Do You Need to Cook Summer Sausage?

Summer sausage offers a delightful treat during the holidays, boasting convenience, a long shelf life, and a scrumptious taste. 

This type of sausage is both cured and smoked, preserving the meat while inhibiting bacterial growth. This raises the question: “Do you need to cook summer sausage?”

If you’ve purchased this treat from a store or a local butcher shop, there’s no need for extra preparation or cooking. Simply slice it up and serve as is. It’s perfect for entertaining guests at your next dinner party or for a cozy night in with loved ones.

However, if you’re dealing with homemade summer sausage, the situation changes. In this scenario, some additional steps might be necessary before consumption. This could involve heating the sausage to a specific temperature or smoking it for a designated period.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the nuances of cooking and smoking summer sausage.

Does summer sausage need to be cooked?

Do You Need To Cook Summer Sausage?

Summer sausage is a type of sausage traditionally cured, dried, and smoked, rendering it resistant to bacterial growth.

This preservation method dates back centuries to an era before refrigeration existed, when people needed a means to store meat for extended periods.

In contemporary times, the production of summer sausage follows a similar process, but often incorporates additional curing agents and flavor enhancers. This modification accelerates the smoking procedure, making the sausage suitable for immediate consumption.

When purchasing summer sausage from a store, cooking is unnecessary. It can be consumed directly, used as a meat supplement or alternative in various dishes, or even grilled for an extra burst of flavor.

Likewise, homemade summer sausage undergoes smoking and preparation, obviating the need for cooking. However, the distinct preparation methods of homemade sausage make it an ideal candidate for grilling or blending into other dishes.

If you opt to grill your summer sausage, remember to remove the collagen casing, which doesn’t fare well under high heat.

When combined with other foods, summer sausage imparts its flavors to the entire dish, contributing to its versatility as a culinary addition.

Thanks to proper preparation, summer sausage remains a convenient and delectable choice with a lengthy shelf life, making it an excellent solution for individuals seeking a durable storage option for surplus meat.

Smoking Summer Sausage

In the absence of smoking or oven-baking procedures, your sausage-making endeavor could succumb to bacterial growth and spoilage, similar to other types of fresh meat.

While the curing process imparts a burst of flavor to the meat through the infusion of various spices, it falls short in preventing bacterial proliferation. Therefore, the smoking or baking step is imperative.

The question that often arises is: How long should you allocate to cooking summer sausage, and can this task be accomplished with the appliances available in your home?

The answer to this query hinges on the specific preparation method you intend to pursue.

Traditionally, smoking has been the foundation of crafting exquisite summer sausage. However, in this modern era of appliances, replicating the time-honored outcomes has become an effortless undertaking.

Gone are the days when you had to meticulously tend to a fire for an extended period to generate the requisite smoke for the process.

What is the Optimal Smoking Temperature for Summer Sausage?


The process of smoking summer sausages is critical to both enhancing flavor and eliminating bacteria after they’ve been cured and placed into casings.

The smoking temperature for summer sausages can vary based on the cooking method employed.

When using an oven, preheat it to 185°F, though higher settings like 225°F or 250°F are also acceptable.

Utilize an internal meat thermometer to monitor the temperature, aiming for a reading of 165°F. Once this temperature is reached, remove the sausages from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

In the case of a smoker, set the temperature to 145°F, and make sure to open the dampers. Following an hour, raise the temperature to 180°F, introduce more wood pellets, and patiently wait for two to three hours until the sausages are thoroughly smoked.

Add water to the smoker and adjust the temperature to 190°F until the internal heat gauge reads approximately 160°F.

Once the process is complete, allow the sausages to cool before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer.

How Much Time Should Summer Sausage Be Smoked?

When smoking summer sausage, the duration can vary based on multiple factors, including the meat type, spices, casings used, and the curing process applied.

Ensuring the summer sausage reaches room temperature before introducing it to the smoker or oven is crucial. Smoking it directly from the refrigerator can extend the cooking time.

If using an oven for smoking, the process usually takes several hours, but relying solely on time to determine doneness is not recommended.

Instead, rely on an internal meat thermometer to confirm the sausages are thoroughly cooked. The target temperature is around 165°F for oven-smoked sausages.

The baking duration will fluctuate according to the oven temperature, and raising it won’t necessarily yield superior results.

For instance, at 220°F, baking typically takes four to six hours, contingent on the oven type. Yet, setting the oven to the recommended minimum of 185°F will prolong the drying and smoking process.

When employing an electric smoker, the required duration hinges on the smoker’s temperature and the wood variety utilized.

On average, it takes six to eight hours from starting the smoker, gradually increasing its heat to guarantee the sausages attain the appropriate internal temperature.

Mastering the Art of Cooking Summer Sausage

If you’re looking to elevate the flavor of summer sausage, there are several cooking methods to consider.

One approach involves cooking it on the stove, which offers a healthier alternative by avoiding the use of oil.

To do this, place the sausage in a pot, add enough cold water to cover it, and then cook over medium heat. Allow it to cook thoroughly for 8 to 10 minutes, ensuring the liquid eventually evaporates.

Another option is oven cooking, which is notably straightforward.

Begin by preheating the oven to 375 ℉. Place the sausage on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, remembering to flip it halfway through the baking process. To prevent drying out, you might also consider drizzling the sausage with butter or oil.

For those who prefer frying summer sausages, using a non-stick pan and opting for low or medium temperatures is essential.

Fry the sausages for a duration of 15 to 18 minutes, consistently flipping them to achieve even cooking. Before frying, it’s advisable to inspect the casings of the sausages.

Different casings can be composed of varying materials like collagen, animal intestines, or even plastic. Some materials may not respond well to extreme temperatures, potentially compromising the quality of the sausage.

Thus, it’s wise to remove collagen casings due to their thickness and potential difficulty in chewing.

Guide to Storing Summer Sausage

To maintain the freshness and delectable flavor of your summer sausage, the optimal approach is to store it in the refrigerator. You can extend its shelf life for up to three months using this method.

If you require a longer storage period, freezing is a viable option, allowing you to keep it for as long as 10 months.

When embarking on the storage of summer sausages, the key lies in wrapping them meticulously with freezer paper. Ensure the glossy side of the paper faces outward.

Position the sausages at the center of the paper, folding it over them and securely sealing the edges using freezer tape. Remember to affix a proper label on the package, detailing the contents and the date of storage.

By following these steps diligently, you can guarantee that your summer sausages remain both palatable and fresh over an extended period.


Selecting the Right Casing for Summer Sausage

Crafting the ideal summer sausage demands meticulous consideration of the casing size employed. For optimal outcomes, select inedible fibrous, smoked, or collagen casings as they are best suited.

Aim for a casing size of 2″ or 2.5″ for the most favorable results. If you’re seeking a thicker sausage, a 4″ casing is an option, although wider sausages may not cook evenly.

Conversely, if your preference leans toward smaller serving portions, opt for 1″ casings to create sausages more suitable for pairing with crackers.

Prior to stuffing the cured meat, immerse the casings in water for a minimum of 30 minutes. This process ensures they become pliable and easy to manipulate during the stuffing procedure.

Choosing the Right Stuffing Tube Size for Summer Sausage

The 19mm diameter (3/4”) stuffing tube ranks as the most commonly used size for summer sausage, apt for casings broader than 1”.

To achieve optimum outcomes, the tube should be approximately 40% smaller than the casing’s diameter.

Nonetheless, the process of filling sausage casings necessitates careful handling and adept technique. Employ one hand to manage the sausage while the other is dedicated to the filling horn.

To enhance control, enlisting assistance for the filling process is advisable; having someone else manage the crank can help prevent the formation of air pockets.

If the sausage expands after refrigeration, there’s a likelihood that internal components are generating gas, rendering it unfit for consumption.

Subtle air bubbles within the summer sausage following smoking are acceptable, as the casing will slightly expand, causing the air to redistribute.

How Safe is Summer Sausage for Consumption?

Summer sausage is indeed safe for consumption. However, it’s prudent to conduct a thorough examination of the packaging and the sausage itself before indulging. Summer sausage is commonly enjoyed in accompaniment with wine, cheese, or even paired with fries.

Can You Savoring Summer Sausage without Heating?

Summer sausage can be consumed cold, but make sure it is the type that is meant to be eaten without further cooking. To enjoy the best experience, you can pair it with a hot drink like a cup of coffee.

Final Thoughts

After reading this article, you should have a clear answer to the question: Do you have to cook summer sausage? The good news is, you can eat summer sausage right away after buying it from the store. 

However, if you want to enhance the flavor, you can opt to cook it.

Eatingwithyourhands hope you found this post informative and useful. Thank you for taking the time to read it!

Categories Sausage

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