Kielbasa in Polish simply means ‘sausage’ and usually refers to any kind of Polish sausage. It’s is a staple in Polish cuisine, traditionally enjoyed around Easter or Christmas time. It’s known for being one of the most delicious and flavorful sausages in the world.
If you’re new to cooking with Polish sausage, you might be thinking to yourself, how long should I cook fresh kielbasa? And how should I cook it?
By the end of this article, you’ll learn all the ways you can boil, bake or fry (and more) fresh kielbasa and for how long you should do so. After reading this article, you’ll be a kielbasa cooking pro!
So, what are you waiting for? Read on!
What is Fresh Kielbasa?
Before you dive into the different ways to cook fresh kielbasa, you might wonder what fresh kielbasa is? How is it different from other sausages?
Kielbasa is different from other sausages as it has a coarse texture and is usually lightly smoked. It’s packed with garlic and spices such as cloves, pimentos, and marjoram. It’s generally made with a combination of 70% lean meat and 30% fat. The meat is typically pork, veal, or even turkey.
You will generally find two types of kielbasa: fresh kielbasa (also known as Biala Kielbasa or white kielbasa) and smoked kielbasa. Fresh kielbasa is uncooked and raw meat.
In comparison, smoked kielbasa has already been pre-cooked or lightly smoked.
How Long to Boil Fresh Kielbasa
Since fresh kielbasa is raw meat, you will need to boil it first before proceeding with any other cooking methods for browning of the skin.
You will want to boil fresh kielbasa for around 25-30 minutes. However, boiling fresh kielbasa is not as simple as chucking it in a pot of hot water.
Here are some tips and recommendations I have for you to perfectly boil some fresh kielbasa.
Proper technique in boiling is crucial in not breaking the casing of the fresh kielbasa. You should add enough water just to cover the sausages.In my experience, bring the water to boil over high heat. Reduce the temperature to low heat and allow it to simmer for 25-30 minutes. This will prevent the kielbasa from bursting.
To bring some extra kick of flavor to the fresh kielbasa, add some spices into the water when boiling. Herbs and spices such as onions, peppercorns, garlic cloves, marjoram, or bay leaves will be best. This will restore the flavor that may be lost through the various cooking methods. If you feel like eating something sweet, there’s no harm in adding a little bit of brown sugar or maple syrup.
Once your fresh kielbasa is boiled, you can serve immediately. Alternatively, you can make it crispier by using one of the methods below.
Note: If you are dealing with frozen fresh kielbasa, be sure to properly defrost it before boiling.
Should You Boil Smoked Kielbasa?
If you’re cooking pre-cooked or smoked kielbasa, you shouldn’t boil it. As it’s already been cooked, boiling it will just make it lose flavor.
How Long Should You Bake Fresh Kielbasa?
Baking or roasting your fresh kielbasa in the oven can give delicious results. It’s also one of the healthier cooking choices here, as it doesn’t require much oil. Here’s how to bake fresh kielbasa:
Baking fresh kielbasa is relatively easy. All you have to do is, preheat your oven to 350 °F/ 165°C.
Place the fresh kielbasa on a baking sheet and poke some holes using a fork.
Pour some cooking oil over the sausages and put the tray into the oven uncovered.
Fresh kielbasa usually takes around 15 to 20 minutes to bake in the oven.
You can tell they’re properly baked and ready when their skin is crackling and is just beginning to brown. The sausage may also start to expand. Once it does that, it’s ready to be plated and eaten!
To kill two birds with one stone, I recommend adding some sliced onions and any other vegetable of your choice to bake and roast with your kielbasa. This makes prepping and cooking your meals slightly more manageable and faster.
How Long Should You Fry Fresh Kielbasa?
Another easy and fast method to cook fresh kielbasa is by frying it in a skillet or cast-iron pan.
You can serve it up in no time with some bread, and it is a method that everyone loves, and you can never go wrong with it.
The first step is to prepare your pan. While some recipes call for you to oil your pan before heating, I recommend adding some water, heating the pan on medium heat with no oil.
This is because fresh kielbasa already contains some oils and will naturally be greasy.
Slice your fresh kielbasa into one-inch round slices. This depends on your preference for the thickness of sausage slices. You may also choose to fry fresh kielbasa as whole sausages while cutting some slits along with the sausage. However, whole sausages will just take a few minutes longer to fry and cook.
Place the sliced fresh kielbasa in the heated pan and fry evenly on both sides for 5 minutes, or until brown. Once both sides are brown and crisp, they are cooked.
How Long to Cook Fresh Kielbasa in a Slow Cooker?
If you have some time on your hands or want an easy cooking method where you can just ‘dump it and leave it,’ cooking fresh kielbasa in a slow cooker (or crockpot) will be perfect for you.
Fresh kielbasa usually takes 6 to 8 hours to cook in a slow cooker.
Cut the kielbasa into slices, or you can leave them as whole sausages. Slow cook on low if you are cooking for 6 to 8 hours or on high if you want to cook it slightly faster, 4 to 5 hours.
To add even more flavor to your dish, slow cooking recipes for fresh kielbasa usually recommend adding a can of sauerkraut and a little bit of water. If you’re feeling a little bit adventurous, it’s also common to slow cook kielbasa with a can of beer and some brown sugar! This is usually a hit with families as it’s extra rich and flavorful.
You may want choose to add some chopped onions, bell peppers, and spices – making your dish an authentic one-pot meal.
Tip: To get a brown color and to get rid of excess grease from the fresh kielbasa, you may also want to fry them, as mentioned above, before slow cooking them.
How Long to Cook Fresh Kielbasa on the Grill?
The traditional way to cook kielbasa is on the grill. Arguably it is also THE best method to stay true to the Polish traditions and get the best-tasting kielbasa. There’s nothing that can quite beat the smoky charcoal flavor scored onto the kielbasa sausage from a grill.
You should preheat your grill before grilling the kielbasa.
Place the kielbasa on the hot girl and cook on one side for around 5 minutes. Turn it around and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes. Allow it to rest and cool slightly before serving.
How do you know if if the kielbasa is cooked through?
The sausage should be relatively firm with clear juice coming out. If you’re still unsure, you can cut a piece at the end off. If it’s still pink and raw, it needs to be cooked slightly longer.
Now, with all the different ways to cook fresh kielbasa, it’s only right that you end this article with some ways you can serve and enjoy your deliciously cooked kielbasa. Kielbasa can be served hot and cold and for all three meals of the day.
While cooked kielbasa is a star on its own, and you can simply enjoy it with a side of mustard, here are few other ways you can serve kielbasa:
In Poland, Kielbasa is traditionally served with a side of horseradish, some fried onions, and slices of rye bread. Instead of horseradish, they traditionally eat it with sauerkraut too.
Grilled kielbasa would be great with a crusty and toasted bread roll. Top it with sauerkraut. However, if you are not a big fan of sauerkraut, fried or caramelized onions with a drizzle of mustard will taste as equally tasty.
For a breakfast meal, fried sliced kielbasa with some fried eggs and hash browns on the side will be the perfect way to start any day.
Kielbasa is also good served as stews, soups, or with rice. The variations and recipes are endless with kielbasa, and you will never get bored from eating kielbasa.
Can You Freeze Kielbasa?
Considering how delicious it is, you may want to stock up on kielbasa for whenever you’re in the mood for it.
The good news is that yes, you can freeze kielbasa! If you freeze it properly it can last for up to a year.
Check out our full guide on how to freeze kielbasa here, where you’ll also learn how to properly defrost it for the best results.