How To Tell If Sausage Is Cooked

Sausage is one of those foods that everyone loves in one form or another. In between a hot dog bun, it’s an all-American treat that reminds people of their favorite ball game.

When you add peppers and onions, it’s an Italian-American staple. If you add a bit of sauerkraut, it’s a German delight.

To enjoy all these different dishes, you need to cook your sausage. But, how do you know if it’s cooked?

The best way to ensure that you’ve properly cooked your sausage is to use a meat thermometer. It’s done when your sausage reached 160 for most beef and pork sausages, and 165 degrees for game, fish, turkey, or chicken. Cooked sausages will be brown, juicy and firm, while undercooked sausages are pink and bloody. 

Believe it or not, this is one food that can easily cause food poisoning if you eat it undercooked.

It’s time to talk about the vital food safety surrounding this ultra-popular ingredient.

What’s The Right Internal Temperature For Cooked Sausage?

How hot the inside of your sausage is depends on the type of meat that is included in your sausage.

This chart will show you low hot your sausage has to be, plus the ideal wait times before you serve it up. 

Sausage MeatMinimum Internal TemperatureResting Time
Beef sausage160°F (71.1°C)3 minutes
Pork sausage160°F (71.1°C)3 minutes
Pork and beef sausage160°F (71.1°C)3 minutes
Chicken sausage165°F (73.8°C)3 minutes
Game sausage165°F (73.8°C)3 minutes
Turkey sausage165°F (73.8°C)3 minutes
Wild fowl sausage165°F (73.8°C)3 minutes

What Color Is Cooked Pork Sausage? 

Pork sausage is one of the riskiest types of sausage meat, simply due to the high chance of pathogens in the meat.

Cut sausages

The only time you will see cooked pork sausage that is pink in the middle is when it has a high concentration of nitrites in the formula.

This is most common with Italian sausage, but can also happen with certain breakfast sausages as well. 

Is It Okay To Eat Sausage That’s A Little Pink?

If you have just a little bit of pinkness in the center of your sausage, you are probably okay.

Many types of sausage have a high amount of salt. This salt can help preserve the pink look of the meat, even when it’s fully cooked. 

Some sausages, like Italian sausages, will still be slightly pink in the middle but are okay to eat.

This is why it’s always best to use a meat thermometer to determine whether the sausage is fully cooked. 

Finally, if you have vegetarian sausages, the pink isn’t going to be a sign of being undercooked.

Many vegan and vegetarian companies use beet derivatives as a way to add a pink color to their sausages.

What Happens If You Eat Undercooked Sausage?

Undercooked sausage runs a risk of serious food poisoning, much like any other meat.

Sausages in a pan

Depending on the type of sausage as well as the meat, you can get anything from listeria to salmonella or e.Coli. 

What Are The Signs Of Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is often mistaken (or accurately described) as a “stomach bug.”

Most people who experience food poisoning will have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Upset Stomach. This can be anything from a mild pain to serious, wracking pain in your gut. 
  • Nausea. Vomiting may also occur, depending on the severity. 
  • Diarrhea. Frequent bathroom breaks may happen if you get food poisoning from something like e.Coli. 
  • Gas. This is slightly less common, but it often is reported by people who have IBS. 
  • Fever. If you have a food-borne disease, then you may start to experience a fever. 
  • Chills. Certain food-borne illnesses also can cause chills.

Note: If you notice a fever, profuse vomiting, or serious diarrhea, go to a doctor immediately. Moreover, food poisoning doesn’t just happen from undercooked meat. It can also happen from eating expired foods or foods contaminated with parasites. Inspect your meat before you eat!

Is Food Poisoning Really That Common?

Food poisoning is far more common than you might think 48 million Americans get food poisoning annually. 3,000 of these people will die of food poisoning.

While food poisoning may not usually be lethal, it still contributes to over 120,000 cases of hospitalizations every year.

People who have compromised immune systems, digestive issues, and sensitive stomachs are most likely to get sick from food poisoning.

If you want to make sure that you avoid a trip to the doctor, you will need to make sure that most of the pathogens in your food are killed off. 

What Color Is Cooked Wild Game Sausage?

Because wild game can run the gamut from birds to bison, it’s hard to nail down one single type of coloration you should expect.

The best way to ensure that your sausage is properly done is to use a meat thermometer and assume that the game in question is delicate—like pork.

What Is The Best Way To Cook Sausage?

If you have a recipe that calls for sausage, it’s often smartest to follow the recipe step by step.

Sausages

Of course, sometimes, you just want to have a meaty snack. The most common way to heat and cook sausage is to either fry it up or roast it. 

Frying Sausage 101

If you want to go for a quick and easy way to cook sausage, simply slice it into small rings and fry it in a nonstick pan with a two tablespoons of oil.

Most of the time, sausages are best cooked on a low to medium heat. 

Fry the sausages until they turn a rich golden brown on the outside. This typically takes between 10 to 15 minutes to do, depending on the size of the sausage and whether you chose to cut it. 

Roasting Sausage 101

Once again, a “low and slow” roast is the key to getting juicy sausage that doesn’t tear at the seams.

This is an excellent way to get a higher level of juiciness and flavor from your sausage, though it can be a bit time-consuming. 

Roasting the sausage is best done at a low heat around 350 degrees.

Use a raised wire rack for the sausage roast, so that the juices don’t end up covering the meat. Roast the sausages in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. 

Grilling Sausage 101

Sausages and barbecues go together like peanut butter and jelly. Thankfully, grilling sausage is a breeze. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Start by cleaning the grate and bringing the grill to a high heat. With charcoal, this means lighting the coal throughout the grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they ash over. With a gas grill, set your burners on high to preheat the grill for 15 to 20 minutes. With electric grills, simply set the whole grill to preheat at a medium heat.
  2. Transfer the majority of the heat to one side of the grill. Rake charcoal over to one side of the grill and let the coals cool just a bit. You should have a low heat emanating from the coals. If you use a gas or electric grill, turn off the heat to half of the grill. 
  3. Place the sausages on the unheated portion of the grill.  This will let them cook on indirect heat. If you have aromatic grill items that do best on direct heat, you can add them on the portion of the grill that’s hot.
  4. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until done. How long it can take on a grill will vary greatly depending on the heat. Using a meat thermometer can help you determine if you are in need of more time. 

How To Check Your Sausages With A Meat Thermometer

Sausages are one of those food items that can be potentially deceptive if you “cook by the look.”

This is doubly true if you don’t slice it. That’s why a meat thermometer is the best way to determine doneness. But, how do you do it? It’s actually quite simple.

  1. Start with a clean meat thermometer. This is a food safety matter. 
  2. Insert the meat thermometer at either end of the sausage. If it is sliced up, then you can poke the thermometer in the center of the sausage.
  3. Examine the thermometer reading. If it’s 160 or 165 (depending on the meat), then it’s done. If it’s below that reading, it’s safe to say that your sausage may need to go back on the grill for a while longer.

With The Right Cooking Time, Sausage Is Going To Be Perfectly Safe

Reading up on food poisoning can be fairly alarming, especially if you have a sensitive stomach or are immunocompromised.

Thankfully, you don’t have to swear off this meaty snack if you don’t want to. As long as you follow the right food prep steps, you should be able to eat as much meat as you want.

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