Fourth of July is coming up and grilled sausages are on the menu for our cookout. They’re one of my favorite things to grill pretty much anytime the sun is shining, but especially for summer holiday gatherings.
Buy a variety of sausages, prep all the mustards and toppings beforehand, lay out buns (or no buns!), have plenty of cold drinks on hand, and you’ve got yourself an easy cookout plan that you can adapt depending on who or how many you’re feeding.
But…nobody wants dry sausages. Or worse, undercooked sausages.
For the best way to grill sausage for your summer cookouts, I’m sharing the only two methods you’ll need, whether you’re cooking for a crowd or just keeping it low-key with the fam.
Top photo © @janey.cooks on Instagram
Related: 10 of the best grilling hacks for the ultimate summer of cookouts.
First, my 3 pro tips for perfect grilled sausages
1. To be certain your sausages cooked and to help with the recommend temperatures above, use a meat thermometer. It beats cutting into the sausages before they’re ready.
2. Do not score your sausages! You want all the fat and juices to remain inside the sausage. Plus, dripping fat can lead to flare-ups in your barbecue grill, which can lead to blackened — and not in a good way — sausages.
3. The type of sausage does matter. Buy the best quality you can and don’t think about calories. If you want great flavor and a crowd-pleasing dish, holiday grilling not the time for buying low-fat.
Best way to grill sausage for smaller crowds
Start on low heat, finish on high(er) heat.
I used to cook sausages over raging high flames and then move them over to low heat to rest a little. But I found the cooking to be inconsistent, and often I’d lose too much fat in the initial sear, causing drier sausages or worse – sausages that would burst open, releasing fat and causing flare-ups.
Then I smartened up. And that is how I became a sausage-grilling queen!
My foolproof method now is this:
1) Take your sausages out of the refrigerator about thirty minutes before grilling.
2) For both charcoal and gas grills, you’ll want to to create two zones: high (direct) heat and low (indirect) heat.
3) Place sausages over low heat and turn a few times, cooking until the temperature is between 150-155 degrees.
4.) Move sausages over to the higher heat and turn a few times until golden brown all over, or until the temperature has reached the recommended 165 degrees, which is recommended for pork sausage.
Related: How to make corn on the cob perfectly:
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Best way to grill sausage for a large group
Photo © J. Kenji Lopez-Alt | Serious Eats
Use a large, disposable aluminum pan.
If you don’t want to use the first method, give the disposable aluminum pan method a try. By layering sausages over thinly sliced peppers and a little cooking liquid (water, beer) in a disposable pan, you can control the evenness of the cooking and then simply take the sausages out and crisp them up over a higher heat on the grill.
One of my favorite recipes is the Grilled Italian Sausage with Sweet and Sour Peppers and Onions from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt for Serious Eats (above). The ingredients are quite simple, it requires only about 30 minutes of active cooking time, and there are some great tips too, like how to achieve a little snap with some extra charring at the end. See those perfect grill marks? Wonderful.
When I’m entertaining, I use two square aluminum pans and double this recipe – it’s always a crowd pleaser.
Alternately, you can parboil the sausages first.
To do this, place raw sausages in cold water or beer and slowly bring them up to a low simmer, cooking until the temperature reaches about 150 degrees. Then finish cooking them on the grill over medium heat, rotating, for about five minutes more, or until nice and caramelized.