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Ingredients

What’s the Difference Between Linguica, Chouriço, and Spanish Chorizo?

Each of these sausages from the Iberian Peninsula is cured, smoked, and fully cooked. They also share many of the same flavorings. Read on to learn about their slight differences.

Portuguese linguica (lin-GWEE-sah) and chouriço (sho-REE-zoh) and Spanish chorizo (chorr-EE-zoh) are all cured and smoked sausages from the Iberian Peninsula. But they seem to sow confusion—there’s even a common misconception that chouriço and chorizo are different names for the same product. The confusion is understandable, since they share similar flavorings, and there are no official standards to help define them. Each is fully cooked when smoked (unlike Mexican chorizo, which is raw), and seasoned with sweet, hot, and/or smoked paprika; garlic; black pepper; and sometimes wine or vinegar. But their exact blend of seasonings, along with other variables such as the meat-to-fat ratio and how finely or coarsely the meat is ground, can differ from region to region, producer to producer, and family to family—making it hard to pin down clear-cut distinctions. 

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Here are some of the differences that often—but not always— crop up in the sausages.

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Linguica

Though lingua is the Portuguese word for tongue, this link does not contain tongue, as is often reported. Its one consistent difference from chouriço may be that linguica is often stuffed into pig casing, so that it has a thinner diameter (chouriço is frequently made with beef casing). Its smoky, robust flavors permeate the classic speciality of the Algarve region amêijoas na cataplana, featuring clams cooked in a tomato-based broth, and I call for it in my own riff on this dish. It’s also an essential ingredient in the country’s famously over-the-top sandwich francesinha, or “little Frenchie,” in which linguica and slices of ham and roast beef are piled on bread, smothered with melted cheese, and doused with a tomato-and-beer sauce. 

Chouriço

Other than often being fatter than linguica when stuffed into beef casing (or the pig's large intestine), chouriço’s differences from linguica are slight. Like its cousin, it can be mild or spicy and shares the same smoky, garlicky flavors that are also often accented by the tang of red wine. Even so, chouriço has the reputation of being the more versatile of the two. In Portugal, it’s served grilled, broiled, and roasted; it flavors a multitude of stews and soups, including caldo verde; it can be fried with eggs, roasted with potatoes, or cooked with rice. In the flamboyant dish chouriço à bombeiro, a link is set in an individual clay brazier, splashed with alcohol, and set afire. 

Spanish Chorizo

This sausage is more different from linguica and chouriço than they are from each other. According to Brian Polcyn, chef and coauthor of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (2005), most Spanish chorizo is drier and loaded with pimentón (smoked paprika)–sometimes containing up to 20 percent of its weight in the spice, leading to a lurid orange tint. It’s often served sliced as a part of a tapas plate with manchego or olives. It also finds its way into many of Spain’s hearty bean stews, including fabada Asturiana, a specialty of Asturias in the northwest of the country featuring the creamy white beans known as fabes. Though traditionalists eschew the practice, this smoky chorizo is also often added to paella. 

The Takeaway

Because these sausages share many features, making them more similar than not, feel free to substitute one for another in recipes, including in my take on the Portuguese seafood stew, cataplana.  

Enjoy these sausages on their own or in the following dishes.


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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.