Can I Eat Kielbasa While Pregnant? A Complete Guide

Eating a balanced diet is crucial during pregnancy. With your body working overtime to support your growing baby, you need plenty of vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutrients. However, with so much misinformation out there, it can be confusing to know which foods are safe and which to avoid. One question many pregnant women have is: can I eat kielbasa while pregnant?

Kielbasa is a type of smoked sausage that originated in Poland. It’s typically made from pork and/or beef and seasoned with garlic, pimentos, cloves, mustard seeds, coriander or other spices. Kielbasa can be an delicious, protein-rich addition to a healthy pregnancy diet – in moderation and when handled properly.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about eating kielbasa while pregnant including:

Key Takeaways:

  • Kielbasa can be safe to eat in moderation during pregnancy when properly cooked.
  • Choose high-quality, low-sodium kielbasa and avoid raw or undercooked kielbasa due to listeria risk.
  • Limit intake to 2-3 servings per week as part of a balanced diet.
  • Opt for low-fat kielbasa and eat with vegetables or whole grains.
  • Watch out for processed meats high in sodium, nitrates or other additives.
  • Proper handling, cooking and storage is essential to reduce bacterial contamination risk.

Is Kielbasa Safe During Pregnancy?

The safety of kielbasa while pregnant depends largely on proper cooking and handling. Thoroughly cooked kielbasa that comes from a trusted source and is properly stored offers minimal risks. However, there are some potential concerns to be aware of:

Listeria Risk

One of the biggest risks associated with deli meats like kielbasa is potential Listeria contamination. Listeria monocytogenes is a harmful bacteria that can cause a condition called listeriosis. Pregnant women are at higher risk for developing listeriosis, which can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection in the newborn.

To reduce this risk, it’s critical to avoid consuming raw or undercooked kielbasa while pregnant. Kielbasa should be heated to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill any potential Listeria bacteria.


Some kielbasa contains nitrates or nitrites which are preservatives that help prevent bacterial growth and maintain the pink/red color. There has been some concern that consuming these preservatives may increase health risks for pregnant women.

When possible, choose kielbasa products labeled “no nitrates or nitrites added.” Opting for uncured, organic kielbasa can help minimize preservative consumption.

High Sodium Content

Like many cured or processed meats, some types of kielbasa can be very high in sodium. Consuming too much sodium during pregnancy may increase risk of high blood pressure and preeclampsia.

Check labels and select low-sodium kielbasa options whenever possible. Limit total weekly sodium intake to 1500-2300 mg as recommended while pregnant.

Other Additives

Some kielbasa contains MSG, artificial colors, flavors, corn syrup and other questionable additives. To minimize exposure to potentially harmful food additives, choose kielbasa made with more natural, high-quality ingredients.

As long as you choose properly cooked kielbasa from a trusted source and limit intake, the risks are low. However, it’s always wise to exercise caution and discuss concerns with your prenatal provider.

Nutrition Profile of Kielbasa

So what exactly is in kielbasa nutrition-wise? The specific nutritional content can vary widely by brand, flavor and preparation method. But in general, a 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of kielbasa provides:

  • Calories: 290
  • Fat: 24g
  • Saturated fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Sodium: 660mg
  • Iron: 2mg (11% DV)
  • Zinc: 2mg (13% DV)
  • Vitamin B12: 1.4mcg (22% DV)

Kielbasa is high in protein and contains heme-iron which is more easily absorbed by the body compared to non-heme iron from plant sources. The zinc and B vitamins also support maternal and fetal health.

However, the high saturated fat and sodium content should be considered. Choosing lower-sodium, leaner versions and watching portion sizes is key.

Kielbasa During Pregnancy: Benefits vs Risks

Eating kielbasa in moderation during pregnancy offers some benefits:


  • Good source of protein, iron, zinc and B12
  • Provides satisfying umami flavor
  • Can be part of balanced diet in moderation

Potential Risks

  • Higher in saturated fat and sodium
  • May contain preservatives like nitrates
  • Could harbor listeria if undercooked
  • Processed meat links with health risks

The key is balancing the benefits with the potential risks by choosing high-quality kielbasa and consuming in moderation.

How Much Kielbasa is Safe While Pregnant?

There are no official guidelines for how much kielbasa pregnant women can safely consume. The most important factors are proper handling and cooking to reduce bacterial risk, as well as limiting intake of processed meats.

Here are some general recommendations for how much kielbasa to eat while pregnant:

  • Limit to 2-3 servings per week as part of balanced diet
  • Stick to 1-2 ounces (about 1 small link) per serving
  • Avoid eating multiple servings in one sitting
  • Choose lower sodium kielbasa whenever possible
  • Pair with vegetables, fruits, whole grains
  • Listen to your body and discontinue if cravings disappear

Discuss proper intake amounts with your doctor based on your individual health status. Be sure to stay hydrated and incorporate plenty of fiber to help reduce risk of digestive issues.

Healthiest Ways to Eat Kielbasa While Pregnant

Focusing on the healthiest preparation methods and ingredients is key when eating kielbasa while pregnant:

  • Choose low-sodium options: Seek out reduced sodium or “lite” kielbasa with at least 25% less sodium.
  • Read labels carefully: Avoid kielbasa with excessive additives, sugars or preservatives like MSG or nitrites.
  • Go organic or uncured: Minimize exposure to chemicals and preservatives by choosing organic, uncured kielbasa when possible.
  • Opt for lean versions: Pick lower fat kielbasa made with turkey, chicken or lean cuts of pork.
  • Cook thoroughly to 165°F: Ensure all raw kielbasa is heated through to kill any potential bacteria.
  • Pair with veggies: Serve kielbasa with roasted vegetables, greens, or in broth-based soups.
  • Combine with whole grains: Enjoy kielbasa sliced in salads, whole grain bowls or stuffed in a whole wheat bun or wrap.
  • Limit charring: Go easy on charring or blackening during grilling or cooking to avoid carcinogens.

Making smart choices when selecting, preparing and serving kielbasa can satisfy cravings while lowering risks.

What Types of Kielbasa are Healthiest When Pregnant?

Not all kielbasa is created equal when it comes to nutritional value. Here are some of healthiest varieties to choose from when eating kielbasa while pregnant:

Turkey Kielbasa

Turkey kielbasa is significantly leaner than pork and beef varieties. It provides the same satisfying flavor while being lower in total fat, saturated fat and sodium.

Chicken Kielbasa

Like turkey kielbasa, chicken kielbasa offers a lower fat alternative that is safer for pregnancy. Look for brands without unnecessary fillers.

Beef Kielbasa

For those who prefer a heartier texture, high-quality beef kielbasa can make the rotation. Opt for grass-fed when possible.

Organic Kielbasa

Organic kielbasa has no chemical preservatives like nitrates or nitrites added. This helps minimize potentially harmful exposures.

Low-Sodium Kielbasa

Seeking out low-sodium or 25-50% reduced sodium kielbasa limits excess sodium intake during pregnancy.

Wild Game Kielbasa

Venison, boar, bison and other wild game kielbasa provides lean protein and unique flavor. Use reputable sources.

Prioritize quality over quantity when choosing which kielbasa to eat during pregnancy.

Tips for Safely Cooking Kielbasa While Pregnant

Proper handling and cooking practices are key to reduce the risk of foodborne illness from kielbasa:

  • Always wash hands and surfaces thoroughly before and after handling raw kielbasa. Avoid cross-contamination.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked kielbasa. Cook until steaming hot and internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Grilling, broiling, baking, boiling or pan-frying are safe cooking methods. Microwaving may not heat kielbasa evenly.
  • Bring kielbasa to a rolling boil if boiling or sous vide cooking to kill potential bacteria.
  • Cut kielbasa in half lengthwise before cooking to ensure inside reaches safe temperature.
  • Discard kielbasa that looks or smells off. Do not taste raw or undercooked kielbasa.
  • Refrigerate cooked kielbasa within 1-2 hours. To freeze, allow to cool completely first.

Following proper safety precautions when prepping and cooking kielbasa will help protect against illness from bacteria.

How Should I Store Kielbasa While Pregnant?

Safe storage and handling is also critical when eating kielbasa during pregnancy:

  • Store unopened kielbasa in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Kielbasa may last 1-3 months in the freezer.
  • Wrap opened kielbasa tightly and use within 3-5 days. Discard any moldy kielbasa.
  • Store kielbasa separate from raw meat, poultry, fish and produce to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Do not thaw frozen kielbasa at room temperature. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight instead.
  • Cooked kielbasa can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge 3-4 days. Divide into smaller portions to extend storage time.
  • Label all kielbasa with the date opened or cooked to track freshness.
  • When reheating, cook until steaming hot throughout. Avoid eating refrigerated kielbasa cold.

Following proper storage guidelines reduces the growth of bacteria like Listeria and Salmonella.

What Should I Avoid When Eating Kielbasa?

To make kielbasa as safe as possible during pregnancy:

  • Avoid raw, rare or undercooked kielbasa which may contain harmful bacteria. Cook thoroughly until piping hot.
  • Do not eat kielbasa that is past its expiration date or has an off smell or appearance.
  • Skip lower quality kielbasa with excessive sodium, nitrates/nitrites, MSG or other chemical additives.
  • Be wary of kielbasa made with pork or beef of questionable origin or quality. Opt for leaner meats when possible.
  • Don’t overdo portion sizes. Stick to recommended 2-3 servings weekly in normal amounts.
  • Avoid kielbasa from unsafe food handling establishments with lower hygiene standards.
  • Stop eating if you develop food aversions, upset stomach or excessive bloating after eating kielbasa.

Exercising caution by avoiding questionable ingredients, sources or preparation methods is key.

What About Leftover Kielbasa?

Leftover kielbasa should not be left to linger for too long. Follow these tips:

  • Store cooked kielbasa in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 3-4 days.
  • Slice and freeze extra kielbasa in servings to use later. Thaw overnight in fridge before using.
  • Reheat leftover kielbasa thoroughly until hot and steaming before eating.
  • Do not eat kielbasa that has been left out of the fridge for over 2 hours. Play it safe and discard.
  • If reheated kielbasa smells or tastes off, err on the side of caution and throw it away.
  • Adding leftover kielbasa to soups, casseroles or pasta dishes can give it new life. Just ensure it’s cooked through.
  • When in doubt, remember the old adage – “When pregnant, if you don’t know, don’t go!”

Following proper food safety practices prevents bacterial growth and keeps leftovers safe to eat.

Common Questions about Eating Kielbasa While Pregnant

If you’re still wondering if you can indulge in kielbasa during pregnancy, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is it safe to eat kielbasa cold while pregnant?

Cold lunchmeats like kielbasa could contain Listeria or other bacteria. It’s best to steam, grill or microwave kielbasa until piping hot before eating.

Can I eat kielbasa sandwiches if I microwave them?

As long as the kielbasa is heated to 165°F or until steaming, microwaved kielbasa sandwiches are generally safe to eat during pregnancy.

What about kielbasa in casseroles or soups?

Properly cooked casseroles and soups containing kielbasa are fine to eat while pregnant since the extended cooking kills any potential bacteria.

Are kielbasa appetizers okay at parties or gatherings?

Avoid raw kielbasa or appetizers sitting out at unsafe temperatures. But properly cooked kielbasa apps fresh from the kitchen or kept heated are lower risk.

Can I eat smoked kielbasa while pregnant?

Smoked kielbasa is fine as the smoking process doesn’t fully cook the meat. Be sure to heat smoked kielbasa thoroughly until steaming hot before eating.

Is kielbasa safe to eat if I’m pregnant with twins?

There are no additional restrictions for those pregnant with multiples. Follow the same safe handling and cooking guidelines and limit intake to recommended serving sizes.

To summarize – properly handled and cooked kielbasa from a trusted source can be safely enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet during pregnancy. But when in doubt, it’s always wise to check with your doctor.

The Bottom Line

Can you eat kielbasa while pregnant? In most cases, enjoying kielbasa in moderation as part of a balanced diet is considered safe. But there are some risk factors to keep in mind:

  • Avoid undercooked kielbasa due to listeria risk. Always cook until steaming hot.
  • Limit intake to 2-3 times weekly and 1-2 ounces per serving.
  • Select high-quality kielbasa with minimal sodium and preservatives.
  • Opt for lower fat turkey or chicken kielbasa when possible.
  • Practice safe food handling, cooking and storage.

With the right precautions and moderate intake, indulge your kielbasa cravings during pregnancy! But when uncertain, take the safest route and avoid the risk. Follow your OBGYN or midwife’s guidance on diet for optimal maternal and fetal health.