Skip to main content

You Can Eat Your Bodyweight in Sausage on Louisiana’s Boudin Trail

Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail

Kentucky has its bourbon trail. Napa, its wine. Then, there’s the barbecue in Texas. However, if you’re after something more offbeat, Southern Louisiana’s Boudin Trail is for you. While understanding how sausage is made is typically an undertaking best avoided, that’s exactly what this classic Cajun trek promises to provide travelers.

Boudin is a unique sausage that’s been a staple finger food for Southern Louisiana locals since as long as anyone can remember. They’re happy to down it for breakfast (add a cold soda for the ideal “Cajun breakfast”), lunch, dinner, or all three. The basics of boudin are simple. First, know that it’s pronounced boo-DAN with a distinct dropping of the “n”. The degree to which you do or do not drop the “n” can immediately brand you as a foreigner.

boudin sausage crackers
Visit Lake Charles/Facebook

As for the ingredients, the list almost always includes some amount of pork, rice, onions, liver, and a handful of dry seasonings like parsley, garlic, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. The exact ratio to create the perfect boudin is a debate likely never to be resolved. Every eatery bears their own secret recipe, and locals often declare allegiance to a select few. It seems there’s no perfect ratio of rice-to-meat, casing crispness, or level of spice to appease everyone. Variations, often subtle, exist between parishes — sometimes within parishes — as every boudin craftsmen looks to brand their own unique sausage.

Beyond the essential ingredients involved in making boudin, there are just as many variations in the preparation. Texas transplants, for example, often prefer their boudin smoked or grilled, no exceptions.

Bergerons Boudin and Cajun Meats of Shreveport Boudin Balls
Bergeron’s Boudin and Cajun Meats of Shreveport Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau/Flickr

Boudin balls — created by rounding the filling, breading, and deep-frying — is another option. A simple boudin sandwich is as hearty and satisfying as it sounds: take two pieces of white bread and smear a heaping dose of boudin filling in-between. Chic restaurants are also fond of adding more gourmet ingredients like alligator, crawfish, or shrimp. For an out-of-this-world variation, head to B&O Kitchen (no website) in November for a cardiologist-approved, boudin-stuffed turducken (seriously).

To say Southern Louisiana takes its boudin seriously is a gross understatement. The region’s love of sausage borders on clinical obsession. It’s perhaps because of this that there’s no “official” boudin trail. They don’t discriminate. Any mom-and-pop grocery store, full-service restaurant, or roadside food shack that serves boudin along U.S. Interstate 10 is considered part of the trail. The Lake Charles tourism board offers a convenient, searchable sausage database, which currently features 33 eateries.

boudin sausage
Visit Lake Charles/Facebook

Finding a participating boudin-ery (our words, not theirs) is a matter of cruising the interstate with an eye toward the many banners and blinking signs advertising hot boudin. If you start your drive at 9 a.m., you’ll likely be full before 10 a.m.

Like all things in that part of Louisiana, eating boudin is an informal affair. This is due to the fact that it’s meant to be eaten as fresh as possible. For most Acadians, that often means on the spot. Once ordered, the links will be plucked from a steamer or slow cooker, weighed, and presented in butcher paper with a few napkins. “Haute cuisine” this is not, and that’s just way the locals like it. Chances are good the sausage won’t make it out of the parking lot before being consumed. That being said, most establishments also provide delivery service or bulk boudin to pack in your own ice-filled to-go cooler.

To get started on your own boudin-inspired road trip, check out every stop along the officially unofficial boudin trail. Just remember to pack the Prilosec and a change of stretch pants.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Bushmills rounds out the Rare Cask collection with a 31-year-old single malt
This rare expression is dropping on June 1st
Bushmills 31

When it comes to Irish whiskey, there are few brands more well-known than Bushmills. Not only is Bushmills the oldest Irish distillery, but it’s also the oldest licensed distillery in the world, with a genesis of 1608, in the more than four hundred years since the distillers have perfected the art of whiskey distillation.

And while you can’t go wrong with bargain bottles like Bushmills Black Bush and Bushmills Original or even Bushmills 10 or Bushmills 12, we’re most interested in its Rare Cask Series. Previously, the brand released 28, 29, and 30-year-old expressions. Its most recent takes it one step (or one year) further. Rare Cask 04 is a 31-year-old single malt whiskey.
The Rare Cask: 04

Read more
Bourbon vs. whiskey: The differences explained
All bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons
A trio of whiskeys

If you're confusing your whiskey and bourbon, you're not alone. The drinks industry is full of little nuances, often born of geography and different ingredients and materials available. Just ask the vast categories of sparkling wine (Champagne or Prosecco?), IPA (hazy or West Coast?), and brandy (cognac or Armagnac?). They're full of sub-categories, stylistic tweaks, and ongoing riffs.

But you should probably know the difference between bourbon and whiskey. Not only is it good knowledge to keep in your back pocket, but it'll help inform your sipping going forward, offering context for flavor variations and -- hopefully -- exposing you to new and enjoyable options. Keep reading on to learn more about bourbon vs. whiskey and exactly what is whiskey.
What is whiskey?

Read more
Blue Curacao is back in style — how to use it like a drinks pro
Blue Curacao 101
A Blue Hawaii cocktail at the beach.

Not too long ago, Blue Curaçao was out of style. Like banana liqueur and Merlot, it was the laughingstock of a large portion of the drinks industry. Well, trends change, and tropical blue drinks are back with a vengeance.

Yes, the latest cocktail trends are hard to keep up with, but that's what we're here for. Blink once, and Cosmopolitans are popular again. Blink twice, and the Espresso Martini is in the rubbish bin.

Read more