Chorizo is a type of sausage that originated in Spain and was refashioned by Mexico. Many versions of Spanish and Mexican chorizo exist based on how they are made, and they each have different ingredients and methods of preparation.
Some chorizos are dry-cured and ready to eat, while others contain spiced raw meat and need to be cooked.
If you purchased a chorizo that is not ready to eat, it is important to make sure that the sausage has been properly cooked before consumption.
In this post, I will talk about which chorizo needs to be cooked, the best methods for cooking them, and how to tell if chorizo is cooked properly.
Mexican Chorizo Vs. Spanish Chorizo: What’s The Difference?
Spanish and Mexican are the two most commonly found and popular types of chorizo sausage sold in supermarkets. Traditionally, they are both pork-based meat sausages, but they can be made from beef or venison as well.
Here are the unique characteristics of both these chorizos:
- Spanish chorizo is dried and cured meat, like a salami. It comes ready to eat and does not need to be cooked.
- Spanish chorizo can be sweet or spicy, depending on the type of paprika it is seasoned with.
- It is made of chopped pork and pork fat and seasoned with smoked paprika that gives it the signature red color.
- The paprika used in the Spanish version is typically smoked, which gives the cured sausage a rich and potent smoky flavor.
- Some versions also contain garlic and herbs.
- They are commonly sold in casings, which are safe to consume. After curing, the casing also becomes hardened and is difficult to remove.
- Spanish chorizo is considered a hard sausage and has a dense and chewy texture.
- It is sliced without further cooking, added to a sandwich or tapas plate, or added to stews, paellas, soups, and broths for flavor.
- It is similar to salami and pepperoni and can be found in the cured meat section of your local supermarket.
- Although most supermarkets in America sell ready-to-eat Spanish chorizo, there are also uncooked, raw versions that come in a casing and are called chorizo fresco or loose soft chorizo, which is known as picadillo. These two needs to be cooked before eating.
- Mexican chorizo is traditionally made with finely ground raw pork or beef and is most commonly sold uncooked.
- Since Mexican chorizo is raw, it has to be cooked before it is safe for consumption
- It is a well-seasoned and fatty sausage, and although it requires cooing before you can eat it, it does not need any seasoning.
- Mexican chorizo has a slightly spicier taste that Spanish ones, and it is used in tacos, tortillas, or omelets or served with fluffy scrambled eggs for breakfast.
- Peppers and various seasonings give Mexican chorizo a bright orange or dark red color. But the green chorizo or chorizo verde is green in color because of the green chilies, cilantro, or parsley that are added to the pork. However, when fully cooked, the color turns brown.
- Mexican chorizo has a soft, raw sausage texture, and it is sold fresh and can be found in the raw meat section or at the butcher’s station in the supermarket.
Best Way To Cook Chorizo
Chorizo is a delicious, spicy sausage that can be used in many different dishes. It can be cooked in a variety of ways, but some methods are better than others.
The best ways to cook Mexican chorizo are by pan-frying, grilling, air frying, and broiling. This method allows the fat to render out but still leaves the chorizo juicy and flavorful. It also gives the sausage a nice char that adds to its overall flavor.
Preparation: Before cooking, I would recommend removing the thin skin or casing with a sharp knife. Just cut a small incision on the outer edge of the sausage, and pull the skin off.
1. Pan Frying
You can fry the chorizo in a non-stick or cast-iron skillet.
This is how the process should go:
- After removing the skin, cut the chorizo into even slices or small cubes and cook on a frying pan or wok pan for about 10-12 minutes over medium-high heat until the fat runs out and the sausage starts to get nice and crispy.
- When frying, make sure to turn them frequently for even cooking.
- If you are using Mexican chorizo, there is no need to add oil as it is rich in fat. But, when using Spanish chorizo, add some olive oil to the pan.
- Chorizo is ready when the texture is crisp on the outside and it appears light brown inside.
2. Broiling In The Oven
When broiling chorizo in the oven, we only need to use the upper heating element of the oven, which is perfect for applying high temps to the sausage for fast cooking and flavor.
The steps to broiling chorizo in the oven are as follows:
- Set the oven on broil and preheat it.
- Place the chorizo links on a tray, leaving small species between them.
- Put the tray in the oven, right under the heating element.
- Broiling them for fifteen minutes on each side till the sicles and crispy and golden brown, and serve!
Grilling meat is perfect for cooking out on a summer evening. You can grill it with maple wood to give it sweetness or use hickory for a smoky flavor.
Below is a simple way to grill chorizo:
- Preheat the grill and place the chorizo on the rack.
- Space the sausages out evenly with a small space between them for good air circulation so that they cook evenly.
- Close the grill’s lid to trap the heat and raise the cooking temperature.
- Grill the chorizo links for about 15-20 minutes until they turn crispy and golden brown. Make sure to turn them over a few times during the grilling.
- The chorizo is ready when slightly crispy and golden brown on all sides.
- Remove them from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
4. Air Frying
I absolutely love my air fryer, and one of my favorite things to cook in it is chorizo. It comes out perfectly crispy and delicious every time. Plus, it’s super easy to make.
Just pop the sausage in the air fryer and let it cook for about 15 minutes at 350°F (177°C). That’s it!
For faster cooking, slice the chorizo into about 2-inch thick slices. Put the slices in the air fryer basket in a single layer and cook at 350°F (177°C) for about 10-12 minutes or until fully cooked, flipping the slices halfway.
How To Tell If Chorizo Is Cooked?
Since Spanish, as well as Portuguese chorizo, is pre-cooked and cured, it does not need to be cooked. However, you can cook it with other ingredients if it is a part of a recipe. This will heat the chorizo and combine its flavor of smoked paprika with the other ingredients, and you don’t have to worry about if it is thoroughly cooked.
On the other hand, Mexican chorizo is a raw pork sausage sold uncooked. Like most raw meat products, you must ensure it is thoroughly cooked to make it safe to eat.
The best way to tell if chorizo is cooked is by looking at the color of the meat. It is most likely done if it has gone from brighter red to deep red, almost brown color.
Another way to tell is by touch. It is probably cooked through if the meat feels firm to the touch and not soft or spongy.
Finally, you can check the internal temperature of the chorizo with a meat thermometer. It should be a minimum of 160°F (71.°C).
So, to recap, make sure you check the following to make sure your chorizo is fully cooked:
1. Check The Texture
The easiest way to tell if chorizo is cooked or not is by noticing the change in its texture. The texture of a perfectly cooked chorizo will resemble cooked ground beef. The texture should be firm. If it feels soft and squidgy, keep frying it until it turns hard, crispy, and golden brown.
2. Check The Temperature
It can be difficult to get an accurate temperature reading of the cooked chorizo because of a lot of grease and fat. However, when taking the temperature using a meat thermometer, ensure you insert it right into the center of the sausage.
When cooked, the chorizo should be at 160 °F (71 °C) or more in the middle.
3. Check The Color
Raw, uncooked chorizo is bright orange-red, which changes color when it is exposed to heat. When cooked, the chorizo turns light brown to deep red color.
FAQs On Cooking Chorizo
In this section below, I have answered some of the most commonly asked questions about cooking chorizo.
How Long Does It Take To Cook Chorizo?
The amount of time it takes to cook chorizo will vary depending on the method used and the size of the sausage. For example, if you are cooking chorizo on the stovetop, it will take approximately 12 minutes. However, cooking chorizo in the oven will take a bit longer, about 15-20 minutes, until it is fully cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
Can You Eat Chorizo Skin?
Chorizo meat is generally sealed in a casing made from animal intestines, so it is safe to eat, but many people find it tough and chewy, so it is often removed before cooking. The casing helps to keep the sausage together and prevents it from drying out.
What Happens If You Eat Undercooked Chorizo?
Like most raw meat products, undercooked chorizo may still contain live bacteria and make you seriously ill if not cooked thoroughly. If you eat raw or undercooked chorizo, there is a risk of contracting foodborne illnesses, and you may experience nausea, stomach aches, and even diarrhea.
How Long Does Cooked Chorizo Last In The Fridge?
Cooked chorizo must always be refrigerated whiting two hours of cooking and can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. After four days, it starts to lose its taste and texture and should be discarded.
Can You Boil Chorizo?
Chorizo is a great addition to soups and can be boiled. However, some people boil raw sausage before grilling it, which can cause most of the fat to melt out and leave you with less tasty and dry sausage.
Can You Reheat Chorizo?
Cooked chorizo can be eaten cold and added to salads or sandwiches. Cooked chorizo can also be reheated, but like most meat products, you will lose some of that fresh taste and texture.
This sausage is spicy and rich and is an exciting addition to any meal. To tell if chorizo is cooked through, look for it to be deep red to brown in color and slightly charred around the edges.
If you’re ever unsure, err on the side of cooking it a bit longer, as chorizo is served cooked well-done. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to cook up perfectly delicious chorizo every time.