Grilling is just one way to cook sausage. For the best possible flavor, you should consider smoking sausage. Smoking allows you to cook sausage more slowly while exposing it to flavorful smoke. By following these seven tips, you can smoke delicious sausage using a grill or smoker.
#1) Choose the Right Type of Sausage
There are dozens of types of sausage, some of which are better suited for smoking than others. Generally speaking, most types of raw sausage are more flavorful when smoked than their pre-smoked counterparts. Italian, bratwursts, kielbasa, kishka, weisswurst and polish sausages are all great choices. You can still smoke pre-smoked sausage, but most pitmasters prefer smoking raw sausages such as these because of their rich flavor. They’ll absorb more smoke, resulting in better flavor. With that said, feel free to experiment with a variety of smoked sausages. You don’t have to limit yourself to smoking a single type of sausage.
#2) Clean and Oil the Grate
It’s frustrating when you spend hours smoking sausage, only for it to stick to the cooking grate. Regardless of which type of sausage you intend to smoke, it’s probably encased in a shell. Known as sausage casing or skin, it’s typically made of collagen and cellulose. The purpose of the casing is to hold the sausage’s filling together so that it doesn’t fall apart. If your sausage sticks to the cooking grate, however, the casing may tear. When this occurs, your sausage will likely fall apart.
You can prevent your sausage from sticking by cleaning and oiling the cooking grate beforehand. Start by scrubbing the grate with a wire brush to remove any hardened debris. Next, clean any lingering debris with a few damp paper towels and mild dish soap. When finished, pour a small amount of high-heat cooking oil, such as vegetable oil or canola oil, onto some paper towels and then rub it across the surface of the cooking grate. The oil will create a nonstick surface, ensuring that the sausage casing doesn’t tear or otherwise fall apart.
Keep in mind, you should only use high-heat oil on the cooking grate. High-heat oil is designed to withstand more heat without burning than low-heat oil. If you use a low-heat oil, such as olive oil, it will likely burn off as your smoker heats up. And once the oil has burned off, your sausage will no longer be protected from sticking.
#3) Use High-Quality Smoking Chunks
You shouldn’t use just any wood to smoke sausage. Rather, stick with high-quality smoking chunks. With their block-like shape — measuring about 2 to 3 inches long — they are the perfect size for smoking meats, including sausage. Smoking chips are typically shorter and thinner, so they don’t produce as much as smoke. You can always use cooking wood logs, but they are more difficult because of their larger size. For delicious smoked sausage, use high-quality smoking chunks in your smoker. Just a handful of the right smoking chunks can produce an out-of-this-world flavor that’s not found elsewhere.
Smoking chunks are available in a variety of species of hardwood. Oak smoking chunks are a great all-around choice for smoked sausage because of their mild yet delicious flavor. Hickory smoking chunks are also a great choice. While stronger than oak, hickory smoking chunks offer a sweet bacon-like flavor that complements most types of sausages. Other popular varieties of smoking chunks for sausage include cherry and pecan.
If your smoker has a firebox, place the smoking chunks inside it. Fireboxes are separate containers that are placed away from the smoker’s main compartment. They are still connected to the main compartment, so when your smoking chunks begin to smolder, smoke will travel to the area in which your sausage is located. If your smoker doesn’t have a firebox, simply place the smoking chunks in the main compartment. As long your sausage is exposed to smoke, the smoking chunks will enhance its flavor.
#4) Combine Smoking Chunks With Charcoal
In addition to high-quality smoking chunks, consider using charcoal when smoking sausage. Why is charcoal important? When used alone, smoking chunks won’t produce much heat. To achieve a safe internal temperature, you need to use another type of fuel, such as charcoal. As the charcoal burns, it will produce heat that cooks your sausage to a safe temperature. At the same time, the heat from the charcoal will heat up your smoking chunks, causing them to smolder and release flavorful smoke.
There are two types of charcoal: lump and briquette. The most common type, lump charcoal burns hot and fast. In comparison, briquette charcoal produces less heat and burns more slowly. Of those two types, most pitmasters prefer lump charcoal when smoking sausage.
#5) Control the Temperature of Your Smoker
Smoking delicious sausage requires a precise temperature. If your smoker gets too hot, you sausage may dry out and shrivel up. If it doesn’t get hot enough, on the other hand, your sausage may fail to reach a safe internal temperature.
For most types of sausage, you should set your smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your sausage will cook slowly while still achieving a safe internal temperature. You can control the temperature of your smoker in several ways. To make your smoker cooler, use less charcoal (or use briquette charcoal). Alternatively, you can lower the temperature by closing the damper vents on your smoker. To make your smoker hotter, reverse the steps by using more charcoal and/or opening the damper vents. Just remember to keep your smoker’s internal temperature around 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
#6) Smoke for 2 to 3 Hours
You might be wondering how long, exactly, you should smoke for your sausage for. Assuming your smoker has an internal temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, two to three hours is usually the perfect length for smoked sausage. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check the temperature of your sausage before consuming it.
Using a probe thermometer, check your sausage after it’s been smoking for two hours. The recommended safe internal temperature for sausage is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If the internal temperature of your sausage is lower than this amount, allow it to smoke for a little longer. Only after your sausage has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit should you consume it.
#7) Flip Sausage Every 30 to 45 Minutes
When smoking sausage, try to get into the habit of flipping it every 30 to 45 minutes. Even at just 250 degrees Fahrenheit, sausage can still burn if not flipped. Furthermore, failure to flip your sausage will cause it to cook unevenly. The bottom of your sausage — the side that’s exposed to the cooking grate — will cook faster than the top. The bottom may develop an overcooked, burned char, whereas the top of your sausage may still be raw. To ensure your sausage cooks evenly, you need to flip it every 30 to 45 minutes. Along with the other tips listed here, flipping your sausage regularly will help you achieve the best possible flavor.
Find the best quality smoking chunks by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a variety of high-quality smoking chunks, including white oak, hickory, cherry, pecan and whiskey, all of which will allow you to smoke delicious sausage. We offer complimentary shipping for our smoking chunk products across the United States.