There’s a big difference between andouille and kielbasa. Find everything you need to know about these two sausages in this article.
Let’s start with the most obvious, but still worth mentioning difference between andouille and kielbasa: the country of origin.
Andouille is a sausage that originated in Brittany and Normandy, two neighboring coastal provinces in northern France. The recipe was brought to the New World by early French settlers in Acadia, who then introduced it to the state of Louisiana.
Since then, Cajun andouille—a heavily spiced version of the original French andouille that’s smoked twice to give it a super-smoky aroma and flavor—has become a staple in Louisiana’s local Cajun and Creole cuisines.
There’s a reason why kielbasa is also known as “Polska sausage” or “Polish sausage.” Rather than a recipe, kielbasa is a style of sausage that originated in Poland and was brought to the United States by Polish immigrants, most likely in the 18th century.
Kielbasa has since become a most favorite sausage of Polish Americans (and Americans as a whole) in the Midwest. So much so that Chicagoans have a special kind of hot dog known as the “Polish dog.”
The main ingredients of andouille and kielbasa are pork and lard.
If we were to end our comparison here, we could say that these sausages are more or less the same thing. But we won’t, because this is where the similarities between these two sausages end and the differences begin.
French andouille is made from pork chitterlings, tripe, throat, chest, head, and/or heart, onions, wine, salt, and thyme. Cajun andouille also contains a large amount of garlic and red and cayenne pepper.
Kielbasa is made mostly from pork, with the addition of black pepper, salt, marjoram, and garlic. There are many varieties of kielbasa sausage. Whereas some contain only pork, others are made with a mixture of pork and beef, still others with the addition of deer, elk, and even bear meat.
(The richer the mix of meats in kielbasa, the more sharpness and character it has. Bear-meat kielbasa, for example, is an acquired taste.)
Expectedly, the methods of preparation of andouille, a French and Cajun sausage, and kielbasa, a Polish sausage, differ.
French andouille sausage is mixed, stuffed, and then poached in simmering water. Its heavily spiced counterpart, Cajun andouille, is instead smoked twice to give it a distinctively smoky aroma and flavor.
Polish sausage is mixed, stuffed, and then smoked. The preparation is somewhat similar to—though definitely not the same as—Cajun andouille, and yet very different from that of the original French andouille sausage.
The Smell and Taste
One cannot compare andouille and kielbasa sausages without pointing out the differences in how they smell and what they taste like.
French andouille smells earthy and porky, so much so that it won’t be to every eater’s liking. Cajun andouille is strongly smoky and spicy, with a strong hint of cayenne pepper and paprika.
Polska kielbasa is garlicky and with a strong hint of marojam, a fragrant herb from the mint and oregano family, whose aroma and flavor is as complex as that of oregano, but slightly mintier and undeniably milder.
It’s not uncommon for the French to eat andouille on a charcuterie board, especially in the presence of hot Dijon mustard.
In traditional French cuisine, andouille is mostly used in baked dishes such as gratins and slow-cooked stews such as casoulets. The sausage is combined with potatoes, beans, and a variety of herbs that stand up to its porkiness.
In Cajun and Creole cooking, andouille is an essential ingredient in shrimp gumbo, sausage and rice, jambalaya, sausage pot pie, and beans ‘n’ rice.
Polish traditions prescribe enjoying kielbasa as a standalone dish, served with a large piece of bread together with sauerkraut, or slow-cooking it in a Polish hunter’s stew called bigos.