sure it’s 160-165°F.
How to Tell if Sausage is Cooked in the Oven
Oven cooking is a great way to cook sausage because it is ideal for low and slow heating and complete cooking.
An oven-cooked sausage should be golden brown on the outside and pale brown or greyish pink on the inside.
Read my complete guide to cooking sausage in the oven for more information.
How to Tell if Sausage is Cooked on the Grill
Grilling sausage imparts a unique flavor and is a popular way to make sausage.
When grilling sausage, cook it on indirect heat for low and slow cooking.
Avoid high heat and allow the sausage to burst and juices to release.
Grilled sausage is completely cooked when firm to the touch and has an internal temperature of at least 160°F/71.1°C.
Allowing grilled sausage to rest for at least five minutes after cooking ensures that it will cook thoroughly and remain moist and juicy.
Read my complete guide on cooking sausage on the grill for more information.
Because sausages are made from such a wide range of ingredients and are ground together when sausage is made, it’s essential to cook sausage thoroughly for food safety.
This applies whether you’re boiling, grilling, or baking it.
The best way to know sausage is done is to use a meat thermometer, but with practice, you will learn more about how to cook sausage and know when it is thoroughly cooked.