Sausages have a bad rap because of their high fat content, with some varieties having over 400 calories per serving. The good news is, you can cook sausages in the oven to cut calories and fat. Better yet, prepare them at home from scratch so you have full control over their ingredients.
Baking sausages takes anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the cooking temperature and amount of meat. Use a food thermometer and cook the sausages until their internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Are Sausages Good for You?
This delicious BBQ staple is popular worldwide for its smoky flavor and rich aroma. From chorizo and kupati to kielbasa and andouille, sausages come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on your preferences, you can buy them fresh, cooked or smoked. Most varieties consist of meat scraps, spices and fat encased in animal intestines, collagen or cellulose (which isn't edible).
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Read more: What Nutritionists Really Eat at a BBQ
Some types of sausages are healthier than others. If you're health-conscious, look for varieties made from poultry, turkey or lean beef. Their nutritional value depends on the ingredients used.
Polish pork sausages, for example, have 277 calories, 12 grams of protein, 1.4 grams of carbs and 24 grams of fat, including 9 grams of saturated fat, per serving (3 ounces). Cooked turkey sausages, on the other hand, provide 112 calories, 13.6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, including 1.3 grams of saturated fat, per serving (2 ounces).
Some varieties, such as chorizo, boast a whopping 130 calories and 10 grams of fat per ounce — that's about 390 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving (3 ounces).
The World Health Organization warns about the dangers of processed meat, which is classified as carcinogenic to humans. These food products have been linked to colorectal cancer. The risk increases with the amount of processed meat consumed.
Besides scrap meat, sausages are high in sodium and contain preservatives. A single serving of pork sausages provides more than one-third of the daily recommended sodium intake. Excessive sodium consumption may lead to high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for death in women, warns the American Heart Association.
Cook Sausages in the Oven
This delicious food is loaded with saturated fat, which may increase your risk of heart disease and weight gain when consumed in excess, points out the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Saturated fats should account for less than 10 percent of your daily calories. Each gram of fat has 9 calories, so if you're on a 2,000-calorie diet, try not to exceed 22 grams of saturated fat per day.
Frying can further increase the fat content of sausages. Baking and grilling are healthier — as long as you don't use butter, cooking oil and other fats. Plus, cooking sausages in the oven is easy and takes just a few minutes, depending on the type of oven, cooking temperature and meat thickness.
Start by defrosting the sausages. Place them at the bottom of the refrigerator at 40 F (or below) or microwave them until fully defrosted. If you choose the first option, try not to remove the packaging in order to avoid bacterial contamination.
Next, place your sausages on a baking sheet and cook them in the oven at 350 F for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on their size. Turn them halfway through. Let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
Another way to cook sausages in the oven is to place them in a baking dish, advises the Community of Verboort. Add a small amount of water to the dish, preheat the oven at 325 F and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
An advantage of baking sausages or smokies in the oven is that you don't need to turn them as often as you would when frying. Additionally, there is less risk of overcooking or burning them. To stay on the safe side, use a food thermometer.
Cook them until their internal temperature reaches 160 F (for beef, pork and lamb sausages) to 165 F (for chicken and turkey sausages), as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you're baking several sausages at once, check each piece separately. This will help lower your risk of food poisoning and foodborne illnesses.
Read more: Can You Eat Sausages on a Low-Carb Diet?
Serve the sausages with healthy side dishes, such as wild or brown rice or our Sweet Potato Salad. If you're on a low-carb diet, try our Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, cauliflower rice, pickles or sauerkraut.
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Polish Sausage Pork"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Turkey Sausage Fresh Cooked"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Chorizo"
- World Health Organization: "Q&A on the Carcinogenicity of the Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat"
- American Heart Association: "Effects of Excess Sodium Infographic"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Facts About Saturated Fats"
- Verboort: "Cooking Your Sausage"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "The Big Thaw — Safe Defrosting Methods"