What Is Chorizo? A Complete Guide

Perhaps you came across the word on a brunch or dinner menu, in a recipe, or while wandering the aisles of your favorite grocery store. But what is chorizo, and how does it get made? Chorizo appears to be sausage at first glance. According to Macayo’s Mexican Food, chorizo refers to spicy pork sausage. While there are many various forms of chorizo, they claim that the two most prevalent variants are Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo.

Notes from the Kitchen Mexican chorizo is available fresh and uncooked, in either ground or casing form. They claim that Spanish chorizo is available in two states: dried or cured in a casing. Spanish chorizo is available in both spicy and sweet versions and can be smoked or unsmoked. Because of the spices used to prepare both forms of chorizo, both are typically reddish.

Many people wonder if chorizo is produced from lymph nodes when they see these unusual components. Yes, although it’s worth noting that not all chorizo is created from lymph nodes. It depends on how you acquire it (are you manufacturing it yourself?) or where you obtain it. Continue reading for more information.

What is chorizo?

What is chorizo

Chorizo is a type of Spanish sausage that originated in Spain. There are many distinct kinds of Spanish sausages. According to linguists, the name chorizo is derived from the Late Latin word for salted, derived from the Portuguese word sourico. However, via Italy, another word for sausage, salchicha, was adopted into the Castilian language (also known as the Spanish language). In effect, chorizo and salchicha are two words that both refer to sausages.

Chorizo is a term used in Spain to describe pig sausage with several regional variants. This sausage is fermented and cured, resulting in a dry sausage similar to salami or pepperoni that can be eaten raw. Chorizo is a popular tapas dish served with other small plates and wine and is typically found on charcuterie boards.

Wherever the Spanish had colonies, chorizo became a staple of native cuisine. As a result, chorizos are popular in Latin America and the Philippines. Some countries, such as Cuba, have kept utilizing Spanish-style chorizos or reproduced the original recipes, while others have entirely altered the original chorizos into unique local sausage varieties. As a result, there are dozens of different chorizo sausages available around the world.

What Are the Ingredients in Chorizo?

What Are the Ingredients in Chorizo

Depending on the type of chorizo and where it is manufactured, several components can be made.

Pork, smoked paprika, and garlic are three frequent ingredients in most Spanish chorizos. The pork is coarsely chopped and combined with pig fat chunks and seasonings that differ by area. The chorizos are then packed into natural casings and allowed to cure and dry. The spiciness of different types of Spanish chorizos is one of the essential characteristics. Short, plump chorizos are generally hot, while longer, thinner chorizos are traditionally mild.

Many versions of chorizo sold outside of Spain contain paprika, although it isn’t always Spanish smoked paprika, which is costly to import. Annatto seed is used in various countries to give sausages a crimson hue comparable to the original Spanish type. Local chorizo are used for color and flavor in some Latin American cuisines, particularly Mexican cuisine, resulting in hotter chorizo. The meat combination in Mexican chorizos also contains vinegar, which gives them a bright, acidic flavor. That was done to imitate the white wine used in several Spanish chorizo varieties.

Mexican chorizo is often the most widely available in the United States. Mexican chorizo is frequently produced using finely crushed and seasoned organ meat (spleen being a favorite choice) and placed in plastic casings from which the filler is squeezed out before cooking.

Traditional Latin American chorizos are cooked with pork, but a growing array of meats and plant-based alternatives are also popular. Chorizo has become a catch-all term for any coarse sausage in much of South America. The size, shape, coarseness, and components vary widely, although typically include pork, garlic, and paprika, and some may consist of additional features such as herbs or regional spices. Some chorizos from South America deviate significantly from the traditional Spanish recipe. Many chorizos in Argentina, for example, are pale in color and lack paprika, resembling fresh Italian sausages more than Spanish chorizo.

Chorizo is made from what part of the pig?

Chorizo is made from what part of the pig

Is chorizo also pork? Chorizo, like all sausages, is prepared from cheaper cuts of pork, and there’s no hard and fast rule about which sections of the pig should be utilized. What it ultimately comes down to is where you receive it.

The single meat ingredient in most homemade chorizo recipes is usually pork butt (also known as pork shoulder) or pork cheek. Commercially available chorizo (what you’d buy pre-packaged in your grocery store’s meat aisle) is frequently produced using additional parts of the animal, such as lymph nodes and salivary glands.

The part(s) of the animal used in chorizo purchased from a grocery store meat counter or a butcher would be a question for the person you’re buying it from. I assume that they wouldn’t contain lymph nodes or salivary glands because they’d be made fresh at any of these locations. However, if you have any worries, it’s always a good idea to inquire!

Are Chorizo and Chourico the Same Thing?

Are Chorizo and Chourico the Same Thing

A sort of sausage called chorizo is popular in Portugal and has a similar pronunciation to its Spanish counterpart. This sausage resembles chorizo and is created with some of the same ingredients: pork, paprika, and garlic. However, there are several changes in the preparation of chourico. Chourico also features more ingredients than Spanish chorizo and spices like cinnamon that aren’t commonly utilized in Spanish cuisine. Portuguese chourico is also spicier than Spanish chorizo, and the two are rarely interchangeable.

Portuguese-style chorizo expanded around the globe from Brazil to India because the Portuguese, like the Spanish, had colonies all over the world. Chourico is especially popular in New England, where many Portuguese immigrants have resided, and is a staple of Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts cuisines.


Now that you know that chorizo can contain pig components like lymph nodes and salivary glands, you should realize that this usually is only found in commercially marketed chorizo. If you’re careful about where you acquire your chorizo, you can keep your intake under control.

I usually suggest cooking it yourself because you’ll know what’s in it. You may also obtain it from a butcher or you’re grocery store’s meat counter—make sure to check about the ingredients before purchasing!

To know more about chorizo you might be interested to watch this video below. enjoy!