Does smoked sausage need to be cooked? No doubt, smoked sausage is incredibly versatile and delicious.
But, is smoked sausage fully cooked?
It is a common question for those who just love the addictive taste of smoked sausage.
But, it is not so much an issue of “cooked” as it is of “safety” when it comes to smoked sausage.
Most people just want to know if they can eat it without any further preparation. So, what do you think?
Well, smoked sausage is almost always cooked and you do not need any further preparation, especially if it has already been cured.
Does Smoked Sausage Need to Be Cooked or Not?
Generally, it does not need any cooking, but ultimately, it depends on whether or not it has been cured.
This is a crucial distinction since uncooked smoked sausage requires further curing, but cured smoked sausage can be eaten directly from the package.
This is because its curing salt content reduces the likelihood of food poisoning due to bacterial contamination.
Tip: Just like any meat, sausage can get contaminated and is therefore required to be heated up to 145F to kill any bacteria growing in it.
An excellent way to decide whether smoked sausage needs to be cooked or not is to look at the label.
Are there words saying “Needs to be cooked”, “Cook before eating”, or “Uncooked?”
In this case, you should seriously consider cooking it properly before consuming it.
Can You Eat Smoked Sausage from the Package?
Fully cooked smoked sausages can be eaten straight from the packet without worrying about food poisoning.
Interestingly, cold smoking allows a sausage to remain edible even if it has not been cooked.
You just need to get more information about how it has been cured.
For example, sausage is usually cured using salts, such as sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, and is then air-dried slowly.
It means that if the package says the sausage has not been cured, you should avoid eating it straight from the package.
Consider How the Sausage Has been Smoked
When determining whether you can eat your smoked sausage straight out of the package or not, consider the smoking process.
What is Hot Smoking?
Hot smoking usually means the meat has been prepared before being smoked.
In this case, the sausage is cooked until the internal temperature reaches 140-180F.
What is Cold Smoking?
In the case of cold smoking, the internal temperature of the meat is never high enough to be considered cooked. It usually stays below 85F.
As a result, you should not eat cold smoked sausage unless cured properly.
Why Does Curing Smoked Sausage Matter So Much?
Meat can be preserved for longer periods of time by using the curing process.
Of course, smoking is, too, but the curing treatment is considerably more useful in the long run.
Sausage that has been cured using curing salts is good to eat right out of the package.
Charcuterie sausages, which include salami, summer sausage, chorizo, prosciutto, and many more, are a common example of this category.
Tip: Follow the right cooking time and temperature guidelines because overheating the sausage makes the fat melt and evaporate, leaving the sausage dry.
Do You Have to Cook Smoked Sausage After Freezing?
Yes, it is a good idea to cook smoked sausage after you store it in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
But, do you really have to store it in the refrigerator?
Well, check if your sausage is dry-cured, like salami or pepperoni. If that is the case, it can easily stay at room temperature for up to six weeks.
Of course, that is when you have not opened the package yet.
Note: In case it is not dry cured, it has to go into the refrigerator or it will spoil quickly.
How Long Can Smoked Sausage Stay in the Refrigerator?
An unopened package of dry-cured sausage can last in the fridge indefinitely; once opened, however, it will only keep for around three weeks.
The USDA recommends cooking and eating raw sausages within two days if stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees or less.
When cooked, they can be stored for up to four days in the fridge.
Sausages, including hot dogs, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks if unopened and for up to one week once opened.
Tip: Fully smoked sausage only needs to be grilled until 165F, but raw sausage should be cooked at 300-350F for good results.
What to Do If Smoked Sausage Needs to Be Cooked?
Is smoked sausage already cooked? Not always!
However, you can always consider cooking smoked sausages at home. And the best way to do it is to grill them.
Sausages become juicy and tender when their fat is rendered at a high cooking temperature.
The entire process of cooking a sausage in this manner should not take longer than 10 to 15 minutes.
How to Cook Smoked Sausage Properly?
Grilling is always on the cards, but you can also try other ways.
For thoroughly cooked and crisp meat, you can simply “score” the sausage.
It is also a good idea to cut it “butterfly style,” which means lengthwise but not all the way through.
Pan-frying it on the stovetop is just as effective as grilling smoked sausage.
In this scenario, a pan with a thick bottom, such as a cast-iron skillet, is ideal for achieving even charring.
Remember, you can cook sausage quickly if it is already sliced.
Slicing up some sausage and throwing it in an omelet or mixing it with some meaty noodles is a delicious meal.
Note: Adding oil to the sausage during cooking is optional.
Since sausage already contains plenty of fat, it will start to render that fat as soon as you expose it to heat.
Is It Important to Cover Sausage When It Needs to Be Cooked?
Like any other form of meat you might smoke, it is crucial that your sausage be wrapped appropriately before you put it in the smoker.
It is essential because you can preserve the sausage’s natural juices in this way.
It is a good idea to use aluminum foil for this purpose because it promotes uniform cooking.
Covering it up will prevent the smoke from permeating the meat, so you should do it once you have achieved the desired smoky taste.
Is It Bad to Eat Smoked Sausage that Needs to Be Cooked?
In case you have a fully cured smoked sausage, you do not have to worry much about eating it right out of the package.
But, it is a different story with undercooked sausages.
You could get sick if you consume sausages that have not been cooked through.
Your risk of contracting Trichinosis goes up considerably when you eat raw or uncooked sausage.
Consumption of raw or undercooked meat products from diseased animals is the primary risk factor for contracting trichinosis, a food-borne infection.
If you become infected, you will develop several symptoms, including:
- High fever
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Pink eye
If you notice any of these symptoms after eating raw sausage, it is best to consult with your doctor immediately.
You should not leave the infection untreated, which may lead to serious consequences.
How to Tell If Smoked Sausage is Cooked Thorough?
Using a meat thermometer is the most reliable and straightforward method for determining when the sausage is done cooking.
The ideal internal temperature for sausage is 160F, so be sure to keep a close eye on it.
It is now abundantly evident that the interior temperature is far more important than the cooking time when smoking sausage.
It is just as important not to overcook your smoked sausage, so do not cook it for longer than 20-25 minutes.
Tip: The trick to perfectly fried sausages is to cook them slowly over low to medium heat until they are cooked through but still have a nice brown color.
Does smoked sausage need to be cooked? It is extremely important to know it or you might end up getting sick after eating a sausage that clearly needed to be cooked first.
Checking the label is a great way, but at least get some information about how it has been cured.
The more info you get, the easier it becomes to decide if it needs cooking.
And if it does, you can always try grilling it for a delectable meal.