Smoked Bologna Recipe

Smoking a whole bologna transforms the outside into a crisp, smoky treat.

A slab of crisp-edged smoked bologna sandwiched in a sauced bun, sitting on a cutting board.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why It Works

  • Scoring the bologna lengthwise and widthwise creates deep crevices in the surface as the meat expands. This increases the surface area exposed to flavorful smoke and creates crispy edges all over the sausage.
  • A coating of mustard ensures the barbecue rub sprinkled on the outside stays in place, resulting in a flavorful crust.

For nine summers, I ran a bi-weekly backyard barbecue series. That was a modest affair, with 10 to 15 people at each event, giving me an audience to crowd test most recipes that ended up here on Serious Eats.

As I was learning to adapt to cooking for larger numbers, a particularly big turnout had me still fretting that five racks of ribs, three chickens, and spiedies were not enough, so I grabbed a three-pound chunk of bologna to throw on the smoker at the last minute.

What started as an act of desperation turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the day.

Only taking minutes to prepare by scoring the bologna, then slathering with mustard, followed by a sprinkle of barbecue rub, it took about two hours in a 255-degree smoker to form the nice dark crust I wanted.

Being an already cooked product, the interior of the bologna couldn't absorb very much smoke, but the outside was transformed into an incredibly crisp and smoky treat that added a lot of flavor and texture to the sausage on the whole. It got even better when we grilled the bologna slices, then piled them into rolls and topped with some barbecue sauce.

In the end, I had way too much food, and while there were plenty of leftover ribs and chicken to go around, it was only this smoked bologna that almost disappeared.

August 2012

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
Serves: 10 to 12 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1 piece of bologna, 3 to 5 pounds

  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard

  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub

  • 1 to 2 small chunks of smoking wood

  • 10-12 potato rolls (optional, for sandwiches)

  • Mustard barbecue sauce (optional, for sandwiches)

Directions

  1. Score entire bologna with a paring knife, making 1/2-inch deep cuts about every inch horizontally and vertically.

    A log of bologna, being scored in a grid pattern with a pairing knife.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  2. Brush bologna all over with mustard, and sprinkle with barbecue rub.

    The scored, mustard-coated bologna getting sprinkled with a barbecue rub.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  3. Fire up a smoker or grill to 225°F (105°C), adding chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place bologna in the smoker or grill, and smoke until outside has darkened, 2 to 3 hours. Remove from smoker, let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

    The bologna on a grill grate, fully smoked and crispy on the outside. The sausage has expanded and the incisions have opened wide.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  4. To make crispy smoked bologna sandwiches: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place bologna slices on grill and cook until browned and crisp on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a roll and top with mustard barbecue sauce.

    A slab of smoked bologna being grilled over hot coals.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Special Equipment

Smoker or grill

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
377 Calories
30g Fat
7g Carbs
19g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 377
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 38%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 73mg 24%
Sodium 1227mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 106mg 8%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 394mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)