What Are the Best Tips for Grilling Sausages?

Andrea Cross

Grilling sausages, while easy to do, can be difficult to do well. It is often tricky to get sausages to cook all the way through on the inside, while remaining juicy, without burning or splitting them on the outside. There are a number of tips, however, to assist cooks in achieving a well-grilled sausage, including using a clean grill, precutting or preboiling the sausage, and using indirect heat.

Kielbasa, a common type of sausage.
Kielbasa, a common type of sausage.

A clean grill is important as sausages grilled on an unclean grill can take up the flavors of the previously cooked food. The grill should also be oiled to prevent the sausages from sticking. Sausages require slow cooking over moderately low heat. This prevents the fat on the inside from boiling too quickly, splitting open the skin and allowing all the meat juices to run out. Dripping fat can also cause the grill to flare, burning the skin of the sausage.

Raw sausages.
Raw sausages.

One way of grilling sausages is to cut the sausage lengthwise, leaving the back sausage skin intact. The sausage is then laid flat onto the grill. This method results in sausages that cook evenly and quickly on the inside without charring the outside. If a leaner sausage is desired, this is a good method as more of the fat in the meat will drip out. Grilling sausages this way, however, can also result in dried-out meat with less flavor.

Boiling sausages before grilling produces a sausage that is cooked through while remaining juicy. As the sausage needs to be on the grill for less time, the outer skin can be cooked to the desired color. Using this method, cooks parboil the sausage until the skin begins to tighten before it is placed on the grill. The water used to boil the sausages must contain a flavoring of some kind, such as beer, herbs, spices, or stock, as plain water can deflavor the meat.

Another technique is grilling sausages using indirect heat. This is a good method for lidded grills. Sausages are placed for one to two minutes on a hot grill to brown the skin and are then moved to a cooler portion of the grill. With the lid closed, the meat cooks through for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Sausages should not be overcooked as they become dry and lacking in flavor. It is useful to use a meat thermometer when grilling sausages to test the internal temperature. Sausages should be removed from the grill when they have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius). Higher temperatures may result in the sausage being overdone.

A butcher can often offer advice for cooking a specific type of sausage.
A butcher can often offer advice for cooking a specific type of sausage.

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Discussion Comments

Can you marinate sausages before you grill them? What is a good marinade to use?

The article mentions a great tip which is to boil the sausage before you grill it. You still get that great grilled flavor, but the sausage doesn't split open, and they cook a lot faster.

A friend of mine showed me that trick a few years back and I have been doing it that way ever since. It is the only way to grill sausages as far as I am concerned.


I always seem to have the worst time grilling sausages. They always turn out underdone or overcooked. Or sometimes they burst open and all the juices run out. Usually I just let my brother do it and concede that he is better at it than me. When it comes to grilling, you have to be honest with yourself.

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