Types of Sausage Casings (and When to Use Them)

Aug. 16, 2023

Sausage casings play a vital role in shaping the appearance, texture, and taste of sausages. These casings serve as the outer layer that encases the seasoned meat mixture, creating the classic cylindrical shape that sausages are known for. There are various types of sausage casings available, each offering unique characteristics and benefits. Depending on the desired sausage variety and cooking method, different casings are chosen to achieve the desired results. In this article, we'll explore different types of sausage casings and the scenarios in which they are best used.

Natural Casings

Natural casings are derived from animal intestines and have been used for centuries to encase sausages. They are known for their traditional appearance, authentic snap, and ability to hold moisture, which contributes to the succulence of the sausages. Common types of natural casings include hog casings (for pork sausages), sheep casings (for smaller sausages like breakfast links), and beef casings (for larger sausages).

When to Use: Natural casings are ideal for traditional sausages that aim to capture the classic look and texture. They are commonly used for bratwurst, Italian sausages, and other artisanal varieties. Natural casings are particularly suitable for grilling and pan-frying, as they develop a desirable snap and slightly crispy exterior during cooking.

Sausage Casing

 Sausage Casing

Collagen Casings

Collagen casings are made from collagen extracted from animal hides. They are consistent in size and appearance, which makes them convenient to work with. Collagen casings are available in various diameters, making them suitable for a wide range of sausages. They are uniform in texture and do not require soaking before use, making them a popular choice for both home cooks and commercial producers.

When to Use: Collagen casings are versatile and can be used for a variety of sausages, including fresh, cooked, and smoked varieties. They are commonly used for hot dogs, snack sticks, and smoked sausages. Collagen casings are easy to handle and provide a consistent appearance and bite, making them a practical choice for mass production.

Sausage Casings

 Sausage Casings

Fibrous Casings

Fibrous casings are made from a mixture of paper and wood pulp that is coated with an edible cellulose material. They are designed to hold their shape during cooking and smoking processes. Fibrous casings are available in various colors and sizes, offering options for different sausage varieties and appearances.

When to Use: Fibrous casings are particularly suitable for smoked sausages and larger deli-style sausages. They can withstand high-temperature cooking and smoking processes, making them perfect for producing sausages with a consistent appearance and texture. These casings are commonly used for summer sausages, salami, and bologna.

Synthetic Casings

Synthetic casings are made from materials such as plastic or polymers. They are versatile, cost-effective, and come in a range of sizes and shapes. Synthetic casings offer good barrier properties, helping to retain moisture and prevent flavor loss during cooking.

When to Use: Synthetic casings are used for a variety of sausages, including fresh, cooked, and smoked options. They are suitable for both home cooking and commercial production. Synthetic casings are often used for breakfast sausages, frankfurters, and chorizo.


Choosing the right sausage casing is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the final product. Natural casings provide an authentic and traditional experience, while collagen, fibrous, and synthetic casings offer convenience, consistency, and versatility. Understanding the characteristics of each casing type and their suitability for various sausage types and cooking methods ensures that your sausages turn out delicious, visually appealing, and true to your culinary vision.