Skip to Content

What’s the Difference Between Sausage and Kielbasa?

What’s the Difference Between Sausage and Kielbasa?

There are a few differences that separate the two sausages. Both are considered sausages, but what is the difference between them?

Kielbasa is a type of sausage. It is a classic Polish sausage that makes it a different family member of sausages. There is a different texture along with a distinct garlic flavor, and they are lightly smoked, if at all, compared to the sausage Americans are familiar with in the stores. 

Like the sausage we know, kielbasa has different kinds of links. Only the ones that are labeled “Made in Poland” are the original. Let’s dig into the information to find out more.

Kielbasa Means Sausage

What's the Difference Between Sausage and Kielbasa?

The arguments can go on forever as to which one is the best, our regular sausage or the Polish sausage. Meat lovers who shop for sausage, in particular, know what they are looking for. When they want kielbasa, they know they want the sausage that originated in Poland. Likewise, for the regular sausage.

Kielbasa is the Polish term for sausage. They have different meat products inside the casing and different flavored seasonings and ingredients. Pork is still the primary meat ingredient in each link, but there are still more differences to cover.

If you see an American brand selling kielbasa in the stores, it is not the original. It is a different variety of sausage links. Kielbasa is sold in all supermarkets, but the traditional Polish kielbasa is better to find in specialty meat markets.

When we say various other types of sausage, we mean those like Polish, Italian, bologna, Bratwurst, blood, pepperoni, and frankfurters. All of them come from different parts of the world and are unique in their own way. Kielbasa is no different.

Kielbasa Means Sausage

American-made kielbasa is similar in appearance to the sausage links we know. However, the original Polish kielbasa and other Polish sausages are not sold in straight links. They are sold in a horseshoe shape or a loop shape.

Other Differences Between Kielbasa and Regular Sausage

Regular sausages are ground up finely to coarsely ground. Kielbasa always has coarsely ground meat. They may look alike outside, but the differences in appearances tell all when cut open. It is what is on the inside that sets them apart.

The inside is where the real difference is. It is what makes up the distinct flavors that the taste buds recognize the most. Regular sausages will have different flavors, but kielbasa is the garlicky king, and it also has marjoram.

Regular sausages will have different types of meat, like pork, beef, deer, or chicken. The Polish kielbasa sticks to only two types: pork or pork and beef.

The last difference is how the meat is smoked. It is rare to find Polish kielbasa smoked. At best, it only has a light smoke to it. Regular sausages will be sold smoked, cooked, or fresh.

Substituting Sausage for Kielbasa

There is no harm in substituting regular sausage for Polish kielbasa. However, if the recipe calls for Polish kielbasa and you switch to regular, add more garlic cloves or garlic powder to the meal to make it more garlicky.

When a recipe calls for Polish kielbasa, it is meant to have the garlic kick that regular sausage does not provide. The recipe can be altered by adding the regular, but it cannot be reversed the other way around.

The same goes for vice versa. If a recipe calls for regular sausage, there is no harm in substituting it with Polish kielbasa. Be warned; the dish will have a strong garlic flavor once cooked, so be prepared.

If you do not want the strong garlic flavor, it would be best to avoid switching the recipe. Leave it to the regular sausage; you may adjust the garlic flavor with garlic powder or cloves.

Do not add garlic powder or cloves when working on Polish kielbasa recipes. There is plenty packaged within the casing of the kielbasa. Too much garlic will ruin the dish. Not many people will want to be around you with the potent garlic smell.

What Types of Meals Go Good with Kielbasa?

Polish Kielbasa goes well with any meal that expands on the garlic flavor. It goes well with all baked, grilled, sauteed, fried, or boiled dinners.

It is a type of sausage that is even good by itself. For beer drinkers, it is an intelligent move to serve with guests while garnishing it with onions and cutting it into thin slices as finger foods.

Here are different types of kielbasa that go well with meals:

  • Kielbasa Wedzona and Biala: Served in soups.

Kielbasa Wedzona and Biala

  • Kielbasa Weselna: Known as the wedding sausage and served at parties and weddings as finger foods.

Kielbasa Weselna

  • Kielbasa Krakowska: Served in sandwiches and salads and is a cold-cut sausage.

Kielbasa Krakowska

  • Kielbasa Wiejska: Used in a morning omelet with Farmhouse sausage.

Kielbasa Wiejska

What Types of Meals Go Well with Regular Sausage?

Regular sausages are used in most American and Southern meals, especially in Cajun and Creole cultures. Most people use them for grilling on the BBQ grill, baking, steaming, boiling, and frying.

There are different types of regular sausages, but the main ones are as follows:

  • Smoked sausages: These are used mostly for grilling and boiling. In the Creole culture, they are used in red beans and rice. Some like them fried in a nonstick pan or used in poorboy sandwiches, or boiling them for side meals.

Smoked sausages

  • Cocktail sausages: Served at parties or dinners in BBQ sauce, usually on a slow cooker or low heat.

Cocktail sausages

  • Fresh sausage: These make a fine gravy and are served with mashed potatoes or rice and gravy meals. Some find them flavorful in soups as well.

Fresh sausage

  • Andouille sausage: These are found in gumbos, Jambalaya, and other Cajun and Creole famous dishes. It is known for its spicy and smokey flavor. This sausage is pronounced “an-Dewey” and is influenced by French culture.

Andouille sausage

Freezing and Storing Regular Sausage and Kielbasa

Something is fascinating about freezing and storing sausage and kielbasa. There is one thing that is similar to kielbasa and smoked sausage. Both are good once you open the packaging for up to two weeks if stored properly.

Remember in the old days when people talked about storing meat? They would smoke it or put a lot of salt and seasoning to preserve the meat. This is one of the similarities that smoked sausage and kielbasa have.

If packaged well, both have the preservation inside the meat to keep it fresh for longer than other meats. Some meats can only stay in the fridge for two to three days.

Smoked meats like sausage and meats with a lot of salt and seasoning like kielbasa remain preserved.


Are kielbasa and garlic sausage the same thing?

Are kielbasa and garlic sausage the same thing?

No, not if the kielbasa is authentic and comes directly from Poland. It is possible if it comes from a US factory, but Polish kielbasa has its own recipe.

What kind of sausage can substitute for kielbasa?

What kind of sausage can substitute for kielbasa?

If a recipe calls for kielbasa, any sausage can take its place. Some of the most popular sausages used are Tofu sausage, Andouille, Mexican, Italian, German, Venison, and smoked sausages. It all depends on your preference and if you want the garlicky flavor.