Sausage in all its tasty forms is a staple at mealtimes. Turkey, pork, wild game and other meats form the patties or links that add the spicy complement to your eggs, pancakes or grits. You can also add Italian sausage to your spaghetti sauce or enjoy brats on buns.
Preparing the sausage varies depending on whether the meat is raw or fully cooked. While baking is one way to cook sausage, you can also broil, grill or fry the patties or links, or in the case of precooked products, heat them in the microwave. When in doubt, follow the directions on the package.
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Thaw Frozen Sausage Safely
While sausages like most meats can be cooked in the oven from a frozen state, for best results, you should thaw it in the refrigerator. Place the sausage patties or links on a plate or casserole dish and allow it to thaw for several hours or overnight.
You can also thaw sausage by placing it in a recloseable bag and putting it in the sink. Cover it with cold water and drain and refill every 30 minutes until the meat is thawed. Cook immediately.
If you're in a hurry, you can also thaw sausage in the microwave. Use the defrost setting or set the microwave at 50 percent. Check the meat every few minutes until it is sufficiently thawed. Cook immediately after thawing in the microwave.
Bake the Sausage
Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the sausage patties or links on a cookie sheet or casserole dish or in a baking or roaster pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and then turn the sausage patties over. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. If you're starting with frozen sausage patties, add an additional three to five minutes per side.
Bake Italian or Premio sausage in the oven in a single layer in a baking pan. Pierce once with a fork. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. If the links were frozen when you put them in the oven, bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes to brown the sausages. Check the internal temperature to make sure it reaches 165 degrees.
Boil Sausages First
Boiling sausages in casings before broiling or grilling them ensures that the interior is completely cooked before you brown them on the grill or in a frying pan. Emulsified sausages such as hot dogs, knockwurst and bratwursts consist of casings filled with finely ground meats, fat, water and spices. Nonemulsified sausages include Italian sausages.
Boil precooked products such as hot dogs for 10 minutes and uncooked brats, Italian sausage and other sausages for 30 minutes or more. Don't limit yourself to water; you can boil the sausages in beef or chicken broth, tomato sauce or beer. While preboiling is not required, it speeds up the cooking process when you're grilling for a crowd.
Broil the Sausage
Set the oven on broil. Place the thawed sausage patties or links on a rack in a baking pan or a broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heating unit for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the sausage over and continue broiling for another 5 minutes. If the sausages are precooked, broil for two or three minutes on each side until hot and browned.
Heat the Sausage on the Grill
Start the briquettes. When they are covered with ash and glowing, use tongs to move the briquettes to one side of the grill. Put a heat-proof pan on the other side of the grill. Fill the pan with water, beer or other liquid.
Sear the brats, Italian sausage or hot dogs over the fire for approximately two minutes on each side. Move the sausage to the other side of the grill over the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes or until heated to 165 degrees. If you already boiled the sausages, simply sear both sides on the grill before serving to your guests.
Fry Sausage on the Stove
Cook frozen chorizo or ground sausage in a frying pan. You can thaw it first or put it in the pan with a little water and heat it slowly so it thaws as it cooks. Break it apart and continue stirring and cooking it over medium heat until it is browned and at least 160 degrees. Drain and add to your favorite recipe.
You can also fry sausage patties, links and boiled sausages. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry until the sausage is browned on all sides and is heated to 165 degrees inside, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
Microwave Fully-Cooked Sausage Products
Fully-cooked sausage products can also be microwaved. Put one serving of the sausage patties or links on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds depending on the package instructions. Allow the sausage to rest for one minute before serving.
- University of Illinois Extension Meat Safety for the Consumer: Thawing Meat
- University of Illinois Extension Meat Safety for the Consumer: Cooking Meat
- Bon Appetit: Should You Grill Sausages — or Boil Them? A Sausage-Cooking Primer
- Premio: Sweet Italian Sausage
- Johnsonville: Chorizo Ground Sausage
- Johnsonville: Original Recipe Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausage