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Can You Eat Pre-Cooked Sausages Cold?

Hot dogs, cold cuts, and everything in between: it’s time to talk about why you should always reheat pre-cooked sausages.

So, you’re standing there in your kitchen, looking at that plump and juicy pre-cooked link in the fridge, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, why even bother reheating it? Can’t I just chow down on it like it is? I mean, that’s why it’s pre-cooked, right?”

Hold your horses, my friends, because I’ve got the skinny on why pre-cooked doesn’t necessarily mean safe to eat—and give you the straight talk on why it’s almost always best to give those pre-cooked sausages a quick reheat before they go in your stomach.

Why You Should Never Eat Pre-Cooked Sausages Cold

Alright, here’s the deal with pre-cooked sausages: they’re not exactly what they seem. Sure, they’re pre-cooked, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re free of disease-causing bacteria. In fact, those little links can be exposed to some pretty nasty stuff, like Listeria monocytogenes, at the meat plant.

This is no joke, people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that, every year, 48 million Americans get food poisoning, of whom 128,000 end up on a hospital bed and 3,000 die. Every pre-cooked sausage—whether we’re talking about a hot dog or a slice of cold cuts—needs to be properly reheated before chowing down.

And if you think about it, the only way to make them safe to eat is by reheating them because prolonged exposure to heat kills bacteria. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the food we eat. So, the next time you’re tempted to eat a pre-cooked sausage straight out of the packaging, think twice. Give it a quick reheat instead.

How to Reheat Pre-Cooked Sausages

Reheating pre-cooked sausages is a key step to ensure that your taste buds are satisfied and your stomach stays happy. But, the million-dollar question is, how exactly do you reheat those sausages?

Well, people, when it comes to reheating pre-cooked sausages, the truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The best technique depends on the sausage you’re working with and the texture and flavor you want to achieve.

For example, hot dogs and brats are best reheated for a few minutes in gently simmering water. The heat will make the sausage safe to eat and give it that plump, juicy texture we all know and love. Just make sure not to bring the water to a full boil, or you’ll end up with a bunch of shriveled up sausages as tough as rubber.

But if you’re looking for a little more flavor and crispiness, a preheated 325°F (ca. 160°C) oven or the grill pan over medium heat might be the way to go.

Pre-cooked sausages like kielbasa or andouille benefit from a quick blast in the oven or a good hiss and sizzle on the grill pan. The browning will add some extra depth to the flavor and give the sausage a nice, crispy exterior. Just make sure to keep an eye on them, or they’ll burn and end up tasting like charcoal.

So, there you have it, home cooks. Maybe you’re a fan of the gentle simmer. Or maybe you want to go for the full-on sizzle. Remember, the best way to reheat your pre-cooked sausages depends on the sausage and the mouthfeel you want to achieve.

The Bottom Line

Bottom line, these tasty little guys may be convenient, but you can’t just chow down on them cold. No, sir. They’ve got to be properly heated up. And, depending on the sausage you’ve got, that could mean a simmer in some water, a blast in the oven, or a sizzle on the grill pan.

Morals of the story: A properly reheated sausage is a happy and safe sausage. And when your sausage is happy and safe, you’ll be happy and safe too.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.