Smoking sausage is a worthwhile pastime for many reasons. However, it’s critical to get the internal temperature just right. If the meat is undercooked, it won’t be safe to consume, but if it’s overcooked the flavor and texture will be off.
We’ve put together this guide to advise you how long to smoke sausage at 180 degrees, among other things. The timing is less important than the temperature, as is the case with all smoked meat products. Let’s take a closer look.
How Long to Smoke Sausage at 180 Degrees
Sausage should take 3 to 4 hours to smoke at 180 degrees. The total length of the smoke will depend on the size of the sausages, their fat content, and the smoker’s ability to retain heat. Use a higher temp if your smoker runs on the cool side, or if you just want to speed things along.
Why Smoke Your Own Sausage?
First of all, you’ll have more control over the amount of smoke flavor, as well as the specific type of wood (more on that later). If you grind your own homemade sausage, you’ll even be able to adjust the salt, seasonings, and fat content to your liking.
That brings us to the second point: Sausage is already delicious, whether it’s grilled, baked, or broiled. Smoking the links takes the flavor to new heights, delivering richness and nuance.
Sausage is also a highly versatile ingredient. You can eat it for breakfast and lunch and again at dinner, preparing it in various ways so that it never gets tiresome. Cold smoked sausage links also make a great midnight snack.
Best of all, smoking sausage doesn’t take all that long. Even when you set the smoker temperature to 200 degrees or lower, you can have dinner on the table within three to four hours. This is in contrast to large cuts like brisket, which can take all day.
Smoked Sausage Internal Temperature
When you smoke pork butt, you want the internal temp to hover around the 200-degree mark so that the meat will shred. With smoked turkey, you should pull the bird from the heat when the breasts are at the 160-degree mark. What about smoked sausage?
Since sausages are made from ground meat, they should cook to 165 degrees before you eat them. That’s the only way to make sure that any hazardous bacteria has been destroyed by the high heat.
That said, it’s just as important not to overcook sausage. When the links are overcooked, the fat dispersal is off and the meat is dry and tough.
Our recommendation is to take the sausages out of the smoker when they’ve cooked to 160 degrees, then allow them to rest for at least 5 minutes. The residual heat should take care of the remaining 5 degrees, and the juices will have time to redistribute.
One caveat: If the sausages are made of ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork), like summer sausage, you can take them off the heat at 155 degrees. The bacteria that cause food poisoning will still die off at this temperature—it will just take a few more minutes.
While we’re on the subject of timing, don’t let your smoked sausage sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Some cured sausages can be kept at room temperature, but others will spoil if they’re not refrigerated.
What’s the Ideal Smoker Temperature for Sausage?
Since the temperature of the smoker has a direct effect on the length of the process, you’ll need to monitor it closely.
225 degrees is our go-to smoker temperature for hearty, fatty cuts like brisket and smoked pork ribs. The low temperature gives the connective tissue a chance to break down while the fat renders and flavors the meat.
Though sausages contain a decent amount of fat as well, it doesn’t take as long to render. The grinding process chops the fat into bits, which will reach a liquid state much more quickly.
Most of the time, we set the smoker to 250 degrees when making smoked sausage. The links will cook through without burning, and the cooking time is long enough to imbue them with robust smoke flavor.
If you want to amp up the smoky taste even further, though, you can set the temperature to 200 or even 180 degrees. Try not to go any lower than this, though, especially if your smoker runs on the cool side.
How Long to Smoke Sausage at 180: A Guide
The reason we recommend a smoker temperature of at least 180 degrees is that a lower temp would result in a drawn-out cooking process. With some meats, that’s not a big deal, but the sausages might dry out if you expose them to the smoke for that long.
You should be able to let the smoker do its work for at least 4 hours when smoking sausage links at 180. We would still recommend checking their internal temp at the estimated halfway point, just to make sure they’re not cooking too fast.
In fact, it’s a good idea to check on the sausages more often than that. Rotate the links on the cooking grate every hour or so. This will ensure even cooking.
Remember that the total cooking time depends on more than just the set temperature. For one thing, the smoker might not be able to maintain this temp for the duration of the smoke. Many units have trouble with heat retention, especially the cheaper ones.
On the other end of the spectrum, some smokers might run too hot. If that’s the case with yours, set the temperature slightly lower than 180 at first, then check it after the first hour and adjust it if necessary.
The type of sausage you choose plays a role as well. Leaner sausages, like the ones made from ground chicken or turkey, will cook faster than pork or beef sausages. In general, meat with a lower fat content will dry out faster, so keep that in mind.
Last but not least, you need to consider the size of the sausage links. Smaller or thinner ones are going to reach the optimum temperature more quickly than links that are oversized and plump.
Best Wood For Smoking Sausage
When smoking pork sausages, opt for a fruit wood like apple or cherry, or another relatively mild selection like pecan or maple. Oak promotes a bolder flavor and pairs especially well with sausages that contain beef.
Most pork cuts can stand up to the rich taste of hickory, but it can impart a bitter flavor in leaner meats. You can incorporate some into the mix if you’d like, but it’s best to combine it with a milder wood.
What About Precooked Sausages?
If the sausages you’re putting on the smoker are already fully cooked, there’s no need to bring their internal temperature back up to 160 degrees. You can do so if you’d like, but it’s not necessary for safety reasons.
In fact, prepackaged smoked sausages can be enjoyed right out of the package. But if you want to improve their flavor in addition to heating them up, it’s fine to put them on the smoker for awhile.
If you opt for a smoker temperature of 180 degrees when reheating precooked sausages, check on them after 30 minutes. They should be heated through at this point. You can always leave them on a bit longer if you wish, but be careful not to let them dry out.
When you set the smoker temperature to 180 degrees, you’ll be rewarded with sausage that’s bursting with smoke flavor and savory juices. The wait will be slightly longer than if you’d used a higher temp, but the trade-off will be well worth it.