Sausages are a popular favourite among young and old. So much so in fact, that sausages seem always to have always, their origins having blurred over time. The Romans were rather partial to the Mortadelle sausage, and Apicius made reference to Lucanie sausages and other products stuffed in skins.

As for Marco Polo, he left Venice in 1270 en route to China, only to return some 25 years later with his bags full of delicacies including ravioli, pasta, prosciutto and sausages! This was made from ‘skins filled with ground, seasoned meat’.

Marco Polo

Thus confirming that indeed sausages have always been around.

While the name seems to derive from the latin ‘salsicius’, from salsus (salted), which signified in Rome pieces of ground meat preserved in salt, just a few words in the French language have given rise to a long line of designations, which all lead to the word …sausage. For example, cervelas, chipolata, cocktail sausages, frankfurter, hot dogs, merguez, saucisse de Toulouse.. to name but a few.

France is a land of sausage-plenty and all-round gastronomy, and only in France could there be so many different terms for the humble sausage.

Once the preserve of rare, special, festive fare, sausages are today a firm, established part of our everyday diets.


Fresh sausages are charcuterie specialities prepared following a wide range of varied recipes.

The essential secret behind sausage-making is all down to how the meat is ground and then filled into the skins (which can be natural, made from pig or sheep intestine, or synthetic).

Sausages are always made from an intestine filled with ground meat (pork, beef, veal or poultry), and salted and seasoned according to the recipe and the region. Some are fresh, requiring cooking, others are pre-cooked, or simply steamed and smoked. Every region has its own sausage!  The rest of the preparation depends on individual technique.

Two types of consistency are generally found:

  • Coarsely-ground: such as sausages from Toulouse, Morteau and Montbeliard
  • Finely-ground, which may in some cases transform the meat into a very smooth paste, such as saucisses de Strasbourg (Frankfurter/hot dog style).

Saucisse de morteau


Once filled, the next step determines which of the following four categories the sausage belongs:

  • Fresh sausages which can be grilled, pan-fried or fried (such as chipolatas and merguez), all perfect barbecue fare.
  • Spreading sausage, such as meat sausage like Mettwurst from the Alsace region, or liver-based such as lewerwurscht, perfect for spreading on toast or fresh bread
  • Fresh, steamed sausage, smoked or unsmoked, which are enjoyed poached as part of dishes such as stews or choucroute (Morteau or Montbeliard sausages), perfect for warming winter dishes
  • Pre-cooked sausages, the most famous exponent is the hot dog or frankfurter (French: saucisse de Strasbourg or knack), but also cocktail sausages

Discover the secrets of premium smoked sausages in this video on Strasbourg sausages:


Saucisses de Strasbourg

Cooked sausages that are pale pink or red in colour, around 12-14cm long, and usually sold in pairs. Very finely-ground, the meat is a blend of pork meat and possibly beef, seasoned with cumin and traditionally filled in natural casings produced from the large intestine of sheep. Nowadays, the sausages are sold skinless.
The earliest known record of saucisse de Strasbourg date back to the 16th century where they featured prominently in Maximum’s tables during the French revolution, which set the prices of various food items sold at the time. It was from the 17th century that the frankfurter became a popular food, and after France’s defeat in 1871 in the Franco-Prussian war that the hot dog, served with potato salad or alongside sauerkraut or choucroute, conquered Paris.

These sausages are best served warm, with a dash of mustard and bread, though still also delicious with potato salad.

Knack d’ Alsace

A slightly smaller variant of hot dog, 10-12 cm in length, and pinky-orange in colour. It forms a key ingredient in choucroute or sauerkraut.

Saucisse viennoise

From Vienne in Isère, France, this sausage is prepared from veal and pork seasoned with coriander and chilli. It is slightly larger than the ‘knack’ or hot dog and the meat is encased in smaller skins prepared from sheep’s small intestine.

Saucisse de Morteau or Haut Doubs

With its distinctive smoky taste, these sausages from Franche-Comté are born of centuries-old tradition.

Enjoyed cooked, served hot or cold, the sausages are usually accompanied by vegetables.
Awarded protected geographical status in 1977 (PGI), they are easily recognised by the small wooden peg used to secure the sausage at one end. Morteau sausage belongs to an extensive category of smoked products and gets its name from the French town of Morteau. Morteau lies at the heart of this region known for its tradition of smoking in huge, wooden fireplaces where the meat was kept and smoked. The sweet flavour is dominated by a smoky character. It can be eaten cooked, hot or cold. Jésus de Morteau and saucisse de Morteau sèche (Morteau dried sausage) are variants on the Morteau sausage.

Saucisse de Montbeliard

A smoked sausage which also goes by the name of saucisse au bois d’chu.

This northern sausage has been regionally protected with geographical status since 1992 (PGI). It is prepared with lean pork meat and fat from pigs raised in Franche-Comté.
Golden brown in colour and rectangular, the texture is coarse on the inside and smooth on the outside.
Approximately 15cm long, this sausage is smaller, thinner and less smoky than its cousin the Morteau. It can be enjoyed raw or cooked.

‘Saucisse au chou’ or Cabbage sausage

A variation on the famous Morteau sausage.
Made in exactly the same way, except with the added ingredient of cabbage, and as such must be consumed within 5-6 days of being made, to avoid any risk of the cabbage fermenting. Cabbage sausage requires cooking for an hour, with the skins intact, and when enjoyed with a green salad and potatoes, is a meal in itself.


Small, rustic pork sausage from the Savoie region of France. This is a fresh sausage best pan-fried and served hot.

Cervelas Lyonnais

A fresh, short, chunky sausage from Lyon, its distinguishing feature is its smooth pure pork interior which can be flavoured with either pistachios or truffles.
In the olden days, the recipe for cervelas sausage used to include brains, hence the name, (cervelle meaning ‘brain’ in French). These sausages are usually pan-fried with vegetables.

Saucisson à cuire

Around 25cm in length, the distinguishing characteristic of these uncooked sausages is their coarsely-grained meat. Leaner than the cervelas sausage, they can be flavoured with Porto, Madeira, Cognac or Banyuls. They generally require cooking for 40-60 minutes in a well-seasoned stock. Served as a starter or main course, they make a great match to steamed or fried potatoes.


Hailing from the Isère region, this sausage owes its name to the French word for clog ‘sabot’, for its shape in previous times.
Also known in South-west France by the name of coudenas, the sausage is prepared with pig’s head, rind and pork meat. This is a fresh sausage usually enjoyed hot and cut into thick slices.

Saucisse de Magland

A sausage prepared from coarsely-chopped lean pork and pork fat and delicately seasoned, with a hint of garlic and then smoked. It is best cooked for 20-30 minutes and can be enjoyed hot, in a stew or casserole.
Borfatte, sometimes called morfatte is a variant of the magland but much bigger.

Saucisse d’herbes

A large, steamed, herby sausage prepared with green vegetables and pork in equal measure, and sometimes enhanced with a slug of eau-de-vie. Coarsely-ground, the sausage is then filled in wider skins prepared with the large intestine of cow or pig.

To prevent the vegetables fermenting, this particular sausage must be eaten within a week of purchase. Sold uncooked, it must be pricked before slowly boiled for 30-60 minutes. A great winter warmer, it is best served with potatoes which can be boiled at the same time for even more flavour.

Discovering the Midi-Pyrenees region

Midi-Pyrenées in south west France stretches from Gascony to the Pyrenées. Its rich culinary tradition boasts a vast choice of specialities including the famous Toulouse sausage.

Saucisse de Toulouse

A fresh sausage best braised or pan-fried, it was already found on market stalls in Toulouse, a well-known culinary destination, as early as 1793. It was not until 1898 that the sausage reached a delicatessen in Paris.

Lean and coarsely-ground, the Toulouse sausage is made exclusively from pork filled in a pork gut casing. It is often presented rolled up in a coil and cut to the required length. It can be either grilled or slowly-cooked in oil, and is the main show-stopper ingredient in local Toulouse casserole.

All over France there are fresh sausages a-go-go which are a heavenly match to regional dishes. A prime example is the garlic sausage found in Auvergne casserole, or even Ficatelllu, a smoky part-dried sausage that Corsicans cook traditionally in their fireplaces. To name only two!

From North to South, East to West

France is brimming over with delicious foods exuding flavours to inspire confidence. Known the world over for its wine, cheese and…sausages.

From the four corners of the country, France is a journey of discovery where its regions and local terroirs offer sausages which reflect centuries-old customs championed today by skilled breeders and specialist producers.

EAST: Alsace and Lorraine

Here strong regional identity shines through the foods with great aplomb.

Alsace and Lorraine are sausage regions extraordinaire, with a passion like no other. Smoked or unsmoked, served with mustard or cooked in a famous choucroute, sausages are literally everywhere!

Travels in Franche-Comté

Between the Rhine and the Rhône rivers, the Vosges and the Jura, Franche-Comté is hallowed ground for creating pork and beef delicacies.

Quick tour around Rhône-Alpes

The Rhone-Alpes region is well-known for its charcuterie and yet it was not until the 19th century that this specialisation scaled up beyond domestic preparations.



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Sausages are rich in protein of high biological value (13-16g per 100g).

Protein is an essential building block for the body and plays a crucial role in building and repairing cells.

Sausages form the basis of a complete and balanced meal, containing protein and slow-release carbohydrates. Easy to prepare for the young and old, sausages are an endless source of pleasure given their vast variety.

So a dish containing 130g of Toulouse sausage (or any other for that matter), with 300g of cooked cabbage or 200g of lentils will provide:

  • High quality protein (30% of our daily recommended intake)
  • Vitamin B, which are essential for nutrient metabolism, an important factor for us all, and for older people in particular
  • Fibre: 40% of our daily recommended intake

With cabbage, the meal is rich in antioxidants and with lentils, packed full of iron, much more than spinach!

With their low calorie content, the vegetable accompaniment make this a well-balanced, nutritional meal, and should be factored in as part of your daily intake rather than as a meal on its own.

For older people, who love the food of their childhoods, it’s a good way to provide their needs in protein with great-tasting foods while surreptitiously increasing their calorie intake.  The dish provides 500-600 calories in total.

Saucisses pour 100g Proteine Fat Carbohydrate Salt Energy
Frankfurter sausages 13,7 23,4 1,24 2 271
Strasbourg 12,4 25,9 1,39 2,4 291
Toulouse 18,8 22,1 1 1,71 278
Montbéliard, Morteau 17,3 27,1 1 2,33 319

Source : CIQUAL 2016

Winter warmers to keep you content…

With pulses: white beans (Toulouse sausage cassoulet), split peas, lentils (Morteau sausage) etc.

With all types of cabbage (green, white, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and red cabbage) for all-time classics such as stew and choucroute.

With any other vegetables, including leeks, artichoke hearts and aubergines etc.

With potatoes, either steamed, pan-fried, chipped or mashed

A Toulouse-type sausage will be lighter and easier to digest if blanched in boiling water for a few minutes before grilling.

Strasbourg and Francfort sausages are filled in cellulose casings which are removed before they are sold.

Strasbourg sausages must be cooked in simmering, not boiling water to prevent them bursting during cooking.