How does that saying go?: “Give a gal a fish & you’ll feed her for a day; teach a gal how to grill sausage & you’ll feed her for a lifetime?” …it’s something like that, right? *wink!!!*
Terrible jokes aside, grilled sausage is one of my all-time favorite summer meals. You may think it’s because I’m part German (thanks, Dad!), or because I’m from Wisconsin (& we Wisconsinites know a thing or two about sausage!), but in reality, it’s because I’m a terribly lazy cook…especially during the busy summer months when menu planning & meal prep always seem to fall by the wayside.
Dinnertime, with its tendency to sort of creep up on me in the early evening, often presents a bit of a conundrum during the warm months. I don’t want to turn on the stove or oven, & I especially don’t want to spend time prepping dinner. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it all just feels very fussy on a hot summer night.
Being able to throw something together really easily & really quickly, without much thought or prep required, is pretty much the only thing that keeps us from ordering in every night. So you can trust me when I tell you – if you’re an especially busy &/or lazy cook in the summer, grilled sausage is where it’s at.
Once you learn how to properly grill sausage, I’m pretty sure they’ll make a regular appearance on your summertime menu. It’s…
- EASY. It takes no more than 15 minutes to cook up an entire batch of sausage. Most of the grilling time is entirely hands-off, & there’s no prep involved. Easiest dinner ever!
- VERSATILE. Once you understand the technique of how to grill sausage, you can use it on just about any sausage you find.
- SCALABLE. You can toss just a couple of sausages on the grill for a quick weeknight dinner or feed an entire crowd, easily & affordably, at a backyard BBQ.
- DELICIOUS. This method yields perfectly juicy sausage with a deliciously charred & crisp exterior.
- REALLY, SERIOUSLY EASY. Worth mentioning twice…grilling up sausage is seriously stupid good & stupid easy. Best combination, if you ask me.
Easy & effortless summertime goodness. ♡ Read on to learn more about how to grill sausage, or jump straight to the recipe & get grillin’!
What are the best sausage for grilling?
Before we dive too deep into the how-to, let’s talk about the most important part – the sausage!
This post specifically covers how to grill fresh (raw) sausage links. The process showcased will apply to any variety of fresh sausage – chicken sausage, pork sausage, brats, Italian sausage, chorizo, etc. – so long as it’s a fresh sausage in a casing.
To grill sausage that’s already fully cooked, such as the amazing chicken sausages available in a variety of different flavors these days, smoked sausage or kielbasa, hot dogs, etc., it couldn’t be simpler:
- Fire up the grill for medium-high direct grilling.
- Place the sausage over the direct heat & grill, flipping occasionally until the sausage is heated through or as crusty & charred as desired.
How to grill sausage:
Grilling sausage seems like such a simple thing to do, but like most simple things, doing it well is actually not the easiest thing in the world. (Isn’t it annoying how that works out?)
If you grill them too fast, the casing will burn & break before it cooks through, resulting in totally dry & crumbly sausage. Not good! & while you can go the “low-&-slow” route (ahem, beer brats!), but it requires a little bit of planning in advance. That’s not the stupid easy summer dinner we’re after either!
Zone Grilling 101:
The secret behind how to grill sausage perfectly every single time lies in zone grilling. By creating 2 zones of heat on your grill, you can first cook the sausage with really gentle, steady indirect heat before grilling them over strong direct heat for a deliciously charred finish. It’s super easy, & the sausage turns out perfectly every time.
This method of grilling with both direct & indirect heat is called zone grilling. Zone grilling is one of my best grilling season tricks. It’s the secret to my perfect grilled buffalo chicken wings, the best-ever grilled BBQ chicken, Wisconsin-style beer brats made entirely on the grill, & more.
If you’ve never grilled with indirect heat before, don’t panic. It’s the simplest thing.
- Zone grilling on a gas grill – Prepare your gas grill for zone grilling by turning 1-2 burners on to their highest heat setting & 1-2 burners on their lowest heat setting. This creates a zone of strong direct heat (directly over the “high” burner flames) & a zone of gentler direct heat (directly over the “low” burner flames).
- Zone grilling on a charcoal grill with zone grilling – Prepare your charcoal grill for zone grilling by lighting charcoal and arranging the majority of it on one side of your grill. This creates a zone of strong direct heat (directly over the majority of the charcoal) & a zone of gentler direct heat (the area of the grill that doesn’t have as much charcoal).
How to grill sausage with indirect heat:
Using zone grilling & indirect heat is the best way to grill sausage.
The 2-zone method allows you to first cook the sausage with really gentle, steady indirect heat before grilling them over strong direct heat for a deliciously charred finish. It’s super easy, & the sausage turns out perfectly every time. Here’s how you do it:
- First, cook the sausage with indirect heat: Arrange the sausage on the indirect heat side of the grill. Close the lid & cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping them halfway through. The heat from the direct heat side of the grill will circulate around the sausage, cooking them with really gentle indirect heat.
- Then, char-grill the sausage over direct heat: Transfer the sausage to the direct heat side of the grill. Grill 2-3 minutes per side, until charred as desired.
That’s it! Perfectly grilled sausage, every single time. It couldn’t be easier.
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A few more Grilled Sausage FAQs…
How long to grill sausage?
The sausage will grill for about 12-15 minutes total using the 2-zone grilling method described above & in the Recipe Card below. You’ll cook the sausage for 8-10 minutes with indirect heat before finishing over direct flame for 4-5 minutes, or until as crusty as desired.
What temperature do I grill sausage?
Whenever you use 2-zone grilling to grill with indirect heat, the temperature of your grill should be pretty hot – between 500-600 degrees F.
The finished cooking temperature of the sausage will vary based on the type of sausage you use. Pork-based sausage is safe to eat at 160 degrees F, while chicken-based sausage needs to be fully cooked to 165 degrees F. I suggest transferring them from indirect to direct heat once the internal temperature is about 15-20 degrees F away from its final cooking temperature.
(Don’t forget – the only way to be certain about doneness is taking the temperature using an instant-read thermometer. Be sure to read more about our Must-Have Grilling Equipment!)
Should I boil sausages before grilling?
Nope – you totally don’t have to! The 2-zone grilling method used in this grilled sausage recipe eliminates any need to boil or cook sausage before you grill it up, & the sausage will stay totally juicy & tender – promise!
However…if you’re after a delicious boiled brat situation, be sure to check out the PWWB Wisconsin-Style Grilled Beer Brats recipe. It’s the best!
What do you eat with grilled sausage?
Funny you ask! That’s exactly what we’re chatting about next…
Let’s talk toasted buns & toppings:
First, buns: a good grilled sausage neeeeeeds a good bun. Period!
What makes a bun a good bun? If you ask me, a good bun for sausage has a nice balance of softness + sturdiness. A pillowy, soft bun will sort of wrap itself around the sausage as you eat it, but it also needs to be sturdy enough that it won’t break apart at the seam. Brioche buns are my personal favorite for brats or any grilled sausages since they are pillowy soft & they don’t break apart easily.
If you want to take your buns to the next level, toast them: Brush them with a little oil (or spritz with a little cooking spray) & pop them on the grill grates to toast up for a minute or two as the sausages finish grilling. The buns get toasty & slightly crisp – SO GOOD!
Next, toppings! At our house, toppings are totally optional, but it’s an easy way to make an even heartier dinner. Based on the type of sausage you’re grilling, you can really get wild & have fun with it when it comes to toppings. A few of our faves:
- The Classics – Ketchup, mustard, &/or mayo are always a good starting point! We LOVE a tangy Dijonnaise – mix about 1/3 cup mayo with 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard.
- Sauerkraut, another tangy slaw, or pickle relish.
- Grilled peppers & onions – especially good for Italian sausage!
- Whip up some esquites-style corn for chorizo or any sort of cilantro-jalapeno sausages.
- Or, go Chicago style, complete with ALL of the things – mustard, sweet relish, onion, tomato, dill pickles & celery salt.
What to serve with grilled sausage?
With your toppings & perfectly toasted buns all sorted out, you’re just 1 step away from the perfect grilled sausage dinner! Last, you need some solid sides for sausage.
When thinking about what to serve with sausage, we like to keep things pretty simple. A few of our faves…
- Keep things super classic, & serve with your favorite summer side dishes – potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, or broccoli salad. Make your go-to recipes, or grab ’em from the deli at the store for an even easier sausage dinner.
- A cold salad – My personal favorite during the summer months. Try this grated zucchini salad (so good!), or this falafel-ish quinoa salad (amazing!). Both are super easy to throw together while the sausage grills.
- Grilled veggies – No summer plate is complete without some grilled veggies! Grill up some corn on the cob, peppers & onions, asparagus, sweet potatoes, or make grilled fries. Yum!
- Pasta salad – Pure summertime food! Try this Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad recipe or this Creamy Southwest Pasta Salad recipe.
- Panzanella – Another summertime favorites. This recipe is perfect since you’ll already have the grill fired up for the sausage.
Plate it on up with the sausage, & dinner is served. (In less than 15 minutes total!)
I can’t wait for you to try this Grilled Sausage recipe ASAP! It is the easiest weeknight dinner recipe & a go-to when you are looking for something quick & delicious!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
More Recipes Like This:
Go-To Grilling Season Recipes
Everything you need to know about how to grill sausage – A simple method for perfect-every-time grilled sausage. The ultimate easy summer dinner, & a total staple for grilling season!
- 1 pound (raw) fresh sausage links or brats of choice
- for serving, as desired: toasted brat buns or brioche buns, grilled peppers & onions, sauerkraut, mustard or Dijonnaise, ketchup, etc.
- Preheat the grill: Prepare your grill for indirect cooking, creating a zone of direct high heat & a second zone of indirect heat. If using a gas grill, begin preheating at least 15 minutes before grilling. If using charcoal, light the charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. (To learn more about zone grilling, be sure to check out this post.)
- Grill the sausage: Once the grill is hot, place the sausage directly on the indirect heat side of the grill, arranging the sausage as close to the direct heat as possible without being directly over the flame. Close the lid & cook for 4-5 minutes. The heat from the direct heat side of the grill will circulate around the sausage, cooking them with really gentle indirect heat. After 4-5 minutes, flip the sausage, & cook over indirect heat for another 4-5 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the sausage registers a temperature of 150 degrees F.
- Chargrill the sausage: Transfer the sausage to the direct heat. Grill 2-3 minutes per side, until charred as desired & the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Transfer to a plate to rest & cool slightly before serving.
- Serve the grilled sausage on a toasted bun with all of your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Cooking times provided work for a standard 1-inch thick sausage. If your sausage is thicker/thinner, adjust cooking time as needed, & always check for final cooking temperatures with an instant-read thermometer.
Keywords: grilled sausage, grilling recipes, easy, weeknight dinner, gluten-free, chicken, pork
Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Yes to Yolks.
Ready to hit the grill?
Us too! Try some of PWWB’s Top Grilling Recipes ASAP!:
- PWWB Go-To Grilling Marinades – 15 go-to recipes you’ll turn to time & time again, all summer long!
- Easy Grilled Veggies – How to grill pretty much any vegetable. Vegan-friendly!
- The Very BEST Grilled BBQ Chicken – A summertime classic perfected, thanks to a few simple steps that yield the juiciest, most flavorful BBQ chicken ever.
- Absolutely PERFECT Grilled Buffalo Wings – Crispy buffalo perfection. Made with just 3 simple ingredients, grilled chicken wings could not be easier!
- Grilled Black Bean Burgers – Burgers aren’t just for meat-lovers! These grilled veggie burgers are hearty, textural & grill up like a dream!
- Best-Ever Grilled Turkey Burgers – Kiss everything you think you know about turkey burgers goodbye. The juiciest, most flavorful grilled turkey burgers you’ll ever eat!
- PWWB House Burgers – The easy French Onion Burgers that we’re obsessed with at the PWWB House!
- Grilled Wisconsin Beer Brats –The easiest Wisconsin-style beer brats, yielding perfectly juicy & crisp brats every time!
- How to Grill Pizza – Our comprehensive guide to making the best grilled pizza + tons of topping ideas for the ultimate grilled pizza night!
- Grilled Sausage – How to grill sausage perfectly, every single time! This simple method can translate into dozens of delicious & easy summer dinners – no flare ups here!
- Grilled Tuscan Steak – Perfectly juicy grilled steak, seasoned with Tuscan-style aromatics. The ultimate grilled steak dinner!
- All PWWB Grilling Recipes
Ready to Hit the Grill?
If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to Grilling 101, a compilation of tips & tricks for all of the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.
All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 15 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.
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