Skip to main content

Grill or BBQ Sausages Perfectly Using Indirect Heat

John writes these articles to try to pass on any great recipes and tips that he's picked up during his culinary journeys.

How can you cook sausage without accidentally popping it open and losing all the juice?

How can you cook sausage without accidentally popping it open and losing all the juice?

Overcooking Sausage

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. These 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.

The Solution: Indirect Heat

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 to the lid as you can.
  3. Allow the BBQ to roast the meat.
  4. The sausages will cook for 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, and 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!


Poach Your Sausage

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 them 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.