What is Portuguese Chouriço Sausage?

Four links of Portuguese chouriço

My sausage is suffering from an identity crisis, and it irks me. Mention chorizo, and what springs to mind are pungent Mexican links filled with ground meat that’s redolent of garlic and chile powder. But mention chouriço (pronounced sho-ree-zoo), the musky smoked sausage of Portugal, and “Isn’t that just another kind of Spanish chorizo?” usually follows. Well, I’m tired of this culinary confusion, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

I was weaned on chouriço (sometimes called linguiça), as every good Portuguese child should be. The sausage held sway at every meal. At breakfast, it was served instead of bacon. At lunch it insinuated itself into soups and tortilhas (frittatas). And at dinner whole meals were orchestrated around it: favas guisadas com chouriço (fava bean and sausage stew), cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese boiled dinner), and the inflammable chouriço à bombeiro — sausage that had been doused with brandy and set afire at the table with a great whoosh. Accompanying it were fat, orangish batatas fritas, potato wedges that had been fried in corn oil infused with the sausage’s flavor and color. All that was needed to begin was a quick prayer, then a nod from my father.

But after a lifetime of insensitive comments from others, I began having doubts: Was chouriço merely a chorizo knock-off — a Portuguese Payless to a Spanish Manolo Blanhik?

To settle the matter once and for all, I called Herminio Lopes, owner of Lopes Sausage Company in Newark, NJ. Besides making some of the best chouriço I have ever tasted, he plays both sides of the Iberian border by also selling Spanish chorizo.

Clockwise from top left: Sausages at Lopes Sausage Co.; Herminio Lopes; pork being cut at Lopes; more sausages at Lopes. Photo © Bryan Anselm for the NY Times

According to Lopes, both sausages are made with pork shoulder, paprika, garlic, black pepper, and salt, but an astonishing 20 percent of Spanish chorizo’s weight is paprika. Chouriço, on the other hand, has considerably less paprika and much more garlic and black pepper. In addition, lots of Portuguese red wine is splashed in to round out the flavor. In short, it’s got a bigger bite that can hold its own in lots of dishes.

Feeling a superiority dance coming, I called back and asked a clerk which sausage is more popular.

“In terms of sales, chouriço,” she said.

Yes! Portugal rules, even if no one knew it but me. But my smug self-satisfaction was short-lived. Lopes got on the line and told me that one of his biggest chorizo customers was none other than the White House. (Was that swagger I heard in his voice?) Apparently, Bill Clinton had some of Lopes’s chorizo at a fundraiser in 1996, and from then on he ordered 50 to 60 pounds a month, used to impress world leaders. When George W. Bush took office, he kept the chorizo coming. All I have to say is, “That’s okay, Washington. My campaign to put a chouriço in every pot has just begun.” Originally published October 25, 2003

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  1. My great-grandfather was from Stockholm, Sweden and upon emigrating here to the US his journey via ship landed him on Terceira Island in the Azores where he met and married my great-grandmother prior to coming to the states. He died ten years before I was born and my great-grandmother died when I was 5-6 years old but I spent a lot of time with her before her passing and remember so well the wonderful pots of Portuguese kale soup that she made and also my grandmother who lived next door to her also made quite often. The recipe was handed down to my mother and eventually to me. I grew up eating both Gaspar’s linguica and chourico. One of my favorite things that my mother made was chourico with peppers and onions in a sauce that I believe she added some ketchup to. Sometimes we would have it with rice or on soft grinder type rolls from Grand Central Mkt’s bakery. (Tiverton, RI) I recently made a pot of kale soup with linguica and my 94-year-old mother loved it. Brought back some memories for her. Next on the list is to make the same dish she used to make with the peppers and onions. Thank goodness I’m able to find both Gaspar’s linguica and chourico at our local Publix grocery stores here in south Florida and I really don’t care much at all for the taste of Spanish chorizo that is most commonly sold here. Tonight I’m chopping up some linguica for my pizza and tomorrow morning it will be scrambled eggs, potatoes, onions and the remaining stick of linguica. I guess you could say that I’m a big fan of Portuguese sausage!

    1. Those are some amazing food memories, Suzie. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. Love hearing that you’ve kept them alive by making the dishes again.

  2. Even though ethnic pride gets in the way, and both the Portuguese and Spaniards claim their versions are the best, in the end, the two are quite similar in both appearance and taste. It’s definitely not apples vs. oranges in the chorizo–or–chouriço wars!

  3. I am Portuguese, from Cape Cod, my family has lived in Provincetown for several generations. I have never met anyone who considers chourico and linguica to be the same thing…? We put both in some dishes, like kale soup. They are quite different in flavor, certainly not synonymous.

    1. Liz, how do you think of them as different? I’m truly curious because they call for the very same ingredients. Some places make their linguinça hotter, others make their chouriço hotter. Linguinça is usually smaller in diameter than chouriço.

    2. I agree. I grew up in the Southcoast in Massachusetts. The linguica referred to a pork casing and chourico to the beef casing and the spicing was greater in the chourico (also the fat content). Having not been to my hometown in several years, I was surprised by the reduced fat content that changed the taste significantly.Oh well, I still have several pounds of chourico and morcella shipped every year to my home. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are frequently accompanied by chourico insome form.

      1. Charles, they both tradionally use pork casings. Linguiça uses the small intestine while chouriço uses the large intestine. It’s a tradition that was established many generations ago with the annual matança, or pig slaughter. And here is how Gaspar’s, a Southcoast manufacturer, describes the difference between their sausages. The only difference is chouriço is hotter. Yet they also offer a mild version, which simply confuses matters more. As you can see even they don’t have clear distinction between the two products!

    3. You are SO right. I grew up in New Bedford (where Gaspar’s Linguica originated & thank God, Stop & Shop stocks in their NY stores!). The other thing is that it’s pronounced shure-ee-sso (no Z or T people!) & leen-GUI( as in guido)-ssa. I think eating linguica is the only Portugese thing my daughter got from me. OK, Pasteis de Nata, too.

  4. I lived in New Bedford for a few years and I have a couple of friends who are of Portuguese descent. They say that chourico is actually pronounced “sure-eece” as if the o got left off the end. But maybe that’s just a local thing.

    1. Kelcie, it’s both a local Portuguese-American pronunciation and something called “clipping.” It’s similar to how we drop the final G when we say “goin'” or “hopin'” when speaking quickly. I wanted to provide the full correct so people are informed. After that, they can drop all they want!

    2. I grew up calling it “sur-EE-ce” up here in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and from what I was able to put together at least here was the islanders (the Azores) called it “sur-EE-ce” and the mainlanders pronounced the “o”. Either was you pronounce it it’s delicious.

    3. My Mom always called it that. “sure-eece.” I actually came here looking for that and this website popped up. So chourico is cerece?

  5. Hi! I am from Providence but moved to Kansas City for 30 years. I’m back now! Anyhow, Gaspar’s and Amaral’s and maybe Mello’s will ship sausage. I was so homesick for it! So for those who can’t find it locally, look online. You also can get sweet bread and other classic Portuguese foods that way. Also Autocrat coffee syrup, lol. I just made kale soup yesterday. So happy to be back.

  6. Que bom é saber que ainda há portugueses que defendem e explicam de forma honesta e clara a cozinha Portuguesa.

    1. Muito obrigado, Martinho. Tenho muito orgulho de nossa comida e gosto que as pessoas entendam como ela difere de outras culinárias, principalmente comida espanhola.

  7. I am very lucky in that my local Shoprite sells Gaspar’s linguiça and chouriço. They told me that some Shoprites carry some of their other varieties, e.g., extra hot. They also ship, with a five pound mix-or-match minimum, throughout the continental U.S. They carry other Portuguese products as well.

    I prefer linguiça and like to grill it and then freeze smaller pieces so that they’re always available for a delicious addition to soup, eggs, vegetables, etc. Well, what I mean is that I freeze the little bit that’s left after eating it right off the grill then and there.

    1. Hannaford & our local grocery store, Adams Fairacre Farms, also carries Gaspar’s here in the Hudson Valley (NY).

  8. Awesome article. We Portuguese enjoy our chouriço a lot as mentioned. It is a staple like salt and pepper.

  9. I don’t care how you pronounce it, it’s just delicious!! But thanks for the education. I always thought that Spanish sausage an imposter, ha ha! Might be because I came from a very Portuguese city, East Providence. My husband likes to say I was weaned on the stuff…he might be right. ;-)

  10. Hi David,

    First, I enjoyed this article. There was so much I didn’t know. My father was from Barcelona and we, too, used chorizo (pronounced chor-ee-tho) instead of bacon with our eggs, in our paella, and in certain soups. I’ve never had Portuguese chouriço! Knowing the difference is important. Since we get our chorizo from Newark, NJ, grocery stores, I’ll be sure to try the Portuguese variety next time. Thank you, David!

  11. Hello David. I found one of your cookbooks in Cape Cod and love it. I was initially drawn to your name. My son’s name if David Leites (somewhere in the immigration process my family added the “s”). Anyway, I love Portuguese food, especially my Mom’s (all of my family is from Chaves, Portugal. My wife is Italian, and always used to ask me to explain the difference between Chourico and Linguica. I’ve always told her that they are basically the same, but she never understoood until I showed her your book. Thank you.

  12. Hi, so glad i found this post, I live in turks and caicos and desperate for some chouriço, so was looking for where to buy when i’m in NY next week, can’t wait! Food just doesn’t taste the same!

    ps – i crave alheira too…

  13. Hello David!

    I’m a lisboeta who has recently discovered your site. I’m very happy to see that my beloved chouriço is not only known, but also loved outside of our little rectangle. I am firmly in the chouriço camp, although if I manage to catch a linguiça unawares, its fate is sealed.

    My thoughts on the chouriço vs linguiça comparison:

    * Linguiça is straight, thin (at least, not much thicker than a lady’s finger), and somewhat long (20-30cm). It is usually fattier than a chouriço.

    * Chouriço is much thicker than a linguiça and usually has a U shape, with a little string holding both ends together. There is also chouriço corrente, which is straight and made in links like sausages, but these are generally cheaper and of lower quality (and more fat).

    * There are few things more delicious than a chouriço roasted until crispy over burning aguardente on a traditional clay pig-shaped assador (I hope you brought one home with you after you were here!).

    I’m also partial to a good alheira and farinheira…And now I’m hungry!

    1. Hi Ana,

      Never have truer words been spoken. I’m so glad that you are in agreement with me about chouriço vs. linguiça. Now….farinheira is something different. Don’t really like it. Too soft.

  14. Hi, my family is from Newport RI (Grand parents are from Cape Verde Is.) and I remember them pronouncing it Chereece too. I live in western NY now and I use to be able to buy it in one of the grocery stores here but then the Spanish Chorizo took over so I tried it but, it in no way tasted the same. I would like to make my own (found some online) but don’t know which one is closest to Chourico. Have you tried making it and if so did you have any luck and would you share the recipe? =^)

    1. Ang, thanks for writing. I don’t have a recipe for chouriço. My aunt makes it, and it’s fantastic, and I’m hoping to learn from her. I plan to build a smokehouse and make my own some day. There is a recipe in “Portuguese Homestyle Cooking” for chouriço. I’ve never made it, but Ana is quite good.

  15. Chourico and linguica are very similar. But chourico has a spicier flavor. The islanders prefer linguica. The mainlanders prefer chourico. This is especially true once they migrated to New Bedford/ Fall River, MA.

    1. Hi, Elle. There are some linguiça that are spicier than chouriço. I think this is something that varies from family to family, town to town, region to region, and even personal taste to personal taste.

    2. New Beffit is more of a linguiça town, where Faw Riva is a chouriço town according to my grandmother.

      The are definitely not the same. And no one says sha-ri-zo. it’s Sha-dees. or Sha-rees.

      That’s why as a kid you giggle when Vavo asks (tells you) if you want a shitty-sandwich.

      Linguiça is lin-gweesa I don’t think I’ve heard it mispronounced before.

      Also, you can get linguiça dogs and chouriço dogs for the kids.

      1. Chip, your avó is right regarding New Beffit and Faw Riva. And, yes, you’re right about the local pronunciations, but they are just that: local. They’re based upon the Azorean accent. On the mainland, they pronounce them as I wrote them.

        And, please, tell me the difference. PLEASE!!! Even the folks at Portugalia Marketplace say they’re essential the same, with small variations in spiciness.

  16. Hi, I also grew up in Fall River and love chouriço my family always called it “chereece” also! I live in Florida now, and I found that some Publix supermarkets here carry it. I buy it every time I see it. Glad to know Fall River is known for something other than Lizzie Borden lol.

    1. Hi, Robert. When I was growing up and the dancer Cyd Charisse was mentioned on TV, I’d giggle. “Her hame means Cyd Portuguese sausage,” I’d say to my parents.

  17. Dear David,

    I am half Portuguese and LOVE chouriço. I would love to make a few of my vova’s dishes, but can’t. I now live in Tucson, AZ (I am originally from Rhode Island).
    Here in Tucson they only sell the Mexican chorizo.I can’t stand the tase. It’s minced not cubed. It’s very greasy and way too spicy. When cooked it diminishes down to barely nothing, I wish they sold the Portuguese kind here. I am on a very tight budget. Being disabled and can’t afford to buy it through the Internet/mail. Do you have any suggestions to solve my problem?


    Cindy Nolan
    Tucson, AZ

    1. Hello, Cindy. I’m sorry to hear you’re having problem finding Portuguese chouriço. It is a real challenge I know. You could try andouille sausage. It’s different from Portuguese chouriço but closer than Mexican chorizo. Also, have you looked into Spanish chorizo? It’s the closest to Portuguese sausage that I have found.

    2. Sam’s Club sells a sausage which is labeled Linguica produced by a Hawaiian company. It is like a cross between Chourica and Linguica. I find it to be excellent.
      By the way, my grandmother was from the mainland and my grandfather was from the Azorez. They both pronounced it “Chereece”. We lived in Pawtucket RI

      Don Marshall

  18. David, I’m so glad I came across this article! Now I know where to find Portuguese chouriço. I was born in St. Michael, Azores, but moved to Fall River at the age of two. Growing up I remember my mom and my aunts making chouriço….so many links!……..we never ran out! My family in the Azores still makes it and smokes the chouriço at their own shop/store. I’ve been living in NYC for about two years and miss my mom’s cooking, and have been looking for portuguese chouriço. I’ll have to make my way to Newark!

    BTW, we would pronounce it as “sho-ree-so”.

    1. Sofia, you’re more than welcome. I think you’ll find a lot of other things you love at Lopes. He has linguiça, paio, rabbit, whole baby lamb, lupini beans, Portuguese cheeses, and much more. Tell Herminio I said hello!

    2. My family is from St Michael (Azores) and have always pronounced it Shah-rdees. Any way you pronounce it, it’s yummy.

      1. Thanks, Connie. The “proper” way of pronouncing it is “shoo-dree-soo.” And by “proper,” I mean from the mainland/Coimbra, which is consider the national pronunciation. The pronunciation of your family (and my family, too) is an island accent. The same way we have Boston, Texan, or Georgian accents here.

  19. David, my husband grew up in Fall River, and we go back to see family often. I always overdose on Portuguese food and chow mein when there.

    When we lived in Florida we were able to find a lot of Portuguese food in the stores, or we would have friends going back to Mass. bring us back some things. Now that we live in Texas we are having to order everything.

    I told my husband I want your book for my birthday.

    1. Susan, I hope you like the book. There are recipes in there for some of the staples you now order, but there’s no substitute for smoked chouriço—and one of the finest suppliers, I think, is Lopes Sausage Co. in Newark, Nj.

  20. Dear David, my husband and I were in Portugal last fall and loved it, the people and the food. I am confused though by your reference to the fact that chouriço is often referred to as linguiça. I live in North Attleboro, MA, and we can buy chouriço and linguiça as two seperate items. Isn’t that correct? We do love them both. Thanks.

    1. Kathleen, some stores, especially in non-Portuguese communities, call all Portuguese sausage chouriço while others call them linguiça. And what makes it even more confusing, as I mention in my book, is that there’s no nationally accepted distinction between the two sausages—here or in Portugal. In the U.S., different manufacturers have their own definition of what each sausage is. To some, linguiça is lean while chouriço is fatty, or vice versa. To others, chouriço is spicy while linguiça is mild, again, or vice versa. Some even have several types of chouriço: lean, fatty, very fatty as well as mild and spicy! So my point, both in the article and in the book, is that any kind of distinction, as you have in the stores in North Attleboro, and I had in Fall River, are really community-based differences. The one consistency: linguiça is smaller in diameter. I hope this helps!

    1. I grew up in Fall River, and we called it “sher-eece,” too. That’s the Americanization of the Azorean pronunciation: “shah-rdeece.” The proper (meaning the standard dictionary) pronunciation is “show-rdee-soo.”

      1. David, I’m late to this conversation, but this is exactly the answer I’ve been looking for. My family has always pronounced it “shah-rdeece”, but recently I began to question whether our pronunciation is correct. My great grandparents were born in the Azores, but my grandmother was born in the U.S., so I wondered if our pronunciation had changed over time. That being said my grandmother speaks fluent Portuguese and the pronunciation in general is strange. Google translate pronounces it like “shoriso” and another site has it as “shoreece”, but this is the first place I’ve seen with the d sound. I live in Boston now, where the only brand I ever see is Gaspar’s, but I have a lot of family around Bristol and Warren.

        1. Kyle, my family is from the Azores, too. That complicates things because even today in Portugal there’s a significant difference in accents and dialects between the islands and the mainland. Add to that how American-born folks of Portuguese descent further change the pronunciation, and well, you have a very different-sounding language!

          As far as buying chouriço, think of Lopes Sausage Co. in Newark, NJ. You have to buy a largeer quantity to make the shipping worth it, but it’s some of the best sausage (and linguiça, paio, etc.) I’ve had state side.

          1. Please I can’t seem to find the online address/website where I can purchase chorizo, and other sausage products from Lopes Sausage Co. in Newark, New Jersey. I am willing to buy large quantity to rectify the shipping costs.

        2. Hi Kyle, I had to jump into this discussion. I’m not Portuguese but lived in Bermuda for a number of years. There is a large population from the Azores and to my untrained ear, it always sounded liked they were saying sha-deesh. When I moved back to states and tried to find this sausage, no one knew what I was looking for as the spelling didn’t correspond to the pronunciation to which I was accustomed. Dialects are a funny thing.


      2. Exactly. I am of Azorean heritage–parents are from New Bedford and we pronounced it….”sure dees.” Linguiça is another sausage, they are not the same….”sure dees: is spicier than linguiça….love your blog :*

        1. Christine, thanks! Yeah, some places chouriço is spicer, other places, linguiça is spicer. What makes it even harder is that now in Fall River you can get mild, medium and hot chouriço. The same with linguiça!

      3. Yeah, Fall River knew I couldn’t be the kinky fr guy wondering what the dif was. We’re a very Portuguese community and live our food.

      4. I grew up in Massachusetts and went to college with many people from New Bedford and Fall River. Also folks from Rhode Island. They all pronounce it “sher-eese.” I learned on a trip to Portugal that Portuguese language “swallows” final vowels, therefore, the pronunciation “sher-eese” is proper. This is similar to the Italian pronunciation of “regothe” for “ricotta” in certain dialects.

        1. Hey, Jane. It’s not exactly “sher-eese.” It comes closest to that in the Azores; their dialect flattens the sounds a bit. But even there, the “r” has a bit of a “d” sound. After many of the islanders immigrated to the States, the Americanization of the word smoothed the sound even more.

          When I studied Portuguese in Lisbon while researching my book, the professor I worked with said that it is indeed common to drop the last vowel of a word in Portuguese, but that doesn’t mean it’s the correct pronunciation. (Think of the word “going.” Most of us say “goin’,” but that doesn’t make it accurate.) And while many drop the last vowel, they’re also dropping the last syllable. Chouriço has three syllables. The below is taken from a Portuguese dictionary. Hope this helps!

          substantivo masculino
          1. [Culinária] Enchido de carne de porco ou de sangue de porco, farinha, etc., com gorduras e temperos.

      1. Hi, Pat. Yes, that’s the regional dialect, which is different from the mainland. “Shah-rdeee,” is the name Azoreans brought with them to the US, which morphed into “shuh-reece,” just like the last name of Cyd Charisse.

  21. Way to go David. You tell them who the boss is. Chorizo is very popular down in NC here because we do have so many Mexicans, but I have turned a few of our neighbors onto chouriço and linguiça and they will never go back. They love the patties, especially at breakfast. Portuguese Food RULES!!!!!

    Good luck with the sale of your new book. It’s been a long time coming, I can’t wait to get my copy. Need to order more meats from up north to enjoy the flavors and favorites.

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