Smoked sausage is not only delicious, it’s relatively easy to make on your own. Even if you rely on fresh store-bought sausages instead of grinding the meat from scratch, they’ll taste amazing once they come off the smoker.
What’s the best smoker temperature to use for sausages, and how long does the process take? Our carefully curated guide will take the guesswork out of the process for you.
How Long To Smoke Sausage at 250
Expect the cooking process to take 2 to 3 hours when you smoke sausage at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If the smoker temperature is erratic or if the sausages are especially large, you’ll be in for a longer wait. Leaner sausages will cook through faster and be prone to drying out, so keep a close eye on them if the fat content is low.
Benefits of Smoking Sausage
Why choose sausage for the smoker when there are so many other options?
First and foremost, the overall cooking time will be relatively short. Large cuts like brisket and pork shoulder can take the entire day to reach the optimum temperature, but you can smoke sausages within the space of an afternoon.
Also, sausages pack a punch in the flavor department no matter how they’re cooked. A nice hit of smoky goodness takes them to a whole new level, and one you’re sure to find addictive.
Speaking of which, you can control the amount of salt and fat that goes into the sausage if you make your own. This step isn’t strictly necessary, but once you start enjoying the taste and texture of homemade sausage, you may never revert to the store-bought type.
Recommended Internal Temperature For Smoked Sausage
Sausages are typically made from pork, sometimes a blend of pork and beef. These meats can be safely cooked to 145 degrees or lower, depending on the circumstances. That’s why some folks are surprised to learn that sausage needs to cook to at least 160 degrees.
Here’s the difference: In order to make sausage, the meat needs to be fed through a grinder. When that happens, any bacteria that might have been lingering on the surface will be blended with the sausage mixture.
Ordinarily, it’s safe to cook beef and pork to medium rare because the bacteria are destroyed when you sear the outside over high heat. Since the bacteria in ground meat products could be anywhere, your only recourse is to cook them all the way through.
When smoking sausage, cook the meat to 160 degrees, then remove it from the heat and set it aside to rest. The internal temperature should rise to 165 during this time, which is the ideal serving temp as recommended by the USDA.
Best Smoker Temperature For Sausage
As we mentioned, sausage cooks through more quickly. While you want to give the fat time to render, it’s already ground into tiny pieces, so that process doesn’t take too long.
Setting the temperature too low can also result in dry sausage. What’s more, the smoke flavor might be overpowering if the sausages sit in the smoker for an overly long time.
250 degrees is our go-to smoker temperature when it comes to fresh sausages. At this temp, the meat will cook through slowly, achieving superb smoke flavor by the time it’s done.
How Long To Smoke Sausage at 250 Degrees
When you set the smoker to 250, plan for the cooking process to take somewhere between 2 and 3 hours.
Sausages that are on the smaller side will cook through in less time. The process will also be a shorter one if the mixture is made from ground poultry rather than pork or beef. In fact, the leaner the meat, the less time it will take to cook.
Your smoker temperature plays a huge role in the length of the smoke. Although you may have set the smoker to 250 degrees, it won’t necessarily sustain this temp for the entire duration of the cooking process.
In general, high-quality models will retain heat better than their cheaper counterparts. If you already know that your smoker runs on the cooler side, consider setting the temperature a little bit higher at the outset. You can always adjust it later if need be.
Bear in mind that ambient temperatures can affect the environment inside the smoker. If you’re preparing the sausages on a cold or windy day, the process might take longer than you’d expect.
Our advice would be to keep an eye on the smoker temperature to make sure it’s staying within the 200-275 degree range. Also, test the internal temperature of the links after the first hour, just to see how they’re coming along.
Do You Need To Rotate Sausage While Smoking Them?
That depends on the method you’re using. If your smoker is configured so that you can suspend the sausages in midair, there’s no need to turn them because the smoke will already surround them from all sides.
Most smokers that are designed for home use don’t allow for this configuration. You’ll probably be putting the sausages directly on the cooking grate. That’s fine, but if this is the case, it is a good idea to turn the sausages over as they cook.
There’s no need to flip them too often. Repeated opening and closing of the lid will result in heat loss, not to mention a diminished smoke flavor.
Try to turn the sausages over every 30 to 45 minutes. That way, they’ll cook more evenly and the smoky taste will be consistent throughout each link.
Be careful not to put them too close together on the cooking grate. It’s preferable to set them 1 to 2 inches apart, but if that’s not a possibility, aim for at least 1/2 inch between each one.
What Type of Wood is Best for Smoked Sausage?
As is the case with all smoked meats, you want to select the smoking wood that will complement the flavor without being too overwhelming. Since good sausages have a ton of flavor on their own, the balance becomes even more important.
Our advice would be to select a milder wood, like pecan or apple. Cherry is another solid option, and it imbues the sausage with a lovely rosy hue. If you want something bolder, opt for oak—it has a robust flavor but won’t impart a bitter aftertaste.
If the sausage mixture contains beef, you can get away with adding some hickory to the mix. Stay away from mesquite, as this is a richly flavored wood that’s best reserved for huge cuts of beef.
When smoking sausage made from chicken or turkey, it’s even more important to select a mild-flavored wood. Fruit woods like apple or cherry are excellent, and maple can provide a gentle sweetness that poultry tends to lack on its own.
250 degrees is a good target temperature for smoking sausage. You don’t want the process to take all day, but setting the temp too high can result in burned sausage.
The key is not to overcook the links. Keep an eye on them and take them off the heat when they’ve cooked to 160 degrees. This should yield results that will wow your guests and provide you with delicious leftovers—if you’re lucky.