Choosing Chorizo

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Recently I noticed that chorizo sausage has been showing up in a variety of recipes, and while I have eaten it at restaurants, and enjoyed it, I had never used it in a recipe.

What is chorizo? Chorizo is a fresh sausage, not cured and gets it distinct flavor from the addition of smoked paprika or even chili peppers. Spanish chorizo generally will have the addition of paprika, while the Mexican chorizo is made with chili peppers. It is an interesting sausage to fry, especially for those of us used to frying up southern cured sausage. Depending on the sausage you may need to drizzle a little olive oil in the pan to keep from sticking, often there is very little fat and it tends to burn quickly. Beware too, that some varieties do no brown up, but are still done. I have tried all of these recipes and they are all delicious and fairly easy…so branch and choose chorizo next time.

Baked Cheese with Chorizo


Vegetable oil, for oiling the baking dish
6 ounces chorizo or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
¼ cup chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups grated Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
6 flour tortillas, warmed

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Oil a 3 or 4 cup ovenproof baking dish.

In a dry medium skillet, sauté the chorizo over medium-high heat until almost crisp. Remove the chorizo to a plate. Add the onion and garlic to the pan juices and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Return the chorizo to the skillet with the onions and garlic and stir to combine.

Put ½ of cheese in the baking dish and sprinkle with ½ of the chorizo mixture. Repeat with the remaining cheese and chorizo mixture. Bake until the cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve with flour tortillas for soft tacos or chips for dipping.

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

(This one is fairly low in calories and high in protein)


  • 1 (3 to 4-ounce) link Spanish chorizo (spicy cured pork sausage), coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2½ to 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (15 to 19-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Garnish: Thinly sliced lemon


Cook chorizo, onion, garlic, bell pepper, pepper flakes, cumin and salt in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add broth (2½ cups for smaller cans of beans or 3 cups for larger) and beans and simmer, partially covered, 15 minutes. Lightly mash beans with potato masher to slightly thicken.

Meaty Penne Bake


  • 1 pound fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about ⅔ cup)
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped (about ⅔ cup)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1¼ cups)
  • One 3-ounce piece Genoa salami, diced
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ cups baby arugula
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan


  1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the chorizo over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up the chorizo into ⅓- to ½-inch pieces with a wooden spoon, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain on paper towels and cool.
  2. Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and onions. Cook until the vegetables are tender but not at all brown, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the salami and tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook gently until the flavors blend, stirring occasionally 15 to 20 minutes. Season with the ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the arugula and basil. Stir until wilted.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the pasta into a serving dish.
  4. Add the chorizo sauce to the pasta. Toss to combine, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the sauce.
  5. Top with the Parmesan and serve.

Chorizo Mushroom Queso Dip


  • ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a drizzle
  • ½ pound Spanish or Mexican chorizo
  • ½ pound mushroom caps, quartered
  • 1 cup diced Mexican melting cheese or Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bag corn tortillas or blue corn tortillas, any variety


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Dice the Spanish chorizo and add to the pan to render the fat. If using fresh Mexican chorizo, remove the casing and crumble while it’s browning. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook with the sausage until just tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer the sausage mixture to a small casserole or baking dish and top with the cheese. Bake until bubbly. Remove from the oven and top with the scallions. Serve with chips for dipping.

Chunky Chicken and Chorizo Chili


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • ¾ pound chorizo, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder, 3 palm fulls
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, a palm full
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained (I used black beans)
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups quick-cooking polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves


  1. Heat a big, deep skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Add chorizo and render its fat, 2 minutes. Push the chorizo off to the sides of the pot and add chicken meat.
  2. Brown and crumble the chicken, 5 to 6 minutes. Season the chicken with chili powder and cumin while it cooks. Combine the onions, garlic, peppers and beans to meats and cook another 5 to 6 minutes. Stir the beer into the chili and reduce the liquid a minute then add the tomatoes and heat through. Season the chili with salt, to taste, and reduce heat to low.
  3. Bring 6 cups stock to a boil in a medium pot, stir in polenta and keep stirring until the polenta masses and thickens to a porridge, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in butter, scallions and thyme and season with salt, to taste.
  4. Fill bowls halfway with polenta and make a well in the center. Fill up bowls with chili and serve.

Kale and Chorizo Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ pounds chorizo sausage, sliced in ½-inch slices
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 large white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 quarts of chicken stock
  • 4 cups kale, rinsed, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 6 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh mint (I am not a fan of mint in soups such as this so I did leave this out)
  • Small loaf of crusty bread


  1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chorizo and onions. Sauté the mixture for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and kale and bring the liquid up to a boil.
  2. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim off any fat. Stir in the parsley. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and garnish with the fresh mint. Serve the soup with crusty bread.
  3. (I like crock pot cooking so after precooking the chorizo, I threw everything in the crock pot, and probably used a little less chicken stock)