Sure, you’re familiar with your classic spicy and Italian varieties, but did you know that there are many more types of sausage out there just waiting to be transformed into a delicious meal? Our roundup features everything from fresh and juicy links to salty cured meats, so you’re sure to find a sausage dish to satisfy your tastebuds.
1. Southern Andouille
Known for its spicy and smoky flavor, this coarse-grained pork sausage is a less pungent take on the traditional (and less common) French andouille. Though slightly milder than its French counterpart, Southern andouille is no shrinking violet: Generously seasoned and often double-smoked, this sausage—a staple of Cajun and Creole cuisine—is frequently included in recipes for gumbo and jambalaya.
Bratwurst is a German fresh link sausage consisting of finely chopped meat—usually pork, or a combination of pork and veal—blended with an array of spices, including caraway, ginger and nutmeg (to name a few). This heavily seasoned sausage is delicious mixed with sauerkraut, or when served in a bun with spicy mustard (and a cold beer to wash it down).
3. Spanish Chorizo
Popular in Spanish and Latin American cooking, chorizo is a cured, fermented pork sausage from the Iberian Peninsula of Spain. The coarsely chopped pork in Spanish chorizo is seasoned with copious amounts of paprika—hence, its distinct bright red hue. In terms of flavor, Spanish chorizo typically has a deep, smoky taste with varying degrees of heat, depending on whether sweet or spicy paprika was used. Since Spanish chorizo has been cured (i.e., dried and aged for several weeks), it’s safe to enjoy it by the slice without cooking.
4. Salame Napoli
Made with meat from the shoulder, leg, neck and loin of a pig, this cured pork sausage is said to be Italy’s spiciest. It is hard, dense, chewy and full of robust, piquant flavor. Chop it up and add it to stews and pastas, layer it in a sandwich, or enjoy it as a standalone snack—however you use it, Salame Napoli is sure to wake up (and please) your palate.
5. Mexican Chorizo
Although it shares the same origin as Spanish chorizo, the Mexican variety is quite different—namely in that it’s sold fresh and consists of ground, not coarsely chopped, pork. Another key difference is that Mexican chorizo owes its striking red color to hot red pepper, rather than smoked paprika; thus, you can count on the fresh Mexican stuff being considerably spicier than its cured cousin. To prepare Mexican chorizo, you can cook the link whole and slice it for a wide variety of uses or remove the meat from the casing and add the ground pork goodness to egg dishes, burritos, soups and more.
This cured and dried pork sausage is popular in Spanish-speaking countries as a snack, appetizer or sandwich meat; however, what it tastes like depends entirely upon the region in which it was made. Across the board, you can expect a long, thin sausage made with a combination of finely chopped pork and herbs—but the devil is in the details, since the particular herb and seasoning blend used has a significant impact on the flavor of the sausage. For example, longaniza from Argentina and Uruguay boasts the sweet flavor and aroma of anise seed, while Spanish longaniza has a little more bite from black pepper and nutmeg. But rest assured, no matter which variety you go for, all types of longaniza are damn delicious.
7. Blood Sausage
It’s known as black pudding in the UK, boudin in France, and morcilla in Spanish-speaking countries, but here we call ‘em like we see ‘em and blood sausage is, as the name suggests, a sausage made with blood. Aside from the not-so-secret ingredient, blood sausage consists of seasoned ground beef or pork, often blended with breadcrumbs and onions. This type of sausage has been around for ages (i.e., ever since folks figured out that blood is a highly effective binding agent) and, if you’re not too squeamish to give it a try, you’ll understand why it has stood the test of time. (Hint: It’s bloody good.)
8. Lap Cheong
Technically lap cheong is simply the Cantonese word for sausage, and thus covers a wide variety of links. That said, the most readily available type of Chinese sausage, or lap cheong, is a cured and dried pork variety (sometimes a pork and chicken combo) that boasts a reddish-pink color and a swoon worthy sweet-and-salty flavor profile. This sausage can be enjoyed hot or cold and is often cooked in a wok and added to stir-frys, served with steamed rice, or used to fill dumplings.
9. Italian Sausage
One of the most frequently consumed types of sausage stateside, Italian sausage is distinct from your garden variety pork sausage in that it’s seasoned with fennel seed (among other things). You can choose from mild (i.e., sweet) or hot Italian sausage—both of which can be used interchangeably in recipes for pasta, pizza, soup, skillet dishes and more—depending on how spicy you like your chow.
Kielbasa, a staple of Polish cuisine, is simply a sausage made from pork, beef or any combination of coarsely ground meat. Indeed, kielbasa is a pretty broad category that covers dried and fresh sausages of any size and description. A few of the most popular types of kielbasa include Biala kielbasa (fresh, unsmoked sausage), Kabanosy (smoked and dried Hunter’s sausage), Krupniok (Polish blood sausage), and Serdelki (generously-sized hot dogs). Given the wide variety of kielbasa available, it goes without saying that culinary applications for this sausage run the gamut.
5 Tasty Sausage Recipes
1. One-pot lentil kielbasa soup
This hearty stew of earthy lentils and smoky kielbasa is a bowlful of bold flavor and comfort to boot.
2. One-pan sausage with broccoli rabe and white beans
A trip to the Tuscan countryside might not be in the cards, but this Italian one-pan dinner of bitter broccoli rabe, creamy white beans and mild Italian sausage is the next best thing.
3. Sausage, corn and poblano chowder
You’ve got options when it comes to the kind of sausage you use for this comforting chowder, but we’re casting our vote in favor of chorizo. (Spanish or Mexican, take your pick.)
4. Sausage and egg breakfast dumplings
Before you phone it in and make yourself yet another bacon, egg and cheese, consider spicing up your morning menu with these breakfast dumplings. (Hint: These babies would be delicious with lap cheong.)
5. Salami, artichoke and ricotta pasta salad
Peppery Napoli salami gets along swimmingly with tangy artichoke hearts and creamy ricotta in this light and satisfying pasta salad.