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Kielbasa at a Glance



Type of Charcuterie

Fresh Sausage, Cooked Sausage

Main Ingredient


Typical Ingredients

Pork, beef, garlic, salt, marjoram

Other Names

Polish sausage, kolbasa, Polinsche wurst, kolbasz, kolbasy, kielbassi, kielbusa, kielbasy, kovbasa, sucha, dry kielbasa, smoked kielbasa, biala kielbasa, kielbasa kabanosy, kielbasa weijska, kielbasa Krakowska, kielbasa mysliwska, kielbasa Rzeszowska, kielbasa Tuchowska, kielbasa zwyczajna, kielbasa zwyiecka, kielbasa cyganska, kielbasa krajana, kielbasa czosnkowa, kielbasa weselna, Polska kielbasa, kielbasa staroweijska, kielbasa Lisiecka

Kielbasa Description

The term kielbasa comes from the Polish language which literally translates to sausage. In Poland and other Eastern European countries, this is a general term for any kind of sausage with differences occurring in the various regions. As a result of this, the term kielbasa is usually followed by the specific name type in Eastern Europe.

However, in the United States and Canada, kielbasa has become a term used for a Polish sausage produced in these areas. The term was carried over from the Polish immigrants who first settled in these countries.

Despite the many different kinds of kielbasa in Europe, the closest variety to what is sold in US and Canadian markets today are the kielbasa weijska and the kielbasa staroweijska. These are otherwise known as country sausage and old country style sausage.

Traditionally these are made from pure pork, but newer versions include a mixture of pork and beef or pork and veal, as well as turkey and lamb varieties. These meats are then seasoned with pepper, garlic and some salt. Marjoram may also be used, although it is optional as the sausage gets most of its flavor from the garlic.

Commercial kielbasa will often have the meat cured before being seasoned and stuffed into casings. The links are then cold smoked with hardwood for a day to a day and a half.

The 2 inch (50 mm) thick sausages may be sold fresh, pre-cooked or fully cooked. Fresh and pre-cooked sausages will often need further cooking while fully cooked kielbasa is ready to eat after heating.

There are many different ways that this sausage can be cooked including boiling, steaming, roasting, grilling and baking. It can also be used as an ingredient in soups, stews, casseroles, pasta and bean dishes.

Kielbasa pairs well with sauerkraut, onions, eggs, corn, potatoes and many other things. It can also be eaten cold as an appetizer or added to a cold cut platter. When sliced thinly, it can also be used for sandwiches.

Photo Credit: Brad.K
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