How to Cook Italian Sausage

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For hearty flavor and pure comfort, nothing beats scrumptious Italian sausage. I’ll show you how to cook Italian sausage on the stovetop, in the oven or on the grill so it’s crispy brown and juicy every time.

Italian sausage fits into so many fabulous recipes, such as sausage and peppers, sausage and pasta, or sausage hoagies with mounds of caramelized onion. Minestrone soup with Italian sausage cut into rounds is practically a feast all on its own. And it’s all made possible by proper preparation of the sausage.

Italian sausage on a plate with herbs

What is Italian Sausage?

Italian sausage is made from seasoned ground pork stuffed into casing shells to produce links about 6 inches long. Typically it’s made with fennel seed and red pepper flakes. That combination gives Italian sausage its distinctive flavor and character.

How to Cook Italian Sausage

Unlike smoked sausage, Italian sausage needs to be cooked to 160°F as it is a raw ground pork product.

Cooking sausage too high, too fast and unevenly can cause links to be too dark on the outside and still raw at the center or the skins to split and disintegrate.

Gradually bringing them up to heat, and turned for even browning will allow for perfect sausages. To avoid them curling you can skewer them lengthwise or place in a barbecue clamp.

Do You Need to Pierce the Skin?

No, please don’t! This is a common tip that appears on many recipes but it’s not ideal.

Unfortunately, this will cause all those lovely juices to escape as well, sort of defeating the whole purpose of encasing meat in an impermeable membrane to hold the juices in.

Raw Italian sausage in a pan with water and cooked Italian sausage in a pan

Note: Cooking times will vary based on thickness of the sausages.

Stovetop

  1. Place links in a skillet in water.
  2. Bring slowly to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 -12 minutes, covered
  3. Uncover, allow water to evaporate and continue cooking, turning frequently until browned.

Oven

  1. Place links on foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Place in cold oven and turn heat to 350°F
  3. Cook for 25-35 minutes or until internal temperature registers 160°F.

Grill

  1. Place on a 375°F grill and close the lid.
  2. Turn every until uniformly browned about 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork reaches 160°F.

More Delicious Sausage Recipes

Italian sausage slices on a plate
4.96 from 93 votes
Review Recipe

How to Cook Italian Sausage

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
This recipe will show you How to Cook Italian Sausage. Whether cooked on the stove top, oven or grill, these sausage links will turn out perfect every time!

Ingredients

  • 4 Italian Sausage Links or as many as desired
  • water

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Instructions

  • Place sausage in a large skillet.
  • Add water to ½" depth. Bring to a simmer and cover.
  • Simmer for 12 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer until water evaporates turning sausages occasionally to brown.

Recipe Notes

To Cook in the Oven
  1. Place links on foil-lined baking sheet. Place in cold oven and turn heat to 350°F.
  2. Cook for 25-35 minutes or until internal temperature registers 160°F.
To Grill
  1. Place on a 375°F grill. Close the lid.
  2. Turn occasionally until uniformly browned about 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork reaches 160°F.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 388, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 85mg, Sodium: 819mg, Potassium: 283mg, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 1mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Italian sausage on a plate with a title
Italian sausage on a plate with writing
Raw Italian sausage in a pan with water and cooked Italian sausage on a plate with writing
About the author

Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

  1. I’ve had these before and cooked them in the oven. I will not cook them any other way now. These were delicious. I want to know how to cook them in the oven when frozen.5 stars

      1. This was an amazing non-answer. No, seriously – how often should you turn them? lol. The number is missing from your article, you should edit it.

      2. Thanks for pointing that out. They should be turned occasionally, I usually turn them about 3-4 times. This can vary a bit depending on the heat of the grill, the purpose for turning them is to allow them to crisp all around and to keep them from burning.

  2. Absolutely delicious when done in the oven! We always poked them and cooked them in cast iron fry pan with water and then browned them. Made them so dry. The oven way that you suggested keeps them really juicy. Will never do them any other way from now on. I cooked them in the oven with potato and onion slices. Thank you for your suggestion on how to cook my Hot Italian Sausage.5 stars

  3. My sausage were so delicious and so juicy following your oven method!
    The only thing, the skin became very tough. It was easy to peel off but would like not having to do that.
    Any idea?
    We were wondering if different butchers use a different skin. We’re going to try another butcher to see how theirs are.
    Thank you for the steps though. Will be our new go to regardless.

    1. Sorry to hear that Patti, we did not have that issue. You will have to let us know what happens when you use sausage from a different butcher.

      1. I hate chewy/hard skins that you can’t cut with a knife. I have found that the butchers that use the natural casings seem to be better. They are thinner but be careful when grilling as the thinner natural casings will reduce your cooking time. Found out the hard way the first time as they turned out “slightly” darker on the outside as I wasn’t paying attention and cooking like i would the other sausage.

  4. I tried the pan method with water. I won’t do THAT again. The sausages were dry, tasteless, and rubbery. Next time, I’ll do what I’ve been doing: pan frying slowly in a little olive oil. Much better taste and consistency.1 star

    1. Sorry to hear that Glenn, this recipe is a fan favorite. Pan-frying does sound delicious though, we also love cooking them in the oven or on the grill!

  5. I put mine in the oven after it was preheated, turned once half way thru cook time, they came out perfect!

  6. The directions for cooking the sausage in the oven were perfect. I love that you could just put them in the cold oven and only come back when they were done. I have made a lot of your recipes now and I’ve never had a “fail”; they are all keepers. Thanks so much.5 stars

  7. Thank you!!! I have been looking for a simple way to cook Italian Sausage, your page was easy to follow and simple! I want your newsletter!!!!!

    1. You could certainly grill this at the same temperature, I find that medium-high on most grills tends to be closer to the 375°F mark. It can vary based on many factors (type of grill, brand of grill, external temperature etc).

      Minding the temperature of the pork is the best way to ensure it’s cooked to 160°F.

  8. IMO this recipe “Simmered” all the flavor right out of them. My fam looked at me
    “wha-wha-wha…wha happened?!!! Am going back to my tried-and-true-for 50 yrs way of cooking. Put in a hot saucepan and sizzle and brown and crisp them on each side. Add water to about a third high on the sausage. Put on lid and e-z boil the water out of them., turning when half the water is gone. When water is gone, crisp them up again. You can cut one open to check that it’s cooked, but I never had one that wasn’t.

  9. We’ve always cooked our sausage in a pan on top of the stove with some water(but never covered it, I’ll try that next time) but I was looking for directions on how to bake in the oven and this came right up. Now the kitchen smells good and I have the burner space I needed. Thank you!

    Question, when grilling how often do you recommend turning the sausage? It’s not clear in step number 2. Is there a time suggested or just take out the word “every” and turn and keep an eye on it? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lori, I would probably just take a peek under one of the sausages after a couple of minutes or so. If there’s a brown crust, time to turn! If not, leave for another minute or two until the crust forms :)

    2. It doesn’t say to cover the sausage with water. 1/2″ is VERY little and probably won’t even half cover a sausage.

    1. You are in fact correct Mavrick, thank you! That was an older recipe and we have updated it to include a better method!

  10. Well look at that….. Turns out I’ve been doing it wrong all along. Just happened to come across this post when I was searching for something else. Last night my husband requested one of his favorite sausage dishes and I used this method to cook the sausages. What a difference!!!! He said it was the best I’ve ever made that dish. Thank you for the post and making me a better home cook.5 stars

  11. Instead of water, try using brewed coffee. I grew up in a Mennonite German Community and we made our own sausage. We cooked it in the oven in a dutch oven at 350 degrees for about an hour after adding about a half inch of coffee on the bottom of the pan. The coffee adds a distinct flavor. I use it on bratwurst and turn it after 30 minutes. I usually throw in a little garlic as well. I think it would also be worth trying on Italian Sausage.

    PS: Love your website and the many recipes that are well developed, easy to understand and delicious. You make sense out of food preparation. Be proud of your fine work.

    1. I’ve never heard of that Darrell, sounds yummy so I’ll have to give it a try! Thank you for your kind words, you made my day!