Smoking food has been done for centuries, Originally this style of cooking was a necessity, it helped to preserve meats during times when there wasn’t access to refrigeration. Over the years it has become something of a delicacy, with people all over the world enjoying the delicious flavor that smoking food delivers.
If you are new to smoking or, if you are looking for ideas to get a quick fix of smoke-flavored heaven then look no further than the humble sausage! Sausages are a versatile and delicious feast. They can be eaten hot, straight from the smoker, or left to cool and tossed through salads. No matter what type of sausage you buy, you can smoke it! So let’s take a look at how to smoke a sausage on a smoker.
Quick Start Guide for Sausage Smoking
To kick-off, let’s look at the very basics of cooking sausage in a smoker.
- Remove sausage from the fridge and bring to room temperature
- Fire up the smoker and bring it to a steady 240 degrees
- Add sausage links to the top grate, with one inch spacing
- Add a few chunks of the wood of your choice
- Keep smoker at a steady temp of 240 until sausages reach 165 degrees internal temperature
- Remove from smoker and let rest for 10 minutes
The formula for smoking sausage is as simple as that. However, there are plenty of variations to this formula that can give you a better smoke. If you want a more in-depth look, read on.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Sausages
On average, larger sausages like brats will take about 2 to 3 hours to smoke, depending on the sausages you choose. Sausages that are thinner will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Cooked sausages, found in the prepared meats section, should only be smoked for 30 to 45 minutes. Since they’re already fully cooked, you’re just warming them and adding smoke flavor.
How long to Smoke Sausages at 225 °F (Medium Temperature)?
Smoking raw sausage at 225 °F will take approximately 1-2 hours for thin sausages, and can take 2-3 hours for thick sausages.
Smoking precooked sausages at 225 °F will only take 30 minutes to an hour.
How long to Smoke Sausages at 275 °F (High Temperature)?
Smoking you sausages at 275 °F is considered high temperature smoking for a sausage. Usually this not the best way to go about smoking sausages, but it can be done.
Remember, the longer you allow the sausages to be in the smoker for the more smoke the sausage will absorb the more flavor will be in it.
If you’re a beginner we recommend that you smoke at around 225 °F as a start.
Smoking a sausages at 275 °F will take around 45 minutes to an hour.
How to Check if a Sausage is Done
It’s important to cook meat for long enough. The internal temperature for a sausage has to be a minimum of 165 °F. If your sausages are still below this temperature put them back in the smoker and give them a little extra. If you don’t want to add any smoke, wrap the sausages in aluminum foil before putting them back in.
To check the internal temperature, use a meat thermometer. Pierce the meat thermometer through the one of the ends of the sausage. This way, all the juice of the sausage won’t drip out.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, simply cut one of the sausages open and check.
Choosing the Right Sausage
The most important place to start is with the sausage itself. There is a huge variety of sausages available and just about the only one that doesn’t smoke well is the pre-smoked ones you can buy in the supermarket. Why would you buy pre-smoked sausages when you have a smoker anyway.
Depending on the style of dish you are cooking you can smoke anything from Chorizo to Bratwurst. You can smoke pork, chicken, and beef sausages. If you enjoy spice then smoking Andouli sausage gives a fantastic flavor.
If this is your first time smoking then an Italian sausage is a great base to start in my opinion.
As with all smokes, the temperature is vital. Depending on the type of smoker you are using there are different ways of heating and maintaining your smoker.
Get to know your air vents and make sure you understand how to use them to stabilize the temperature of the smoker. Sausages are a great starting point for any learner as, unlike brisket, they only take a few hours. This means you can spend more time watching over them to ensure the heat doesn’t spike suddenly or fall unexpectedly.
Smokers hit a sweet spot at around 225 °F. However, there are loads of factors that can cause this to spike and fall. An internal thermometer is a great way of keeping a check on this. You can find loads of good digital ones that work with your phone and can alert you if your temperature rises or falls.
Your sausage needs to hit an internal temperature of 160 degrees to be safe to consume.
Flavoring The Smoker
Choosing the wood you want to flavor your sausage is one of the best parts of smoking. There are so many different options. If you like a mild flavor then opt for cherry wood or maple. If you are new to smoking then you can’t go wrong with oak. It delivers a good flavor without being too strong. Hickory will generally give you the strongest smoke flavor of all. Mesquite is a little harder to get hold of but delivers a great flavor. However, it can turn bitter if you don’t catch it at the right time.
Let’s Get Cooking!
Before you sling your sausages in your smoker you’ll want to let them sit out of the fridge for a little while. There is a debate amongst seasoned pitmasters about this and it’s important for you to draw your own conclusions. However, allowing your meat to come up to room temperature before putting it in the smoker can help to keep the internal temperature stable. You don’t want to leave it out for longer than 30 minutes though.
Fire up your smoker and bring it up to a steady temp. You’ll want to hit a temperature of between 225 and 250 °F. Once you hit the temperature, you need to keep it steady for 10-15 minutes before loading your grates. Allow it time to stabilize.
Lay your sausages on the top grate. You need to give them plenty of space. An inch between sausages should be ample and will encourage even cooking and temperature regulation. Some people may choose to hang the sausage links. It’s entirely up to you.
A meat thermometer can be inserted at this point. Allowing you to see the internal temperature of your sausages without having to open the smoker more than necessary. This helps to maintain temperature and keep all that fantastic smoke flavoring inside! Add the wood you have chosen to smoke with, replace the lid and let your smoker do all the hard work.
Your temperature needs to be a steady 240 (or whatever temperature you’ve chosen). So once your sausages are loaded and the lid is on, stay with the smoker until it’s steady again. Once you have stabilized the temperature you can check your sausages every 45 minutes until they reach an inner temperature of 160 degrees. You may find turning the sausages when you check them gives a more even smoke flavor.
It is possible to overcook sausage in the smoker however, they will still be edible. You may find they taste a little more bitter and the texture is a little tougher.
Once they are cooked, remove them from the grate and let sit for around 10 minutes. This gives your sausage time to rest, some juices will be released as your meat relaxes and you will get the best texture and flavor.
If you are smoking your sausage for another time, you may want to plunge them into an ice bath to prevent more cooking. Then store them in the fridge for up to a week.
Smoked sausage is a fantastic and relatively quick smoked treat. They are a brilliantly versatile meat and can be eaten as a family feast or used throughout the week in loads of different recipes!