Make better breakfast than the neighbors. Here’s how to take sausage from ordinary to extraordinary, one step at a time.
There’s nothing like frying up some sausages to make sausage gravy or to slap them on some po’ boys with caramelized onions, BBQ sauce, and any other condiments your heart desires.
Frying sausages in a skillet leaves the perfect amount of room to move the sausages around so they do not stick. The good news is that you can cook the sausages as whole links to simplify the cooking process even further.
Browning, which TV chefs and cookbook authors refer to as “searing,” adds new aromas and flavors to meat. The trick to a perfect sausage, then, is to fry it up over high heat so that it is golden brown, appetizingly crispy, and deeply flavorsome on the outside—then finish it off at a moderate heat so that the inside can cook through.
There are two methods you can try that will leave your mouth watering and your belly crying for more: one is to brown the sausages on the stovetop, then turn down the heat and continue cooking them low and slow; the other to sear the sausages briefly in your skillet, then finish them in the preheated oven.
The stovetop method calls for medium-high heat to give the sausages a good sear, then medium-low heat to get the inside of the meat cooked through and through to the minimum internal temperature for safe consumption.
Then there is the oven method, where you brown the sausage on medium-high heat to sear the outside, then pop it in the oven after preheating it to 325°F (160°C) for a more intense slow cook method. It is, without a doubt, a more convenient and a more forgiving method.
Either way, the result of employing this technique is a tender sausage with slightly crispy skin. They will come out juicy, and you will find these methods fun and rewarding. So, let’s see what both have to offer to help you decide which route you wish to take.
Browning Sausages in a Skillet on the Stove
A stovetop method is a straightforward approach where you begin with a medium-high heat and sear the sausage links. Once you have finished browning them all around, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10-12 minutes, taking great care not to burn them. This slow cook will give them time to cook thoroughly.
Step 1: Coat the skillet with a light layer of neutral-flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil, rice bran oil, or canola oil. Do not skip the oil; it is critical to the quality of the end result because it helps to conduct the heat of the pan more evenly to the meat.
Step 2: Crank up the heat to medium-high to heat the oiled skillet. When the bottom radiates heat and the oil is rippling and shimmering in the pan, you know it is time to get cooking! Place all of the sausages you want cooking in the skillet.
Step 3: Brown the sausages by leaving them to sizzle uninterrupted for about 1-2 minutes on each side. There is no exact time frame here, and your only goal is to give the sausage a golden brown color—not to cook it though.
Step 4: Once browned, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until they are thoroughly cooked through. Serve alongside your favorite sides or condiments.
The stovetop method takes 10 to 12 minutes from searing which leaves you with those perfectly golden brown links full of flavor waiting for those po’ boys.
How to Pan-Roast Sausages to Perfection
The oven method, also known as “pan-roasting” as it helps you make the most of your stovetop and your oven, leaves the sausage cooking in such a way that it is more moist and tender than even your favorite restaurant.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C), with the convection fan on. To make sure your oven is preheated properly, wait 20 to 30 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
Step 2: Pull out a heavy skillet, oil the bottom and sides with neutral-flavor, high-smoke-point cooking oil, and then preheat it for 2-3 minutes over medium-high. Sear the sausages for 2-3 minutes per side until a golden-brown crust has formed on the outside.
Step 3. Transfer the skillet to a 325°F (160°C) oven and lay a sheet of parchment paper, or aluminum foil with plenty of holes in it, on top of the sausages. This will prevent the constantly rising hot air in the oven from burning the tops of the sausages.
Step 4: Allow baking for about 7-10 minutes before switching to the next step if you are using regular-sized links or 13-16 minutes for jumbo-sized sausages.
Turn the sausages over and repeat. Be sure to turn each link over carefully without piercing them, as this will cause some juices to escape, making them dry out faster or stick to the pan, rendering them useless.
Step 5: Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the link. If it reads 165°F (73.8°C) or more, you can remove them from your oven and allow them to sit for five minutes before serving alongside the condiments.
No matter which method you choose, they will be crispy on the outside yet moist and tender on the inside, making both ways well worth it all around.
Making a Gravy with Sausages
If you wish to have gravy with your sausages, we have a simple method that takes a little more time, and you will be able to use the gravy over mashed potatoes or with rice. Simply follow the stovetop instructions, and after browning the sausages, you can add water just over the top of the sausages.
Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Cover the skillet and simmer until the desired thickness of the gravy. You may have to add a little water from time to time, but don’t add too much, or you will lose the flavor in the gravy. While you are simmering, you can add some onions, garlic, bell peppers, or favorite seasonings to spruce up the flavor.
The momentum is keeping the water just above the sausages. Keeping it covered will keep most of the water in the skillet; that said, some of it will evaporate. It is in the simmering that it will mellow the onions and seasoning to make the gravy thick. (To reduce the gravy down to the thickest texture, remove the sausages and simmer on high heat until nice and thick.)
Please note that the darker you brown the meat, the darker your gravy will be. You want to stir it occasionally to keep everything from burning or sticking.
Special Tips for Safe Cooking and Tasty Results
Browning sausages is an excellent way to spruce up the meal. It can be as straightforward or as complex as you wish. Just be sure to follow these tips and safety rules before beginning:
Always keep your stovetop clean just in case some of the drippings from the sausage run down because it will cause a fire if not properly cleaned. Keep a lid nearby to close a skillet quickly, which can help with keeping food warm once cooked.
Don’t salt sausages before cooking, as it will draw moisture out of the link, making them dry or burn quickly once browned. You can add spices and seasonings as you wish after they are browned.
Preheat the oven before placing links in the pan to cook thoroughly, yet use caution if opening an oven door, letting heat escape.
Be sure to watch how you turn over links. Poking holes will make them lose juices that could burn quickly on an open flame, mainly when browning on a stovetop, making them taste rubbery or dry. Poking holes could also cause the skillet to explode with grease if it gets too hot.
When using a meat thermometer, do so carefully, so you don’t damage the sausage’s skin, rupturing juices, making them soggy or dry on the inside. If there is a clear liquid coming from the broken skin, wipe clean immediately, cutting away any burned parts before continuing the cooking process for another few minutes to ensure proper cooking time.
Keep a close watch on the skillet when browning sausages to prevent burning. Also, keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case there is a grease fire.