Fresh vs. Smoked Sausage: What’s the Difference?

Fresh vs. Smoked Sausage: What’s the Difference?

When you go to the grocery store looking for sausage, you’ll often find two types available for purchase: fresh and smoked. All the ingredients may be the same, but there are some major differences between smoked and fresh sausage. Here’s a deeper look into those differences.


One of the main differences between smoked and fresh sausage is how you prepare them for eating. Simply put, fresh sausage is raw and uncooked, making it great as an ingredient, but you’ll need to cook it yourself. Smoked sausage is fully cooked, so you can eat it as is. In other words, you don’t need to cook smoked sausage for it to be safe for consumption, though you can if you prefer your sausage warmed up.


Both fresh and smoked sausage often use the same ingredients, but they do have different flavors. Sausage traditionally has a wide variety of flavors because of the different seasonings and meat types, but smoked sausage has a specific flavor in relation to its cooking method. When smoked at a low temperature for hours, the sausage gains a smoky, mildly spicy flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. This is why so many people order smoked sausage online, as the smoking process is difficult to do at home.

Shelf Life

Another main difference between fresh and smoked sausage is how long each lasts in the fridge. Raw, fresh meat doesn’t last as long as cooked meat, so smoked sausage will last a few more days than fresh sausage. However, you can freeze fresh sausage to extend its life span—at the cost of flavor—if you aren’t ready to cook it yet.

Outside of these differences, you can expect most things to be the same between these two options. And you can usually compensate for any flavor differences with proper seasoning and cooking methods.

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