How to cook chorizo

Our handy guide shows you how to cook chorizo on a griddle pan...
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  • From prep to griddling, from telling when chorizo is done to storing raw chorizo, we've got it covered. Cooking chorizo is easy with our expert guide including tips from Salt Yard, Joe Howley.

    Chorizo is a type of cured sausage made with coarsely chopped pork, pork fat, and spiced pimento – a smoky Spanish red spice made from paprika that gives chorizo its unique taste. Chorizo is often flavoured with garlic and herbs such as oregano or thyme, too.

    Chorizo is popular in Spanish and Mexican cuisine, and in Portugal– where it’s called ‘chouriço’ – but it’s most associated with Spain, where there are hundreds of regional varieties. ‘Ristra’, for example, is a highly spiced soft chorizo, while ‘sarta’ is cured and known for its deep red colour. However, its versatility means you don’t need to limit it to dishes from these countries. It goes just as well with pasta, for example, or in a burger.

    Mexican chorizo is usually made with fresh pork (but can also be made from other meats such as beef and chicken) and usually needs cooking before eating. While similar to Spanish chorizo, it contains spices native to Latin America.

    Choose between soft ‘cooking’ chorizo – this is only slightly cured and needs to be cooked before you eat it – and dry-cured chorizo, which has been cured for longer so it’s firmer, less fatty, and ready to eat. Cooking chorizo comes in pieces or sausages, while cured chorizo comes in whole sausages that you slice or pre-packaged slices.

    Our guide includes expert tips and advice from Salt Yard’s head chef, Joe Howley.

    How to prepare chorizo
    How to cooked chorizo: griddled
    How to cook chorizo: in the oven
    How to cook chorizo: in red wine
    How to cook a chorizo ring
    How do you know when chorizo is done cooking?
    How to store chorizo
    Our best chorizo recipes

    How to prepare chorizo

    This depends on the type of chorizo you’re using. Before cooking soft chorizo you can remove the thin casing (the ‘skin’), though it’s not essential that you do as it will cook down.

    If you’re eating cured chorizo, which is the firmer version and the type you would find on a charcuterie board, by all means, peel off the skin as it can be tough. However, while some people find it unpleasant it is edible and won’t hurt you to eat it.

    To remove the skin, use a sharp knife to make a small incision on the outer edge of each slice, and pull. The skin should come away easily.

    How to cook chorizo: griddled

    Watch our video above and follow our step-by-step guide on how to griddle chorizo. We’ve also got the method for your reference below to make it even easier.

    This recipe uses large slices of chorizo for griddling; if you’re using smaller slices or chunks, adjust your cooking time so you don’t overdo or burn the chorizo.

    Here, head chef of Salt Yard Joe Howley shows how he serves this delicious tapas ingredient at his restaurant. There are many different ways to cook chorizo – it’s usually pan-fried but can also be baked and braised – but we love this simple presentation which allows the spiced pork sausage to be the star of the show.

    Joe has chosen to serve chorizo with fresh, sweet peas, citrus yogurt, and grilled baby gem lettuce for a light and summery dish that everyone will love.

    The best thing about this method for how to cook chorizo is that it’s super quick, taking just fifteen minutes to pull together. This makes it perfect for a quick starter or lunch.

    Once you’ve learned how to cook chorizo in this way you can have fun playing with different presentation options – we also love chorizo with spiced chickpeas or even served by itself or with some Manchego cheese and olives as a tasty snack. The quantities below serve six people, so just make sure to scale up or down depending on your party size.

    Ingredients

    • 1kg cooking chorizo
    • 500g fresh peas
    • 2 packets baby gem lettuce
    • 100ml olive oil
    • 
500ml full-fat yogurt
    • 1 lemon
    • 1 orange
    • 1 lime
    • 15g pea shoots
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Method

    How to cook chorizo: Step 1

    Remove the outer skins from the chorizo, and split lengthways, keep chilled until needed. Then remove the peas from their shells and blanch in boiling water, refresh in iced water.

    How to cook chorizo: Step 2

    Zest the lemon, lime, and orange into the yogurt. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

    How to cook chorizo: Step 3

    Cut the lettuce into six wedges and wash. Dress with olive oil and season.

    How to cook chorizo: Step 4

    Grill the chorizo for two minutes on each side. Grill the baby gem for one minute on each side.

    How to cook chorizo: Step 5

    Heat the peas in a pan with a little oil and salt and pepper. 
Add the chorizo, lettuce, and yogurt to the plate and top with the peas.

    How to cook chorizo: in the oven

    Like most sausages, you can bake chorizo in the oven. How long you bake it depends on whether they’re whole sausages, chunks, or smaller pieces, so refer to the recipe though,  as a general rule, expect a cooking time of around 10-20 minutes on a medium-hot heat (around 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7). Because of its high-fat content, you don’t have to add oil when cooking chorizo in the oven.

    If you’re using your oven’s grill to cook chorizo sausages, use medium-high heat, too. You can also braise chorizo (cook in liquid).

    Cured chorizo is ready to eat so doesn’t need cooking, though you can heat it up if you wish by pan-frying slices on medium heat, and on each side, until browned and crunchy. Cooked cured chorizo is delicious if you mix it into salads or sprinkle it on pasta. It’s a speedy way to incorporate extra flavour and texture.

    How to cook chorizo: in red wine

    Braising cooking chorizo in red wine is a really tasty way to cook it. It infuses the meat with a red wine richness and mellows the intense flavours of chorizo. Recipes usually call for chunks or slices of cooking chorizo, though you can use small sausages, too.

    Chorizo is quick-cooking meat so if you’re braising it in red wine expect it to take around 15-20 minutes on medium heat. You can braise it in the oven or on the hob.

    Two rings of chorizo

    How to cook a chorizo ring

    A chorizo ring – a sausage tied at the top with string – is actually more of a horseshoe shape. Chorizo rings tend to be on the large side and because of their strong flavour it’s unlikely you will want to use a whole ring at once.

    More often than not a chorizo ring is dried and ready to eat, while cooking chorizo comes in pieces, sausages, or a string of sausages. You can cook a string of cooking chorizo sausages at once.

    How do you know when chorizo is done cooking?

    Cooking chorizo releases wonderful-smelling red oil while cooking. It starts soft but when it browns and becomes more solid to the touch (yet also easier to crumble because it’s drier), it’s ready to eat.

    It will also change colour from a brighter red to a duller brownish-red. If it still feels squidgy and a little sticky to the touch it needs a bit more cooking time.

    How to store chorizo

    Chorizo is an ideal addition to your fridge. Unopened whole sausages last up to two weeks, or up to a week if opened (always check the packaging though, as some products may last for a shorter or longer time). Chorizo is raw, so wrap it well in clingfilm or seal it in its original packaging or a container so it doesn’t contaminate other food in the fridge.

    While it’s less common in Spain to freeze chorizo, you can freeze cooking chorizo for up to 12 months. This is a good way to keep it soft, as it won’t start to dry out like it would in the fridge.

    You don’t have to keep cured chorizo in the fridge – a cool, dry place will suffice. Wrapped in its original packaging, it can last up to 3 months out of the fridge and up to 6 months in the fridge. Although it’s possible cured meats don’t always freeze well. If you choose to freeze it, wrap it loosely in paper towels to absorb any moisture and seal it in a plastic bag.

    You can eat cooked chorizo cold; for example, in a salad the next day. You can also reheat cooked chorizo, but like any meat, it should be piping hot before serving.

    Our best chorizo recipes

    White fish and chorizo stew

    White fish and chorizo stew

    Easy and quick yet bursting with flavour, this Spanish-style stew is filling yet light.

    Get the recipe: White fish and chorizo stew

    Chicken and chorizo filo pie

    Chicken and chorizo filo pie

    Infused with spicy chorizo and tasty chicken and topped with crispy filo pastry, this pie is a winner.

    Get the recipe: Chicken and chorizo filo pie

    Hairy Bikers’ Spanish Chicken Bake

    Hairy Bikers' Spanish Chicken Bake

    As seen on the BBC television series Hairy Dieters, this is a healthy dish that’s high in protein and low in carbs.

    Get the recipe: Hairy Bikers Spanish chicken bake

    Tomato and chorizo pasta bake

    Tomato and Chorizo Pasta Bake

    Cheap, simple, and tasty, this dish is enriched with the flavours of the Mediterranean.

    Get the recipe: Tomato and chorizo pasta bake

    Chicken and chorizo burger

    Chicken and chorizo burger

    Chicken and chorizo complement each other beautifully. The chorizo in this recipe adds a little spice and depth to a chicken burger.

    Get the recipe: Chicken and chorizo burger

    Chorizo and asparagus tarts

    Chorizo and Asparagus Tarts

    Make these tarts to take on a picnic, eat at a barbecue or enjoy with a side salad for a filling dinner.

    Get the recipe: Chorizo and asparagus tarts

    Chorizo, Potato and Thyme Quesadillas

    Chorizo, potato and thyme quesadillas

    This very special quesadilla recipe, courtesy of Mexican food expert Thomasina Miers – the celeb chef behind restaurant chain Wahaca – combines some lovely flavours.

    Get the recipe: Chorizo, potato and thyme quesadillas