Are Chorizo And Sausage Different?

They look similar, have a common taste profile, and work great in likeminded recipes — so are chorizo and sausage the same thing? In the simplest terms, chorizo is a type of sausage — but not all sausage is chorizo. 

According to The Spruce Eats, the name chorizo refers to fresh or cured pork sausage varieties that are always heavily seasoned with spices and rooted in the traditions of the Iberian Peninsula (the region that is now home to Spain and Portugal). And there are very distinct varieties — the two most common being Mexican and Spanish style. Epicurious further explains that Mexican chorizo is often made with raw pork, while the Spanish stuff is typically smoked first. The other distinguishing factor is that Mexican chorizo utilizes vinegar and chiles while the Spanish style has defining notes of garlic and pimentón, a type of paprika.  If you're located in the United States, you're likely used to Mexican chorizo, which Amigo Foods explains is the most popular chorizo style stateside.

Sausages on the other hand are a more general, broad term, referring to cased meat that can be made with pork or turkey and is generally bought raw. Its flavor profile is also quite different as it's traditionally not as spicy as chorizo, enhanced with fennel and anise, according to Amigo Foods. But then again Italian sausage isn't too far off from chorizo, with its hot profile.

How to buy chorizo and prepare it at home

Besides peeping at a label, there is a good rule of thumb to visually distinguish chorizo from other forms of sausage — its color. According to Epicurious, chorizo is known for its "deep brick-red" hue because of the bold peppers and spices like paprika that give chorizo its classic punch-in-the-mouth spiciness. '

However, not all chorizo is the same. There are a number of different types, all of them unique based on their preparation and seasonings with noticeable characteristics seen in heat and smokiness. Amigo Foods suggests to always use the specific type called for in a recipe as well — especially since Mexican chorizo is raw and needs to be cooked fully.

As far as how to eat chorizo, Epicurious notes you'll commonly find it on a breakfast plate beside eggs — not unlike regular sausage. But don't pigeonhole this meat to just the first meal of the day. Chorizo can also be enjoyed tossed into a pasta sauce, crushed into potatoes, or sprinkled into paella, says the article, and it makes a great pizza topping, too.