Types of Sausage 101
Here are the sausages you need to know, plus recipes for using each.
There's a reason sausage is one of the world's iconic foods. Sausage is indisputably delicious and most world cuisines have at least a few staple sausages. It's frugal, it's tasty, it's a winner. Sausage is delicious on its own, but also perfect for adding flavor and depth to your favorite pantry staples like beans or rice. In the US alone, we have 200 varieties of sausage.
Everyone has their favorite, but why not try them all? Here are the ones you need to know.
Originally from France, smoky Andouille is now associated most with Cajun cuisine. It's typically pork-based and flavored with garlic, peppers, onions, and wine. You'll often find it in gumbo, the famed Louisiana stew.
If you've ever dined at a beer garden, you've likely eaten a "brat" or two. This historic sausage has been a German favorite since about 1313 and there are at least 40 documented varieties of German bratwurst.
The prefix "brat" comes from the old German word brät, meaning "finely chopped meat" and "wurst" means sausage. They can include a range of seasonings but is often mild with a hint of baking spices like ginger or nutmeg. Bratwurst is usually enjoyed with sauerkraut and beer, though it can be thrown in hearty soups or stews.
Though it's likely based on an English recipe, breakfast sausage is one variety that we can take credit for in the US. Typical breakfast sausage seasonings include pepper and sage. Maple syrup and cured bacon can also be added.
And, the good news is that breakfast sausage can be easily made at home. Tinker with the seasoning blend to make it your own!
There are many versions of blood sausage throughout the world, from the Spanish and Latin American morcilla to French boudin noir to the Thai sai krok lueat. Blood, as the name suggests, is usually a primary ingredient, after being mixed with a filler like meat, fat, or grains. Blood sausage can be tricky to find in your typical US supermarket, though it's not impossible.
Smoky, spicy chorizo comes from both Spain and Mexico, but it's not quite the same thing. European chorizo is a cured pork salami, the kind you'd slice and serve on a charcuterie board.
Mexican chorizo is typically fresh ground pork (sometimes beef, chicken, or turkey), which you'd purchase uncooked and cook at home. Most is seasoned with chili powder and garlic, but "green chorizo" can also be found, which is seasoned with tomatillo, cilantro, chili peppers, and garlic.
Italian sausage is the generic American term for a seasoned, pork-based sausage. A range of options can be found, including hot Italian sausage, sweet Italian sausage, and mild Italian sausage. While each is seasoned a bit differently, anything labeled as "Italian sausage" will likely have fennel.
In Poland, "kielbasa" just means sausage. In the US, a kielbasa usually means a curved, smoked pork sausage. Kielbasa is traditionally served garnished with fried onions, though it can be utilized in soups, stews, and casseroles as well.
Check out our collection of Sausage Recipes.