How to Tell When Chicken Sausage is Done? 3 Ways to Be Sure

November 1, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

The best way to tell if chicken sausage is done is using a thermometer – fully cooked chicken sausage should be cooked to 165°F. A fully-cooked sausage has an even brown color on the outside and is white or light pink on the inside. It is also firm to the touch all throughout.

As a seasoned line cook in a barbecue restaurant, I spend a lot of time cooking chicken sausages since they are a favorite menu item for most of our customers. I’ll fill you in on how I check them for doneness.

In this article, I discuss three ways to tell if chicken sausage is cooked. I will also outline how the chicken sausage is made, its impact on health, and how to avoid contracting food-borne illnesses from raw chicken sausage.

how to tell when chicken sausage is done

How Do You Tell if Chicken Sausage is Fully Cooked?

There are 3 ways to tell when your chicken sausage is cooked. Please note that raw chicken sausages are different from precooked chicken sausages and that the methods below apply to raw chicken sausages.

Using a Meat Thermometer

The best way to tell if chicken sausage is fully cooked by checking the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Chicken sausage is done when cooked at an internal temperature of 165°F.

This is the most accurate way to tell whether your chicken sausages are fully done – the other methods I will discuss are more subjective. Use the color and firmness checks as indicators that it’s time to check the internal temperature of your sausage with a thermometer.

A good instant-read thermometer is an important investment every home chef should make. No more over or under-cooked food ever again.

Check the Color

A fully-cooked chicken sausage has an even golden brown color on the outside and is white or light pink on the inside. This color should be consistent throughout the sausage. Any pink hues on the outside usually imply the meat needs to cook longer.

Touch Test

A done sausage is firm to the touch. Lightly press the sausages with your spatula. Under-cooked sausages will still be squishy – let them cook longer.

Grilling Sausage on the Grill

What is the Best Way to Cook Chicken Sausages?

I’m a sucker for grilling things: I think live-fire makes everything taste better. That said, the best cooking method for chicken sausage depends on what appliance you have. There is no correct way to cook chicken sausages. You can cook them in the oven, on the grill, in the skillet, and even in the air fryer.

Cook Chicken Sausage in the Skillet

Grab your heavy-bottomed pan and put it on medium heat. Give it a few seconds to heat up. Drizzle in some olive oil. Add your chicken sausages and fry for 8-10 minutes or until brown. Test for doneness and serve. Enjoy!

Cook Chicken Sausage in the Oven

If you prefer the oven, preheat your oven to 350°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, place your chicken sausages. Add a little olive oil. Cook for 15 – 25 mins. Test for doneness and serve.

Cook Chicken Sausage on the Grill

For grilling lovers, I recommend cooking on indirect heat. This will give the sausages a nice, smokey flavor.

Set up your grill or smoker for two-zone cooking. For a charcoal grill, place your coal on one side of the grill and light it, leaving the other coal-free. Toss some wood chips or chunks on the fire.  Place your chicken sausages on the side with no coals and brush them with a little olive oil. Shoot for a grill temperature of 350°F.

Cover and smoke for 20 minutes, rotating the sausages every 5 minutes or so. Test for doneness with a thermometer (165°F).

When cooking chicken sausage on a gas grill, set the burners on one side on medium-high heat and cook on the other side for 6 minutes. Rotate 4 times. Serve immediately.

Cook Chicken Sausage in the Air Fryer

If you are using an air fryer, preheat it to 350°F. Place chicken sausage in the air-frying bowl and brush them with some olive oil. Fry for 12-15 minutes. Test for doneness. Serve hot.

Can Cooked Chicken Sausage Be Pink in the Middle?

Yes. Chicken sausage can be fully cooked yet pink in the middle. This is because it is mainly from finely ground chicken meat, which can be pink (but is usually white when cooked). As long as the chicken sausage is at 165°F internal temperature, it’s safe to eat.

How to Cook Your Chicken Sausage Quicker?

To get your chicken sausage fully cooked in a shorter time:

Thaw Your Sausage

Frozen chicken sausage will cook a lot slower and is more likely to burn on the outside and be raw in the middle. Don’t try to cook meat that’s frozen. Let the sausages fully thaw before cooking. There are three safe methods to thaw meat. You can use your fridge, water immersion, or the microwave.

To thaw in the refrigerator, simply stick the sausages in the fridge overnight

You can also thaw the sausages in your sink. Put the stopper in and fill the sink with enough water to cover the chicken sausages. Place the sausages in a waterproof bag and put them in the sink. Add ice cubes every half hour or so to keep the water cold.

The final method of safe thawing is to use your microwave. Use the defrost setting. You risk cooking some areas of the sausages when using the microwave. This is my least favorite method of defrosting, and I only use it when I’m in a hurry.

Slice the Sausage

If you prefer not to boil the sausages, slice them. Larger pieces of sausage take longer to cook compared to smaller pieces.

Potatoes with Sausages Cut into Slices and Fried in Oil

What Are Chicken Sausages?

Chicken sausages are made of various seasonings, mixed into finely ground chicken meat and non-meat ingredients, and then stuffed into casings. The meat may be fresh, smoked, cured, or pre-cooked.

The variety of chicken sausages is almost limitless. I’ve seen apple and gouda cheese stuffed chicken sausage. I’ve seen jalapeno and cheddar sausages. I’m assuming there’s a pumpkin spice chicken sausage. The variety of sausages seems to be ever-expanding, and I’m here for it!

The particular cut of chicken meat used in sausage or the spice formula cannot be used to classify chicken sausages because most manufacturers include a combination of meats and spices in varying proportions based on demand.

What Are Pre-Cooked Chicken Sausages?

Pre-cooked chicken sausage is seasoned and cooked during the production process, saving you the trouble of having to tell if the chicken sausage is cooked through. Pre-cooked chicken sausages will be labeled as RTE (ready to eat) on the packaging.

No need to monitor the internal temp of pre-cooked sausages. They are safe for consumption straight out of the packaging, though I would suggest warming them up first.

Since ready-to-eat chicken sausages are cooked during processing, cooking them can be as simple as drizzling a little olive oil and frying until the outside is brown, firm, and a little crispy, depending on your preference. 

What Happens If I Eat Undercooked Chicken Sausage?

You could get food-borne illness if you eat undercooked chicken sausages. This is called food poisoning. I’ll go over some symptoms, but let me warn you: you don’t want to get chicken sick. Make sure your chicken sausage is fully cooked (165°F) before consuming.

Salmonella bacteria is the most common bacteria in chicken. It thrives in the stomachs of healthy birds. Eating raw or undercooked meat increases your chances of getting food poisoning.

Salmonella food poisoning symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, nausea, and headaches. People who experience severe diarrhea may need to be hospitalized or take antibiotics.

Campylobacter poisoning is a foodborne disease caused by eating undercooked meat, including raw chicken sausage. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Complications arising from the later stages of the infection can cause gallbladder infection(cholecystitis) which brings with it its set of unpleasant symptoms.

If you suspect you have eaten undercooked meat, seek medical attention. These illnesses are usually easily treatable with a smooth recovery process.

Is Chicken Sausage Healthy?

We all love chicken sausages, and while they are such a beloved food item, consumption should be moderate at best. Aim for once a week or consult with your doctor or dietician. They are processed food, which means that consuming them regularly can be detrimental to your health. Most chicken sausages have a high sodium content. 

Consuming plain old chicken is the better choice and has the following benefits:

Roasted Sausage with Rosemary Leaves

Stronger Bones and Muscles

Lean protein in chicken is rich in amino acids. The body uses amino acids to build muscle tissue, thus helping to maintain bone density. This is essential as we age because it reduces the risk of injury to the bones and illnesses like osteoporosis.

Great Nutrition

Aside from the high-quality protein in chicken, it also contains vitamin B12, choline, iron, zinc, selenium, and a lot more minerals.

Better Heart Health and Weight Management

Research shows that around 25 grams of protein per meal will make you feel more full. Chicken can make you feel fuller for longer despite eating less food.

This is good for weight management and consequently reduces the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Additionally, white meat is a great substitute for red meat, which has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, renal ailments, and type 2 diabetes.


Chicken sausage is a delicious meal that is easy to fix, but eating undercooked sausages can cause severe health problems. It is, therefore, critical to ensure you do not serve raw chicken sausage by learning to tell if chicken sausage is cooked to perfection. Again, chicken sausage is fully cooked when its internal temperature is 165°F. Use an instant-read thermometer to track the temperature.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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