What Is Chorizo? Here's Everything You Need to Know

Updated 01/22/18
what is chorizo
Half Baked Harvest

An element of some of the tastiest (and trendiest) meals, chorizo has been featured in some our favorite dishes, from tapas to tacos. Chorizo crops up at a range of price points and can be found at Michelin-starred restaurants and taco trucks alike. Adored by ardent foodies, chorizo has gotten a lot of buzz lately—even outside of the culinary world. But what is chorizo? Here’s everything you need to know about this flavorful food.

What Is Chorizo?

The term chorizo refers to a specific type of pork sausage, traditionally prepared using natural intestinal casings. The predominant sources of chorizo are Spain and Portugal, where the tradition of making chorizo dates back to the Roman Empire. Chorizo is also popular in Mexican cuisine, though it can also be found in Central and South America and the Philippines. Traditionally, chorizo gets its flavorful kick (and distinctive red color) from dried and smoked red peppers and paprika.

How to Eat It

Thought you needed yet another reason to spend a couple weeks eating your way across Spain? Chorizo can be enjoyed by itself (delectably fermented, cured, and smoked) or as an ingredient in another dish. If you go the latter route, adding rice or egg is a delicious option. You can also pair it with cheese and vegetables for a hearty variation on this classic cuisine. Regional takes on chorizo can vary significantly, with the addition of wines, spices, and a range of herbs.

What You Should Know

Chorizo is considered a “forbidden” food among some health enthusiasts. Chorizo is a technically a “,” meaning that it’s treated (in this case, smoked or fermented) instead of being simply cooked through. It also tends to be on the fatty side and is calorically dense, ringing in at about . However, if consumed in moderation, it can be an incredible way to spice up your favorite dishes. Aim to buy your chorizo from organic sources or try healthier vegetarian options.

Now that you know what chorizo is, try this recipe for .

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