How to Perfectly Grill or BBQ Sausages Using Indirect Heat

Updated on September 21, 2017
John D Lee profile image

I write these articles to try to pass on any great recipes and tips that I've picked up during my culinary journeys.


Overcooking Sausage Is a Common Problem

Smoky, browned BBQ sausages are a summertime treat, and the smoky heat of the grill is one the best possible ways to flavor a fresh sausage. This meaty treats are a great weekday meal too, as they require very little preparation. You can turn them into a flavorful dinner in literally minutes. Too often though, grilled sausages turn out dry and flavorless due to incorrect or careless cooking; People tend to cook sausages for far too long. Because a sausage is a ground-meat product, it needs to be cooked to an interior temperature of 160 degrees, but no more than that.

Direct Heat Makes the Juices Boil and the Sausages Burst

If you cook a sausage over direct heat, the heat of the flames will quickly bring the juices of the interior of the sausage past the boiling point, and this will cause the sausage to split. All of those flavorful juices will run out of the sausage and onto the flames, creating troublesome flare ups—and you'll lose a lot of flavor.

Indirect Heat Solves This Problem

A much better way to BBQ a sausage is through indirect heat; it's sort of a smoky way of roasting the sausages.

The difference between a carefully cooked, juicy, and tender sausage and a high-heat-grilled, split-open, dry, and over-cooked sausage is incredible, and the indirect method is also the easier way to cook these backyard treats.

How to Grill Sausages Over Indirect Heat

  1. Give the sausages a minute or two over high heat. This is to brown them.
  2. After a minute or so on both sides, turn the heat on your grill down to medium. Arrange your sausages as far from the heat source as possible or as close the lid as you can.
  3. Allow the BBQ to roast the meat.
  4. The sausages will cook in 10 to 15 minutes depending on their thickness. It's very handy to have an instant-read thermometer here.
  5. Remove the meat from the grill once they reach an interior temperature of 160 degrees.
  6. Serve with good rolls, lots of chopped onion, sauerkraut, a few varieties of mustard, and I even like a little mayo (because sausages just don't have quite enough fat!) on my monstrous sausage roll creation!

This Is My Kind of Meal

You Can Also Poach Them!

If you are looking for an even easier way to cook your sausages that will also turn out a great, perfectly cooked product, you can first poach them until the internal temperature has almost reached 160, and then transfer to the grill on high heat for a few minutes so that they brown.

  1. When poaching sausages in water, heat a large pot of water to a very gentle heat, below even a simmer. Never let the water come to a boil. If the water boils, it will cause the sausages to rupture, spill their juices, and create a dry and bland sausage. You're aiming for an internal temp of 170 degrees.
  2. Let poach for about 8 minutes, and transfer to the grill for browning.
  3. Grill briefly on each side. You just want to brown the meat.

This method is pretty good and will allow for perfectly cooked sausages, but will not give quite as much flavor as the BBQ's indirect roasting.

You'll never make a blackened, split-open, or dry sausage again if you use either of these easy cooking techniques.

Here's a Video If You'd Like to Know More

Questions & Answers


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      • oven cleaning NSW profile image

        mahdi jafarian 2 years ago from newcastle

        kebabs specially lamb which is marinated in grated onion taste always unbeleavably delicious. All kebabs taste better on natural charcoal.

      • basspro profile image

        basspro 4 years ago

        great job. here is a great brisket recipe

      • profile image

        casst thomson 5 years ago

        great recipe . i have 6 times already

      • profile image

        Anne 5 years ago

        Would it be ok to part cook sausages in the oven before putting them on the barbecue to brown and get some extra flavour?

      • profile image 5 years ago

        Great Recipe! it really is and must be appreciated by all! :)

      • profile image

        Maria 6 years ago

        My question is,the smoky-style sausage should be pre-cooked or not?

      • The Midwest Man profile image

        The Midwest Man 6 years ago

        Nice. I've been doing this for a while now; they turn out so much better. Add some hickory or oak wood to the fire and get some extra smoked flavor in their as well.

      • InTuneWithCooking profile image

        InTuneWithCooking 6 years ago from Australia

        Fantastic! That's it, sausages on the grill for dinner tonight.

      • profile image

        SterlingBBQ 6 years ago

        Great Article, got the grill firing up right now, with apple chips and plum hardwood charcoal providing the smoke and heat.

      • saif113sb profile image

        saif113sb 6 years ago

        Very nice and informative hub. Thanks

      • breakfastpop profile image

        breakfastpop 6 years ago

        Thanks so much for this great hub. I am sitting here with sausages and a grill and now I know what to do!

      • profile image

        choooch 7 years ago

        Great recipe. I've used it 5x already. Thanks!

      • datahound profile image

        datahound 7 years ago from USA

        Excellent information. I've always cooked on a low flame with the lid down to oven roast but they do crack. Why waste that flavor. I am anxious to give your method a shot next time.


      • John D Lee profile image

        John D Lee 8 years ago

        Poaching in beer sounds tasty. Can't wait to try that!

      • Bob.Currer@gmail. profile image

        Bob.Currer@gmail. 8 years ago from El Mirage, AZ

        I like to boil bratwurst in beer with a small onion (quartered), Red pepper flakes, and a pat of butter. Then I toss them on a grill to crisp them up. Smoking them a bit is great, apple wood is hard to come by in these parts, but my daughter has a mesquite tree that is a willing donor to the wood pile.

      • John D Lee profile image

        John D Lee 8 years ago

        Hi Danbr7777,

        Apple wood is tasty - although not readily available in my neck of the woods. I am currently using Longon wood (a fruit tree) which is a very nice mild smoke - for sausages normally though, just plane Jane charcoal is just fine!

      • danbr7777 profile image

        danbr7777 8 years ago

        Good information. I could not agree with you more about cooking them with indirect heat. I like to smoke them with a little applewood. What wood do you use?

      • John D Lee profile image

        John D Lee 8 years ago

        Thanks Chris, glad the sausages were to your liking!

      • profile image

        Chris Dee 9 years ago

        Great suggestions on grilling the links. Really. Came out perfect.