Chinese Sausage: History, Types, Making Process & Storage

by Ella
Chinese Sausage: Storage Techniques & Recipes

Chinese sausage, also known as “lap cheong” or “làcháng” (腊肠) in Mandarin, is a beloved and flavorful ingredient in Chinese cuisine. This sausage is a staple in many Chinese households and is prized for its sweet, savory, and slightly smoky taste. Made from a blend of pork and seasonings, Chinese sausage can be enjoyed in various dishes, adding depth and richness to a wide range of recipes. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of Chinese sausage, from its history and types to how to prepare, cook, and store it.

1. Introduction

The Essence of Chinese Sausage

Chinese sausage, with its rich, sweet, and savory flavor profile, is a quintessential ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It’s a testament to the art of preserving and enhancing the flavor of pork. The sausage is characterized by its reddish-brown hue and distinct aroma, which is a result of the unique blend of ingredients and the aging process.


Chinese sausage is often enjoyed as both a key ingredient and a condiment in a wide range of dishes, from stir-fries and rice dishes to steamed buns and salads. Its ability to infuse dishes with its signature flavor makes it a beloved and versatile addition to Chinese cooking.


The Versatility of Lap Cheong

One of the defining features of Chinese sausage is its versatility. It can be a star ingredient in a dish or play a supporting role, enhancing the overall flavor profile. Its sweet and savory notes can balance the heat of chili peppers or complement the umami of soy sauce. The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to incorporating Chinese sausage into your culinary creations.


In this guide, we will dive into the world of Chinese sausage, exploring its history, types, preparation methods, and a wide range of delicious recipes that showcase its unique flavor. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner looking to explore Chinese cuisine, Chinese sausage is an ingredient that can elevate your dishes to new heights.


2. A Brief History of Chinese Sausage

Ancient Origins

The history of Chinese sausage can be traced back thousands of years to ancient China. It is believed that the practice of preserving meat using salt and various spices was developed during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC). This method allowed people to extend the shelf life of meat, making it a valuable source of sustenance, especially during the winter months.

In traditional Chinese culture, the production of Chinese sausage was closely tied to the lunar calendar and seasonal changes. Sausages were often made during the winter months when the weather was cold, allowing the sausages to air-dry and develop their flavors over time.

Regional Variations

China’s vast geographical and cultural diversity has given rise to a wide array of regional variations of Chinese sausage. Each region puts its own spin on lap cheong, resulting in sausages with unique flavors and characteristics.

Cantonese Lap Cheong: Hailing from the Guangdong province, Cantonese lap cheong is perhaps the most famous and widely recognized variety. It is sweet and savory, often enjoyed in stir-fries, clay pot rice, and steamed dishes.

Hunan Xiang Chang: Hunan province is known for its spicy cuisine, and Hunan-style sausages reflect this preference for heat. These sausages are flavored with chili peppers and garlic, adding a spicy kick to dishes.

Sichuan Suan La Xiang Chang: Sichuan-style sausages are renowned for their numbing and spicy flavors, thanks to the liberal use of Sichuan peppercorns and chili peppers.

Taiwanese Lap Cheong: Taiwanese sausages, known as “xiang chang,” often contain soy sauce, five-spice powder, and rice wine, giving them a slightly sweet and aromatic flavor.

Shanghainese Lap Cheong: Shanghainese sausages are distinguished by their use of Shaoxing wine, which imparts a unique flavor to the sausage.

Each regional variation offers a delightful twist on the classic Chinese sausage, making them a fascinating subject for culinary exploration.

See Also: Cooking Chinese Sausage: A Comprehensive Guide

3. Types of Chinese Sausage

Traditional Lap Cheong

Traditional Chinese sausage, known simply as “lap cheong,” is the most common variety. It’s typically made from fatty pork, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and various seasonings. The sausage mixture is stuffed into casings and then air-dried or smoked, resulting in a slightly wrinkled appearance.

The flavor of traditional lap cheong is characterized by its sweet and savory notes, with a hint of smokiness. It’s often used in stir-fries, clay pot dishes, and fried rice.

Lap Yuk (Waxed Duck Sausage)

Waxed duck sausage, or “lap yuk,” is a variation of Chinese sausage that incorporates duck meat. The duck meat is marinated in a blend of spices, soy sauce, and wine before being stuffed into casings. Afterward, the sausages are waxed to extend their shelf life.

Lap yuk has a distinctive flavor that combines the richness of duck with the sweetness and smokiness of traditional lap cheong. It’s a prized ingredient in dishes like clay pot rice and soups.

Lap Ngap (Duck Liver Sausage)

Duck liver sausage, or “lap ngap,” is another variation that features the flavors of duck. Unlike lap yuk, which includes duck meat, lap ngap focuses on duck liver. The liver is seasoned with soy sauce, spices, and wine before being encased in casings and air-dried.

Lap ngap has a uniquely rich and decadent flavor, making it a luxurious addition to dishes. It pairs exceptionally well with rice or noodles.

Lap Cheong Varieties by Region

In addition to these core types of Chinese sausage, various regions within China produce their own specialty sausages. These regional varieties often incorporate local ingredients and culinary traditions, resulting in a diverse array of flavors and textures.

4. Ingredients and Preparation

Key Ingredients

To make Chinese sausage, you’ll need the following key ingredients:

Pork: The primary meat used in Chinese sausage is pork, specifically fatty cuts like pork belly or pork shoulder. The fat content contributes to the sausage’s flavor and texture.

Seasonings: Chinese sausage is flavored with a combination of seasonings that typically include sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and spices. Five-spice powder is a common spice blend used to give the sausage its characteristic aroma.

Casings: Traditional Chinese sausage is encased in casings, usually made from animal intestines or synthetic materials. These casings help shape and preserve the sausages.

The Sausage-Making Process

The process of making Chinese sausage involves several steps:

1. Preparing the Meat: Start by selecting the pork cuts and trimming excess fat. The meat is then finely chopped or ground to the desired consistency.

2. Seasoning: The meat is mixed with seasonings, including sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and spices. This mixture is often combined with other ingredients specific to the sausage type, such as duck meat or liver.

3. Stuffing: The seasoned meat mixture is stuffed into casings. Traditionally, animal intestines were used, but modern sausage production may use synthetic casings for consistency.

4. Air-Drying: The sausages are left to air-dry for a period of time, allowing them to develop their flavors and textures. This step is crucial for achieving the desired taste and appearance.

5. Smoking (Optional): Some Chinese sausages, like lap yuk, may undergo a smoking process to impart a smoky flavor. Smoking can be done using wood chips or other sources of smoke.

6. Waxing (Optional): Certain sausages, such as lap yuk, are coated with a layer of wax to extend their shelf life. The wax seals the sausages, preventing moisture and contaminants from entering.

Homemade Chinese Sausage

Making Chinese sausage at home can be a rewarding culinary project. While it requires some patience and time, the results are well worth the effort. Here’s a basic recipe for homemade Chinese sausage:


  • 1 pound (450g) pork belly, finely chopped or ground
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • Pork casings or synthetic casings


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped or ground pork with sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and five-spice powder. Mix well until the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout the meat.

2. Soak the casings in warm water to soften them, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Rinse the casings thoroughly and then rinse them again in water mixed with rice wine.

4. Carefully thread the casings onto a sausage stuffer attachment or a funnel, leaving a little overhang.

5. Stuff the meat mixture into the casings, ensuring there are no air pockets. Twist the sausages into your desired lengths and tie knots at the ends.

6. Hang the sausages in a cool, dry place to air-dry. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your desired level of dryness.

7. Once the sausages have air-dried to your satisfaction, they are ready to be used in your favorite recipes.

5. Chinese Sausage in Modern Cuisine

While Chinese sausage has deep roots in traditional Chinese cuisine, it has also found its way into modern and fusion cooking. Its unique flavor profile makes it a versatile ingredient for chefs and home cooks looking to experiment with new flavors and culinary combinations.

Fusion Flavors

Chinese sausage’s sweet and savory notes can complement a wide range of international cuisines. Chefs have used Chinese sausage in fusion dishes that marry traditional Chinese flavors with other culinary traditions. For example, you might find Chinese sausage in pasta dishes, sushi rolls, or even on gourmet pizzas.

The smokiness and umami of Chinese sausage can also enhance dishes from various Asian cuisines, such as Thai, Vietnamese, or Malaysian recipes. It’s not uncommon to see Chinese sausage in stir-fried noodles or as a topping for rice bowls in these culinary traditions.

Gourmet Applications

In upscale and gourmet restaurants, Chinese sausage can be used creatively to add complexity to dishes. Chefs might incorporate it into appetizers, charcuterie boards, or as an ingredient in modern interpretations of classic Chinese dishes.

One trend in gourmet cooking is house-made Chinese sausage, where chefs craft their own unique sausage blends with high-quality ingredients and innovative flavors. This allows for greater control over the sausage’s taste and texture, resulting in a premium dining experience.

6. Storing Chinese Sausage

Proper storage is essential to maintain the flavor and quality of Chinese sausage, whether you’ve purchased it from a store or made it at home. Here are some guidelines for storing Chinese sausage:


If you plan to use Chinese sausage within a few weeks, you can store it in the refrigerator. Follow these steps:

1. Wrap the Chinese sausage in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss and odors from affecting it.

2. Store the wrapped sausage in the refrigerator’s meat or deli drawer, where the temperature is typically the most consistent.

3. Use the sausage within 2-3 weeks for the best flavor and quality.


For longer-term storage, consider freezing Chinese sausage. Properly frozen sausage can last for several months without a significant loss in quality. Here’s how to freeze Chinese sausage:

1. Wrap the Chinese sausage tightly in plastic wrap, making sure it’s completely sealed to prevent freezer burn.

2. Place the wrapped sausage in a freezer-safe resealable bag or vacuum-sealed bag, removing as much air as possible.

3. Label the packaging with the date to keep track of storage time.

4. Store the frozen sausage in the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or below.

5. Frozen Chinese sausage can be stored for up to 6-12 months.

Shelf Life

The shelf life of Chinese sausage depends on whether it’s commercially produced or homemade. Commercially produced sausages typically come with a “best by” or “use by” date, which should be followed for optimal freshness.

Homemade Chinese sausage can have a shorter shelf life because it may not undergo the same preservation processes as commercial varieties. When making Chinese sausage at home, it’s advisable to consume it within a few weeks if refrigerated or within a few months if frozen.

See Also: Chinese Sausage: Storage Techniques & Recipes


Chinese sausage, or “lap cheong,” has captivated culinary enthusiasts for centuries with its sweet, savory, and slightly smoky flavors. Its rich history, regional variations, and versatility in the kitchen have solidified its place as a beloved ingredient in Chinese cuisine.

From traditional dishes like clay pot rice and sticky rice to modern creations that push culinary boundaries, Chinese sausage continues to inspire chefs and home cooks alike. Whether you’re exploring its traditional roots or embracing its fusion potential, Chinese sausage offers a world of possibilities in your culinary journey.

As you embark on your adventure with Chinese sausage, remember the importance of proper storage to preserve its quality. Whether you’re enjoying it in a classic dish or experimenting with innovative recipes, the timeless charm of Chinese sausage is sure to delight your taste buds and add a touch of authenticity to your culinary creations.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023