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Grilling Italian Sausage-split or not to split?

Hi wanted to grill hot italian sausage patties today but the store only had links-in order to put them on a hard roll should I split them before grilling or keep them whole and find some grinder rolls somewhere?

Going to top with peppers, onions and garlic-just want the best sausage flavor


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  1. I parboil them and then split them before putting on the grill. The quick boil sets the meat so they can be easily split.

    1 Reply
    1. re: NVJims

      Jims,Good point about splitting, they are impossibly messy to cut in half when raw-any tips on the cooking times?

      Thanks again

    2. I don't understand why you would split them. The idea is to cook them slowly enough so they get done and have a brown outside. They stay juicy and are delicious this way. Splitting just causes all the richness to run out, and par boiling? WHat's up with that? Low and slow is the key to sausage deliciousness.

      10 Replies
              1. re: rockycat

                +1...don't split them. I wouldn't even parboil them, but that's up to you. Bottom line is parboiling them just isn't necessary unless you're in a hurry.

                As others have stated, cook 'em slow. I do them on the grill, __indirect heat__ and will then put them directly over the hot coals for the last few minutes (though that's not even necessary).

        1. re: roxlet

          What roxlet said. We do these all time during during grilling season at our house. Topped with peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic. Best ever!

          1. re: roxlet

            I agree with not splitting them.

            But parboiling is a sensible option, and it counts in the "low-and-slow" corner: simmering water is cooler than almost any grill setting.

            Actually, my favorite way to cook fresh sausage links, like Brats or Italian, is to toss them in olive oil and then roast them in a sheet pan or roasting pan at about 300 degrees, turning once or twice over 20-30 minutes.

            1. re: roxlet

              agree! same goes for bratwurst...

              1. re: roxlet

                +1. Never split a sausage link of any kind.

                1. I agree with roxlet totaly. Don't parboil them. Don't split them.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    Some people split them to increase the surface area for extra exposure to the grill's heat. It makes them extra crunchy if that's the result you want.

                    1. re: shecrab

                      The farce is not what gets crispy it is the casing that it is stuffed into that does. Splitting it does not expose more of the casing to the grill.

                  2. Time is the factor which determines whether I par-boil/par-poach sausages. If I'm really short on time I'll boil until almost cooked and grill.

                    in general, I like grilling whole from raw. The skin will brown and crisp up. The added bonus is the sausage will split naturally on the casing so you end up with tasty, extra crispy browned bits.

                    I suggest grilling whole and splitting after the sausages are cooked. I usually cut into 1" rounds for people to nibble on.

                    1. People usually grill sausages (especially raw) too hot, so they split and get dry. You need to cook them on medium-low heat and let them slowly come up to temp. Don't be afraid to use a meat thermo with sausages, to be sure (and to avoid overcooking).

                      If I am going to par cook them, I usually start in a CI pan with oil, onions and peppers. Get a good sear on every side, then finish them on the grill.

                      Interesting...the CHOW tip video right now is about how to avoid exploding sausages on the grill. Perhaps they can help.

                      1. I'd say the "proper" way is to not split and to slowly grill so that the skin doesn't pop and you don't lose all the juice.

                        However, sometimes I do split sausages (especially kielbasa) because I love that crispy crusty coat you get when you split a fatty sausage and cook it on the grill. They are generally high enough in fat that they are hard to dry out anyways.

                        1. There is no proper way. Try them both ways and see which one you like better. It's not foie gras where you waste a bunch of money if you mess up. I personally love them split and charred within an inch of their life on the BBQ, hey but that's me!. If I'm having sausage and peppers, cut into 1 inch rounds. They are inexpensive enough to experiment with.

                          1. Pierced, not split. We use one of those old-fashioned 2-pronged ear corn holders to pierce the salsiccia. Piercing allows some of the excess fat to drain out without losing the flavor. My wife, of Italian heritage, uses salsiccia Italiana in her 'gravy', I call it 'sauce' or 'salsa di pomodoro (I miei antenati non erano italiani* ). I irritate the hell out of her because I have not conformed to the term she uses in the 51+ years we've been married.

                            * My ancestors were not Italian.

                            1. I think madeliner only meant to split them so that they'd fit the hard rolls she purchased to fit patties, not seeing it as a preferred cooking method. Making do with what she had.

                              I'd split them after grilling, myself. Or, more truthfully, I'd probably just put 2 full, uncut sausages on the roll and go to town. :)

                              What did you end up doing and how was it?

                              1. You could always take the casing off and just pat them down...

                                But cooking any type of sausage in casing and puncturing or splitting it is like putting the dagger in the heart; all the juice comes gushing out and your left with sawdust.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: byrd

                                  This is the most sensible response to the OP's particular dilemma. She wanted patties, so remove casing, make patty. Repeat.

                                2. My major problem with most sausage now is that it all seems to have fallen under the need to be low fat. Sausage without fat is dry and tough. So leave it whole and give the meat a chance to cook in whatever fat can be captured within the casing.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: escondido123

                                    I completely agree-that is the problem with a lot of foods now

                                    (hopefully they won't legislate the amount of fat per serving of anything-but I wouldn't doubt it)

                                    would the fat stay more captured by grilling or baking?

                                    1. re: escondido123

                                      Amen. I bought some Premio chicken sausages last weekend and I was worried they would be dry. However, by gently cooking them through (just to 160) in a simmering beer bath and then briefly crisping them on the grill, I ended up with delicious, fat, juicy sausages. I don't mind splitting precooked sausages like kielbasa before grilling, but with raw sausages I think the pre-cook and grill method (no puncturing of the skin!!!) is the only way to go.

                                    2. I agree with the logic behind not splitting. In fact, that's the way they "should" be cooked. That being said, I tend to put all kinds of mustards and relishes and peppers and onions on all different kinds of sausage so I kind of like to split them and get that crust.

                                      edited to note that had already posted a while ago sorry. But the thing about the condiments and peppers and onions is true.

                                      1. I pan-fry or grill them whole, then split them lengthwise before inserting them into toasted Italian bread for sub sandwiches. Splitting them lenghtwise helps to keep them in place, as in not squirting out the other end of the sandwich when you bite into it.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Bacardi1

                                          I give them about 10 to 15 seconds in the micro, prior to slow cooking on the grill, seems to get it cooked evenly inside and out.

                                          1. re: otps

                                            You don't even need to do that if you use _indirect_ heat from the coals for most of the cooking process.
                                            But of course, do whatever works in your situation.