Slow cookers are an essential cooking tool for anyone who loves home-cooked food but has little time to cook. Like any other protein, cooking sausage in Crock-Pot is easy and can help you get dinner on the table when time is limited.
How you prepare your sausage in your Crock-Pot may depend on the type of sausage you're using and your recipe. For fresh sausage, cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. You may be able to cut your cooking time by half if you're using cooked sausage.
Types of Sausage
Italian sausage, kielbasa, bratwurst and hot dogs are all types of sausage. According to the USDA, sausage can be made from a variety of ground proteins that are seasoned with various herbs and spices and usually cured. They can also be cooked or uncooked.
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Italian sausage, pork sausage and bratwurst are common types of uncooked sausage, also referred to as fresh sausage. However, you can also find these sausages pre-cooked. Cooked sausages include hot dogs, bologna and knockwurst. To prevent foodborne illness, any fresh sausage needs to be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be consumed, according to the USDA.
Cooked sausages, such as dry salami or bologna, may not require any cooking at all. However, you may prefer to reheat some of these cooked sausages, such as hot dogs and cooked bratwurst. Though the USDA doesn't provide specific cooking guidelines regarding food safety for cooked sausages, they should be consumed prior to their use-by date or within seven days after opening your package.
Cooking Sausage in Crock-Pot
When cooking sausage in Crock-Pot, the heat generated by the kitchen tool ensures your sausage will meet the proper cooking temperature, as long as it's cooked long enough. Fresh sausage may require a longer cooking time than cooked sausage. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by your slow cooker to get the best results.
Inspired by the LIVESTRONG.com recipe Sausage, Peppers and Onions, try this adapted slow cooker recipe with Italian sausage and rice.
- 28-ounce can tomato puree
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 6 uncooked Italian sausages
- 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and sliced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled, halved and sliced
- In a large bowl, combine tomato puree, garlic, rosemary, black pepper, salt and basil.
- Add sauce, sausages, peppers and onions to the slow cooker and cover with lid.
- Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 10 hours. Check sausage with a meat thermometer to test for doneness.
Serve your sausage and peppers with cooked brown rice.
If you're using a cooked sausage, you may be able to reduce your cooking time by half. However, check the sausage prior to serving to ensure it's reached the proper cooking temperature.
Is Sausage Healthy?
According to a November 2019 article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Nutrition Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium updated guidelines regarding red and processed meat consumption and suggested that there was no need for adults to change their usual intake of these types of meats. The authors of this article cited that there was a lack of evidence to support the need to limit intake of these meats.
However, the nutrition experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health report that these recommendations contradict the large body of evidence that links red and processed meats to higher rates of heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Though sausage can be made from poultry and seafood and isn't always considered a processed meat (specifically the fresh sausage), it may not make the healthiest protein choice. According to nutrition information from the USDA, a 3-ounce portion of organic chicken sausage has 140 calories, 14 grams of protein, 9 grams of total fat, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 610 milligrams of sodium.
If you're concerned about calories and fat, you may turn to low-fat sausage. However, they can be high in sodium. A 3-ounce serving of a low-fat, smoked sausage has 677 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA.
Too much saturated fat and sodium can increase your risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. You don't have to cut sausage out of your diet completely, but you should limit your intake and choose lower-sodium fresh sausage made from leaner cuts of meat.
- USDA: "Sausages and Food Safety"
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "New 'Guidelines' Say Continue Red Meat Consumption Habits, But Recommendations Contradict Evidence"
- World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research: "Limit Red and Processed Meat"
- FoodData Central: "Chicken Sausage"
- FoodData Central: "Sausage, Turkey, Pork, and Beef, Low Fat, Smoked"
- American Heart Association: "The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations"
- North Dakota State University: "Now Serving: Slow Cooker Meals!"
- National Hot Dog and Sausage Council: "Tips for Cooking Linked Sausage"