A sausage appetizer is an hors d'oeuvre, first course or pre-dinner snack that includes sausage as a primary ingredient. The use of various types of sausage is not uncommon in appetizers, particularly since sausage can either be sliced or formed into small balls that do not require the use of multiple utensils in order to eat. Due to the fat and spice content in many sausages, their savory flavor is often quite welcome prior to a meal or as part of a buffet of several different types of appetizers that will serve as a full meal. It is possible to make a sausage appetizer from sausage alone, though many cooks choose to incorporate sauces, glazes and other ingredients in their sausage appetizer recipes.
Sausages are made from foods that have been minced and then blended with other ingredients, including fat, spices and sometimes even fruit. Sausages may also contain some type of bread or cereal filler, which can add texture and in some cases reduce the cost of preparing a sausage. While many people associate sausages with meat, there are a variety of vegetarian and vegan sausages on the market as well. Sausage meat may be contained in a "casing" which is a tube into which the sausage is packed. Some sausage is not packed into a casing, but is packed and sold in a way similar to ground meat.
In its simplest form, a sausage appetizer may consist of cold casing sausage that has been sliced and placed on a platter. Individuals can then simply pick up a slice and snack on it as they wish. A popular bar snack is the pickled sausage, in which sausages in case things are packed in a brine and allowed to absorb its flavors. A hot sausage appetizer may consist of thicker slices of casing sausage, or little balls made of loose sausage that have been cooked and are then served with toothpicks or small forks. In some cases, a cook may simmer sausages in a sauce of some type to add additional flavor. Ground sausages may also be combined with cheese and other ingredients to make a spread or dip that can be served on crackers or chips.
More complicated sausage appetizers may incorporate bread or other foods. For example, bits of dough may be wrapped around a sausage filling and then baked to produce an hors d'oeuvre. For more formal appetizer, sausage may be incorporated into a vegetable dish or served sliced with a sauce or gourmet mustard.