Sausage 101: How Long to Smoke Sausage

Smoked sausages on a table
To make sausage, you first need to pick your meat, grind it, season it and fill the casings. Then you will place them in a smoker set to 225°F and smoke them low and slow until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). Once they reach the ideal temperature, cool them in an ice bath or beer bath for 20 minutes.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke Sausage?

It’s important to note that the internal temperature of the sausage is the most critical factor in determining when it is fully cooked and safe to eat. Time is just a guideline.

That being said, here are some estimates according to what kind of sausage you’re using:

Type of Sausage Smoking Time at 225°FSmoking Time at 250°F
Beef sausage2-3 hours1-2 hours
Bratwurst2-3 hours1-2 hours
Breakfast Sausage1-2 hours1 hour
Chicken Sausage1-2 hours1 hour
Chorizo1-2 hours1 hour
Hot Dog1-2 hours1 hour
Italian Sausage2-3 hours1-2 hours
Kielbasa2-3 hours1-2 hours
Polish Sausage2-3 hours1-2 hours
Raw Sausage3-4 hours2-3 hours
Sausage Links2-3 hours1-2 hours

Target Internal Temperature for Sausage

According to the USDA, the safe internal cooking temperature for sausages and other ground meats is 160°F (71°C).

You can use an instant-read thermometer to measure it accurately by placing it into the center of the meat. Always check the internal temperature, as consuming undercooked ground meat can increase the risk of foodborne illness.

What Temperature is Best for Smoking Sausage?

The best temperature for smoking sausage is around 225°F to 250°F. This temperature range allows the sausage to cook slowly and evenly, allowing the smoke flavor to penetrate the meat thoroughly.

For example, some sausage types, such as bratwurst or kielbasa, may benefit from a slightly higher smoking temperature to help them develop a crispy, caramelized exterior. On the other hand, more delicate sausage types, such as chicken or turkey sausage, may require a lower smoking temperature to prevent them from drying out.

Following the recommended cooking temperature for the specific type of sausage you are smoking is a good idea. If unsure of the best temperature, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 160°F for a fully cooked sausage.

Best Method for Making Smoked Sausage

You can cook sausages through hot smoking or cold smoking, but hot smoking is more common:

Tools Needed to Smoke Sausage

  • A pellet smoker or electric smoker.
  • You’ll need a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the sausage.
  • You’ll need wood pellets in your pellet smoker to produce smoke and flavor.

How to Prep Sausage for Smoking

To prepare sausage for smoking, start by choosing your preferred type of sausage. This could be anything from bratwurst to kielbasa to chorizo.

If you want to make sausage from scratch, go to your local butcher and choose your desired ground meat. Remember that you’ll need a meat grinder to make your own.

Prepare the Smoker

To get the smoker ready, you’ll want to ensure it is properly cleaned and set up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You will need to preheat the smoker to 225°F or 250°F and fill it with wood chips or pellets.

Smoke the Sausage

To smoke the sausage, you’ll want to place the sausage in the smoker and close the lid.

The ideal temperature range for smoking sausage is between 225-275°F (107-135°C). The timing will depend on the size and type of sausage and the desired level of smoke flavor.

A good rule of thumb is to smoke the sausage for at least 1-2 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). You may want to baste or spritz the sausage with a liquid (such as apple juice or water) to keep it moist during the smoking process. Turning the sausage or wrapping it while it is smoking is generally unnecessary.

Rest the Sausage

Once the sausage is finished smoking, you’ll want to submerge it in ice water to stop the cooking process, or just let it rest for 10 minutes if you’re going to eat it right away. Letting it rest allows the juices to redistribute and the flavor to develop fully. You can let the sausage rest uncovered or wrap it in foil to keep it warm.

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smoked cheddar sausage

Smoked Sausage with Cheddar Recipe

  • Author: Alexandra
  • Total Time: 6 hours, 15 minutes


This smoked cheddar sausage recipe is a must-try for any home cook who loves a good sausage and wants to impress their friends. The combination of the sharp cheddar and smoky flavor gives this recipe its signature taste.


Units Scale
  • 3235mm natural hog casings (about 10 feet)
  • 4pound boneless pork shoulder, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound pork back fat, cubed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Prague powder #1
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dry ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 pound cheddar cheese, diced into 1/8 inch cubes


  1. Place the diced pork meat in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. When it cools to 40°F or below, you can get it out (35°F is ideal).
  2. Set your large bowl on top of an ice bath when grinding the meat.
  3. Take your grinder and place your meat and fat through a 1/4-inch die.
  4. Grind your meat two times.
  5. Place the ground meat in the refrigerator to chill some more.
  6. Take a small bowl and mix all the dry ingredients in it.
  7. Take the ground meat out of the fridge and put it in a stand mixer.
  8. Add your dry mix, milk powder, and ice water.
  9. Mix this with a paddle attachment for about 4 minutes until the meat is stringy.
  10. Add more water if you think the mixture is still too dry.
  11. Mix the diced cheddar into the meat.
  12. Taste your mixture by placing it in a pan and frying a small portion of it- season the meat according to preference.
  13. Once seasoned, place the mixture in the fridge again to chill.
  14. Once thoroughly chilled, take the meat mixture out of the fridge and place it in the sausage stuffer. Place casings on the sausage stuffer and carefully and slowly stuff them with this mixture.
  15. Ensure you don’t stuff your casings too much.
  16. Twist into links every 6 inches.
  17. If you have a sausage pricker, use one to remove air bubbles from the sausage links.
  18. Chill sausages overnight.
  19. The next day, preheat the smoker to 185°F. Use your favorite wood chips – for a strong flavor, go with hickory, but if you want something milder, apple works wonderfully with pork meat too. Throughout the cooking process, you will have to add additional wood chips.
  20. Take the sausages out of the fridge.
  21. Place sausages in the preheated smoker.
  22. Smoke sausages until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F. Make sure to check the temperature by using a meat thermometer.
  23. Take sausages out of the smoker and place them in the ice bath or spritz them with cold water in the sink to cool them down very quickly. This is a crucial step in the smoking process in order for them to keep their casings smooth, so don’t skip it! Ideally, they would have to reach an internal temperature of 120°F after cooling them with water.
  24. Let sausages dry for up to 2 hours. Then enjoy!


  • These sausages can last about 3 to 4 days in the fridge or 3 months if frozen in a vacuum-sealed bag.
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Rest Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours


  • Serving Size: 1 sausage
  • Calories: 338kcal
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 902mg
  • Fat: 26g
  • Saturated Fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 23g
  • Cholesterol: 77mg

Best Wood for Smoking Sausage 

These wood options are excellent for smoking different types of sausages:


Hickory is a robust and smoky wood that works well with various sausages, including Italian and Polish sausages. It has a bold, bacon-like flavor.


Mesquite is a strong, pungent wood with an earthy flavor often used to smoke venison and beef or other bold flavors.


Pecan has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that works well with various sausages, including summer and Italian sausage.


Applewood has a fruity, slightly sweet flavor that perfectly complements Polish and Italian sausages.


Oak is a versatile neutral wood that works well with venison, summer, Italian and Polish sausages.

Can You Smoke Sausage for Too Long?

Yes, it is possible to smoke sausage for too long. Smoking sausage for an extended period can cause it to be dry and overcooked, changing its texture and flavor.

To avoid this, here’s what you should do:

  1. Follow the recipe or guidelines for the type of sausage you are smoking. The recommended smoking time will vary depending on the type and size of the sausage, and the desired level of smokiness
  2. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the sausage has reached the appropriate internal temperature, as this can help to ensure that it is cooked to the proper doneness.

Pros and Cons of Smoking Sausage

Pros of Smoking Sausage

  • Smoking sausage can add a smoky, woodsy flavor that can be difficult to achieve through other cooking methods. This can make it more tasty and appealing.
  • Preservation: Hot smoking can help preserve sausage for extended periods, as the combination of heat and smoke can kill off bacteria and other microorganisms. 

Cons of Smoking Sausage:

  • Hot smoking and cold smoking are slow processes, as the sausage must be smoked at low temperatures for an extended period to cook correctly.
  • Smoking sausage typically requires a pellet smoker or electric smoker.
  • It is vital to maintain the proper temperature and smoke levels when hot smoking sausage or cold smoking sausage to ensure that it is cooked properly and safely.

How to Store Smoked Sausage

Here are a few options for storing smoked sausage:

  1. Smoked sausage can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week in the refrigerator.
  2. Frozen smoked sausage will keep for three and up to six months in a vacuum-sealed bag in the freezer.
  3. If you plan to use the smoked sausage within a few days, it can be left at room temperature, but you’d have to ensure it’s wrapped in an air-tight container.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who loves everything related to food: from buying local produce and sourcing the best ingredients to finding the perfect spice mix and sauce to complement each dish. She loves getting together with friends near a campfire and grilling up some barbecue goodness while having quality conversations - no screens allowed.

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