Mexican chorizo is a spicy sausage made from ground pork and seasonings. It has a deep red color and smoky flavor from the dried chilies it contains. Chorizo can be fresh (raw) or cured (cooked and dried) and it is a popular ingredient in many Mexican dishes. The best way to cook chorizo depends on the type you are using and the dish you are making.
Here are quick answers to common questions about cooking Mexican chorizo:
- Fresh chorizo should be cooked before eating, usually by sautéing it in a skillet.
- Cured chorizo can be eaten as-is without cooking, or heated through in a skillet or oven.
- Chorizo pairs well with eggs, beans, rice, potatoes, and tortillas.
- Add chorizo at the end of cooking soups, stews, and chili so it doesn’t overcook.
- Sauté fresh chorizo over medium heat until browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
Differences Between Fresh and Cured Chorizo
The main difference between fresh and cured chorizo is that fresh is raw while cured is already cooked:
- Fresh chorizo is a raw sausage that needs to be cooked before eating. It has a soft, malleable texture.
- Cured chorizo is already cooked and dried, so it has a firm texture. It can be sliced and eaten without cooking.
Here are some other differences:
|Fresh Chorizo||Cured Chorizo|
|Bright red color||Dark red or brown color|
|Sold raw in links or bulk||Sold dried, whole or sliced|
|Short shelf life, keep refrigerated||Long shelf life at room temp|
How to Cook Fresh Mexican Chorizo
Because it’s raw, fresh chorizo needs to be cooked before eating. Here are some easy ways to cook fresh Mexican chorizo:
Sauté in a Skillet
The classic way to cook fresh chorizo is to sauté it in a skillet over medium-high heat. This browns the sausage and renders out the fat.
- Remove chorizo links from casing if needed and break into small pieces.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil if needed.
- Add chorizo and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until browned and cooked through.
- Drain excess grease if needed. Use chorizo as desired in recipes.
Bake/Roast in the Oven
You can also bake or roast fresh chorizo in the oven. This takes a bit longer but evenly cooks the sausage.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Arrange chorizo links or pieces on baking sheet. Prick links with a fork if whole.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until chorizo is browned and firm.
- Let cool slightly before handling. Use as desired.
Grill or Broil
Cooking chorizo on the grill or under the broiler gives it nice charred bits and smoky flavor.
- Heat grill or broiler. Oil grates if grilling.
- Place chorizo on hot grill or under broiler 4-6 inches away from heat.
- Cook, turning occasionally, for 8-12 minutes until browned and cooked through.
- Let rest 5 minutes before slicing or crumbling to use in recipes.
Cook in Liquid
You can simmer chorizo in liquid like broth, tomatoes, or beer to impart more flavor.
- Add whole chorizo links or crumbled chorizo to pot with simmering liquid.
- Gently simmer for 10-15 minutes until chorizo is cooked through.
- Use chorizo and flavorful cooking liquid in soups, stews, beans, etc.
For a quick microwave method:
- Place chorizo in a microwave-safe dish. Cover loosely.
- Microwave for 2-3 minutes, flipping halfway through. Cook just until no longer pink.
- Drain and use as desired. May need additional cooking if using in a recipe.
How to Use Cured Chorizo
Since cured chorizo is already fully cooked, it just needs to be heated through. Here are tips for using cured Mexican chorizo:
Eat Sliced as Is
Cured chorizo can be enjoyed sliced on its own, no cooking required! Serve it as a charcuterie meat or quick appetizer.
Heat Slices in a Skillet
For more flavor, sauté sliced cured chorizo in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes until warmed through and slightly crisped.
Heat Whole Links in Liquid
Simmer whole chorizo links in tomato sauce, broth, beans, etc. for 10-15 minutes until heated through.
Bake or Grill
Cooking cured chorizo in the oven or on the grill gives it a nice char. Bake or grill for 5-10 minutes until heated through and browned in spots.
Add to Dishes at End
For soups, stews, etc. add diced cured chorizo at the very end just to heat through so it doesn’t overcook.
Popular Ways to Use Cooked Chorizo
Once you’ve cooked fresh or heated cured chorizo, here are some delicious ways to use it:
- Tacos – Top corn or flour tortillas with crumbled chorizo, onion, cilantro, queso fresco.
- Quesadillas – Add crumbled chorizo to melted cheese quesadillas.
- Breakfast – Scramble eggs with crumbled chorizo and peppers.
- Pizza – Use chorizo as a pizza topping instead of pepperoni or sausage.
- Pasta – Sauté chorizo with tomatoes and basil, toss with penne pasta.
- Rice – Cook Mexican rice with chopped up chorizo mixed in.
- Soup – Add cooked diced or sliced chorizo to bean or vegetable soups.
- Chili – Add chopped chorizo for a meaty, spicy chili.
- Nachos – Top nachos with cooked crumbled chorizo, beans, cheese, etc.
- Potatoes – Fry cubed potatoes with crumbled chorizo for amazing home fries.
Tips for Cooking Chorizo
Follow these tips for the best results when cooking Mexican chorizo:
- Cook over medium heat to render the fat slowly and prevent burning.
- Squeeze chorizo from the casing for faster, more even cooking.
- Don’t pierce cured chorizo with a fork before cooking to prevent it from drying out.
- Add a small amount of oil if needed to prevent sticking.
- Fully cook fresh chorizo to an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Let chorizo rest for 5 minutes after cooking before slicing for juicier results.
- Capture the flavorful orange-red oil released from chorizo when cooking to use in the dish.
- Add fresh herbs like cilantro at the end to prevent them from burning.
- Use homemade or high-quality store-bought corn or flour tortillas with chorizo.
- Pair chorizo with contrasting cool ingredients like avocado and queso fresco.
Can you eat fresh Mexican chorizo without cooking it?
No, you should always cook fresh chorizo before eating it. Fresh chorizo contains raw pork, so cooking it to an internal temperature of 160°F is important for food safety.
What’s the difference between Spanish and Mexican chorizo?
Spanish chorizo is cured and made without chili peppers, while Mexican chorizo contains fresh chilies and spices and needs to be cooked. They have distinct flavors and textures.
Is pre-cooked chorizo already fully cooked?
Pre-cooked chorizo that you buy at the store is cured and dried, but not always fully cooked. It’s still best to heat it through before eating to 165°F for food safety and optimal texture.
Can you freeze chorizo?
Yes, both fresh and cured chorizo freeze well for 2-3 months. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
How long does chorizo last?
Fresh chorizo lasts 1-2 days beyond a “sell by” date. Cured chorizo lasts 2-3 weeks refrigerated or several months frozen.
Cooking delicious chorizo takes just a few easy steps. For fresh chorizo, sautéing, baking, grilling, or simmering are all great cooking methods. Cured chorizo mainly just needs a quick warm-up. Add amazing chorizo flavor to tacos, eggs, soups, rice, pasta, and many other dishes. With a little practice, you’ll be able to master cooking both kinds of chorizo in no time.