Sausages for Grilling and BBQ: Ultimate Guide to Flavor and Technique

As the weather warms up and outdoor grilling season begins, many people turn to different types of sausages as the star of their BBQs. Sausages have a long and varied history with numerous techniques used for grilling and barbecuing them, making them a versatile and delicious option for any cookout. In this article, we will explore various sausage types, how to choose the perfect one for your grill, and the best ways to prepare and cook them.

With a wide variety of sausages available, each with their own unique flavor profiles and textures, there is something for everyone when it comes to grilling. From traditional favorites like bratwurst and Italian pork sausages, to more exotic options like Merguez, a North African lamb sausage, there is a vast world of sausages to explore for your grilling adventures. By understanding the differences between these types and the best techniques for grilling them, you can create outstanding BBQ dishes that will delight your friends and family.

Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a novice in the art of cooking sausages, there are certain tools and techniques that can help you achieve perfectly juicy grilled sausages every time. Knowing how to prepare, season, and cook your sausages can make all the difference in creating mouthwatering barbecue dishes for your guests to enjoy. With the right information and the proper equipment, you’ll be able to create unforgettable grilled sausage meals throughout the summer season.

Key Takeaways

  • Sausages offer a versatile and delicious option for grilling and BBQ events
  • Selecting the best sausage type for your grill can enhance the overall flavor and experience
  • Proper preparation and grilling techniques ensure juicy, mouthwatering sausages every time

History of Sausages for Grilling and BBQ

Sausages have been a popular food choice for centuries, with roots dating back to ancient civilizations. The word “sausage” itself comes from the Latin word “salsus,” meaning salted or preserved. Early sausage-making techniques involved packing minced meat into animal intestines, which acted as natural casings. Countries around the world have developed their own variations of sausages, such as the Italian Salami, German Bratwurst, and Spanish Chorizo.

Grilling and BBQ have been a mode of popular cuisine for thousands of years, and sausages are a staple in such cooking methods. It is believed that the Romans were among the first to grill sausages, as archaeological evidence suggests that they used primitive grills to cook their meat. As grilling methods evolved, and the concept of a barbecue was introduced during the 18th century in the United States, sausages continued to be a favorite grilled treat.

Over time, various techniques to enhance the flavors of sausages for grilling and BBQ have been developed. Some methods include smoking, marinating, or even boiling the sausages before grilling. These pre-cooking techniques help to lock in flavor and ensure that the sausages retain their juicy texture when grilled to perfection.

Today, sausages designed for grilling and BBQ can be found in a wide range of flavors, sizes, and styles. Many popular options include Italian sausages, Polish kielbasa, and American-style hot dogs. The adaptability of sausages allows them to be easily incorporated into a variety of dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, and pasta.

In conclusion, the history of sausages for grilling and BBQ can be traced back to ancient times, with civilizations around the world creating their unique variations of this popular food. The versatile nature of sausages and the diverse range of flavors available today make them a timeless choice for grilling and BBQ enthusiasts of all ages.

Types of Sausages for Grilling and BBQ

When it comes to grilling and BBQ, the type of sausage you choose can greatly impact the overall taste and experience. In this section, we will discuss four popular sausages commonly used for grilling and BBQ: Bratwurst, Chorizo, Andouille, and Italian Sausage.


Originating from Germany, the Bratwurst is a versatile and popular choice for grilling. Made from a mixture of pork and/or veal, it is seasoned with various spices, such as nutmeg, coriander, or caraway. There are several regional variations, with each boasting their own unique flavor profile. When grilling Bratwurst, it is essential to cook them slowly over medium heat to prevent the casing from splitting and to preserve the juiciness and flavor.


Chorizo is a spicy Spanish sausage made from coarsely ground pork, often seasoned with a generous amount of smoked paprika and spicy chili peppers. It can be found in both fresh and cured varieties, with the fresh version being ideal for grilling. When grilling Chorizo, it is best to cook over medium heat, giving the sausage enough time to develop a beautiful crust while keeping it juicy on the inside.


Hailing from the southern United States, Andouille is a smoked sausage made from coarsely ground pork, garlic, and various peppers. Traditionally, it is used in Louisiana Creole dishes, like gumbo and jambalaya. Due to its rich smoky flavor, Andouille is a great choice for BBQ and grilling. Use indirect heat when grilling, allowing the sausage to cook slowly and avoid drying out.

Italian Sausage

A crowd favorite, Italian sausage is made from ground pork, fennel or anise seeds, and other seasonings like garlic, salt, and pepper. You can find it in both sweet and hot varieties, with the hot version containing spicy red pepper flakes. Italian sausage is perfect for grilling, as it pairs well with a variety of toppings and side dishes. It is essential to cook over medium heat, turning frequently to ensure even cooking without burning the exterior.

Choosing the Best Sausages for Grilling and BBQ

When it comes to grilling and BBQ, selecting the right sausage is crucial. In this section, we will focus on understanding the meat to fat ratio, the importance of ingredients and flavors, and how to pick the right sausage casing for the perfect grilling experience.

Understanding Meat to Fat Ratio

The meat to fat ratio is an essential aspect of a great sausage. A sausage with a higher fat content will maintain its juiciness and tenderness during grilling. Generally, the ideal ratio is around 70% meat and 30% fat. This allows for the sausage to not only have the desirable meaty taste but also retain its moistness while cooking on the grill.

Importance of Ingredients and Flavors

The types of ingredients and flavors used in a sausage can greatly impact its taste and suitability for grilling. A good rule of thumb is to select sausages that use high-quality, well-seasoned meat. Some of the best sausages for grilling include:

  • Italian Sausage: Available in hot, sweet, and spicy varieties, Italian sausages are great for grilling due to their flavorful combinations of spices and versatile options.
  • Coburger Bratwurst: A coarsely ground beef or veal sausage, it is seasoned with lemon zest, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Coburger Bratwurst is best grilled over a pinecone fire and served with mustard.
  • Chorizo: A Spanish sausage made from pork, chorizo is seasoned with paprika, garlic, and other spices. Its rich and spicy flavor and firm, slightly chewy texture make it an excellent choice for grilling.

Picking the Right Sausage Casing

The casing of a sausage plays a vital role in the grilling process. There are two main types of casings: natural and artificial.

  • Natural casings, made from animal intestines, are preferred by many due to their authentic taste and texture. They provide a nice “snap” when bitten into and allow for a good smoke penetration during grilling.
  • Artificial casings, usually made of collagen or cellulose, are more consistent in size and shape. However, they may not provide the same snap and smoke penetration as natural casings.

When selecting sausages for grilling, consider the casing type and how it will affect the final cooked product. Whether you decide on natural or artificial casings, always poke a few small holes in the casing to allow for steam to escape and avoid splitting during grilling.

Preparation Techniques Before Grilling

Refrigeration and Thawing

Proper refrigeration and thawing are crucial steps in preparing sausages for grilling. Store sausages in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage. When it comes to thawing, avoid leaving sausages at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth. Instead, thaw sausages in the refrigerator, submerged in cold water, or using a microwave’s defrost setting. Regardless of the method used, ensure that the sausages are evenly and completely thawed before grilling to ensure even cooking and optimal taste.


Parboiling is a common technique used to ensure that sausages are cooked thoroughly and evenly on the grill. To parboil sausages, submerge them in boiling liquid (water, beer, or a combination) just long enough to tighten the skin. The fat inside the sausages should be just starting to liquify. After parboiling, place the sausages on the grill over medium-low heat and cook until fully cooked through.

Utilizing these preparation techniques helps ensure that your grilled sausages turn out juicy and flavorful, without the risk of uncooked or burnt meat. Remember to handle your sausages with care throughout each step of the process, and you’ll be well on your way to serving up a delicious grilled sausage meal, perfect for any BBQ occasion.

Grilling and BBQ Techniques for Sausages

Using Direct Heat

Grilling sausages using direct heat can lead to delicious and juicy results when done carefully. Place the sausages on a preheated grill over medium-high heat and cook them for 5-7 minutes per side, turning occasionally ^(1^). Keep a close eye on the sausages as they cook to avoid overcooking and bursting their casings. An evenly browned and cooked sausage should have an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grilling with Indirect Heat

Using indirect heat is a great technique for cooking sausages without the risk of burning or bursting ^(2^). First, preheat your grill and create a two-zone fire – one side with high heat and the other with low or no heat:

  • Place the sausages on the cooler side of the grill
  • Cook for approximately 20 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking
  • Once the sausages are cooked through, move them to the hotter side of the grill for 2-3 minutes per side to achieve a nice char

Remember to monitor the internal temperature of the sausages, aiming for 150 degrees Fahrenheit, to ensure they are cooked perfectly.

Using a BBQ Smoker

A BBQ smoker can add a delicious smoky flavor to your sausages. Before placing the sausages in the smoker, preheat it to a temperature between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit ^(3^). Arrange the sausages on the smoker grates, ensuring there is ample space between them for even heat distribution. Cook the sausages until they reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, typically taking 1.5 to 2 hours.

Whether you choose direct heat, indirect heat, or a BBQ smoker, be sure to select quality sausages and monitor their internal temperature for the best results. Happy grilling!

Essential Tools for Grilling Sausages

Grilling sausages is simple and scrumptious, but having the right tools is essential for the best results. In this section, we will discuss two key tools that will help you achieve perfect grilled sausages every time: Grill Tongs and Meat Thermometer.

Grill Tongs

Grill tongs are an indispensable tool when it comes to grilling sausages. They allow for safely and effectively turning, rotating, and handling the sausages on the grill. Traditional metal tongs with long handles are highly recommended as they provide stability and prevent your hands from getting too close to the heat.

While grilling, it’s crucial to turn the sausages frequently to ensure even cooking and crispy exteriors. Using grill tongs, gently grasp the sausages and rotate them without puncturing their casings. It’s essential to avoid puncturing the casings, as this can cause juices to leak out, leading to dry and less flavorful sausages.

Meat Thermometer

A meat thermometer is another essential tool for grilling sausages, ensuring that they are cooked to a safe and proper internal temperature. This is especially important for raw sausages, as they need to be cooked through to be safe for consumption.

The best type of meat thermometer to use for grilling sausages is a digital instant-read thermometer. This allows for quick, accurate temperature readings and helps prevent overcooking the sausages.

To check the internal temperature of a sausage, insert the probe of the thermometer into the thickest part, without touching any bone or the grill grates. According to USDA guidelines, the safe internal temperature for cooked sausages is 160°F (71°C) for pork and beef sausages, and 165°F (74°C) for poultry sausages. Once the appropriate temperature is reached, remove the sausages from the grill, and allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving.

By utilizing these essential tools, you’ll be well on your way to grilling sausages that are succulent, flavorful, and cooked to perfection.

Leave a Comment

Resize text-+=