Smoking Sausage Step 1

Get the Links Dry

Smoking sausage is a process. Learn and follow the individual steps and your sausage will turn out great every time.

    Before starting the process though, we need to be reminded of our cardinal rule: Never smoke sausage without using a cure!

It's important to remember when smoking sausage that we tend to "eat with our eyes" as well as our mouths. Good looking sausage will always "taste" better than a less visually appealing product and...

...The only way to get a nice, brown smoked sausage is to make sure that the links have been properly and thoroughly dried to the touch before you introduce them to the smoke.

There are 2 ways you can dry your sausage. Each works well, depending on conditions and your equipment.

Air Drying

There is no reason you can't air dry your sausage before taking it to the smoker, as long as the humidity isn't too high. The steps are straight forward:

  1. Gather your linked sausage into easily handled bunches. I find 3 to 4 links to work best.
  2. Hang your links from smoke house sticks or place them on racks.
  3. Put the hanging or racked sausage in an area that allows good air circulation all around them, and let them rest until they have dried to the touch.
  4. That's the whole process. It's a simple but important part of smoking sausage and sausage making in general.


    • There is no set time to produce a well dried link. Conditions like humidity and room temperature will vary, and so will your drying time.
    • You can speed up the drying process by increasing the air circulation. A common household fan (set on a low speed) works well for this.
    • Whether hanging or resting on racks, make sure there is plenty of room between your links. If the air can't circulate well, your sausage will have damp areas that will show up as white splotches or spots after the smoking is done.

Drying in the Sausage Smoker

This is a method I often use. It takes a little less time than air drying, and once the links are dried to the touch, I just need to increase the smoker temperature and add the wood chips.

  1. Prepare the sausage links the same as for air drying, whether on racks or smoking sticks.
  2. Put the links into the smoker, and adjust the temperature to No More Than 100 Degrees F.
  3. Open your smoker dampers all the way and/or leave the door of your smoker open slightly. The moisture needs somewhere to escape.
  4. Leave the sausage in the smoker with vents and door ajar until it is dry to the touch. Check it often, and be sure to check more than one link for dryness.
  5. Tips

    • If you try to dry at too high a temperature, the links will sweat (and never get dry) and the casing may become tough. Keep it between 90 and 100 degrees F. at most.
    • If you aren't able to regulate your smoker at the necessary low temperatures, elect to air dry instead.
    • If you desire a really dark, mahogany brown product, you can try adding paprika to the sausage recipe at the rate of about 1-2 tablespoons per 5 lbs of meat. This will not take the place of drying the sausage links. It will just enhance the color even more.

OK, now that you have your sausage links nice and dry to the touch, it's time to actually apply the smoke... 

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