14 Sausage Cooking Hacks For Everyone To Master

Sausages are meat products that are fundamental to countless food cultures, and they come in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors. Since Roman times, sausages have often reflected a country's traditional tastes and most commonly used spices, with Spanish chorizo spiked with fiery, sweet paprika and Greek loukaniko packed with fennel and dried herbs. Sausages can be made from virtually any type of meat, and because they're often so powerfully flavored, they tend not to need much additional work or additions to their taste, contributing to their unending popularity.

No matter what type of sausage you're cooking, though, there's probably a hack that'll make it better. Whether you're cooking with fresh sausages or preserved ones, mixing up your cooking style can allow you to improve your ease of preparation, boost your sausage's taste, or give you brand-new ways to serve them. In this article, we focused on finding the best of those hacks to provide you with some easy-to-master tweaks that will make your sausages even better. Drawing from a combination of social media, professional chefs, and food experts, we collected hacks for a variety of sausages so you won't miss out on improving your favorite style. ‌

1. Grate your sausages for easy distribution

As sausages are often so intensely flavored, they're excellent not just in their whole form but crumbled, chopped, or smashed, which allows them to distribute their intensity throughout the food. While this is fairly easy to achieve with fresh sausages, it's harder when you're working with a pre-cooked, smoked, or cured sausage, like salami or kielbasa. These sausages are way firmer and more densely packed, so breaking them down can involve a lot of annoying chopping.

You can make this a doddle, however, by grabbing your grater. Instead of chopping up a precooked sausage, just run it down the side of your grater, like you would a piece of cheese. The sausage will separate into tiny flakes, which you can then use in loads of different ways. For an intensely flavored garnish, crisp up these sausage pieces in a hot pan. You may not need any oil if the sausage has a high-fat content, then sprinkle it over pasta or soup. Or, you can treat it like ground beef and use it within a sauce. You can also stir it into an egg mixture and use the sausage flakes as valuable additional protein and flavor in a frittata or omelet. ‌

2. Make an easy sausage sandwich with a single-pan trick

Few foods are more delicious than a sausage sandwich, but for such a simple dish, it can take a lot of components and utensils to bring it together. As well as cooking your sausages, you also need to grate or slice your cheese, use an additional knife for butter, and bust out your toaster to crisp your bread.

Instead of making a mess in your kitchen, we advise you to employ this single-pan hack, courtesy of Masterchef's Adam Liaw. Slap a slice of cheese down in a hot pan and allow it to melt and brown on its underside. Then, place a piece of bread on top of it, allow it to bind with the cheese, and flip the whole thing over to toast the other side. You then place a cooked sausage and any toppings you like on top of the bread, curl the piece around the meat like a taco, and eat. If you're wondering how to cook the sausage without introducing an additional pan, too, never fear: You can sizzle your links straight in the skillet and then add your cheese afterward.

3. ‌For intact skin, bring them to room temperature

One of the worst things that can happen to sausage links is them bursting in the pan. While this is sometimes unavoidable, it's more likely to happen if your sausages are cooked straight from the fridge. Sausages split for several reasons when they're cooked, including a buildup of steam in the casing due to the water content being heated and the expansion of the meat inside as it warms up. When they're cold, this can happen way more suddenly, and the tight casing doesn't have time to react; instead, it tears apart.

If you leave them at room temperature before cooking them, though, your sausages are better equipped to handle the heat, according to Jeff Baker, executive development chef for Farmison & Co. Leaving them at room temperature for a spell also means that the inside of the sausage can come up to heat quicker, which means that you won't overcook the outside while leaving the inside raw. As sausages are fairly dense, you should give them a decent amount of time out of your fridge. Baker suggests leaving them out for around 20 minutes before cooking them.

4. Split your sausages for better browning

Trying to get a good browning around the whole of your sausages can be almost impossible. Developing a deep brown crust on the outside of the meat improves its flavor and gives the sausages a firmer, slightly crispier texture, but unless you're prepared to stand there constantly rotating them, you'll inevitably end up with one side more cooked than the other.

However, you can sidestep this issue by splitting your sausages down the middle before you cook them. Slice them lengthways, trying not to separate them completely, then split them apart so they're flat and pop them in your frying pan or skillet. By doing this, you create a greater surface area on your sausages, exposing the meat inside and allowing it to brown. When doing the other side, you can simply flip it over.

This hack also gives your sausages another unexpected bonus if you're using them in a sandwich with classic, flat bread. By splitting them, you create a shape that's way more compatible with sandwich loaves and allows for better distribution of your ingredients, rather than leaving your sandwich lumpy and misshapen.

5. For homemade sausages, water is your best friend

Making your own sausages is an awesome way to reconnect with your food and a practical activity that you can get your kids involved with. There's no denying, though, that it can be a messy job, and arguably, the trickiest part is getting your meat into the casings. Sausage casings can often be difficult to rip apart, leading to wasted meat or misshapen links.

Employing water for some quick hacks will help you out enormously here. You should first soak your sausage casings in warm water to make them more flexible and remove any excess salt or chemicals. Then, squirt a little water inside the tip of the casing. This will help it to open up and moisten the inside, which will allow your sausage meat to fill them with ease.

Once your meat is safely inside its casings, you should also use water to stop the whole thing from sticking. Allow your sausages to fall onto a tray that has a little warm water in it. This water will prevent the sausages from sticking to the tray and each other.

6. Use your links to make easy meatballs

What do you do if you're craving meatballs but don't have any in the house? Sausages are your best friend. Fresh sausages can be made into meatballs in no time at all by simply squeezing the meat out of its casings and forming it into little ball shapes. Because the meat is often so well-seasoned, you may well find that you end up with even more flavorful meatballs than if you were using a classic beef option.

Making meatballs out of sausages also means you can make them exactly the size you want, opting for large, chunkier balls or little pellet-sized portions. You can cook sausage meatballs in exactly the same way you would do with beef ones, either by pan-frying them, baking them, or simmering them straight into a sauce. As with regular meatballs, it's a good idea to work with wet hands, to stop the meat from sticking to them too much, and to practice good food hygiene.

Because sausages often contain some kind of binding ingredient like flour or breadcrumbs, it's usually pretty unlikely for them to become loose and break apart when cooked. If you're working with especially crumbly sausage meat, though, you might want to mix in one of these ingredients or a beaten egg to firm things up.

7. Leave your skin intact for juicy sausages

One of our favorite sausage-cooking hacks is also the one that requires the smallest amount of effort. It's common wisdom that you should pierce the casing of your sausages before you cook them to prevent them from splitting. However, executive development chef Jeff Baker explicitly advises against this, especially when working with a high-quality sausage with a natural casing.

The reason why Baker is so resistant to piercing your sausages is because it allows all of the juices to drip out, leaving the meat on the inside not just dry but pretty flavorless. If you're cooking your sausages on the grill, this can also increase the possibility of flare-ups as the juices drip onto your hot coals. This is a particular problem if you prick them all over, like some people suggest, which just increases the amount of liquid that can drain out. Instead, you should leave your casings intact and try to limit them from splitting by bringing them up to room temperature before you cook them. If your sausages still split when you cook them, you will at least minimize the amount of juice lost, as they tend to only burst in one place.

8. Spiral cut your sausages for added texture

Sausages can brown pretty effectively on their surface, but aside from this color change, they can remain slightly boring texturally. Splitting your sausages, though, is a great way to increase surface area and introduce new nooks and crannies to your meat. Cutting a spiral pattern into them is an easy and impactful hack.

By spiral cutting your sausages, you give them an abundance of edges and corners. When these new edges hit the heat, they heat up and caramelize in a way that you just wouldn't get with an intact sausage. This is partly because slicing them exposes the fatty meat inside, which gives you a crispier, browned result when it's cooked. Aside from all this, spiral cutting your sausages gives them a unique, fun visual appearance.

Our favorite thing about doing a spiral cut on a sausage, too, is that it's really easy. All you have to do is stick a skewer into the end of your sausage and hold it upright. Then, run a sharp knife down and around the sausage in a spiral shape. Repeat as many times as you wish along the whole sausage to give it more patterning.

9. For perfect grilled sausages, boil them first

Sausages are arguably never better than when they're grilled, with the heat of your barbecue giving the meat a coloring that's hard to replicate inside your kitchen. However, a hot grill presents some problems for sausages. Grills can reach temperatures of 650 degrees Fahrenheit, and while the heat will cook the outside of your sausages quickly, they can be done before the inside has cooked through — leaving the outer layer burnt and the inside raw. This may be especially noticeable if you haven't let your sausages come to room temperature first, which permits better heat distribution throughout their flesh.

A quick hack to get around this is to boil your sausages. Although this might sound kinda gross, it's a great way to ensure that your sausages are cooked all the way through before you finish them off on the grill. Most sausages will take about 8-10 minutes in a lightly boiling pan of water to cook through enough to then be finished off on the barbecue. As sausages are fatty and wrapped in a casing, they'll remain juicy even when you've partially cooked them. Make sure you dry the outside of them thoroughly before you grill them, though, so they don't steam or bring down the temperature of your appliance.

10. Peel your salami quickly by using water

The papery-thin, white-tinged casing on the outside of salami is, like other sausage casings, totally edible according to Il Porcellino Salumi. However, whereas other sausage casings' tend to be tender and incorporate seamlessly into the sausage, salami casings can sometimes be mealy and unpleasant to chew through. If you're cubing up salami to throw into pasta or soup, you may also want to remove the skin so that it doesn't float around in your food and ruin its texture.

If you've ever tried to peel a salami, though, you'll know how fiddly it can be. So that's why we love this next hack, which takes little more than a bowl of cold water. Dip your salami in the water, allowing it to soak for a few seconds, making sure the water gets all around the sausage. Then, slit it down the middle with a sharp knife, and peel the skin off. The lubrication the water provides and the slight softening effect will make peeling your salami a breeze, and you should be able to pull it off in one seamless piece. Using cold water also stops the salami itself from softening too much, as it may do if you were using hot liquid.

11. Make easy sausage rolls using a tortilla

There are few things in life more comforting than a sausage roll, but making them is far from a relaxing experience. This is largely due to the puff pastry casing they typically come in — and while you can usually buy this premade in the store, making it yourself is far from simple.

So, if you can't find any premade puff pastry or can't find the energy to make it from scratch, grab some tortillas. This hack not only produces a crispy yet soft vehicle for your meat but is also useful for using up any old tortillas you have lying around. Just pile your sausage meat into a regular white flour tortilla, and then roll it up into a cigar shape. Using a sharp knife, you can then cut it into as many pieces as you like before baking them for 20-25 minutes to ensure that the meat is cooked through. 

If you have the time and energy, you can make your sausage filling by combining regular sausage meat with any spices and seasonings you choose. However, if you're like us and want maximum results for minimum work, just squeeze the meat out of your favorite sausages straight into the shell.

12. Make your sausage a vessel for eggs by shaping it

Sausages and eggs are an all-time great combo, and one of our favorite hacks involves combining the two seamlessly. With the right sausage, you can make a heart-shaped container with the meat, which you can then cook your eggs directly inside. Just take your sausage and cut it in half down the middle, leaving a small section at the end uncut so the two pieces remain connected. Then, fold each side of the sausage around itself and connect the loose ends with a few toothpicks.

By doing this, you'll end up with a heart shape, which you can place in a pan and pour eggs directly into. Make sure to do this slowly so that the eggs don't flood the sausage shape and leak out. This trick keeps the eggs contained and separate from the other items on the plate, and it also saves on washing up, allowing you to cook two items at once. It should be pointed out that this hack will only work with franks or other precooked sausages that are flexible enough not to snap when you bend them. You should avoid using raw sausages for this trick, as they may not cook through enough, creating a food safety issue, as advised by the USDA.

13. Use a panini press for perfectly-browned sausages

Achieving a perfect brown on the outside of sausages can be harder than it looks due to their cylindrical shape. So, sometimes, it pays to bust out some unlikely kitchen appliances to help you on your journey. A panini press is one of the best ways to get all-over browning on sausages, and it can often do so quicker than if you used a pan. All you have to do is place your sausages inside the preheated press, clamp it down, and cook until golden, for roughly five minutes.

There are a few caveats to using a press, however. You should precook your sausages partly by boiling them before pressing them, which will help to ensure that they're not raw after their time in the panini machine, and help to firm up the sausage to avoid it splitting. Bear in mind, too, that unless your sausage's casing is especially flexible, it may well split when it's clamped down anyway. The way to get around this is to cut your sausage in half down the middle before pressing it to give it more surface area to generate brownness.

14. Bake your salami to make low-carb chips

Anyone who's ever surreptitiously grabbed slices of salami from their fridge will know what a great snack it makes. This hack, however, amps up the sausage's snacking ability to no end by baking salami slices until they develop a chip-like crispiness. It takes nothing more than placing salami slices on a baking sheet and popping them in a low oven for around 20 minutes. Once you've pulled them out, allow them to cool on a paper towel, which will soak up any excess fat and increase their crispiness.

This hack is particularly useful for individuals who are on a low-carb or keto diet or people who are looking to get more protein from their snacks, according to Chomps. It's also a fun way to put a new twist on a charcuterie board and serve meat with a crispy texture amidst softer slices of prosciutto or coppa ham. You can also do this with any other sliced deli sausage, so don't feel like you have to go out and buy salami specifically — use whatever you have on hand. Remember, though, that once you've cooked them, you'll want to eat them within a few days before they go bad.