Cooking sausage in the air fryer is the easiest, quickest and most hands-off method there is for perfectly juicy, golden brown Italian sausages.
Whether you serve the air fried sausage as is, in a bun, over pasta or in a classic sausage and peppers preparation, you’ll never want to make it any other way again!
Thinking back to air fryer tofu, the first recipe I made in the air fryer, I definitely didn’t think I’d have the relationship I do today with this countertop kitchen appliance.
I was sure it’d be good for just a handful of uses and end up in the basement on a shelf for most of the year.
Well, I was wrong.
And if making these sausages in the air fryer isn’t evidence of just how wrong I was, I don’t know what is.
Air fryer sausage is not some genius, original idea.
Let’s face it, it’s just sausage links cooked in an air fryer. No other ingredients.
But, what it is is the confirmation that yes, you can cook sausage in an air fryer in literally just minutes and it comes out perfect.
When I say perfect I mean a beautiful crispy golden brown exterior with a juicy, succulent center.
The same applies to cooking brats in the air fryer in case you prefer those to sausage.
Maybe that’s a bit graphic or over the top way to explain a cooked sausage but face it, it’s exactly how you want your sausage cooked.
CAN YOU COOK SAUSAGE IN AN AIR FRYER?
Considering sausage is something most throw on the grill, stew in a sauce or sauté in skillet (how I mostly grew up eating it), it’s a fair question to wonder if it can be made in an air fryer.
So when I knew I wanted to make sausage and peppers for dinner recently, I decided to test it out. And once again, the air fryer basically blew me away with its capabilities.
From oil sprays to muffin cups and from pizza pans to racks, we've got them all, and they make fantastic Christmas presents, too!
The answer is not only yes, you can cook sausage links in an air fryer, but they come out PERFECT.
The texture is spot on, the cook time is just 10 minutes (give or take a minute or two on either side) and it’s a completely hands-off cooking method. Doesn’t get better than that.
HOW TO COOK SAUSAGE IN THE AIR FRYER
To make sausage in the air fryer whether it’s sausage links, sausage patties or the longer sausage coil, all you need is the sausage itself.
For this recipe I’m using Italian sausage but any seasoning type will work and any type of meat.
Whether it’s pork, turkey, chicken, or lamb sausage, this same air fryer method can be used.
You can use uncooked sausage or fully cooked sausage, interestingly the cooking times are just about the same for either.
Simply place thawed sausage links in the air fryer either in the basket or on the trays.
Make sure the sausage is in a single layer so the air fryer can work its convection magic allowing the air to flow all around the sausage as it cooks creating that perfectly “fried” texture.
HOW LONG TO COOK SAUSAGES IN THE AIR FRYER
Air fry at 400°F for 10-12 minutes.
Sausages should be golden brown on the outside and have reached an internal temperature of 160°F (if cooking from raw) on the inside for a juicy cooked center.
If you’re starting with fully cooked sausage, the internal temperature doesn’t matter, you’re just looking for the desired color.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST AIR FRIED SAUSAGE
- Don’t pierce holes in the sausage – you’re not cooking a potato! Piercing holes in the sausage (as many recipes say to do) only lets all the juices seep out while air frying. Why would you want to do that?! You’ll end up with a mess in the bottom of your air fryer and dry sausage. No bueno.
- If you want to avoid any potential smoking (this doesn’t happen excessively for me but can when you’re air frying something higher in fat like sausages), place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of your air fryer to catch the drippings. It’ll make clean up a little easier too. I do this with air fryer cod sometimes too to catch the butter and lemon topping that drips off the sides. You may also use aluminum foil in the air fryer but make sure you follow the instructions on how to do so safely.
- Air fry as many sausages as you can fit! To make enough for a larger crowd or to simply have delicious leftovers, you can air fry as many sausages as you can fit in one layer in your air fryer. For oven model types like I have that’s probably about 8-10. For basket models, maybe 5-8.
WHY COOK SAUSAGE IN THE AIR FRYER?
The old me would’ve thought making the protein component to a meal in the air fryer while cooking everything else another way was wasteful and just resulted in more clean up.
Well, I’ve pivoted from that point of view.
True, sometimes, like if you’re making a sheet pan meal, it wouldn’t make sense to use the air fryer.
But, if it’s a case of using the grill or oven to cook the sausage separate from the rest of the meal, this is when the air fryer not only makes sense but becomes the best method available.
Compared to a traditional oven, there’s no pre-heating time required. Compared to grilling, there’s no attention needed while the sausage cooks.
The air-fryer not only makes the quickest work of cooking the sausages but does so in a way that frees up your time and mental capacity to cook the rest of the meal!
And, the resulting air fried sausage tastes the best of all the cooking approaches! Win, win.
HOW TO SERVE AIR FRIED SAUSAGE
If it’s summer, maybe you’re inclined to just throw a perfectly cooked air fryer sausage in a bun. I say go for it.
As long as you’re putting some mustard and kraut (homemade red cabbage kraut of course!) on it and not ketchup that is.
Other ways to enjoy the crispy golden brown sausage is with some sautéed peppers, onions and garlic like seen here for a quick and easy dinner. I love this meal served with some rice. It’s also a great one for meal prepping.
Since we’re headed into fall right now, I’ll be enjoying it with this creamy pumpkin garlic pasta in the near future!
I hope you give this method a shot next time you’re about to cook sausage, I think you’ll love it!
For more like this, check out all my air fryer recipes.
Air Fryer Sausage
- 4-5 Italian sausage links, *see note
- parchment paper, optional
- Place sausage links on the trays or in the basket of air fryer. Line bottom of the air fryer with parchment paper if using to catch any grease.
- Air fry at 400°F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on the outside and juicy in the center. For uncooked sausages, internal temperature should be 160°F when fully cooked. Serve hot as desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.