Everything You Need To Know About Portuguese Sausages
How to choose and enjoy the wide variety of sausages from Portugal
Whether as an afternoon snack or an accompaniment to a full meal, sausages are an integral part of Portuguese cuisine.
It’s hard to find a meat dish in Portugal without at least one kind of enchidos—traditional Portuguese sausages. You can find them in cozido, the feijoada (bean stew) or even mixed in soups like caldo verde.
Whether you like them fresh, grilled, baked or fried, there are endless ways of eating Portuguese sausages. If you need a little introduction, this sausage guide explains all the varieties you might find and the best way to eat them.
Chouriço is the most versatile Portuguese sausage and a staple petisco in the local tascas. Made with pork meat, it’s similar to Spanish chorizo, but has less paprika than its neighbor to the east, and tastes a bit smokier.
Here in Portugal, chouriço goes hand in hand with dishes like caldo verde soup and arroz de pato (duck rice).
You can have it cold, but the best way to eat it is in the form of flame-grilled chouriço assado. More than a mere dish, this is a full culinary experience!
When you order chouriço assado at a restaurant, your server will bring the sausage to your table on a clay dish. Then, they’ll light it up right in front of you. Once it’s on the table, you can cook the chouriço for as long as you like. For a perfect chouriço assado, the outside of the sausage should be slightly burned and crispy.
While you’re out and about, be sure to also try pão com chouriço (chorizo bread), a popular Lisbon street food that’s as simple— and as delicious—as it gets.
Linguiça is a thinner version of chouriço with some heavier notes of paprika, chilies, and garlic. Usually fried, this Portuguese sausage is an essential ingredient in the francesinha, Porto’s signature meat sandwich.
Morcela is a blood sausage, typically served in rural regions of Portugal like Guarda and Portalegre.
Besides pork meat, morcela also has the animal’s blood, which gives it a different consistency (soft and crumbly) and a darker color compared to chouriço and linguiça. Seasonings include several spices such as cloves and cumin, which add to its strong flavor.
And don’t worry if you’re a little squeamish—you can still try this typical Portuguese sausage. In the region of Leiria, there’s a version of morcela with rice—morcela de arroz—which is made both with and without blood.
Insider Tip: You can eat morcela as part of a dish like cozido or feijoada, but we like to eat it by itself straight from the oven and spread on a piece of bread.
The name farinheira comes from the word farinha, meaning “flour” in Portuguese. As you might have guessed, flour is one of the main ingredients of this smoked sausage, along with pork fat, garlic, white wine, and massa de pimentão (bell pepper paste).
Like morcela, you can eat it with bread, but it’s also common to mix it with scrambled eggs (look for ovos mexidos com farinheira). It has an orange-ish color and tastes sweeter than chouriço. Once cooked, farinheira turns into a delicious soft paste, perfect to spread on bread.
Most Portuguese sausages have always contained pork, but alheira is an exception.
In the 15th century, Portuguese Jews created this sausage as a way to deceive the Inquisition. Since they couldn’t eat pork, they made sausages with other kinds of meat like poultry and game, adding bread for texture. Garlic (alho) was also a common ingredient, hence the name alheira.
These days, you can find alheira with or without pork. The most famous variety comes from the region of Mirandela in the north of Portugal. There, locals like to eat it grilled and accompanied with boiled potatoes. In the south, however, it’s more common to see fried alheira served with french fries and a fried egg.
If you order a Portuguese sausage board, it will probably include a bit of salpicão.
Hailing from the northern region of Trás-os-Montes, this Portuguese sausage combines pork loin with wine, garlic, bay leaves, and sweet or hot paprika. It’s usually sliced into thin pieces and eaten uncooked with a piece of bread.
Paio is made of pork loin and seasoned with garlic, salt and sometimes red pepper paste. It resembles the salpicão, but it’s larger in diameter.
In supermarkets, you’ll often find paio cut into slices, making it a good option for sandwiches. There’s also another variety in the Alentejo region known as paio branco(white paio) which is lighter in color since it doesn’t include red pepper.
How Long Does Portuguese Sausage Keep?
Some Portuguese sausages like chouriço, linguiça, and salpicão can last up to three months when stored in a cool and dry place. Still, you should keep an eye out for mold.
If you bought a farinheira, it’s best to eat it within 15 days after your purchase. Packages of sausage from a supermarket will include an expiration date.
The best way to preserve the sausages after you open them is to rub them with a bit of olive oil on and around the area you cut. While the olive oil will change the flavor slightly, it prevents mold and preserves the sausage for later enjoyment.
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Joana Taborda is a Portuguese travel writer based in Lisbon. On her blog, City Odes, she writes about the hidden gems of Portugal, fun road trips and train rides worth taking. She's also got a great archive of expat interviews called LisbonInsideOut.
When she’s not typing away on her laptop, you can findher drinking an IPA in one of Lisbon’s latest craft beer bars.