The guests are hungry! Your stomach is growling! You want sausage, but it’s frozen! Ahh! Don’t worry. Cooking frozen sausage is easy.
Can you cook sausages from frozen?
Yes! There is nothing wrong or unsafe about cooking frozen sausage. As long as you bring it up to 160º, you can use whatever method you would like. We recommend pre-cooking them in a boil before searing them on a pan for the best results.
Tips for cooking frozen sausage
All you really have to do is cook frozen sausage to 160º, but taste and texture matter — otherwise cooking would be easy! Here are a few tips for cooking frozen sausage:
Determine if they are pre-cooked
There’s a big difference between pre-cooked frozen sausage and raw frozen sausage. Pre-cooked? Boil them until thawed and finish them with a cast iron for color, drop them directly into soup, or bring them up slowly in a skillet. Raw? It’s the same process but you want to be more mindful of the temperature (make sure it gets to 160º) and shouldn’t drop raw sausage into a dish that won’t have enough time to fully cook the sausage.
Pre-boil raw sausages for the best results
We cover a few different ways to cook frozen sausage below, but throwing your sausage links into a pot and bringing it up to a boil, simmering, and then cooking them close to temp before pan frying or using them however your recipe recommends is going to get you the best results almost every time.
Season after the meat is thawed
A lot of sausage comes pre-seasoned so you won’t have to worry about this as much as when cooking other frozen meat, but if you are planning on adding extra seasoning wait until the sausage is thawed. Otherwise the seasoning will just fall off or get burned.
Pick the slowest defrost you have time for
If you have time, use the fridge or cold water to thaw your sausage. If you don’t have time, then you can use the microwave on defrost at half power and flip every minute or so until they’re thawed. Microwaves can cook sausages unevenly and make them rubbery, though, so it’s not my favorite. I’d just boil them if I was considering microwaving!
Always cook to temp
I don’t care how they look, how long you have been cooking sausages, or anything else. Use a meat thermometer and confirm that your frozen sausages are cooked to 160º! If you don’t have a meat thermometer, then cut one link in half and make sure there isn’t any pink left.
How to cook frozen sausage
Here are three easy ways to cook frozen sausage from the freezer. These are best for links or patties, but if you have a frozen roll of sausage, use an oven or Instant Pot until you can break it apart. You could also steam the roll a bit if you have a large enough saucepan.
Start by preheating your oven to 400ºF. Grab a baking tray, line it with aluminum, and put a little bit of vegetable oil or something down to prevent the sausages from sticking too much. Put the sausages in the tray. For links, it’s okay if they stick at first. Bake them for ten minutes or so until you can pull them apart. Scoot them away from each other so they have their own space and then bake for another 20 minutes to temp. Turn them over at least once for best results. You can also bump the oven temp or even set it to broil in the final few minutes to get a better color. Alternatively, you could finish them on a high-heat skillet.
Add a little water to the bottom of the pot and then drop in your trivet. If you don’t have a trivet, just drop the sausages right in the water. Cook them for 20 minutes and then check the temp. You could drain and switch to the sautee setting afterward to brown them a bit or finish them on a skillet.
If you want to just cook them on a pan or skillet for breakfast, use the boil method. Drop the sausages in a pot of water and bring them up to boil. After the water starts to roll, drop the temp down to a simmer and cook up to temp. This usually takes around 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness. They will look pale and unappetizing, so finish them with a quick grill or pan-fry to add some color. If you’re worried about overcooking them, just pull them from the water a little early.
Easy sausage recipes (that work for frozen)
These are recipes that use thawed sausage, but for any of these, you can just expect the sautee or bake part to take a little longer.
Casseroles are always a hit, and this recipe from Well Plated is a great way to use the things tucked a bit farther back in your freezer and pantry. Just pre-cook the sausage with a boil and then proceed through the recipe. She recommends chicken sausage to be a bit healthier, but pork sausage will work just fine. If you don’t have instant rice, you can also just add cooked rice at the end and let it simmer a bit to soak up the broth.
Quick pizza does not mean bad pizza, especially when Jamie Oliver is leading the way. Start by bringing up your sausage to a boil while you are preparing the dough. You can skip the pine nuts if you don’t have them, although they are super nice for the texture. And to that note, you can mix and match whatever toppings you’d like. It’s pizza after all!
Want to get a bit of New Orleans in your kitchen? Try this delicious recipe from Food and Wine. Remember to cook the veggies in the sausage grease and don’t skip the clam juice. If you don’t have chicken broth, you can sub for vegetable or turkey. And lastly, buy the best, juiciest tomatoes you can find. They make a big difference in the final product.
Cider-Mustard cream sounds a bit fancy for twenty minutes, but it can be done! This recipe from Food52 will take a little longer if you have frozen raw sausage instead of cooked, but it’s still pretty fast and easy. You’re essentially bringing up the veggies, broth, and sausage together in the pot and then stirring in the seasoned cream toward the end. It’s delicious and would go wonderfully with some thick pieces of sourdough bread.
If you’re feeling pasta, look no further than this recipe from Platings and Pairings. Goat cheese and butternut squash pasta alone would be delicious, but add the salty kick of sausage and you are in for something dreamy. I highly recommend getting fresh sage and parsley for this — the herbs are needed and go a long way. For a more sophisticated angle, keep the wine in. You’re fine without it, though.
Freezing sausage tips
There are only a few rules for freezing sausage to prevent freezer burn and extend shelf life [*]. They are all simple, too:
- Separate into easy-to-use portions.
- Use a freezer bag instead of the original packaging.
- Vacuum seal if possible. If not, remove as much air as possible.
- Date the sausage with a marker.
- Store around 0º if possible.
- Thaw in a fridge for easy use.
Frozen sausage FAQ
Here are a few questions we hear around the shop.
Should I let sausage thaw before cooking?
You don’t have to, but it’s definitely faster and easier if you throw your sausage in the fridge the night before.
Is it ok to cook frozen sausage in the oven?
100%. Set the oven to around 400º and cook until you can break the link or roll it apart. Then separate them and continue cooking to your desired temp. Finish with a quick sear to get some color and you’re set.
Can you grill frozen sausages?
Absolutely. You just have to be cautious about not burning the outside while the inside cooks through. Set up a cooler zone on your grill and start the sausages there, and then move them to the hot zone when they are getting close to 160º to finish them with a bit of char and extra flavor.
Can you defrost sausages in the microwave?
Yup! It’s not ideal because it can give them a rubbery texture, but there’s nothing stopping you. Just put them on a plate, use the defrost setting, and cook it immediately after thawing.
How do you defrost sausage last minute?
You’ve got options: the defrost setting on your microwave, in the oven at 375º, or bringing them up to a boil in a pot and then simmering them all work!
Can you freeze and reheat cooked sausage?
Yup. Just make sure to transfer it to the freezer before it sits on the counter for too long. Then heat it up any way you’d like. You should be set for at least a few months before it spoils.
Where to get the best frozen sausage
The best pork comes from sustainable family farms that celebrate raising pigs the old-fashioned way — on open pastures with no GMOs, antibiotics, or added hormones. That’s exactly how we do it and is exactly how we will always do it. Why? Because it’s better for us, the pigs, and the planet. Plus, nothing tastes better.
See what pork raised the right way tastes like.
The bottom line on frozen sausage
Frozen sausage is easy to thaw, but it’s not something you even have to do. If you want to start cooking immediately, just bring them up to a boil in a pot of water, drop them in the oven, or even use an Instant Pot.
All are good options, and you can always finish them in a pan or grill to get that classic sear.
Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.