How to Cook Kielbasa

4 ways to cook this flavorful sausage.

February 28, 2023
Bavarian Smoked sausage on a wooden board with herbs. White wooden background. Top view.

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Bavarian Smoked sausage on a wooden board with herbs. White wooden background. Top view.

Photo by: Vladimir Mironov/Getty Images

Vladimir Mironov/Getty Images

By Alice K. Thompson for Food Network Kitchen

Alice is a contributing writer and editor at Food Network.

There’s a lot to like about kielbasa: Its subtle smokey-garlicky flavor is almost universally appealing, you can find it reasonably priced at most supermarkets and there’s just about no wrong way to cook it. It’s sturdy and moist enough to resist drying out even under intense heat, and it’s almost always pre-cooked so you don’t have to worry about it reaching certain temperatures for safety. Read on to make the most of this sensational sausage.

What Is Kielbasa?

Kielbasa means “sausage” in Polish, and in Poland there are hundreds of varieties of kielbasa available. In the United States, what’s sold as kielbasa, Polish sausage or kielbasa Polska is typically a thick, smoked or cooked pork sausage. It’s most often sold packaged in one big U-shaped link. Varieties made of turkey, beef or a combination of meats are also popular stateside, and you may occasionally see fresh kielbasa sold at specialty stores. Kielbasa is nicely salty, usually lightly smoked and flavored with garlic and a few other spices.

What's In Kielbasa?

Although there are numerous recipes for kielbasa, what’s sold commercially in the United States commonly contains pork, salt, sugar or corn syrup, garlic and spices with nitrites added as a preservative. Beef and poultry are sometimes added to the pork mixture, or they can be the base for the sausage themselves. Smoking gives the sausage its distinctive bronzed color, although white fresh kielbasa (known as biala kielbasa in Polish) is available online or in groceries specializing in Polish foods.

Grilled Turkey Kielbasa Sausage on a Cutting Board.

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Grilled Turkey Kielbasa Sausage on a Cutting Board.

Photo by: rudisill/Getty Images

rudisill/Getty Images

How to Cook Kielbasa

You can boil, pan-sear, bake or grill kielbasa. Most commercially available kielbasa has been smoked and/or fully cooked and is safe to eat out of the package. That said, it is traditionally served cooked and is most flavorful that way. Fresh kielbasa, however, must be heated to a temperature of 165 degrees F. Here are the most popular ways to cook kielbasa, plus some of our favorite recipes for this versatile sausage.

How to Boil Kielbasa

Poke the sausage a few times with a fork and place it in a pot or deep skillet. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat and simmer until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and serve it with mustard, slice it to serve with pierogis or place it in rolls or sandwiches. You can also boil kielbasa right along with shrimp or clams in a classic seafood boil.

How to Pan-Fry Kielbasa

Slice the sausage into rounds or cut it into sections; you can split the sections to get more surface area if you like. Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the sausage and cook until the exterior is browned and the middle is heated through, 5 to 8 minutes. This is excellent with eggs, with fried onions, in hotdog buns or just with mustard and pickles for a casual meal.

How to Cook Kielbasa In the Oven

Preheat the oven to 375 to 425 degrees F. You can roast the kielbasa in one big piece or cut it up any way you like. Place it on a greased baking sheet and roast until it’s browned and heated all the way through, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the temperature and the size of your pieces. Looking for a sheet-pan dinner? Add your favorite veggies to one side the pan and cook them along with the sausage.

How to Grill Kielbasa

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Place the entire sausage on the grill or cut it into 3- to 4-inch lengths and poke it a few times with a fork. Grill the sausage, turning it with tongs frequently, until it is nicely browned and fragrant and heated all the way through, about 12 minutes. Serve the sausage alongside grilled onions and peppers or as you would hot dogs.

Recipes for Kielbasa

Sauerkraut mixed with pork and potatoes on an oval white plate

Choucroute_Garnie_016.tif

Sauerkraut mixed with pork and potatoes on an oval white plate

This easy recipe pairs kielbasa with some of its classic accompaniments: potatoes, sauerkraut, onions, juniper berries and mustard. Cooking the sausage along with a sliced pork chop is traditional, but you can omit it if you like.

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm 
Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

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Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin ,Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Here’s a nontraditional treatment of two Polish favorites: Pork or turkey kielbasa is grilled along with potato-and-cheddar pierogies and tossed with a tangy mustard vinaigrette. Total comfort!

Food Network Kitchen’s Slow-Cooker Shrimp Boil for Summer Slow Cooker/Zucchini Fries/Picnic Brick-Pressed Sandwiches, as seen on Food Network.

FNK_SlowCookerShrimpBoil_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Slow-Cooker Shrimp Boil for Summer Slow Cooker/Zucchini Fries/Picnic Brick-Pressed Sandwiches, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Kielbasa’s sturdy texture and garlicky flavor makes it a classic in seafood boils. Assembling it in a slow-cooker makes the cooking easy and serves a crowd.

Photo by: Heather Ramsdell

Heather Ramsdell

This five-ingredient meal is a weeknight winner. The classic combo of sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes all cook together on a single pan.

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Photo by: Justin Walker

Justin Walker

The comfort extravaganza combines the sausage with cheddar, whole-grain mustard and jalapeno between crunchy griddled rye bread.

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