What is Kielbasa? Learn How to Cook, Store, and Buy This Sausage

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 28, 2022

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Kielbasa is a type of sausage from Poland, and it’s a staple of Polish cuisine. The word “kielbasa” means “sausage” in Polish, and it refers to a variety of sausages.

In this article, we’ll explore the history, flavor, and cooking methods of kielbasa so you can impress your friends with your newfound knowledge.

What is kielbasa

Everything You Need to Know About Kielbasa

Kielbasa is a type of sausage that originated in Poland and is a staple in Polish cuisine. The word “kielbasa” literally means “sausage” in Polish, and it can refer to a variety of sausages made from pork, beef, turkey, or a mixture of meats. In American English, the word usually refers to a specific type of smoked sausage that is U-shaped and commonly made from ground pork.

The History and Making of Kielbasa

Kielbasa has a long and rich history in Poland, where it has been prepared for centuries using a specific technique of grinding meat and mixing it with natural ingredients like sugar, salt, and spices. The process of making kielbasa involves grinding the meat, mixing it with the ingredients, and then placing the mixture in a casing. The sausage is then dried and smoked, which gives it its unique flavor and texture.

The Different Varieties of Kielbasa

There are a number of different types of kielbasa available, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Traditional kielbasa: This is the most commonly known type of kielbasa, and it is usually made from ground pork and beef.
  • Hot kielbasa: This variety includes hot peppers or other spices to give it a spicy kick.
  • Turkey kielbasa: This is a healthier alternative to traditional kielbasa and is made from ground turkey.
  • Beef kielbasa: This variety is made from ground beef and is a great option for those who prefer a leaner meat.

Storing Kielbasa

The way you store kielbasa depends on the specific type of sausage you have. Some important things to keep in mind when storing kielbasa include:

  • Drying: Kielbasa should be stored in a dry place to prevent mold from forming.
  • Freezing: Kielbasa can be frozen for up to three months.
  • Refrigerating: Kielbasa should be refrigerated and consumed within a few days of purchase.

Why Kielbasa is a Popular Dish

Kielbasa is a popular dish for a number of reasons, including:

  • Versatility: Kielbasa can be prepared in a number of different ways, making it a versatile ingredient in many dishes.
  • Flavor: Kielbasa has a unique flavor that is enjoyed by many people.
  • Tradition: Kielbasa is a traditional Polish dish that has been enjoyed for centuries.
  • Availability: Kielbasa is widely available in many grocery stores and local markets.

Whether you’re a fan of traditional kielbasa or prefer a new and different variety, there’s no denying that this sausage is a staple in many households. So the next time you’re going to the store, be sure to ask your local butcher for some kielbasa and try it out for yourself!

The Fascinating History of Kielbasa

Kielbasa is a type of sausage that originated in Poland. The word “kielbasa” simply means sausage in Polish. The history of kielbasa began in the early days of Poland, where it was commonly found on the dinner tables of noblemen and knights of higher stature. Merchants were known to carry the sausage during long travels, and knights would often be seen carrying sausages on their belts.

The Boom of Kielbasa Production

In the United States, kielbasa production boomed in the early 1900s as more and more Poles immigrated to the country. Kielbasa was a common item found in Polish-American households and was often served at dinners hosted by renowned Polish families.

The Right Way to Eat Kielbasa

As you eat kielbasa today, think of yourself as royalty or knighted! Kielbasa is a common food in everyday Polish cuisine and is enjoyed by many around the world. Whether it’s boiled, grilled, or smoked, kielbasa is a delicious and versatile sausage that is sure to please.

What’s the Flavor Profile of Kielbasa?

Kielbasa is a type of smoked sausage that is known for its unique flavor profile. It is a staple in Polish cuisine and is commonly sold in local food stores. Kielbasa is typically made from coarsely ground pork or a mixture of pork and beef. The meat is then mixed with a particular set of ingredients that includes garlic, smoke, cloves, pimentos, and marjoram. The process of making kielbasa is known for carrying a lot of history and technique, which is why it is still a popular item today.

The Perfect Pick for Dinner

Kielbasa is a perfect pick for dinner because it is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a number of different dishes. It is commonly used in stews, soups, and casseroles, but can also be used as a standalone item. Kielbasa is a common item in many households because it is easy to prepare and has a wide range of uses.

Exploring the Wide Variety of Kielbasa

Kielbasa is mainly produced in Poland, where it is a common staple in the cuisine. It is prepared by cutting the meat into small pieces and mixing it with spices and natural casings. The sausage is then smoked or steamed, depending on the variety. Kielbasa is usually stored in a cool, dry place and contains no preservatives or artificial additives.

How to Enjoy Kielbasa

Kielbasa is a versatile sausage that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Some popular ways to enjoy kielbasa include:

  • Grilling or frying: Kielbasa is perfect for grilling or frying and can be served with onions and peppers.
  • Baking: Kielbasa can be baked with rye bread and sauerkraut for a hearty meal.
  • Cold dishes: Kielbasa is perfect for cold dishes such as salads or soups.
  • Appetizers (here are the best smoked ones): Kielbasa is perfect for serving as an appetizer with garnishes such as sliced onions and egg.
  • Sandwiches: Kielbasa is perfect for sandwiches and can be served with mustard or sauce.

Check Out These Great Kielbasa Dishes

If you’re looking for some inspiration for kielbasa dishes, check out these popular Polish recipes:

  • Bigos: This is a traditional Polish stew made with kielbasa, sauerkraut, and spices.
  • Kielbasa and Sauerkraut Soup: This is a hearty soup made with kielbasa, sauerkraut, and potatoes.
  • Kielbasa and Pierogi: This is a classic Polish dish made with kielbasa and potato-filled dumplings.
  • Kielbasa and Eggs: This is a simple dish made with fried kielbasa and scrambled eggs.

Kielbasa is a delicious and versatile sausage that is perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re grilling, frying, baking, or serving it as an appetizer, kielbasa is sure to be a hit with your family and friends.

Get Fired Up: How to Cook Kielbasa Like a Pro

  • Kielbasa comes in a wide variety of types, from traditional Polish to beef and pork blends.
  • Choose a package that suits your taste and course of the meal.

Preparation is Key

  • Start by slicing the kielbasa into 3- to 4-inch lengths with a sharp knife.
  • Poke the sausage a few times with a fork to help the internal heat penetrate.
  • If needed, cover the sausage and let it rest for a few minutes to dry the outside.

Adding Vegetables and Onions

  • Slice large onions and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add them to the grill or pan with the kielbasa for a quick and easy main course.
  • Turn the vegetables and onions frequently to prevent burning.

Serving Suggestions

  • Kielbasa is a versatile meat that can be prepared in many different ways.
  • Slice it for sandwiches or serve it with additional sides for a hearty dinner.
  • Kielbasa is best eaten hot off the grill or pan, firing up your taste buds with its slightly dark and smoky flavor.

Tips and Tricks

  • To make slicing easier, set the kielbasa in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting.
  • If the kielbasa is longer than your pan or grill, slice it in half before cooking.
  • For a better taste, choose a high-quality kielbasa with a good balance of meat and spices.
  • Adding additional seasoning or marinade can help enhance the flavor of the kielbasa.

Where to Get Your Kielbasa Fix

Looking for kielbasa? You can find it in many stores and shops near you. Here are some places to check out:

  • Grocery stores: Most grocery stores carry kielbasa in their meat section. Look for it near the sausages and bratwursts.
  • Specialty stores: If you want a wider variety of kielbasa types, check out specialty stores that focus on European products.
  • Butcher shops: Local butcher shops may have their own homemade kielbasa that you won’t find anywhere else.

Also read: a complete guide on smoking sausages

Online Orders

Can’t find the kielbasa you’re looking for in stores near you? No problem! You can order kielbasa online and have it delivered right to your doorstep. Here are some options:

  • Select stores: Many stores have online ordering available for select items, including kielbasa. Check the store’s website to see if they offer this service.
  • Delivery services: There are also delivery services that specialize in groceries, including those containing alcohol. They may have kielbasa available for delivery.
  • Club memberships: Some clubs, such as Costco, offer online ordering for their members. You can place an order for kielbasa and pick it up at the store or have it delivered.

Tracking Your Order

If you’ve placed an online order for kielbasa, you’ll want to keep track of its progress. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Notifications: Many stores and delivery services will send you notifications about your order’s progress, including when it’s shipped and when it’s expected to arrive.
  • Apps: Some stores and delivery services have apps that allow you to track your order in real-time.
  • Communicate with employees: If you have any questions or concerns about your order, don’t hesitate to reach out to the store or delivery service’s customer service team.

Curbside Pickup

If you prefer to pick up your kielbasa order in person, many stores and delivery services offer curbside pickup. Here’s how it works:

  • Schedule a pickup time: When you place your order, you’ll be able to select a pickup time that works for you.
  • Arrive at the store: When you arrive at the store, park in the designated curbside pickup area.
  • Notify the store: Use the store’s app or call the store to let them know you’ve arrived.
  • Wait for an employee: An employee will bring your order out to your car and load it for you.

No matter how you choose to get your kielbasa, there are plenty of options available to satisfy your cravings. Happy shopping (and eating)!

Kielbasa can be made from pork, beef, or a combination of the two. It’s a fatty sausage that can be coarsely ground or finely ground. Traditional kielbasa is made with pork and has a dark color. According to the content of the kielbasa, it can take a different amount of time to cook and requires different preparation steps.

What Sets Kielbasa Apart from Sausage and Bratwursts?

Kielbasa is a type of smoked sausage that originated in Poland. It is typically seasoned with garlic, giving it a distinct flavor that sets it apart from other sausages. On the other hand, bratwursts are often seasoned with a combination of nutmeg, ginger, caraway, and sage, while regular sausages can have a variety of seasonings depending on the type.

Cooking Methods

Kielbasa is a ready-to-eat sausage that can be enjoyed cold or heated up. It can be grilled, boiled, or pan-fried, making it a versatile option for any meal. Bratwursts, on the other hand, are often grilled or pan-fried and are typically served hot. Regular sausages can also be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, boiling, or pan-frying.


Kielbasa comes in a variety of types, including fresh, smoked, and dried. Fresh kielbasa needs to be cooked before eating, while smoked and dried kielbasa are ready-to-eat. Bratwursts and regular sausages also come in a variety of types, including fresh and smoked.


Kielbasa is a popular ingredient in many dishes, including soups, stews, and casseroles. Its distinct flavor and texture make it a great addition to any recipe. Bratwursts are often served on a bun with toppings like sauerkraut and mustard, while regular sausages can be used in a variety of dishes or served on their own.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about kielbasa. It’s a type of sausage originally from Poland, and has a long history of being a staple of the Polish cuisine. 

You can use it in a number of dishes, from stews to soups to salads, and it’s a delicious and versatile sausage to enjoy.

Also read: this is the best wood for smoking pork

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.