How to Make Pickled Sausage


Start to Finish: 20 minutes plus 5 days pickling time
Servings: 1 quart jar
Difficulty: Beginner

Nothing screams guilty pleasure quite like a pickled bar sausage. One bite and the skin pops and unleashes all the spicy goodness on your unsuspecting taste buds. This recipe is inspired by Penrose sausages, a quickie mart favorite as a staple for many hunters and campers. While not quite as easy as grabbing a package at the gas station, this tasty treat is so simple to make you can keep your larder stocked with sausages year-round.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (milder)
  • 1 tablespoon pickling salt (regular salt is OK, too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tricolor or black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon minced white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 habanero or ghost pepper (for hot sausages)
  • 28-ounce package little smokies, cut lengthwise


  • Use any precooked smoked sausages. Little smokies are easier to munch as snacks but regular kielbasa works fine either cut in chunks or sliced lengthwise and stood on end in the jar.


In a medium saucepan, combine the water, vinegar and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pack the sausage in a 1-quart sterilized Mason jar with a new lid. Don't just throw them in willy-nilly; arrange them as you see in commercial pickle jars. This allows the spices to be uniformly distributed and creates a more pleasing presentation for gifts or serving.

Distribute all the spices on top of the sausages. Add the minced garlic and onion. If you are using a hot pepper, stick it down in the center of the jar just enough to hide it.

Pour the hot vinegar over the sausage. If you don't have enough liquid, just heat up a little more -- it only takes a minute. Holding the jar with a cloth, screw the lid on tight. Use a cloth for the lid as well so you don't burn your hand.

Now just walk away for 4 days and try not to peek.


  • The reason for the new lid is that the rubber lining on a Mason jar deteriorates after a few uses. The rings are OK but be safe and use a new lid.

Substitutions and Serving Suggestions

Use this same recipe for pickling hard-boiled eggs but add a tablespoon of sugar and perhaps a bit more paprika.

Jars of pickled sausages make festive holiday gifts, especially if made with colored peppercorns and tiny red peppers. Just add a bow!

Add baby pickled onions for a bar favorite.

As an appetizer, serve the sausages on a cheese plate with cornichon pickles and deviled eggs.

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