How To Cook Italian Sausage  

Italian sausages are rich, juicy, and packed with flavor! 

These tasty morsels can elevate many sausage recipes, like sausage pasta, sausage with peppers, or minestrone with Italian sausage pieces. 

How To Cook Italian Sausage  

No matter what recipe you’re making, swapping regular sausages for the Italian version can make your dishes taste even better. 

If you’re using Italian sausages, you’ll need to know how to cook them properly. If they are cooked for too long, the sausage will split and turn squishy. If they are undercooked, you run the risk of sickness and health issues later on. 

Italian sausages can be cooked in several ways, which we’ll cover in this post. You’ll learn how to cook Italian sausages on the stove, with a grill, and with an oven. 

You’ll also find out the differences between regular pork sausages and Italian sausages and things to know before you start cooking the sausages. 

Keep reading to learn how to cook Italian sausages! 

About Italian Sausage

Italian sausages are a kind of fresh sausage that’s found in most North American supermarkets. They’re made with a large selection of herbs, white Italian wine, and fennel. 

These sausages are labeled as ‘Italian’ as fennel is one of their primary ingredients. Fennel is regularly used in sausage recipes in Italy, which gives the product its name. 

However, this label is generic and arguably deceptive. North American Italian sausage refers to one particular type of sausage, but there are over hundreds of sausage varieties that come from Italy.  

These Italian sausages are usually available in three different types: mild, sweet, and hot. 

The hot version is different from the mild sausage as it’s made with hot red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. Sweet Italian sausages are different from mild ones as sweet basil is used in the recipe. 

Are Pork Sausages And Italian Sausages The Same Thing?

Both pork and Italian sausages are made with pork meat, but spices and herbs are what make each type of sausage different. 

The main thing that separates Italian sausages from the pork version is fennel. This herb noticeably changes the way the sausage tastes. 

Here are some other factors that make Italian sausages different from pork ones. 

Age & Origin

Origin-wise, Italian sausages are older than pork sausages. The earliest account of Italian sausages dates back to the first century BC.

Roman chronicler Marcus Terentius Varro first wrote of stuffing pig intestines with salted and spiced meat during this time. 

In contrast, the traditional pork sausage was made in America, as farmers could make the best use out of their pigs. The farmers understood that they could use the spiced, ground-up meat from pork chops to make a filling breakfast. 


Italian sausage recipes and regular pig sausages are slightly similar and don’t need too many ingredients. The differences lie in the meat cut and the seasoning.

Even though both sausages are made from pork meat, regular pork sausages are often made with the pig’s leg or shoulder. Italian sausages are made with boneless pork butt, taken from the pig’s shoulder muscle. 

Seasoning-wise, traditional Italian sausage recipes involve salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, fennel seeds, sweet paprika, and optional red pepper flakes.  

Pork sausages are made with slightly milder seasonings, including salt, pepper, sage, nutmeg, paprika, garlic, and cayenne pepper. 

How To Cook Italian Sausage   (1)


Italian sausages tend to taste better than pork sausages, as their seasonings give them a delectable flavor. This is down to the fennel seeds, as the herb gives the meat a sweet, peppery, and slightly earthy taste. 

Regular pork sausages are known for their salty and lightly tangy taste. Both types of sausages are available in mild, sweet, and spicy types, but the addition of fennel sets the Italian version apart. 

Homemade Italian Sausage

Cooking Italian Sausage – What To Know Beforehand

As Italian sausages are made with raw pork, they need to be cooked until their internal temperature reaches 160°F. Cooking the meat thoroughly lowers the risk of sickness and infection.

Avoid cooking Italian sausages too quickly, unevenly, or at very high temperatures. This can make the skins break down and split. You may also notice that the sausages turn dark on the outside but remain raw in the middle. 

It’s best to slowly increase the temperature and turn them as you go, so they brown evenly. If your sausages begin to curl, you can grip them with a barbecue clamp or skewer them lengthways. 

Some recipes advise piercing the skin, but we recommend the opposite. Piercing the skin will lead to the sausage’s juices escaping. Instead of firm, juicy, and tender sausages, you’ll end up with dry, flavorless bratwursts. 

Cooking Italian Sausage – Stove Method

Follow these steps to cook Italian sausages with your stove:

  1. Transfer the sausages to a big skillet and pour around half an inch of water into the pan.
  2. Increase the heat until the water starts simmering, then cover the pan. Bring the heat down to moderate and cook the sausages for 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Check if the sausages are done with a meat thermometer.
  4. Take the lid off and leave the sausages to cook until the water vaporizes. 
  5. Keep turning the sausages as they cook so they brown evenly. Take them off of the heat and enjoy them when warm.

Cooking Italian Sausage – Grill Method

  1. Preheat your grill to 350°F, then add the sausages to the grill. 
  2. Shut the grill’s lid and cook the sausages for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the pork’s internal temperature reaches 160°F. 
  3. Keep turning the sausages periodically so they cook evenly.

Cooking Italian Sausage – Oven Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Add the sausages to a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake the sausages for 15 to 20 minutes, then check if their internal temperature has reached 160°F.
  4. Keep rotating the sausages periodically so they bake evenly. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to cook Italian sausages! These bratwursts taste even better than regular sausages, thanks to the addition of fennel and spices. 

Whether you cook your sausages on the stove, with an oven, or on the grill, remember to check that the pork’s internal temperature has reached 160°F. This will help avoid illness and sickness later on. 

Mark Williams
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