Can You Eat Chinese Sausage Uncooked? A Detailed Guide

Chinese sausage, also known as lap cheong is a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes. With its sweet savory flavor, it’s easy to see why people may be tempted to snack on it straight from the package. But can you safely eat Chinese sausage uncooked? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Chinese Sausage?

Chinese sausage, sometimes called lap cheong or lup cheong, is a type of cured, uncooked sausage originating from China It is made from a blend of ground pork and pork fat, seasoned with soy sauce, rice wine, rose wine, and spices like white pepper and garlic

There are two main types – air-dried and smoked. The sausage gets its signature red coloring from food dye. Its taste is sweet and salty, with a soft, slightly firm texture thanks to the pork fat. Chinese sausage is a popular ingredient in dishes like fried rice, noodles, and steamed buns.

Is it Safe to Eat Chinese Sausage Uncooked?

While some people may occasionally eat a slice or two of lap cheong straight from the package with no issues, it is generally not recommended to eat significant amounts of Chinese sausage uncooked.

Chinese sausage is considered a raw cured meat product. This means that although it is dried and seasoned it is not fully cooked. Consuming raw or undercooked pork products poses some health risks

  • Bacteria – Raw pork can contain harmful pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. These can cause severe food poisoning.

  • Parasites – Raw pork may also harbor parasites like roundworms and tapeworms in some cases. These can infect the human digestive system.

  • Toxins – Improperly cured sausages may contain high levels of nitrites, which can be toxic above certain levels.

So while a taste here and there of lap cheong directly from the package is unlikely to make you ill, it is not recommended as a regular practice. For safety and ideal texture, Chinese sausage should always be thoroughly cooked before eating.

Proper Storage and Handling

To keep Chinese sausage fresh until you are ready to cook it, proper storage is important:

  • Keep refrigerated at 40°F or below for up to 2 weeks.

  • For longer storage, freeze sausages for 1-2 months.

  • Seal tightly in original package, plastic wrap or airtight bags. Remove air pockets.

  • Once opened, re-wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Minimize air exposure.

  • Do not store at room temperature more than 2 hours.

Other safe handling tips:

  • Always wash hands before and after handling raw sausage.

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked foods.

  • Discard sausage if it has an off smell, texture or appearance.

Following basic food safety practices helps reduce the risks of any foodborne illnesses.

Cooking Chinese Sausage Thoroughly

To safely enjoy the flavor of Chinese sausage, it’s essential to cook it fully before eating. Here are some tips for proper cooking:

  • Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F or hotter. Use a food thermometer to verify.

  • If pan frying, sear all sides until browned and crispy. Cut to check internal color.

  • If boiling, simmer for at least 10 minutes ensuring sausage reaches 160°F.

  • If steaming, steam for at least 15 minutes until completely cooked through.

  • When adding to soups or stir fries, ensure sausage is cooked through by boiling or high heat.

Cooking Chinese sausage to a safe internal temperature kills any dangerous bacteria that may be present and makes the sausage safe to eat.

Delicious Ways to Cook Chinese Sausage

Once cooked, Chinese sausage makes a tasty, protein-packed addition to many dishes. Here are some delicious ways to cook up lap cheong:

  • Chopped in fried rice or noodle stir fries

  • Diced and pan fried as a breakfast side

  • Grilled or broiled whole and served with rice

  • Added to egg rolls or dumplings

  • Simmered in soups or hot pot

  • Steamed buns or turnip cakes

  • Omelets, quiche or breakfast casserole

  • Pizzas, pasta dishes and frittatas

  • Fried along with kimchi or sauerkraut

  • Glazed with soy sauce, sesame oil, honey

With its versatility, Chinese sausage can enhance the flavor of many savory dishes once it is properly cooked.

Health Benefits of Cooked Chinese Sausage

When enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, Chinese sausage provides some good nutrition:

  • Protein – 8-10g per link. Essential for building and repairing muscles.

  • Iron – Needed for healthy blood and oxygen circulation.

  • Zinc – Supports immune system and wound healing.

  • Vitamin B12 – Important for nervous system function.

  • Phosphorus – Helps strengthen bones and teeth.

  • Potassium – Key electrolyte for muscle and nerve activity.

So when cooked, Chinese sausage can be a nutritious addition to your diet. Just be mindful of the high sodium content.

Health Risks of Eating Chinese Sausage Raw

While cooked Chinese sausage has some benefits, eating it uncooked poses some significant health risks:

  • Food poisoning – Raw sausage may contain Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and other dangerous bacteria or parasites. These can cause severe stomach illness.

  • Toxicity – Raw cured meats may have high nitrite levels that can be toxic if consumed in large quantities.

  • Biological contamination – Uncooked pork may contain infectious worms like trichinella or tapeworm. These can infest the digestive tract.

  • Digestive issues – In some people, raw pork fat or protein can cause stomachaches, cramps, diarrhea, or vomiting.

To avoid these risks, it is strongly recommended to always cook Chinese sausage thoroughly before eating. The curing process alone does not make the sausage safe to eat uncooked.

Common Questions

Can you eat a little bit of Chinese sausage uncooked?

It’s not recommended, but a small taste directly from the package once in awhile is unlikely to make you sick. However, eating multiple links or slices raw could pose health risks. Always cook Chinese sausage before eating full portions.

What happens if you eat raw Chinese sausage?

You may be fine, or you may experience food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, headache, fever or chills. In rare cases, severe complications are possible. Cooking the sausage kills bacteria and makes it safe to eat.

Is Chinese sausage fully cooked?

No, Chinese sausage is cured but not fully cooked when purchased. It is a raw, dried sausage that must be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F before eating for food safety.


Chinese sausage definitely tastes best when cooked properly to bring out its signature sweet and savory flavors. More importantly, cooking Chinese sausage reduces the risks of foodborne illnesses from bacteria that could be present. While an occasional small taste of raw lap cheong likely won’t harm you, it’s always advisable to take the time to cook Chinese sausage before eating for optimal safety and enjoyment.

How to Cook Chinese Sausage?

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