How to Grill Sausage Perfectly

Grilled sausage is the ultimate easy summer menu item. This blog will walk you through everything you need to know about how to grill sausage – a simple method for perfect-every-time grilled sausage, gas vs. charcoal, and some of the best sides (in our opinion) for a sausage dinner.

How does that saying go? “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach a guy how to grill sausage and you’ll feed him and his family for a lifetime?” Maybe we’re not quite on with the exact quote, but you get the point!

Grilled sausage is one of the all-time favorite summer meals. It may be because it is such an easy meat to cook and everyone loves it, and it’s super quick too. Especially during the busy summer months when menu planning and meal prep always seem to fall by the wayside.

Family BBQ - Hilltop Acres Poultry Products

Dinnertime can present a bit of a conundrum during the warm months. You don’t want to turn on the stove or oven, and who wants to spend a long time prepping dinner?

Once you learn how to properly grill sausage, we’re pretty sure they’ll make a regular appearance on your summertime menu.

Grilling Sausage is…

  • EASY – It takes no more than 15 minutes to cook up an entire batch of sausage. Most of the grilling time is entirely hands-off, and there’s no prep involved. We think this is the easiest dinner ever!
  • VERSATILE – Once you understand the technique of how to grill sausage, you can use it on just about any sausage you find.
  • SCALABLE – You can toss just a couple of sausages on the grill for a quick weeknight dinner or feed an entire crowd, easily and affordably, at a backyard BBQ.
  • DELICIOUS – This method yields perfectly juicy sausage with a deliciously charred and crisp exterior.
Fresh Sausage in Casing - Hilltop Acres Poultry Products

What Are the Best Sausage for Grilling?

Before we dive too deep into the how-to, let’s talk about the most important part – the sausage!

This blog specifically covers how to grill fresh (raw) sausage links. The process discussed will apply to any variety of fresh sausage – turkey sausage, pork sausage, brats, Italian sausage, chorizo, etc. – so long as it’s a fresh sausage in a casing.

To grill sausage that’s already fully cooked, such as the amazing chicken sausages available in a variety of different flavors these days, smoked sausage or kielbasa, hot dogs, etc., it couldn’t be simpler:

  • Fire up the grill for medium-high direct grilling.
  • Place the sausage over the direct heat and grill, flipping occasionally until the sausage is heated through or has a crusty or charred exterior.
Fresh Sausage - Hilltop Acres Poultry Products

How to Grill Sausage:

Grilling sausage seems like such a simple thing to do, but like most simple things, doing it well is actually not the easiest thing in the world. If you grill them too fast, the casing will burn and break before it cooks through, resulting in a dry and crumbly sausage.
And while you can go the low-and-slow route, that requires a little bit of planning in advance and that’s not the simple and easy summer dinner we’re after either!

Zone Grilling 101:

The secret behind how to grill sausage perfectly every single time lies in zone grilling. By creating two zones of heat on your grill, you can first cook the sausage with really gentle, steady indirect heat before grilling them over strong direct heat for a deliciously charred finish. It’s super easy and the sausage turns out perfectly every time. This method of grilling with both direct & indirect heat is called zone grilling.

If you have never grilled with indirect heat before, don’t worry. It’s the simplest thing.

  • Zone grilling on a gas grill – Prepare your gas grill for zone grilling by turning 1-2 burners on to their highest heat setting and 1-2 burners on their lowest heat setting. This creates a zone of strong direct heat (directly over the “high” burner flames) and a zone of gentler direct heat (directly over the “low” burner flames).
  • Zone grilling on a charcoal grill with zone grilling – Prepare your charcoal grill for zone grilling by lighting charcoal and arranging the majority of it on one side of your grill. This creates a zone of strong direct heat (directly over the majority of the charcoal) and a zone of gentler direct heat (the area of the grill that doesn’t have as much charcoal).
What to Serve with Grilled Sausage - Hilltop Acres Poultry Products

How to Grill Sausage with Indirect Heat:

Using zone grilling and indirect heat is the best way to grill sausage.

The 2-zone method allows you to first cook the sausage with really gentle, steady indirect heat before grilling them over strong direct heat for a deliciously charred finish. It’s super easy and the sausage turns out perfectly every time. Here’s how you do it:

  • First, cook the sausage with indirect heat: Arrange the sausage on the indirect heat side of the grill. Close the lid and cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping them halfway through. The heat from the direct heat side of the grill will circulate around the sausage, cooking them with really gentle indirect heat.
  • Then, char-grill the sausage over direct heat: Transfer the sausage to the direct heat side of the grill. Grill 2-3 minutes per side, until charred as desired.

That’s it! Perfectly grilled sausage, every single time. It couldn’t be easier.

A Few More Grilled Sausage FAQs

How long should I grill the sausage?

The sausage will grill for about 12-15 minutes total using the 2-zone grilling method described above. You’ll cook the sausage for 8-10 minutes with indirect heat before finishing over direct flame for 4-5 minutes or until as crusty/chared as desired.

What temperature do I grill sausage?

Whenever you use 2-zone grilling to grill with indirect heat, the temperature of your grill should be pretty hot (between 500-600 degrees F).

The finished cooking temperature of the sausage will vary based on the type of sausage you use. Pork-based sausage is safe to eat at 160 degrees F, while chicken-based sausage needs to be fully cooked to 165 degrees F. We would suggest transferring them from indirect to direct heat once the internal temperature is about 15-20 degrees F away from its final cooking temperature.

Should I boil sausages before grilling?

No, you totally don’t have to! The 2-zone grilling method described in this blog eliminates any need to boil or cook sausage before you grill it up, and the sausage will stay totally juicy and tender.

Sausages on the Grill - Hilltop Acres Poultry Products

What Do You Eat with Grilled Sausage?

It’s one thing to have a really tasty sausage, but the bun and side dishes are important too!

Let’s talk toasted buns and toppings:

First, buns: a good grilled sausage needs a good bun.

What makes a bun a good bun? If you ask us, a good bun for sausage has a nice balance of softness and sturdiness. A pillowy, soft bun will sort of wrap itself around the sausage as you eat it, but it also needs to be sturdy enough that it won’t break apart at the seam. Brioche buns seem to be a favourite since they are pillowy soft and they don’t break apart easily.

If you want to take your buns to the next level, toast them. Brush them with a little oil or butter (or spritz with a little cooking spray) and pop them on the grill grates to toast up for a minute or two as the sausages finish grilling. The buns get toasty and slightly crisp.

Next, toppings! Toppings are totally optional, but it’s an easy way to make an even heartier dinner. Based on the type of sausage you’re grilling, you can really have fun with it when it comes to toppings. A few of our favourites:

  • The Classics – Ketchup, mustard, and mayo are always a good starting point! Perhaps even a tangy Dijonnaise (mix about 1/3 cup mayo with 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard).
  • Sauerkraut, a tangy slaw, or pickle relish.
  • Grilled peppers and onions – this is especially good for Italian sausage.
  • Whip up some corn relish for chorizo or any sort of cilantro-jalapeno sausages.
  • Or, go Chicago style, complete with all of the toppings – mustard, sweet relish, onion, tomato, dill pickles and a dash of celery salt.
BBQ Toppings for Sausage - Hilltop Acres Poultry

What to Serve with Grilled Sausage?

With your toppings and perfectly toasted buns all sorted out, you’re just one step away from the perfect grilled sausage dinner! Lastly, you need some solid sides for sausage.

When thinking about what to serve with sausage, we like to keep things pretty simple. A few of our faves…

  • Keep things super classic and serve with your favorite summer side dishes – potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, or broccoli salad. Make your go-to recipes, or grab ’em from the deli at the store for an even easier sausage dinner.
  • A cold salad – Try a grated zucchini salad or a quinoa salad with seasonal veggies. Both are super easy to throw together while the sausage grills.
  • Grilled veggies – No summer plate is complete without some grilled veggies! Grill up some corn on the cob, peppers and onions, asparagus, or some sweet potatoes.

Plate it up with the sausage, and dinner is served. (In less than 20 minutes total!)

If you do give grilling our sausage a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment and snap a photo and tag @Hillttop.Acres.Poultry on Facebook. Happy grilling! ♡


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1501 Maple Bend Road
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