Learn how to cook chorizo, a deliciously spicy Spanish sausage to add an instant smokey and meaty flavor to any meal.
How do you cook chorizo on the stove? Slice it into rounds, heat a saucepan, add olive oil or water, sear the chorizo for 5 to 10 minutes, until crispy and enjoy!
Do you want to give a Spanish twist to your sausage trails? Chorizo is your ticket into a more flavorful land!
What is Chorizo?
Chorizo is a variety of sausage usually made with pork. Chorizo is a common ingredient in dishes from both Spain and Mexico, and it’s made differently in each of these places. There are other varieties of chorizo made throughout South America as well, and each has its own distinct recipe, flavorings, and texture. The first chorizo was made in Spain, and when the Spanish empire expanded to South America, they introduced this style of sausage making. It caught on, and today there are hundreds of varieties of chorizo enjoyed around the world.
Most chorizo recipes include some element of heat. Often, the spice comes from blending the meat with dried red chili peppers. The spice level varies from maker to maker, so it can be fun to try several different varieties of chorizo from different places and see which texture and flavor you like best.
Some sausages similar to chorizo that may be used as substitutes in some dishes include pepperoni, linguica, kielbasa, and some vegan chorizos.
Is Chorizo Cured?
You can find both fresh and preserved chorizo. Most Spanish varieties of this sausage have been fermented, cured, and smoked. This makes firm, dry, hard sausages that can be eaten as-is, no cooking required. In other parts of the world, chorizo is sold fresh and raw, so it must be thoroughly cooked before eating. There are dozens of ways to cook chorizo, from simmering to steaming to frying to grilling. Today, we’re covering one of the simplest ways to cook chorizo at home, by searing it in a skillet.
How to Cook Chorizo
Once you’ve selected a variety of chorizo to cook (or several!), it’s time to get into the kitchen and learn the best way to prepare this spicy sausage.
Because chorizo is naturally packed full of bold, spicy and bright flavors, you don’t need many ingredients to make deliciously seared chorizo at home. In fact, these are the two ingredients you need (spoiler: one is optional!):
- 1 pound of chorizo
- Olive oil (optional)
The following cooking instructions will work for both fresh and preserved chorizo. You can also easily double, halve or triple this recipe without changing the cooking time or method.
Prepping the chorizo
Step 1: Slice the chorizo into rounds (Optional)
Even though it’s not necessary, some people like to slice the chorizo in rounds before cooking. One good reason to do this is that it creates more surface area on the sausage itself. More surface area means more opportunity for a beautiful brown crisp. In addition, you can more easily tell that the sausage is cooked if it’s already sliced into rounds.
On the other hand, if you prefer the interior of the sausage to be tender and juicy, you can leave the chorizo whole. Cutting the chorizo will cause more of the fat inside the sausage to render out, which can create a dryer texture.
If you’re cooking cured, firm Spanish-style chorizo, you definitely want to cut into smaller pieces. This will help render the fat and crisp up the chorizo, which isn’t really possible if you leave the sausage whole.
Note: Don’t peel the chorizo
Some people like to peel the chorizo, as in, removing the skin. However, doing so also removes half of the taste and texture from the sausage. If you’re simply not a fan of the texture of sausage casing, however, it’s fine to remove.
Cooking the chorizo
Step 1: Heat up a saucepan
Grab a medium-sized saucepan and warm it over medium heat. Wait until the saucepan heats up.
Step 2: Add moisture
You can either drizzle olive oil or add a little bit of water. Before you do, however, note that chorizo is already fatty on its own. Adding olive oil into the equation can be a little bit too much for some people.
- If you’d like to reduce the amount of grease in your cooked chorizo, use a small splash of water instead of the oil.
- If you want to go the extra flavor mile, pour a dash of olive oil into the pan and wait until it warms up. The oil should be shimmering and free-moving in the skillet, but not smoking.
Step 3: Cook the chorizo
Once your skillet is hot and has either water or oil, immediately add the chorizo. Cook the sausage, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for about 5 minutes, or until brown on all sides. If you’re cooking a whole sausage, cook it for two minutes per side to get a nice sear on all sides.
After 5 minutes, check the inside of the chorizo (cut it if you haven’t yet). If it’s brown, you’re good to go!
What’s the best way to cook chorizo?
Chorizos are cooked like sausages. There are several ways you can do it: grilling, baking, and boiling, among other things. When it comes to the the best way to cook a chorizo, it’s all a matter of personal taste. Pan-frying chorizo, as outlined in the recipe above, is the easiest way to cook chorizo with what most people have in their kitchens. However, if you’d like to add extra smoke to the equation, you can grill whole chorizos on a charcoal or gas grill. This is a more traditional preparation.
How can you tell when chorizo is done?
Chorizo will turn brownish when it’s getting cooked. By the time the chorizo is done, you will realize it has turned brown. A done chorizo will also start to lose some of its grease. If the chorizo has both turned brown and is losing grease, you can bet it’s done.
According to FoodSaftey.Gov, pork sausage and other ground meats are considered safe to eat when they register 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. This is the best way to know for sure that your sausage is cooked.
How do you make chorizo less greasy?
There are two ways you can cook not-so-greasy chorizos. The first one is delicious: cooking a couple of fried eggs with the chorizo. The eggs will absorb most of the grease and all of the smoky, spicy Spanish flavor. Plus, you won’t’ need to add any olive oil or other cooking fat to cook the eggs. To remove excess grease after cooking, drain the fat out of the skillet. You can also rest the cooked sausage on a paper towel-lined plate right after cooking to absorb excess oil on the cooked chorizo.
What to Serve with Chorizo
Chorizo is a foundational ingredient in many Spanish, Mexican, and South American dishes. One very popular dish that gets tons of flavor from this beloved smokey sausage is paella. Give it a try at home with arborio rice. You can top homemade paella with any of your favorite proteins, including chicken and seafood. To go the extra mile, add a dramatic presentation with crab legs with little extra effort.
If you’re just looking for more of a laid-back menu that features chorizo, you can serve this seared sausage as a tasty protein option alongside cooked grains like farro and roasted vegetables, such as cauliflower.
Store fresh, thawed chorizo in the refrigerator before it’s cooked. Use the thawed meat within 3 days. If you need to store the sausage for a longer period of time, keep it in the freezer for up to two months. When you’re ready to cook it, let the meat defrost in the fridge overnight. After you cook chorizo, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
- Large skillet
- 1 tbsp olive oil optional
- 1 pound chorizo whole or cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. If desired, add the olive oil and warm until the oil is shimmering.
- Add the sausage and cook, stirring occassionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.