Can you smoke sausage that’s already been cooked? The answer is yes, but you won’t need to put it on the smoker for very long. Since the meat has already been cooked to a safe internal temperature, you’re essentially just reheating it.
Here’s a guide to smoking pre cooked sausage without drying it out.
Smoking Pre Cooked Sausage
It takes about 2 hours for pre cooked sausage links to heat through and take on superb smoke flavor. That’s assuming the smoker is set to 225 degrees. At lower temperatures, you can keep the links on for up to 3 hours, while higher temps will result in a shorter cooking time. Pre cooked hot dogs can be ready in as little as 1 hour.
About Smoked Sausage
Sausage is ground meat that’s often stuffed into casings to give it a more manageable shape. Pork and beef are traditional, but you can make sausages out of ground poultry as well.
Smoking the sausages gives them a robust flavor while bringing the meat to a safe internal temp at the same time. You can use whatever wood you prefer, but some work better than others. We’ll talk more about this in a separate section below.
While we’re on the subject of safe temperatures, know that ground meat products should be cooked to 165 degrees before serving. When you buy pre cooked sausages, they’ve already passed this test, so you don’t need to test the temperature.
Do You Have to Heat Pre Cooked Sausage?
Strictly speaking, it’s not necessary to reheat this type of sausage. As we pointed out, it’s already cooked to a safe internal temperature. That means any potential bacteria was destroyed before the meat was packaged.
However, it’s preferable to reheat the sausages before enjoying them. Doing so will bring out the flavors and give them a more pleasing texture. As a bonus, when you reheat them in the smoker, they’ll taste even better than they did before.
How hot should the sausages be before you serve them? If you want to ensure that they’re piping hot and juicy throughout, use a meat thermometer to test the temperature and remove them from the heat when they reach 155 degrees.
How Long To Smoke Pre Cooked Sausage
How long you smoke the sausage should depend on how hot the smoker is. In fact, that’s the rule of thumb no matter what you’re putting on the smoker.
When smoking meat, we prefer to set the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. That gives the wood smoke plenty of time to flavor the food, while still cooking it to a safe temperature within the prescribed time frame.
At 225 degrees, the sausages should be ready to come off the smoker in about 2 hours. The links should be hot, juicy, and full of hearty smoke flavor. Again, go ahead and test the internal temperature if you want to make sure they’re heated through.
You can use a higher temperature if you’re in a hurry. Know that the smoky taste won’t be as pronounced if you do, since the pre cooked links won’t be exposed to the smoke for very long. You’ll also run the risk of drying out the sausage.
At 300 degrees, the sausages will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes to heat through. At this temperature, there’s a chance that the casings will burst. Keep an eye on the links to make sure they don’t split open.
Since the meat is already cooked, you can also set the smoker to a lower temp without ill effect. Try not to go any lower than 180, especially if your smoker runs on the cooler side or if it’s a particularly cold or windy day.
When the smoker is able to maintain a consistent 180-degree temperature, you should be able to keep the sausages inside for up to 3 hours without ill effect. This is a good choice if you want the meat to taste as smoky as possible.
No matter what temp you use, let the smoked sausages rest for about 5 minutes before you serve them. This will give the flavors time to meld.
What Wood To Use For Smoking Pre Cooked Sausage
There’s a good chance that the packaged sausage you buy will already be seasoned. That can be a good thing, but you want to make sure to choose a type that will align with the flavor profile you’re going for.
Fruit woods like apple and cherry will impart a mild taste that brings out the natural sweetness of pork and beef. Pecan is another solid option, and its nutty flavor will add complexity to the dish.
Looking for a stronger smoke flavor? Opt for hickory. This wood imparts a bold taste, but it can be overpowering if you’re not careful. Since you’ll only be smoking the sausages for a short time, though, that shouldn’t pose a major issue here.
Do You Need To Use a Water Pan When Smoking Sausage?
Ordinarily, we don’t advocate the use of water pans. The smoker is capable of doing its work without this addition. What’s more, when there’s too much moisture in the environment, the meat might not have the texture you desire.
That said, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a water pan when smoking pre cooked sausage links. Bark formation isn’t an issue here, and the moisture can prevent the sausages from drying out and becoming too tough.
Check the water pan when you’re testing the progress of the sausages, and refill it if it’s getting too low. Don’t open the smoker too often, though, or you’ll let out all that lovely smoke—not to mention the heat.
Can You Smoke Hot Dogs?
Hot dogs are a type of pre cooked sausage, and one of the more popular ones. Obviously, there’s no need to smoke them—a few minutes on a medium-hot grill is often all you need—but you can do so if you want to give them a flavor boost.
Make sure to choose the right type of hot dog. Some brands take better to the smoker than others. Hebrew National Beef Franks, Nathan’s Skinless Beef Franks, and Ball Park Franks are all excellent options.
You should avoid using hickory for hot dogs. It’s too overwhelming and will give your dogs a bitter taste. Select cherry, apple, or oak instead, or blend oak with one of the fruit woods for added complexity.
Set the smoker to 225 degrees. Since hot dogs are on the smaller side, it shouldn’t take as long for them to reach the correct temperature and texture. One hour should do it.
Be sure to space the hot dogs on the rack so that they’re not touching each other. There needs to be maximum airflow to promote stronger flavor. Besides, if they’re too close, they might stick together when it’s time to take them out of the smoker.
The smoky flavor should be complemented by whatever condiments you choose. Mustard, relish, and grilled onions are classics, but you can take things up a notch with add-ons like pinto beans, chopped avocado or sliced pickled jalapenos.
The Bottom Line
Smoking pre cooked sausage is relatively carefree, because you don’t have to worry about food safety. But you should still keep an eye on your progress if you don’t want to wind up with dried-out sausage links.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!