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All You Need to Know About Chorizo - The Complete Guide

All You Need to Know About Chorizo

Do your taste buds have a fondness for global delicacies? And does your soul feel at peace at the whiff of all things meaty? Then, you’ll likely enjoy chorizo, a little flavor bomb that explodes into a carnival of meaty, spicy, and smoky flavors.

Chorizo is a type of sausage, made with chopped or minced meat, which is then stuffed in animal intestine. But make no mistake - chorizos are no ordinary sausages. They are very spicy, with a rather unmistakable taste.

So, let’s learn more about this cold meat with global fame!

Key Takeaways

  • Chorizo is a type of sausage with a spicy and flavor-packed edge to it.
  • There are two broad categories of chorizo - Spanish and Mexican.
  • Over the centuries, chorizo cooking techniques and recipes have changed.
  • Cured/semi-cured can be eaten raw, but chorizos mad of raw meat must be cooked, first.

The History of Chorizo

The History of Chorizo

Chorizo is known to have come originally from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The earliest chorizo was ‘a short piece of gut, filled with chopped, seasoned meat, normally pork, that is usually smoke-cured.’ And it didn’t have the vibrant red color that lures us today.

It wasn’t until the 16th century when Europe discovered the glorious smoked paprika. And over the years, this magical taste enhancer became a staple for spicing chorizos.

During the Spanish campaign against the Aztec empire, raising pigs in Mexico to produce chorizo became a popular practice. Throughout the 16th century, the Hispanic influence continued to spread. And chorizo started to become popular in other countries in the world.

Its popularity spread from Latin America through India to Southeast Asia, and all developed their own varieties. But you can say these are sub-categories of Spanish and Mexican chorizos.

Types of Chorizo Based on Location: Mexican vs. Spanish Chorizo

Based on the production area, there are mainly two types of chorizos - Spanish and Mexican. You'll also find other variants from across the world, but they can be categorized as Spanish or Mexican.

Take a look at a quick comparison between Spanish and Mexican chorizos.

  • Meat Preparation: Spanish chorizos are made of cured or semi-cured meat, while Mexican chorizos contain fresh or fermented meat.
  • Main Spice: Spanish chorizos contain smoked paprika that gives them a bright red color, while Mexican chorizos have chili for extra spiciness.
  • Types: Spanish chorizos have many region- and shape-based categories, while Mexican chorizos have only two categories based on seasoning and meat.

Spanish Chorizos: Types by Location

Andalucia (called andaluz)

  • Smooth, smoky flavor
  • Contains black pepper, cloves, smoke paprika, garlic, and dry white wine


  • Famous as a cold meat variant
  • Eaten spread or cooked
  • Orange or red color
  • Most famous: from Teror


  • Shaped as wide, short strips
  • Naturally dried
  • Smoked with wood
  • Preferred for stews


  • Shaped as wide, short strips
  • Preferred for cooking
  • Intense flavor
  • Smoky and spicy

La Rioja

  • Shaped like narrow horseshoe
  • Intense flavor dominated by paprika
  • Slightly spicy
  • Can be cooked or eaten raw


  • Shaped like thick horseshoe
  • Strong smoky flavor
  • Slightly spicy
  • Reddish color
  • Cured meat
  • Can be cooked or eaten raw

Navarra (called pamplonica)

  • Oldest variety
  • Uniform fat distribution
  • Intense flavor
  • Seasoned with sweet paprika and garlic


  • No paprika
  • Contains nutmeg, garlic, oregano
  • May contain wine and pepper

Segovia (called cantimpalo)

  • Shaped as strips
  • No bacon
  • No additives
  • Contains sweet paprika

Spanish Chorizo: Types by Shape

Chorizo cular

  • Long, irregularly cylindrical shape
  • Diameter - more than 28 mm
  • Casing - large intestine
  • Meat and intestine of same animal used
  • Weight - 1 kg/piece

Chorizo en herradura/sarta

  • Horseshoe shape
  • Diameter - 36 mm
  • Two ends joined by a rope
  • Synthetic casing

Chorizo en ristra/pepona

  • Wide and short
  • Casing - small intestine
  • Separated using string pieces

Chorizo vela

  • Narrow, straight, and long
  • Diameter - 30-40 mm
  • Length - almost 40 mm
  • Casing - small intestine or synthetic material

Mexican Chorizo: Types

Classic Mexican chorizo

  • Made of pork or beef
  • Contains chili and vinegar
  • Contains raw meat

Chorizo verde or green chorizo

  • Appears green
  • Contains chili, tomato, and cilantro

Other Chorizos from Different Parts of the World

Did you know that there are some other types of chorizos from around the world. Here they are:

1. Portuguese chouriço - Similar to Spanish chorizos, these smoked and cured chorizos have less paprika and are loaded with garlic and red wine. Also, chouriço de sangue is a Portuguese blood sausage.

2. Chaurice in Louisiana, Creole, and Cajun cuisine - These Spanish-style chorizos are spiced with different types of chili, like red chili flakes and cayenne pepper. They also have green onions, garlic, thyme, celery, parsley, and bay leaf.

3. Colombian chorizo - This is a Mexican-style chorizo, though it’s much less spicy. It has less paprika than Spanish chorizos, too. It is popular in South America and is made of fresh meat. It contains green onions, cilantro, garlic, and vinegar.

4. Argentine chorizo - These are heavily inspired by Italian flavors, and the recipes and techniques vary largely. They often feature popular Italian herbs like oregano and thyme. Argentine chorizos may also be spiced with garlic, nutmeg, and wine.

5. Filipino Chorizo de Cebu - These are spherical sausage links known for the achuete seeds they contain. That's why they have a vibrant red color. They also have saltpeter and anise liqueur, among other ingredients, and have a hog casing.

6. Goan chouriço - These are Spanish-style Portuguese chouriços with an Indian touch. They’re hot and spicy, due to containing red chili, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Goan chouriço is also made with cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and vinegar for extra tang.

What Is Chorizo Made of?

What Is Chorizo Made of

Traditionally, chorizos are made with pork meat. There are two types of pork chorizos:

  • Chorizo ​​serrano, which is made with common white pig’s meat.
  • Chorizo iberico, which is made ofmeat from black Iberian pigs, including the world-class chorizo ​​ibérico de bellota, made of meat from acorn-fed pigs.

However, occasionally, other types of meat can be used for making chorizo, such as beef, turkey, deer, or horsemeat.

Believe it or no, there are even chicken chorizos, sought after for the lean meat content. Last but not least, vegans can also enjoy the taste of the popular sausage - the meat-free soy chorizos

What Gives Chorizo Its Flavor?

Clearly, there are different types of chorizos. They vary in terms of the preparation technique, meat source, herbs, and even casing, used in the process. And these factors contribute to the taste, aroma, and texture of chorizos. Still, we can safely say that the special blend of spices used in each type of chorizo gives it its specific flavor. In addition, the way chorizo is cured also affects the flavor profile and juiciness of the chorizos.

Related: What Foods Are Good for Low Sodium Levels?

How Should I Prepare Chorizo?

How Should I Prepare Chorizo

Source: Big Fat Tummy

The most common ways to prepare chorizos and amp up their taste and smell of are frying or grilling. You can also try braising, baking, and broiling them. They are good on their own as you serve them whole or sliced.

If you remove the casing, you may also put them in pasta and casseroles or enjoy them with enchiladas and tacos. Cook them on a charcoal grill or modern stove and their flavors will be intact. From being King Charles IV's favorite dish to becoming a hit at backyard BBQs, chorizos are so versatile!

Do You Take Off the Casing of Chorizo?

If you're using chorizos with cured meat, you should remove the casing. Grilling, frying, etc., can make these types of casings chewy. But for chorizos with semi-cured or raw meat, leave the casing on, as it will soften while cooking. Note that some store-bought chorizos have a syntheticcasing, which you need to remove.

Should I Season My Chorizo?

You do not need to season chorizos as they are already loaded with seasoning. In fact, if you’re planning on putting your chorizos in a curry, pasta, casserole, etc., or pairing them with sauces, be careful about the spices, aromatics, and salt you add to the dish to avoid a regrettable case of overseasoning.

Enjoy Cookunity’s convenient meal delivery service anytime and taste a wide range of chorizo recipes from top local chefs! Be it the much-loved Chicken and Chorizo Paella for a tasty lunch or the Mexican-Style Chorizo Breakfast Burrito for a spicy breakfast, indulge in a delicious and healthy meal without the effort of cooking it yourself!

Related: Frittata: The Complete Guide (With Tips & Recipes)

Mouth-Watering Chorizo Recipe - Spice up Your Day

Fancy making a stellar pasta dish with chorizo? Here are the list of ingredients and the detailed instructions:

Baked Chorizo Pasta Recipe

Baked Chorizo Pasta Recipe

Source: Delicious

Chorizos spiciness can make or break a meal, especially if cooked and added to a popular dish as an alternative to another traditional ingredient. So, are you up to the challenge and learn how to cook with chorizo, "out of the box"? Then, here’s an exciting pasta recipe for a hearty meal. Check it out!


  • Extra virgin olive oil - 80 ml (1/3 cup)
  • Dried chorizo - 3 pieces
  • Eggplants - 3 pieces
  • Onion - 1 piece
  • Cherry tomatoes - 500 g
  • Tomato passata - 700 g
  • Tomato paste - 95 g (⅓ cup)
  • Grated parmesan cheese - 60 g (3/4 cup)
  • Mozzarella cheese - 100 g
  • Buffalo mozzarella cheese - 2 balls
  • Pasta (short, like rigatoni) - 400 g
  • Fresh basil - A handful + for garnishing
  • Fresh oregano - A handful + for garnishing
  • Rocket or red vein sorrel leaves - For serving


  1. Start by prepping the veggies. Finely chop the chorizos, onions, and one eggplant. Thinly slice two eggplants lengthways. And cut the cherry tomatoes into halves.
  2. Set the oven to preheat to 200 degrees C.
  3. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan on high heat and add 2 tbsp of oil.
  4. To the hot oil, add the eggplant slices and season them. Cook for 4-5 minutes and turn them in between.
  5. Remove the eggplant slices from the pan and cook the chopped eggplants in the same oil following the same method before removing them from the pan.
  6. Next, cook the chopped chorizo pieces for 2-3 minutes. Once the oil starts rendering, add the chopped onions and cook for another 2-3 minutes till they soften.
  7. Now, add oregano and basil (keeping aside enough of each for decoration) and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  8. After that, add a cup of water to the pan and stir. Remember to scrape the pan's bottom.
  9. Add cherry tomatoes and tomato paste and continue cooking for about a minute before adding the passata.
  10. Keep cooking for 15 minutes to reduce the sauce.
  11. In a separate pan, boil water and salt and cook the pasta until al dente. Put the pasta into the cooking sauce. Add the chopped eggplants, too. Mix well.
  12. Now, transfer everything to a baking dish. Grate the mozzarella and buffalo mozzarella, and sprinkle half of all the cheese varieties on top of the tomato and chorizo sauce base in the baking tray.
  13. Next, line the eggplant slices over the cheese and scatter the remaining cheese.
  14. It's time to bake the dish for 15 minutes until the top turns golden brown.
  15. Once done, top off the cooked pasta with basil and oregano leaves, and serve it with some red vein sorrel or rocket leaf salad.

This recipe will impress your friends and family, that's for sure!

And if you find this dish too complex or time-consuming to make, you can always try Cookunity’s chorizo pasta recipe - the Chorizo Rigattoni - a lighter alternative, served with fresh salad.

Related: Scallops: The Complete Guide - All You Need to Know

All You Need to Know About Chorizo: FAQs

Q: When should you not eat chorizo?

A: While chorizo has high protein content, avoid it if you're pregnant. Semi-cured and lightly cooked meat is not advisable to be consumed during pregnancy. Also, you should avoid these high-fat, high-sodium sausages if you have hypertension or a heart condition. Folks with with digestive problems should not eat overly spicy foods, either.

Q: How is chorizo different from sausage?

A: The primary difference between sausages and chorizos is that sausages don’t contain strong spices, while chorizos are loaded with seasoning.

Q: Is there chorizo without pork?

A: While traditional chorizos contain pork meat, you will find many other chorizo varieties that don’t contain meat from pigs. You can get chorizos made of beef, turkey, chicken, and many other types of meat. There are even plant-based ones!

Q: What is vegan chorizo made from?

A: Vegan chorizos can be made of several plant-based sources. These include tofu, seitan, soy, pea protein, wheat gluten, chickpeas, beans, and other textured non-meat ingredients. Of course, their recipes also include many spices and seasonings.

Q: Does chorizo have any health benefits?

A: Chorizos can be a rich source of nutrients. It contains high-quality protein and animal fat. If you’re on a low-carb diet or the keto diet for weight loss, chorizo will be fine to go on your weekly meal list. Chorizos are also loaded with vitamin B12, thiamine, and selenium.

Q: Is chorizo OK raw?

A: Some chorizos, like the Spanish or Spanish-style ones, contain cured or semi-cured meat. These are safe for consumption without cooking. But Mexican or Mexican-inspired chorizo varieties contain raw meat and must be cooked to avoid food poisoning.

Related: The Paella Guide: How to Make Paella (Tips & Recipes)

Chorizo: A Hearty Sausage Full of Versatility and Character

One of the hottest types of sausages out there, chorizo can spice up any Mediterranean traditional dish like pasta or paella. Grilled or roasted, they can also be served on their own, sided with a fresh salad or stewed seasonal vegetables. There are numerous ways you can prepare and eat chorizos, so don't be afraid to experiment!